First, cowboy hats. Then, sombreros. Now? “Make America Great Again” hats and Donald Trump wigs.
Pigeons wearing MAGA hats and Donald Trump wigs have been released by a shadowy protest group calling themselves P.U.T.I.N. – Pigeons United to Interfere Now -- across the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, in an apparent protest of the arrival of the 2020 Democratic candidates for the ninth presidential debate held last night at the Paris Theater.
“P.U.T.I.N. have used their pigeons to launch a one of a kind aerial protest piece in response to the arrival of the 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls for their scheduled debate on 2/19 in Las Vegas,” said P.U.T.I.N’s founder, Coo Hand Luke, in a statement released on Feb. 18.
The timing also coincides with Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance in Las Vegas later today to deliver a planned speech at the Las Vegas Police Department headquarters.
Said P.U.T.I.N.: “The release date was also coordinated to serve as a gesture of support and loyalty to President Trump.”
The protest group also released a video along with their press release with the opening shot panning across an American flag stained with pigeon feces.
Nearly two dozen pigeons are then shown in a cage with MAGA hats on their heads and one single pigeon in the middle “adorned with a small, orange hairpiece, to commemorate that of their leader, President Donald J. Trump,” said P.U.T.I.N.
The final shots of the video show a hooded and masked man releasing the pigeons as they fly off into the wild.
The protest group said that they were “inspired by the 1970’s Cold War Operation, ‘Tacana,’ in which the CIA explored the use of pigeons equipped with tiny cameras to spy on Soviet sites of interest.”
Las Vegas has had a series of cases recently involving pigeons wearing a variety of headgear. In December, three pigeons donning miniature red cowboy hats, and nicknamed Cluck Norris, Coolamity Jane and Billy the Pidge, went viral after they were seen on the streets by many members of the public. Then, in January, several pigeons were spotted wearing miniature sombreros.
The Associated Press reported that Billie the Pidge died in mid-January. It is unclear if the bird’s death was connected to the cowboy hat.
ABC News spoke to Coo Hand Luke from P.U.T.I.N. who shed some light on what the protest was about.
"As expected, more than half of our birds returned to their home last night," said Luke. "We removed any hats that were still in place. Many had already fallen off due to the fact that eyelash glue was used. The adhesive is not very strong. P.U.T.I.N is a satirical project and in protest to Trump. Our group had nothing to do with the cowboy hat project."
While the images may be funny to some, even in spite of P.U.T.I.N.'s reassurances, one charity in Las Vegas says this is no laughing matter.
“[We have] been informed of the group reportedly using eyelash glue to glue MAGA hats to pigeons and releasing them in downtown Las Vegas to make a political statement,” said Lofty Hopes, a charity promoting the humane treatment of pigeons in a statement on Facebook. “The statement that was made is one of animal cruelty … The hats impair the birds vision, leaving them more prone to predation, window strikes, [and] being hit by cars.”
Lofty Hopes have allegedly set traps in order to catch the hat-wearing animals in hopes that they will be able to remove the headgear before they are injured or killed. It is unclear if they have managed to catch any yet.
P.U.T.I.N. has not revealed whether there will be any other protests or stunts involving pigeons but assured that the pigeons are well cared for.
Said P.U.T.I.N.: “The project was the result of months of exhaustive research, logistical hurdles and pigeon care taking.”