Wimbledon calls in the big guns to combat pesky pigeons (Wimbledon Diary)

June 25th, 2008 - 10:43 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
London , June 25 (DPA) Wimbledon officials have brought out the big guns in the effort to keep pesky pigeons out of the environs of the All England club as they field a “death squad” armed with air rifles. The action plan has drawn fire from animal-loving Middle England, with welfare group PETA calling the use of marksmen “cruel and illegal behaviour”.

A complaint has apparently been filed with police, who are thick on the ground in their hundreds during the fortnight.

“Since the use of marksmen to kill pigeons appears to have been carried out as a first, rather than a last resort, and not out of a concern for public health, but rather because the animals were deemed inconvenient by players, you appear to be in clear violation of the law,” said PETA vice-president Bruce Friedrich.

Wimbledon says it brought out the sharpshooters after a pair of hawks failed to stop the pigeon invasion.

The birds are especially irritating if they choose to dive-bomb centre court during the heat of matches.

But the situation got serious when they began getting comfortable on the grassy players lawn one level above ground, which also includes an open-air restaurant.

“The hawks are our first line of deterrent, and by and large they do the job,” said a spokesman. “But unfortunately there were one or two areas where the hawks didn’t deter the pigeons, so it was deemed necessary to take a harder approach.”

Pigeon dropping on tables were thought to be the main irritant with the health risk they pose.

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Blake has “hometown” edge with British mum at Wimbledon

London: American James Blake may make a sentimental journey to his English mother’s hometown of Banbury in Oxfordshire when his Wimbledon run is done.

But the ninth seed remains unsure, with his outcome at the Grand Slam obviously the top concern.

Blake’s mother Betty has made the visit to the All England club for this edition, and her proud son can tell that she’s right back in her element.

“The biggest thing is I see my mom’s smiling face, I see how happy she is to be here and how excited she is to eat some of the things she used to eat. She’s even getting her accent back even more than what it is when she is in the States.”

Blake added: “It’s like another home Grand Slam for me. I’ve been to Banbury with her before, in 2002. We went to a place for lunch and a guy actually remembered her.

“She has a pretty unique maiden name, too, so they remembered the name. It’s fun to see where your parents come from.”
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