Cruel Intentions

Lichfield, Staffordshire, England. A cathedral city and civil parish, known for its three spiral cathedral and being the birth place of Dr Samuel Johnson, the author of the very first English Dictionary. Lichfield’s connections and histories are something to be rather proud of and perhaps even something to boast about. However, recently, there has been an occurrence linked to this city that we should be less pleased about. Something that is not only cruel in its nature, but illegal. Something, which to some, is known as pigeon hooking.

No, this is not an innocent fairground game reminiscent of hook the duck, but something that is practiced by a minority of pigeon keepers. Pigeon hooking involves the inserting of sharp plastic hooks into the feet of a pigeon and setting it loose. In Lichfield, an injured pigeon was recently rescued after it had suffered at the hands of this practice and the RSPCA has been appealing for information. The pigeon in question was found in February after the bird became stuck in a garden in the city. After being rescued, the pigeon was successfully cared for by the RSPCA, with the offending hooks being removed from its legs.

But hang on a minute here, what could possibly be the point of putting plastic hooks into the feet of a pigeon? Well, as cruel as this action is in itself, it has another purpose: to injure and harm birds of prey. Sparrowhawks and peregrine falcons are those species who are the most likely targets of this practice as they often predate on pigeons. A spokesperson for the RSPCA labeled such actions as ‘unacceptable’ and  ‘illegal’, with it causing injury to both the pigeon and any bird of prey that may have attempted to catch it. Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon

Unfortunately, this is once again a story that is all to familiar. Perhaps not the method of the madness, but the eventual aim of it: to injure birds of prey. Despite the illegality of such practices, they continue to occur in our country, with new and innovative ways always being dreamt up to target bird of prey species. This particular method however is not only putting birds of prey at risk, but also the birds that these hooks are attached to. The lack of care for both the pigeons and birds of prey is both astounding and shameful.

If anyone has any information on this particular case or any others that involve pigeon hooking, they are asked to contact the RSPCA.







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Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard
I have been a bird enthusiast since I was a child and have just completed my MSc at Newcastle University on 'Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management.'
Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard

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