A pigeon poacher who grabs his prey by hand in a Soho park and sells them to Manhattan merchants claims he’s just a misunderstood bird lover.
“I’ve been poaching pigeons on and off for about 40 years in New York City,” said the unapologetic poacher, who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity. “It’s pretty good money; I’ll make $5 a pigeon.
“I’ll sit on a park bench and throw out some food,” he continued. “Within seconds a bunch of pigeons will gather, and with both hands I’ll grab about five at a time around their necks and put them in a black garbage bag. I don’t use a net, my bare hands work fine.
“Pigeons are easy to catch,” the birdman explained. “When pigeons walk around, it’s easy for string to get tangled up around their feet. It cuts off their circulation. That’s why you see so many with missing toes.
“Those are the easiest to catch.”
He nabs his birds in broad daylight and occasionally encounters a disgusted animal-lover.
“I do get confronted by people who’ll come up to me and say, ‘What are you going to do with those pigeons?’
“Have sex with them,” is his usual retort.
“Then they’ll leave me alone,” he said.
The poacher explained how the pigeon market in New York City — home to an estimated 1 million of the birds — works: A client will call him to place an order for 10 to 20 pigeons, he said, and will place orders up to a half-dozen times a year. One order always comes right before the Chinese Lunar New Year.
‘With both hands I’ll grab about five at a time around their necks and put them in a black garbage bag. I don’t use a net, my bare hands work fine’
– pigeon poacher
“In Chinatown they will do a ceremony where they release the pigeons into the wild,” he said. “In their religion, they think it’s bad karma to take from the earth without replenishing it. So this is their way of replenishing the earth.”
Jenny Wong, a spokesperson for the Chinatown Community Cultural Center, claimed to have no knowledge of such a practice.
The poacher also said he sells the birds to “poultry markets” but would not name them.
He admits the pigeon-poaching black market often leads to the birds being sold to rural hunting and shooting clubs for target practice. But he claims he does not sell to those places.
The poacher, without a hint of irony, spoke of pigeons as rat-like creatures before blurting, “I’m a bird lover. I’m a member of the American Mason Pigeon Association.” The Post could find no such group.
Even no-kill birdnapping is a crime, legally and morally, say animal-rights advocates.
“It’s a Class A misdemeanor and it’s punishable for up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000,” said Elinor Molbegott, counsel for the Humane Society of New York. “All birds, including pigeons, are entitled to protection.”
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