Depending on whom you talk to, there is anywhere between 1 million and 7 million pigeons residing in New York City. Squirrels? We really don’t know, although there have been some recent attempts to try to count those critters.
Either way, love them or hate them, there probably isn’t anything more defining for New York’s amazing parks than the presence of pigeons, part of the same avian family as doves. Who hasn’t seen (or actually been) someone who goes to one of our hundreds of parks to feed the birds?
The parks department, however, wants to take this away. And while their reasons might seem to make sense on paper, they don’t really stand up when it comes to practice.
The two biggest issues? Birds and critters shouldn’t eat the food people do, because a lot of it is just as bad for them as it is for people. And if these animals get too comfortable around humans, what’s to stop them from being aggressive?
In all the decades that New Yorkers have fed pigeons and squirrels, it’s almost impossible to find any incidents of healthy animals attacking someone randomly. In fact, if there was anyone who probably crossed the line when it came to man’s relationship with park animals, it was the famed inventor Nikola Tesla, who is said to have actually fallen in love with one of the birds he rescued from a city park.
We don’t know whether that’s true or just the stuff of legend. But even if it were, that wouldn’t be enough to not just discourage people from feeding the small animals they see in parks, but actually making it illegal.
A $50 fine doesn’t sound terrible —unless it’s for something that shouldn’t even be a crime. It would be hard to enforce, and would unnecessarily remove the joy many have in bringing something for the wildlife that inhabit our green spaces not far from the busy streets of city life.
We all should care about animals, and the desire to stave off feeding pigeons and squirrels comes from a good place, we’re sure. But this is a little too much.