A probe has been launched after a group of street drinkers were seen stuffing 14 live pigeons into a rucksack – for food.
Police believe the pigeons’ capture was so the offenders could eat them, and have reported the incident to the RSPCA.
Officers say they have identified the group of street drinkers they believe were responsible for capturing the birds during an incident in broad daylight in Exeter.
And traders have spoken of their horror. PCSO Sarah Giles described it as ‘blatant pigeon eating’ and has pin-pointed a particular group of drinkers responsible.
She said geese and swans have also been reportedly captured by the river in the past.
The city centre police team are in the process of contacting the RSPCA over the incident, and will make sure the group are aware such behaviour “will never be tolerated.”
One anonymous trader said the incident at around 4pm last Thursday, which took place over 20 minutes, was “horrifying” to witness.
She described seeing a man coaxing pigeons with bird seed.
She said: “It was then his mate would grab the pigeon and stuff it into the rucksack.
“They managed to get 14 in, even with them flapping about. It was the space of around 20 minutes.
“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.”