Rats With Wings
LONDON, June 19 — On one side is Mayor Ken Livingstone, known for his implacable campaigns against things that annoy him, like people who drive instead of taking the subway. On the other side are the pigeons of central London.
Mr. Livingstone, who calls pigeons “rats with wings,” has made it his mission since he took office in 2000 to eradicate them from Trafalgar Square, long the center of pigeon activity in London. He has been somewhat successful, reducing the population to about 1,800, from 4,000 by, among other things, closing down the last official pigeon-food-vending business, employing a pigeon-scaring falcon and making pigeon-feeding illegal in the square.
For the last two years, there has been a notable exception to the no-feeding policy. Under an unusual agreement, a pigeon-advocacy group has been allowed to scatter corn in a corner of the square for 10 minutes at 7:30 every morning, then leave.
But now, because of what the mayor’s office calls rogue feeding by a radical splinter group that has sneakily been providing food some afternoons, the mayor is canceling even that program.