The Hoosierist: Angry Birds

Murderous falcons, racecar logos, and the fine art of noodling. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: I believe they put peregrine falcons downtown to keep the pigeon population in check. Has that been successful?
Helen C., Indianapolis

A: The Hoosierist thinks your question sounds an awful lot like a request for a performance review. So here goes. The peregrine falcon, a medium-sized bird of prey, was reintroduced to Indy in 1991, when 15 of them were released downtown. In 1994, a lone male settled in among the buildings, and since 1995 there has always been one breeding pair lording over the city. Given the birds’ nature, that’s probably all there will ever be. “Because peregrine falcons are territorial, it would be surprising if another pair became established downtown,” says John Castrale, a biologist with the Division of Fish and Wildlife at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The happy couple does occasionally feast on pigeons, diving on them at speeds exceeding 200 mph and basically snapping them in half with their razor-sharp talons. But they’ll also kill any sparrows, blue jays, or ducks that aren’t watching their backs. So the direct answer is no, they’re not making much of a dent in the pigeon population. But Castrale says that the falcons’ reintroduction is not, nor has it ever been, about pigeon control. It’s about reintroducing an awesome bird back into its former habitat. And on that front, it has been a huge success.

Q: Is it illegal in Indiana to “noodle” for catfish, the way they do on TV?
Alan P., Martinsville

A: In case you haven’t caught any of the third-tier cable shows covering this “sport,” here’s a quick noodling tutorial. It’s a fishing method in which the “sportsman” wades into a body of water and feels around under the surface for crannies in which catfish might lurk. When he finds a fish, he grips it by the mouth and pulls it out, while (at least on those cable shows) his buddies on dry land whoop, holler, and (The Hoosierist assumes) give each other homemade tattoos.

It isn’t a highbrow activity. It’s also illegal in Indiana’s public waters. Lieutenant Tim Beaver of the DNR says the practice is banned because it constitutes an “unfair chase.” In other words, it’s illegal for the same reason you can’t hunt deer with a rocket launcher—it doesn’t give the prey a sporting chance.

Locals dead-set on noodling have two alternatives: either head to Kentucky where (surprise, surprise) it’s legal, or try it somewhere other than in public waters. So if you’ve got a private pond, feel free to strip down to your cutoffs and start feeling around for catfish. And if you happen to stick your fingers in the mouth of an alligator snapping turtle instead of a fish, that’s just the price of doing business. Or perhaps karma.

When every other person passing you on the Monon offers some sort of greeting, it gets pretty old.

Q: Are there any rules on the city’s bike paths? I know bikers aren’t supposed to go over a certain speed, but what about pedestrians? Specifically, pedestrians pushing massive double-wide baby strollers that take up both lanes?
Jackson W., Indianapolis

A: The Hoosierist, who must contend with both baby strollers and speeding bicyclists whenever he walks the Monon Trail, feels your pain. He’s annoyed by both the “stroller people,” who often block an entire lane, and the cyclists, who roll past at ridiculous speeds. Bikes aren’t really supposed to go over 15 mph in some places, but that’s obeyed about as scrupulously as the speed limit on the stretch of I-65 between Chicago and Indy, otherwise known as the “Thunder Run.”

Given the tone of your query, you must belong to the biker camp. Perhaps you’re one of those fellows who regularly blazes past pedestrians, riding a bike that costs more than your car and weighs less than your glasses. The news for you and your spandex-clad cronies isn’t good. While Indy Parks doesn’t have a lot of hard-and-fast Greenway rules (it prefers to call them “suggestions”), the agency does insist that pedestrians always have right-of-way over bikers. Which means that all those lane-hogging strollers are just one more immutable two-wheeling hazard, like impotence from sitting on a bike seat too long.

While The Hoosierist is certainly no fan of lane-clogging strollers either, he thinks there’s a far more important Indy Parks rule that all trail-users should adhere to: Always remember that you don’t have to make eye contact with every single person approaching you on the trail and say, “Hi!” Actually, that’s not really an Indy Parks rule—just something The Hoosierist strongly suggests. Because when every other person passing you on the Monon offers some sort of greeting, it gets pretty old.

Q: How much does it cost to put a logo on the side of a car in the Indy 500?
Gary E., Carmel

A: Not surprisingly, getting an ad on a racecar is a bit more costly than sticking a
bumper sticker on your SUV. If you’d like to go whole hog and slather your corporate livery on an entire vehicle for the Indianapolis 500, you’ll pay something like $500,000. If that’s too rich for your advertising budget, you could drop maybe $25,000 for a slightly less eye-catching six-inch-by-three-inch decal that’s stuck on the car pretty much wherever there’s room.

Some cars can carry as many as 25 to 30 logos of varying sizes, but there’s always room for one more. Teams push the frontiers of Clever Decal Placement by sticking them everywhere from the tops of mirrors to the dash. Actually, those in-the-cockpit logos are a pretty sweet deal because they’re visible every time the in-car camera is activated during races. The next step, in The Hoosierist’s opinion, would be to put them on the inside of the car body. When a driver scraped the wall, he’d leave ads for towing services and auto-body shops all over the track. 

Illustration by Shane Harrison

This column appeared in the May 2013 issue.