The tradition of pigeon feeding in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square is over

It is now illegal to feed the pigeons in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, or anywhere else in the city for that matter.

Venice’s avian crackdown, which went into effect on Wednesday, joins the likes of London’s and New York’s, where it’s been against the law to feed pigeons for some time now. But it’s difficult to name a city that has a closer connection with the “winged rat” than Venice: Who hasn’t imagined walking across St. Mark’s early in the morning with no one around (“Yeah right!” you say of Venice) and scattering pigeons, which take flight in a rush of wings that do not quite drone out the chimes from a nearby bell tower.

Of course, you can still scatter the pigeons, I guess — there are an estimated 40,000 living in Venice. But feeding them is going to cost you a 50 euro fine (around $75)

Naturally, the dozen or so vendors in St. Mark’s Square who made their living selling breadcrumbs to tourists who wanted pigeon-laden snapshots are angry at the city’s mayor for imposing the crackdown, saying they’ve been catering to this particular niche in Venice’s tourist market for more than a century.

What do you think? Is banning pigeon feeding silly or practical? Do places like St. Mark’s and Trafalgar Square in London lose something by such laws?