Can “Vampires” in New York Legally Bite the Heads Off Pigeons and Drink Their Blood?

Watch out! Pigeons congregating at New York’s Theater District. Daniel Ventre, a self-proclaimed vampire, stands accused of beheading two pigeons and drinking their blood in front of horrified onlookers at Bryant Park, NY. Daniel Ventre Picture: Hybrid (@artbyhybrid)/Unsplash.

In August 2017, many news outlets covered a story about a supposed vampire in New York who fancied pigeon blood.

The New York Post reported: “A raving lunatic beheaded two pigeons in Bryant Park, proclaimed he was a ‘vampire’ — and guzzled their blood in front of a horrified crowd.”

The accused, Daniel Ventre, a homeless man who regularly hung out in Bryant Park, was arrested on August 30, 2017 for the vampiric act.

Upon arrest, he apparently said “I’m a vampire. I love to eat and suck the blood out of pigeons.” He also boasted to police that he is “Ozzy Osbourne.”

After reading a few rehashed versions of the story, I had some of my own questions which other outlets neglected to ask. Were there other criminal cases of people biting the heads off birds? Is it illegal in the state of New York to behead a pigeon and drink its blood? Did the accused have a record; had he done this before?

It didn’t surprise me that Ventre called himself Ozzy, because when someone mentions ripping the head off a small animal with their teeth, I instantly think of Ozzy Osbourne. He bit the head off what he thought was a fake bat during a concert on January 20, 1982 in Des Moines, Iowa. The stunt ended with a trip to the hospital for a rabies shot.

In 1981, he tore the heads off a couple of doves during an executive meeting. I wonder what animal rights activists would have to say if this happened today?

Through some Google searching, I was only able to find one other incident of someone biting a pigeon’s head off, but their motive wasn’t for blood consumption, it was a case of drunken shenanigans.

Adam Karmali, a Royal Marine in Cardiff, England, got intoxicated and decapitated a pigeon with his mouth while his friends photographed the event. Karmali was busted by the local authorities because they were able to pull his DNA off the pigeon body and found his records in a government regulated database for the armed forces.

Speaking of regulations, I wanted to know if biting off pigeon heads is illegal in the state of New York? It turns out it is. According to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation’s rules and regulations, §1-04 Prohibited Uses, g. 1:

Except pursuant to a permit for trapping issued by the Department, no person shall molest, chase, harass, injure, wound, trap, hunt, shoot, throw missiles at, kill or remove any animal, any nest, or the eggs of any amphibian, reptile or bird, or otherwise harm or intentionally take actions that could reasonably harm any animal, nest, or such eggs. Further, no person shall knowingly buy, receive, have in his or her possession, sell or give away any such animal or egg taken from or killed within the jurisdiction of the Department, including any zoo area. Violation of this paragraph constitutes a misdemeanor.

These statutes cover the zoo and public parks. If you aren’t familiar with the American judicial system, a misdemeanor is a chargeable offence that usually results in jail time of a year or less.

Ventre, the supposed vampire, seems to be no stranger to the judicial system in New York city. He has other arrests and cases pending, which you can view as public records. What came up in a quick search were the following cases:

April 4, 2017 PL 140.05 00 violation: 1 count, arraignment charge, Criminal Trespass 4th

April 4, 2017: PL 140.10 0A violation: B Misdemeanor, 1 count, arrest and arraignment charge, Criminal Trespass 3rd

August 11, 2017 AC 16-118 06 violation: charged with public urination

August 30, 2017 AM 03530 00 violation: A Misdemeanor, 1 count, not an arrest charge, arraignment charge, Torturing and Injuring Animals

August 30, 2017 PL 221.05 00 violation: 1 count, arrest charge, arraignment charge, Unlawful Possession Marijuana

August 30, 2017 PL 221.10 01 violation: B Misdemeanor, 1 count, not an arrest charge, arraignment charge, C/p Marijuana 5th in public place

October 27, 2017 PL 140.10 0: B Misdemeanor, 1 count, not an arrest charge, arraignment charge, Criminal Trespass 3rd enclosed property

December 30, 2017 PL 155.25 00 violation: A Misdemeanor, 1 count, arrest charge, arraignment charge, Petit Larceny

January 13, 2018 TRR 1085.7 violation: B unclassified misdemeanor

It looks like the pigeon incident was his first bloody offence involving animals, but he had other offences on his record.

