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Wimbledon under fire for shooting pigeons

June 25, 2008 | 12:19 pm

It's quite a day for pigeon news.

First came word that Brazilian prison inmates were using pigeons to smuggle contraband. Now, Reuters reports, officials at Wimbledon are under fire for using marksmen to shoot down dive-bombing pigeons. Officials at the tennis tournament turned to firearms after other efforts to scare away the birds proved ineffective. 

Reuters tells the tale:

     The tournament employs two hawks to scare away pigeons who had become pests swooping down on Centre Court and distracting players in the middle of tense matches. But the hawks failed to keep the pigeons away from the players’ lawn and the open-air media restaurant so marksmen were called in.

     “The hawks are our first line of deterrent, and by and large they do the job,” Wimbledon spokesman Johnny Perkins said. “But unfortunately there were one or two areas where the hawks didn’t deter the pigeons, so it was deemed necessary to take a harder approach,” he explained.

     The marksmen were summoned by Wimbledon as pigeon droppings on the restaurant tables were thought to be a health hazard. The decision to call in the marksmen was condemned as “cruel and illegal behaviour” by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) which complained to the tournament organisers and the police.

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