Wimbledon under fire for pigeon cull

LONDON -- Wimbledon came under fire from
animal activists on Tuesday for using marksmen to shoot down
dive-bombing pigeons.

The tournament employs two hawks to scare away pigeons who
had become a pest swooping down on Centre Court and distracting
players in the middle of tense matches.

But the hawks failed to keep the pigeons away from the
players' lawn and the open-air media restaurant so marksmen were
called in.

"The hawks are our first line of deterrent, and by and large
they do the job," Wimbledon spokesman Johnny Perkins said.

"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," he explained.

The marksmen were summoned by Wimbledon as pigeon droppings
on the restaurant tables were thought to be a health hazard.

The decision to call in the marksmen was condemned as "cruel
and illegal behavior" by People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals, which complained to the tournament organizers and
the police.

"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," PETA vice president Bruce Friedrich