The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is spearheading a campaign to catch pigeons and has vowed to impose a ban on feeding them – violators could be jailed for up to three months, face a 25,000 baht ($770) fine, or both.
“There’s a risk to humans in places where there is a high concentration of pigeons,” Taweesak Lertprapan, deputy Bangkok governor, told Reuters as bird catchers caught pigeons around him at a public square.
Other cities around the world have imposed similar bans, including Italian tourist favourite Venice where feeding pigeons is illegal – but there is no threat of serving time.
In Bangkok, pigeons – often dubbed “rats with wings” – are often found in crowded areas, including temples, markets and public parks.
Taweesak said health risks from pigeons include respiratory diseases, meningitis and bird flu.
“The most effective solution is to stop feeding them,” Taweesak said.
Officials have also said that many tourists feed the pigeons without knowing the impact it has on the spread of bird flu and the problems it can cause.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha this month ordered a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of pigeons in populated areas.