If you saw Mary Poppins as a child and remember hearing ‘Feed the birds, tuppins a bag’ you probably thought that feeding the pigeons was a rather altruistic activity. Think again. ‘Pigeons are degrading the city,’ says Florence’s Environmental Assessor, Claudio Del Lungo, who recently passed an ordinance prohibiting the feeding of street birds. Fines are 50 Euro for anyone who feeds pigeons in the plaza or ducks along the Arno. The ordinance was issued in response to complaints from citizens about the worsening pigeon problem. According to Del Lungo, they attract rodents and insects, deteriorate hygiene conditions and damage buildings and monuments.
As for the ducks, Del Lungo worries about their diet. He argues that people tend to overfeed ducks, perhaps killing them as a result. As is true for pigeons, food thrown into the Arno also attracts animals that will only cause the river to become dirty and pest-ridden.
This ordinance will be adopted by other cities in Italy as well. The objective is to cut costs related to sterilization, which is often ineffective. There are, however, four exceptions to the newly passed ordinance. They are: feeding grain to wild birds in agricultural areas; in private areas using bird feeders; under community administration; or while the birds are being monitored with ASL staff or other sanitary personnel—but never, ever in the piazza.
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