Strange Stuff: For 40 years, the LA Times has tried to be a deeply respectable newspaper (“Who do you have to decapitate to make the front page around here?) despite the abundance of lurid news in LA. Occasionally, though, it does take notice of some of the weird stuff that goes on in SoCal:
Federal agents went undercover, conducting nighttime surveillance, setting up remote cameras and digging through trash cans, searching for possible criminal activity among Southern California‘s roller pigeon rings.
Roller pigeons, you ask?
Roller pigeons are bred for a genetic quirk that strikes in mid-flight, causing a brief seizure that sends the birds spiraling uncontrollably toward the ground. Thousands of hobbyists compete to see who can best make their birds roll in unison.
Here’s a Youtube video of these genetically defective pigeons in action.
But for a hawk or falcon, a plummeting roller pigeon is fast food. Fed up by raptors spoiling their sport, some of the leading competitors in the roller pigeon field began illegally killing the predators, according to a federal indictment released Thursday.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents arrested seven men from Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the president of the sport’s national umbrella group, on charges of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a misdemeanor.
The agents blame the clubs that the men belong to for killing 1,000 to 2,000 hawks and falcons in Southern California every year.
“When you take out a predatory bird, you’re taking out the upper end of the food chain,” said Special Agent Lisa Nichols of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “It blows the balance of everything.”
Birmingham Roller Pigeons, as they are officially called, are originally from England but now are raised in backyard coops around the world. In the U.S., “flyers” enter teams of 11 to 20 birds in competition. During 20-minute bouts, the birds are scored for the number, quality and depth of rolls that a “kit” or group of at least five birds performs in unison, according to the National Birmingham Roller Pigeon Club, whose president, Juan Navarro, was among the seven men indicted.
Navarro allegedly told an undercover Fish and Wildlife Service agent that he likes to “pummel” the hawks that he catches with a stick.
“You’ll see, it gets the frustration out,” Navarro said, according to a Fish and Wildlife agent’s affidavit.
Navarro could not be reached for comment. On the Inner City Roller Club website, Navarro wrote that attacks by falcons and hawks have reached “epidemic proportions in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.”
“The emotional stress of seeing birds taken daily is just too much for some fanciers,” he said.
Well, I threw lemons at the raptor that swooped down and just about got my son’s rabbit last year, so I can see how Mr. Navarro feels, but better his mutant pigeons than our rabbit. And killing 1000-2000 hawks per year in Southern California alone? Holy cow. Hawks are at the top of the food chain, so there aren’t that many of them.
Skulking around the home of defendant Keith London in South Los Angeles, Newcomer and agent Ho Truong saw a trap on the roof and “what appeared to be a large bird flapping its wings.”
Watching from Newcomer’s Chevy Tahoe parked across the street, the agents watched as London, president of the Inner City Roller Club, climbed the roof, shot the bird with a pellet gun and threw it into his backyard, according to the affidavit.
Do you get the feeling that these guys would be pit bull fanciers if they didn’t have their retarded pigeons? So, perhaps it’s all for the best in the great tapestry of life.
(Republished from iSteve
by permission of author or representative)