Yesterday was a day of triumph for Tom Lehrer. "It just takes a smidgen’ to poison a pigeon," the Harvard-educated comedian gleefully sang in 1959. "When they see us coming, the pigeons all try an’ hide, but they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide." In his strained rhyme, Lehrer satirically worried about the response of the Audubon Society, but, as it turns out, his methods have finally earned the approval of animal-rights activists. Sort of.
In Lehrer’s home state of California, PETA and the Argyle Civic Association have conspired to dispose of the pestilent pigeon population by no less insidious means. "Citizen Pigeon," a rooftop operation launched yesterday in Hollywood, aims to cull flock growth by "humanely" lacing the birds’ food with an oral contraceptive called OvoControl.
According to a recent BBC article, the pigeon population there could dive-bomb to 50% by 2012.
"Citizen Pigeon is a win-win project," said PETA wildlife biologist Stephanie Boyles, in a press release: "Businesses get fewer pigeons roosting on their buildings, and pigeons are spared cruel deaths."
Yes, perhaps: replacing strychnine with birth control may take better care of the birds. But Lehrer (now a renowned lecturer at UC Santa Cruz) might say they were missing the point.