Chicago pigeons deported to Indiana

Steffeny Smith took this photo of men trapping and carting off dozens of pigeons in Chicago. It turns out the city is working with an Indiana farmer who wants the Windy City's birds. Steffeny Smith/WBBM

CHICAGO Chicago's great pigeon problem may have eased slightly, but it also has some residents crying foul over the fowl removal.

Social worker Steffeny Smith was disturbed by what she saw last Friday from an office window along North Broadway Avenue. As she describes it, two men shot a large net over 60 to 70 pigeons, trapping them.

The birds reacted with great distress, thrashing violently.

"I threw the window open because I was really triggered by it, it was just so horrifying," Smith told CBS Station WBBM. "You could hear the pigeons crying. They were, like, smashed into the ground."

When she went down to investigate, she received an unusual explanation: "He said they're carrying them off to Indiana," Smith told WBBM correspondent Brad Edwards. "You've got to be kidding me. You really are telling me that I'm supposed to believe that? Like, really?"

It turns out, the nemesis of all pigeons is 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman, who has already proposed a $1,000 fine for feeding pigeons.

His office confirmed there have been pigeon removals.

"An Indiana farmer contacted us and offered to capture and take pigeons to his farm," Cappleman Spokeswoman Tressa Feher said in a statement. "He wanted them alive."

The alderman's office says the farmer has come to Chicago four times, but did not elaborate.

Smith -- no fan of pigeons herself -- finds the whole enterprise unnerving, particularly in a distressed neighborhood like Uptown. "It was so bizarre and so disturbing, it couldn't even compute to me," she says.

Any complaints that the practice might be inhumane are moot. The state's Department of Natural Resources classifies pigeons as a nuisance; they are not protected.

Smith wonders if the remaining pigeons have learned something, following the earlier removals.

"What's compelling is the feed is still here, four days later," she says at the spot where she saw the capture occur. "None of the pigeons are eating this feed. They know."

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