Video has emerged of a group of men believed to have been catching pigeons for food in Exeter.
The footage was shot by a man who was in Sidwell Street shopping with his young daughter last month.
The driver says he saw one man scattering seeds then was shocked to see another grab a white pigeon and stuff it into a rucksack.
He caught a few seconds on vide while pretending to be talking on the phone as he was scared to attract the attention of the group, who he says were loud and aggressive.
Afterwards, he went to Heavitree police station to report the men.
He told Devonlive.com the group appeared drunk and were “speaking and laughing loudly”.
“My daughter felt intimidated even just being in the car,” added the man, who asked not to be named but has given police his details.
“The men were sat on the bench – it looked like they were having fun, like it was planned.
Sidwell Street traders’ have spoke of their horror after witnessing street drinkers stuff 14 pigeons into a rucksack in the space of 20 minutes
“They spread the seeds then waited for the pigeons to come. One captured a white pigeon and the other opened the bag and dropped it in.
“That’s when I thought I am going to the police. People were looking wondering what was going on but these guys didn’t look like the sort of people you could ask why there were doing this.
“I thought it was disgusting, to see humans behaving like this in the middle of a city centre. It was very aggressive and they were doing it in front of children.”
Sidwell Street traders’ spoke of their horror after witnessing street drinkers stuff 14 live pigeons into a rucksack – in a cruel act believed to be food-gathering.
PCSO Sarah Giles, part of the city centre’s policing team, described the unbelievable incident as part of ‘blatant pigeon eating’ recognised by police, and has pinpointed a particular group of drinkers responsible.
One anonymous trader said the incident, on August 31, which took place over 20 minutes, was “horrifying” to witness.
She described how she, and passers-by, saw a man known for drinking regularly at the spot, coaxing pigeons with bird seed.
“I was horrified. I know there are too many pigeons and I’ve never been a fan, but how can you be so cruel to an animal? That to me was cruel.
“If I was a bigger person I would have taken the rucksack off them, but it was two strapping blokes.”
“It’s all alcohol related, they sit on Sidwell Street drinking at all hours of the day. There aren’t enough police around.”
PCSO Giles said geese and swans have been reportedly captured by the river in the past, and that it is all down to a particular group of “street attached” drinkers.
It is ingrained issue, one she wishes she could solve.
She said: “They have money to spend on booze, so they have the money to buy food. ”
“Many of this group are housed, in B&B’s, bedsits or small flats.
The incident happened just one week after the murder of a seagull on the same street.
Shoppers, including small children, watched as a woman on Sidwell Street stamped on the head of the bird at 3pm on Friday, August 25.
PCSO Giles believes traders on Sidwell Street need to band together to stamp out the anti-social behaviour which has become commonplace on the key route into Exeter city centre.
She worries it will soon fall foul of the “broken window” theory – that if you leave a broken window unfixed another will break, and the area will soon be disrespected.
“We need to get community cohesion going, we need a sense of identity in Sidwell Street. We don’t have the option to police it every day and a traders group would be benefitial.”
She is also positive the recently introduced PSPO will help combat the problems, offering greater leverage with the drinkers.
“It is still early days, but I am hugely optimistic it will help,” she added.
Police said they were investigating the incident and are currently studying CCTV of the area.
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