Jail Birds: Thailand Considers Prison for Feeding Pigeons

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Government officers test a pigeon after they catch it on a street side in Bangkok
Government officers test a pigeon after they catch it on a street side in Bangkok, Thailand September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
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BANGKOK (Reuters) 

The Thai capital is considering jailing people who feed pigeons in public to try to eliminate the risk of bird flu and other diseases, officials said on Wednesday

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is spearheading a campaign to catch pigeons and has vowed to impose a ban on feeding them – violators could be jailed for up to three months, face a 25,000 baht ($770) fine, or both.

 

A pigeon is seen in a case after government staff caught it along a street in Bangkok, Thailand
A pigeon is seen in a case after government staff caught it along a street in Bangkok, Thailand September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

 

“There’s a risk to humans in places where there is a high concentration of pigeons,” Taweesak Lertprapan, deputy Bangkok governor, told Reuters as bird catchers caught pigeons around him at a public square.

Other cities around the world have imposed similar bans, including Italian tourist favorite Venice where feeding pigeons is illegal – but there is no threat of serving time.

 

 

In Bangkok, pigeons – often dubbed “rats with wings” – are often found in crowded areas, including temples, markets and public parks.

Taweesak said health risks from pigeons include respiratory diseases, meningitis and bird flu.

 

Government officers catch pigeons on a street side in Bangkok
Government officers catch pigeons on a street side in Bangkok, Thailand September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

 

“The most effective solution is to stop feeding them,” Taweesak said.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha this month ordered a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of pigeons in populated areas.

 

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Nick Macfie)

 

Government officers catch pigeons on a street side in Bangkok
Government officers catch pigeons on a street side in Bangkok, Thailand September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

 

Women walk pass near pigeons on a street side in Bangkok
Women walk pass near pigeons on a street side in Bangkok, Thailand September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun