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July 31, 2014

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LAS VEGAS AT LARGE:

Pigeons are his mark, the city his foe

Man willing to take war with NLV over bird biz to TV, the Web or court

Image

Leila Navidi

Wes Johnson, pigeon control agent, left, and Nephi Oliva, the director of field operations for Nevada Pigeon Control, look for stray pigeons inside an industrial space in North Las Vegas Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009.

Pigeon control

Nephi Oliva, the director of field operations for Nevada Pigeon Control Wednesday, is photographed Oct. 28, 2009. Launch slideshow »

Beyond the Sun

Nephi S. Oliva is a man of many passions. Chief among them, at the moment, are pigeons.

That would be the removal, incarceration and occasional execution of pigeons from various residential, governmental and casino properties, which is Oliva’s livelihood. Clients pay him to chase pigeons off with tennis balls and clicking noise makers, to dazzle them with strobe lights, trap them in giant cages and sometimes to climb into the bucket of a cherry picking truck and shoot them dead with an air gun.

But even more than his work, Oliva is obsessed with his increasingly operatic battles with North Las Vegas City Hall, which he says is trying to drive him out of the pigeon business. It’s a fight he is frequently driven to describe in coarse terms. For the sake of any children who might be reading a newspaper in 2009, offensive words will be replaced with educational bird-related terms.

Oliva vows that he is going win in criminal court, win in civil court and persuade the attorney general’s office to open investigations into various city officials who have meddled with his pigeon business. He pseudonymously blogs about his ongoing battle at pigeonreport.blogspot.com.

Also, he says, “I plan on going on ‘America’s Got Talent’ next year and winning the show just to bring attention to this.”

In fact, Oliva is developing his own reality television series called “The Pigeon Police.” The theme of the show, Oliva says, will be “an ex-bounty hunter takes his team to prove that they have solved the pigeon problem in one of the most famous cities in the world.” North Las Vegas will play the villain. Thanks to Oliva’s songwriting prowess, it has a theme song, which begins with the lyrics “Yeah, we’re the pigeon five-oh ... and we rollin.’ ”

(Away from pigeons, Oliva writes Mormon pop tunes, including “Elder Teddy,” a song about a teddy bear that likes to go on missions. Oliva also sells “Elder Teddy” teddy bears and a book. He came to inspirational music after he was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the second time for, he says, “all the times I used my music for manipulating girls.” He’s since renounced his Lothario ways.)

Oliva’s company, Nevada Pigeon Control, specializes in driving off, capturing or killing pigeons, with most birds being trapped and relocated and only the remaining 10 percent or so being shot with air guns. “We obviously have to have these tools because the (Columbidaen) things can fly,” Oliva says.

And when he says the city’s actions could put him out of business, he does have a point. City spokeswoman Brenda Fischer says that because his business is in a commercially zoned neighborhood instead of a neighborhood zoned as open land or ranch estates, he can’t keep an aviary on site. And because he doesn’t have an aviary, is not allowed to release pigeons into the wild, and lacks the permits to euthanize pigeons, the city has advised him to cease removing pigeons. Fischer says the city has had several meetings with Oliva to help bring his business into compliance with city laws.

Oliva’s recollection of those meetings?

“They quietly went into the backroom and said, ‘We’re going to shut that (birder) down,’ ” he says.

So now when Oliva and his employees remove pigeons, they put them in a secret mobile cage “somewhere in Henderson.”

Oliva alleges that the city is attacking his business because if he eliminates pigeon problems in North Las Vegas, the city will lose out on millions of dollars in health and safety fines on properties with excessive pigeon droppings. (The city denies this.) He claims that officials in the police, animal control, planning and zoning, business license and building safety departments constitute a “shakedown squad.” And then he says Mayor Shari Buck is complicit in corruption and that he will ensure she loses in her next election.

“I sent her one of the most scathing letters a politician can get,” Oliva says.

Asked to respond, Fischer said Oliva “is very passionate about the work that he does and that’s terrific.”

Oliva says his path is clear.

“I’m going to sue their (cloacae) off.”

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