Animal advocates sound alarm after pigeons found trapped in Manhattan building's anti-bird netting

Pedro Rivera Image
Wednesday, February 14, 2024
'It's awful': Activists speak out after pigeons trapped in netting
Pedro Rivera has the story.

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A building on the Upper East Side will take down a web of anti-bird netting around its scaffolding after a group of animal advocates claimed the netting was a death trap for pigeons, who were caught inside and then starved to death.

For the last two weeks, volunteers like Sonia Izak say they have been trying to rescue pigeons that they have found tangled and trapped in netting installed on the scaffolding outside Normandie Court apartments on 95th Street and Third Avenue.

"The netting only became apparent to us as an issue when we started seeing birds that were trapped and were in distress and were trying to get out and couldn't get out," Izak said.

Izak says she has seen as many two dozen pigeons injured or killed since she began volunteering.

Wednesday morning, Eyewitness News cameras captured a bird that had died after not being able to escape the netting.

"Oh, it's awful, it's not only traumatic to see that but you also feel helpless," Izak said.

A representative for building owner, Ogden Properties, told Eyewitness News reporter Pedro Rivera said they hired U.S. Bird Control to put up the netting in January after receiving a health violation for the excess bird droppings outside their building. They believe a big problem is too many people feeding the pigeons.

They sent a statement that reads in part, "Impeding the process of safely removing the birds is that some well-intentioned people continue to leave birdseed in the area, which only attracts more birds and exposes them to potential harm. Also, individuals have been observed cutting holes in the netting which, again while likely well-intentioned, also encourages additional birds to enter and nest."

Izak believes while the owners of property were hoping to clean up one problem, they may have just created additional problems.

"Unfortunately, it seems that once you put the netting up and the birds can't get out, you're going to have more pigeon poop on the sidewalk," Izak said.

After receiving a number of complaints about trapped birds, a spokesperson for the Department of Buildings told Eyewitness News that the netting is on its way down.

They sent a statement that said, "DOB issued a violation for the sidewalk shed not conforming to approved construction documents and DOB will order the building owner to take down the netting when the violation is issued."

When reporter Pedro Rivera told Izak the nets were coming down, she called the update "amazing" but is urging people not to feed the birds.

Staff from the Wild Bird Fund, a wildlife rehabilitation center, say they have received several nestlings that were rescued from the netting.


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