Lawmakers amending bill to ban pigeon feeding

Lawmakers amending bill to ban pigeon feeding
Published: Feb. 5, 2013 at 11:47 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2013 at 12:07 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill to make it illegal to feed feral pigeons is heading through the Hawaii Legislature, although not everyone agrees on the dirty details.

Neighbors living near people who feed pigeons say they are being held hostage by the birds and their droppings.  Now a group from Pearl City has teamed up and is trying to help write the law.

It's neighbor versus neighbor in this Pearl City neighborhood where two neighbors in particular are accused of feeding up to 200 birds every day for more than a decade and caused more problems than just loss of appetite.

"We can't enjoy our own property. The strong odors are overwhelming. When it was raining I would go and it would smell like a chicken coup on my parent's side. My mother experienced nausea from the odor and couldn't go outside," said Florence Tanaka, from Pearl City, who testified before lawmakers.

"It's just filthy," said Grace Watanabe, from Pearl City, while testifying before lawmakers.

The neighbors on either side of the feeding issue haven't been able to find common ground.  Now there are two bills at the capitol.  One would criminalize feeding feral birds.  The first offense would be punishable by a fine. The second within five years is a petty misdemeanor.

The other bill would allow people to sue each other for injury or property damage from the birds.  More specifically the poop.

"l've lived a long and good life and have no regrets, but please consider these two bills to help future families not go through the heartache that We've experienced since 1999," said Shigeko Mukai, from Pearl City, who testified before lawmakers.

The Humane Society of the United States supports both bills, but with amendments like excluding feeding birds birth control, planned pigeon hood as it was referred to.  They also don't want to punish accidental feedings and do want to exclude licensed bird rehabilitation centers.  Otherwise they believe pigeon feeding needs to stop.

"We understand the majority of people feeding birds they are well intended. They think they are helping the birds. They don't understand they are causing more harm than good," said Inga Gibson, The Humane Society of the United States.

However it's an issue that has split the community and even state departments.  The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources supports the bills saying birds pose risk to public health and carry disease, lice and mites.

However the State Attorney General says the bill to sue each other is "overly broad" and will be impossible to trace if poop came from a fed bird and will "likely result in increased frivolous lawsuits and could result in absurd consequences."

"It really is potential for abuse," said Caron Inagaki, Deputy Attorney General.

With that lawmakers will sit on the issue for two weeks to digest the testimony and work out the language to make it more palatable for everyone.

To read House Bill 619 which would make it illegal to feed feral birds click here.

To read House Bill 15 which would allow people to sue over bird damages click here.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.