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Was Deporting Uptown Pigeons To Indiana Legal?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Officials in Indiana suggested it might have been illegal when pigeons trapped in the Uptown neighborhood were brought to a farm in Indiana.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th) arranged for 60 to 70 pigeons to be captured in the Uptown neighborhood, in the 4700 block of North Broadway Avenue, then taken to a farm in Indiana.

"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 said the farmer has come to Chicago four times but did not elaborate.

Linnea Petercheff, a wildlife permit officer with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said, "I've never heard of such a story. If a person imported pigeons to be released or sold in Indiana, it would be illegal without a permit. We haven't given out a permit in more than ten years."

It would be legal, however, if the pigeons were brought to Indiana for personal use, and likely the only personal use would be consumption.

At least one animal rights activist was questioning the farmer's motives in obtaining the pigeons.

"By all appearances these pigeons are being captured and being used in some type of shooting event," said Steve Hindi, founder and president of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK). "No farmer is going to take live pigeons onto his property. Farmers want to eliminate pigeons from their property."

Hindi said he wants to know who the farmer is, "and what's really going on here?"

But the alderman's office has refused to identify the farmer.

Having the pigeons captured and hauled off to Indiana wasn't Cappleman's first salvo in his fight against the birds. He has introduced an ordinance that would significantly increase the penalties for feeding pigeons – making it a crime punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

It's already a city code violation to feed pigeons, punishable by a fine of up to $500.

And last May, Cappleman was assaulted by a woman in Uptown, after he started sweeping away the breadcrumbs she had spread on the ground for pigeons near Broadway and Wilson Avenue.

At the time, the alderman said the area is littered with breadcrumbs every day and has a serious pigeon problem. He has also said the breadcrumbs people leave for the birds could attract rats, too, so his staff regularly cleans up breadcrumbs left on the streets.

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