Canada’s weirdest laws: In Edmonton, you can keep up to 75 pigeons as pets if you get a licence

This law is brought to you courtesy of Edmonton bylaw 13145, which devotes a whole section to the legal ownership of pigeons.
This law is brought to you courtesy of Edmonton bylaw 13145, which devotes a whole section to the legal ownership of pigeons. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Cue the cooing.

Although Alberta is not keen on its residents owning rats as pets, because of the disease factor, the city of Edmonton has no problem with people keeping pigeons as pets. In fact, you can have a whopping 75 of them as long as you get a licence to do so.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: It is illegal to own a pet rat in Alberta

Right, because pigeons are not known to transmit diseases to humans.

This law is brought to you courtesy of Edmonton bylaw 13145, which devotes a whole section to the legal ownership of pigeons.

It’s OK to keep large numbers of pigeons in your urban backyard but but chicken weren’t allowed to be kept at a municipal address until the recent Urban Hens Pilot Project.  Under the same city bylaw, it was strictly forbidden to own “poultry.”

So why pigeons but not chickens? History is probably the answer to that question. Pigeon racing was a fairly popular sport of British royalty in the 19th and 20th centuries, and still remains so. Queen Elizabeth II reportedly owns 200 pigeons and is the patron of a number of pigeon racing societies. One could say that the pigeon is a preferred bird and their royal status spilled over into Canada.

Regardless of the status of pigeons versus other birds (or even rats) in Edmonton, it’s undeniable pigeons, especially in large numbers, make a lot of noise and mess.

Such was the case in Calgary, which allows racing pigeons to be kept in urban neighbourhoods. One woman kept 20 racing pigeons in three coops and her neighbours kept complaining to the city about the noise and the smell. Bylaw officers concluded she hadn’t broken any rules, so the neighbours would just have to suffer.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: Did you know it’s illegal to steal oysters from oyster beds?

If 20 pigeons were annoying just imagine what 75 pigeons could be like.

Let’s hope Edmontonians never have to find out.

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