On December 18, 2017 Ventre made had a court appearance for the incident that happened on August 30, 2017. His lawyer, Caitlyn Hall, is in talks with the prosecutor about a treatment plea as opposed to jail time.

The outcome was supposed to be decided on February 13, 2018, but the case was adjourned to February 28, 2018 then again to March 27, 30, 2018 and April 6, 2018. Different charges are assigned to different dates.

We will see if this vampire gets put away in the crypt for a while or if he gets the medical help he clearly needs.

Notes:

  1. The New York Post reported: Ruth Weissmann and Chris Perez, “Maniac Beheads Pigeons, Drinks Their Blood in Crowded Park,” New York Post, August 30, 2017, accessed February 23, 2018,
    https://nypost.com/2017/08/30/maniac-beheads-pigeons-drinks-their-blood-in-crowded-park/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/WZMvg.
  2. Upon arrest, he apparently said: Shayna Jacobs, “Man Who Tore Off a Pigeon’s Head and Drank Its Blood in Bryant Park to Seek Help,” New York Daily News, December 18, 2017, accessed February 24, 2018, 
    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/man-drank-pigeon-blood-bryant-park-treatment-article-1.3707920. archive.is link: https://archive.is/5k4AO.
  3. he bit the head off what he thought was a fake bat: Brian Mansfield, “Ozzy Osbourne Bit the Head Off a Bat 33 Years Ago Tonight,” USA Today, January 20, 2015, accessed February 23, 2018,
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2015/01/20/ozzy-osbourne-bit-the-head-off-a-bat-33-years-ago-tonight/77604434/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/M0ngj.
  4. got intoxicated and decapitated a pigeon with his mouth: Sophie Jane Evans, “Drunk Royal Marine Bit Off Pigeon’s HEAD… and Was Caught Because Police Found His DNA on the Bird’s Body,” Daily Mail (London), May 16, 2014, accessed February 23, 2018, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2630376/Drunk-Royal-Marine-bit-pigeons-HEAD–caught-police-DNA-birds-body.html. archive.is link: https://archive.is/0gfkY.
  5. §1-04 Prohibited Uses, g. 1: “§1-04 Prohibited Uses,” Official Website of the New York City Department of Park and Recreation, accessed February 24, 2018, https://www.nycgovparks.org/rules/section-1-04. archive.is link: https://archive.is/dOQtZ.
  6. which you can view as public records: New York State Unified Court System, accessed February 24, 2018, https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcrim_attorney/AttorneyWelcome. archive.is link: https://archive.is/k7tyQ.
  7. in talks with the prosecutor: Shayna Jacobs, “Man Who Tore Off a Pigeon’s Head and Drank Its Blood in Bryant Park to Seek Help,” New York Daily News, December 18, 2017, accessed February 24, 2018, 
    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/man-drank-pigeon-blood-bryant-park-treatment-article-1.3707920. archive.is link: https://archive.is/5k4AO.
  8. the case was adjourned to: The dates provided for Daniel Ventre’s previous and upcoming court appearances were obtained from the files of The New York State Unified System. Dates can be found in each individual court file under the “appearance” section. These are updated after each court date.

Updates:

  • August 23, 2020: The main/featured image, originally captioned “Poor, unfortunate bird and Daniel Ventre, who faces animal cruelty charges for beheading the pigeon in Bryant Park, NY, and drinking its blood. Picture: James Messerschmidt; Steven Hirsch/New York Post“, has been removed after an infringement claim. The image was posted in good faith, and, I believe, within reasons outlined under Fair Use laws, but as a gesture of goodwill, it has been replaced with a free image sourced elsewhere.—Ed. 

We will provide an update of the final outcome when it comes to hand. In the meantime, you might be interested to know whether it’s legal to hunt vampires with a crossbow in Sweden.

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