http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/03/113_41811.htmlPeace Symbol Degraded as Harmful Creatures
By Kwon Mee-yoo
While the white dove is considered a symbol of peace, its lowly cousin the domestic pigeon has been designated a harmful creature here and will be hunted down from next month.
The Ministry of Environment gave advanced notice of legislation on the pigeons Sunday. A revision of the Wildlife Protection Law will designate domestic pigeons as ``detrimental wildlife,'' which also includes animals that damage fruit trees and crops, such as magpies and wild boars.
According to the new designation, pigeons are classified as vermin and heads of local government will be asked to authorize their capture late this year.
``The pigeons on the streets are dirty, abundant and threatening,'' said Han Joo-hee, an office worker. ``They make the street dirty and get hurt by the trash there. It's a vicious circle for both humans and pigeons.''
For many Koreans, domestic pigeons have become an object of evasion and disgust with contaminated feathers and their excrement corroding buildings, including major cultural assets.
``I guess street food is one of the major reasons of increasing pigeons in the city. Despite the new measure to exterminate them, I don't expect that many pigeons will disappear quickly,'' Han added.
Local governments have been receiving civil appeals to eliminate pigeons but could not actively seize and eradicate them as their status was unclear.
These domestic pigeons have been called ``chicken-pigeons'' due to their fatness or ``mouse-pigeons'' because of their dirtiness. Residents complained about them, but local governments were passive in their elimination.
Local governments hired professional hunters to seize the pigeons, but released them again after sterilization, which costs around 40,000 won ($30) per bird. ``We had to protect the pigeons because they were designated as livestock under current law,'' an official of a local government body said.
The Ministry of Government Legislation interpreted domestic pigeons as wildlife last year and the environment ministry designated them as detrimental creatures as part of follow-up measures. ``This designation will provide a legal basis for local governments to exterminate domestic pigeons, which cause damage to various facilities and disgust people,'' a ministry official said.
The ministry will receive opinions from those who are concerned until April 9 and put the law in effect as soon as possible if there are no objections. The measures to get rid of domestic pigeons in city area will be enforced in mid-April at the earliest.
``There are just too many pigeons in the city now and some measures are needed to keep the balance of the ecosystem,'' said Lee Sun-min, 25. ``I get scared when a flock of grubby pigeons fly toward me downtown.''
Ministry of Government Legislation, Korea
I have sent an email to the author of the article, asking her how I may contact the Ministry, since I find no useful email addresses on the Korean government English language web-sites.
Perhaps someone knows how to set up a petition at a petition website?