City officials had a hard time holding back their tongue-in-cheek comments last week, as the Eagan City Council took action to amend its rules governing carrier pigeons.
"Carrier pigeons?" I thought, as I reviewed the council's agenda for the evening. "Why would the city have an ordinance on carrier pigeons?"
After talking with the city's communications director, Tom Garrison, it turns out that the city's ordinance is an old, quirky rule inserted into the City Code.
But just because it hails from another era doesn't mean it doesn't serve a purpose today, Garrison was quick to point out. At least one person in Eagan currently has a permit under the ordinance to keep carrier pigeons, Garrison said.
People who wish to own carrier pigeons—also known as homing pigeons—must live on property that is at least a half-acre in size, according to the ordinance, and have to mark their birds with some means of identification. The owner must also allow animal control inspectors to check out the coops where the pigeons are kept, among other requirements.
The council changed the ordinance on Tuesday so that carrier pigeon permits no longer need to be approved by the council; they can simply be cleared by the city clerk.
It isn't the first odd governmental rule Garrison has seen. But the council, he said, has invested a lot of time into cleaning up many of the older, stranger ordinances.
“Certainly, back in the earlier part of the last century there were a lot of folks that probably had a carrier pigeons at that time," Garrison said. "It was a bigger messaging system then than it is today."
My only question: Who has the carrier pigeon permit in the city, and why do they keep carrier pigeons?
The Editor's Notebook is an occasional column by Eagan Patch Editor David Henke. To suggest a topic for the column, email firstname.lastname@example.org.