San Francisco: do not feed the parakeets

June 6, 2007 at 4:49 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, June 6 (UPI) -- San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has banned humans from feeding the wild parakeets that gather in downtown Ferry Park.

The board voted 10-1 to ban feeding of the birds after longtime bird watchers expressed fears the common practice of feeding the parakeets could cause them to become too domesticated to find their own food, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Mark Bittner, a writer and formerly homeless musician who gained fame for feeding the birds in 2005 documentary film, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," is now one of the ban's chief supporters.

"In some ways, people see it as, 'Well, he did it, why can't we?'" Bittner said. "But I was doing it alone, and I was careful to never let other people feed them."

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, the board president, agreed with Bittner that "copycat feeders" are endangering the "physical and psychological health" of the parakeets.

"It's kind of like what we're taught when we go to Yosemite, not to feed the wild animals," Peskin said. "I know a number of people are getting an immense amount of pleasure from feeding these birds, and they're well-meaning folks, but it's necessary to protect the birds."

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