To some, they are another species of feathered friend; to others, they are rats with wings whose droppings deface historic buildings, Report informs via The Guardian.

But in Japan, pigeons may have become the victims of crime, after police arrested a Tokyo taxi driver on suspicion of deliberately driving into a flock of birds, killing one of them.

Suspect Atsushi Ozawa, 50, “used his car to kill a common pigeon, which is not a game animal”, in the Japanese capital last month, and was arrested on Sunday for violating wildlife protection laws, a Tokyo police spokesperson told Agence France-Presse.

The suspect told police he had driven into the birds because “Roads are for people. It’s up to the pigeons to avoid cars,” according to local media.

The taxi driver allegedly sped off from traffic lights after they had turned green and ploughed into the birds at a speed of 60km/h (37mph), according to Japanese media.

The alleged incident was reported to police by a passerby who was alerted by the sound of a car engine as it accelerated.

A veterinarian performed a postmortem examination on the pigeon and determined its cause of death as traumatic shock.

Given his job as a professional driver, police described his actions as “highly malicious” – a consideration that prompted them to proceed with the unusual arrest, the Fuji TV network reported.