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Originally published November 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 30, 2005 at 2:01 PM

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Dead pigeons falling from Wenatchee skies cause flurry of calls

Pigeons were falling dead from the skies over downtown Wenatchee, and the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society got a flurry of calls.

The Associated Press

WENATCHEE — Pigeons were falling dead from the skies over downtown Wenatchee, and the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society got a flurry of calls.

Was it the feared avian flu? No.

The Chelan-Douglas Health District was preparing to ship some of the dead birds to a state health lab for testing when someone at the Coast Hotel and Wenatchee Center called to say the center had hired a pest-control company — the state-licensed Yakima office of St. Paul, Minn.-based EcoLab — to poison the birds.

"This abatement kills a couple of birds and sends a message to the birds to not come here," said Freyda Stephens, general manager of the center. "It's not intended to kill everything."

While there's no violation of state law, James Rowe, a Humane Society animal control officer, said the center may have violated a city animal-cruelty ordinance if it didn't take out a city permit.

"The ordinance basically says you can't poison animals in the city unless you are a government agency or authorized by one," he said.

"If you're going to be killing that many birds you would think they would have let some officials know because of all the concern right now with avian flu," he added. And there are ways do avoid "birds randomly dying, wherever. It can be a horrific thing to witness a bird flopping around dying."

He's asked the city attorney to look into the matter. A decision on charges is expected in about a week.

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