Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Feeding Pigeons Means Fines and Jail Time in NM City

Laws reflect the specific preoccupations of the people in the places where they are passed, and this is particularly true for local ordinances. Everywhere you go around the world or around the US, you will find different prohibitions that express the unique concerns of citizens.

Some places don't want people walking around barefoot, or wearing certain costumes on Halloweens. And in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the City Council doesn't want you feeding the pigeons, according to KRQE News. Doing so could result in a $500 fine or even jail time.

Don't Feed the Pigeons

Carlsbad is certainly not the first place to ban pigeon feeding. Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy is an internationally known pigeon picnic ground and giving the birds there food is considered more than just rude. It's a violation of official rules.

The reason that pigeon feeding is sometimes prohibited is that these birds no longer carry our most urgent written messages but, rather, deadly diseases. Prohibitions on pigeons seek to limit local bird breeding in the hopes of preventing the spread of illness. Bird droppings are a health risk and that is what motivated Carlsbad, New Mexico officials to pass the new anti-pigeon ordinance.

Birds Too Comfortable

"It will help move them away from the city, move them out of the middle of this city. I get calls all the time about people wanting to know how to get rid of pigeons," said Woods Houghton, Program Director for the Eddy County Extension Office. "They're called trash birds because they communicate a lot of known diseases to both livestock and humans."

Anyone in Carlsbad caught feeding or harboring pigeons could be punished, although the city says its only goal is to stop making the birds feel so at home there. Also, rest assured. You can still feed and house other birds in Carlsbad, and you can still feed pigeons in most other places.

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