BRITISH COLUMBIA

Pigeon Forced To Wear Hat, Bell Sparks Penticton Investigaton

04/16/2015 01:05 EDT | Updated 04/16/2015 01:59 EDT

penticton pigeon

Images posted on social media of a pigeon that appears to have been abused are raising more questions than answers in Penticton, B.C.

Manda Maggs, a licenced wildlife rehabilitator, posted the photo to Facebook and said a friend brought the issue to her attention.

The bird has a bell around its neck and has some kind of paper or cardboard attached to its head. It is also missing all of its tail feathers and has a red tinge to it which could be the remnants of paint.

"Pigeons sometimes have a pinkish tinge to their feathers, but this is a very dull matte red colour - not natural for a pigeon," Maggs said. "I am quite certain it's not blood, it doesn't cake the feathers nor does it seem to have any origin (wound or injury)... Could be paint, ink, or a chemical. We can't know for sure until the bird is checked out."

Corinne Ross, manager of the South Okanagan Similkameen SPCA, said it wouldn't be easy to catch a wild pigeon and do this.

"For someone to do something to a pigeon like that, it has to have been hand raised or compromised in some way," Ross said. "In this case I would say it was compromised by its tail feathers. With a large bell around its neck like that, it's even further compromised."

Maggs agreed that was possible, but said: "Pigeons aren't very fast and are often very used to being around people, just walk downtown and spread some breadcrumbs to see how quickly they'll approach."

"As a rehabber, I've never myself seen an abuse case like this," she said.

Maggs' post says that the pigeon has been seen hanging around South Main Avenue, Green Avenue and Dauphin Street in Penticton.

The last time the bird was seen was April 13.

Ross said she had not personally heard of the bird until Castanet sent the photo in. She reminded anyone that witnesses abuse to call the cruelty hotline.

A special provincial constable with the SPCA has been dispatched to investigate.

Sgt. Rick Dellebuur with the Penticton RCMP said they are aware of the incident.

"Not aware of any other similar acts at this time," he said in an email.

The cruelty hotline at the BC SPCA is 1-855-622-7722.

Read more stories from Castanet.

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