- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) - A dispute about homing pigeons in a Detroit suburb could lead to a change in decades-old Michigan law.

State Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, has sponsored a bill to allow municipalities to regulate pigeon-keeping practices. Hopgood told the Detroit Free Press (https://on.freep.com/1foIyiq ) for a Tuesday story that the bill would prevent outright bans.

“It’s creating a venue in the community to solve the issue and create a policy location,” Hopgood said. “You don’t want to stop people from pursuing their interest.”

Michael Morris, 56, has dozens of homing pigeons that roost in specially made lofts behind his Allen Park home. The 56-year-old loves driving the birds hundreds of miles away, then going back home to sit in a lawn chair and watch as they come back.

“I’ve done all the right things and followed all the rules to make sure I wasn’t offending anyone on my block,” he said. “See if there are any pigeon droppings on my roof.”

Neighbor Mary Ferenc says she’s tired of hosing pigeon droppings off her property.

“Until you live it, you can’t pass judgment,” Ferenc said. “Until you live there and you smell it.”

Current law allows people to obtain permits to keep pigeons if they can prove housing is clean and orderly, said Carol Austerberry of the Wayne County Health Department. So long as the permit-holder complies, communities have little power to regulate the birds.

Austerberry said Morris’ permit is the first one she’s heard of since she arrived at the department in 2008. There are no active pigeon permits in Oakland County, but Macomb County, has about 21, according to officials. Pigeon-keeping is relatively rare in the Detroit area.

“It’s a dying sport,” said Dave Sorro, president and secretary of West Side Members’ Club, a racing-pigeon group in southeast Michigan.

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Online:

Senate Bill 631: https://1.usa.gov/1mESg4h

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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