Man arrested for feeding birds by Calif. airport
The Associated Press
Posted: 08/22/2011 06:40:53 AM PDT
Updated: 08/22/2011 02:51:57 PM PDT
BURBANK, Calif.—A businessman involved in months of legal wrangling for allegedly feeding pigeons near Bob Hope Airport has been arrested because the burgeoning bird population has created an air safety hazard, authorities said. Charles Douglas, 59, is accused of feeding pigeons for the past year at his Precise Roofing Co. on Hollywood Way near the east San Fernando Valley airport.
After two court citations and a bench warrant, Burbank police arrested Douglas on Friday at his business.
City prosecutor Denny Wei told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/oWmSRc) that Douglas was booked for disobeying two court orders and creating a public nuisance. The misdemeanors each carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Wei didn’t immediately return a voicemail message left at his office.
Douglas said he was released after posting a $5,000 bond. He was ticketed on Aug. 7 but denies he fed the pigeons.
He contends that authorities are trying to make an example to warn off other bird-fanciers.
Douglas said Monday that he had fed a flock of doves for the past 28 years but he stopped in December when a judge convicted him of illegally feeding birds and told him not to do it for a year.
“That citation is bogus,” and he will fight it in court and may sue unless he receives an apology, Douglas said.
Douglas, a roofing contractor, lives about a mile from the airportrunway. He said the doves, a flock of about 100 sparrows and lots of crows and pigeons have been visiting the area for decades because nearby workers, including machinists at the former Lockheed plant, used to feed them leftovers from their brown-bag lunches.
Generations of birds still flock to the area, as do bird-feeders, Douglas said.
The birds perch on roofs and sip water from swamp coolers and gutters.
“If we have time and we wash out trucks, you’ll see them lining up in the alley,” Douglas said. The bird-feeders leave goodies for them, he added.
“I’ve probably seen about a dozen people,” Douglas said. “Some old people who used to work at Lockheed bring peanuts.”
“You see bread, popcorn, birdseed, people’s lunches that they didn’t finish,” he said. “Early this morning, there were loaves in the parking lot.”
Airport police Cmdr. Allen Schmitt said aircraft-bird strikes at the airport average one every two months, but the number has increased with five incidents last month.
“A pigeon is not a problem, but a flock—that’s a problem,” Schmitt said, adding, “…we’re not talking about 20 or 30 pigeons in the middle of nowhere. There are upward of 200 to 300 to 400 pigeons flying over runways.”
Bob Hope Airport and other commercial airports are required to have a wildlife mitigation plan, but those requirements don’t apply off airport property, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.
“Obviously it’s not a good idea to attract wildlife to areas around the airport,” Gregor said.
Douglas, a bird fancier who keeps three parrots and two cockatiels at home, agreed that too many pigeons spoil the flight path and said pigeon-feeders should be cited.
“I think that the airport is right, that safety is likely an issue, and I think that they’re not very good at catching people,” Douglas said.
He also suggested another solution.
“Somebody sent me an email from Texas today and said: ‘Don’t you have that birth control for pigeons?'” Douglas said. “They put some type of powder in the food and (the pigeons) don’t reproduce.”
“I’m thinking you could put a giant dent in the population,” he said.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com
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