Saying he can no longer stand rampant panhandling he sees across the city every day, local Scott Stephens is calling on city leaders to address the unchecked issue of begging birds now found on just about every curb.
“Everywhere I go birds are begging for food and if you give them anything they’re right back there a few seconds later begging for more,” said Stephens. “I don’t believe they’re hungry at all. I think they just don’t want to earn their food like the rest of us so they mooch off those who work for it. It’s got to stop.”
Stephens, who admits he is often frustrated by the city’s apparent lack of concern over the issue, says he sometimes finds his anger bubble over, pushing him to yell at and chase birds.
“I cannot stand free-loaders, especially since I work hard to put food on the table and these birds just want me to give it to them? No way. It’s time our city government addresses this and these panhandlers get jobs.”
City Councilman Sam Wilson says citizens like Stephens who don’t attend council meetings typically aren’t aware the discussions its members have had. According to Wilson, the City Council has been working on a solution for a while now but becomes complicated in how best to approach the issue.
“It’s a challenging problem for law enforcement because panhandling is not illegal. We’re not the only city facing this issue,” the councilman stated.
John Bialas disagrees with the councilman, saying he was terrified by a bird bum recently after refusing to give him food.
“A few weeks ago I was dining outside and the bird came up to me right as the server was bringing my lunch,” Bialas said, who noted he felt frightened by the experience. “I told the bird I didn’t have any spare food to give and that’s when he got really aggressive. He began chirping like crazy that he was going to poop all over me and my car if I didn’t give him something. I ended up having to split my entire meal with him.”
As several cities across the nation consider measures to fight aggressive panhandling from birds during the busy summer tourism season, authorities warn it is symptomatic of a larger societal problem that can’t be solved through law enforcement alone.
“Birds, aside from those with pirates or in the circus, typically do not have much education or work experience,” the councilman said. “You just can’t tell them to get a job. They’ll just pretend they don’t understand what you’re saying and continue to do what they’re doing.”