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I'm currently going around and "collecting" all the pigeons, or flying rats as the game calls them (they don't look like rats), and it seems that 1 in 2 times when I shoot one I get a 1-star wanted rating and the cops start chasing me, which is a bit annoying.

Is there any way to kill them without actually shooting them and taking the chance of having to run around trying to get rid of the cops?

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Feral Pigeons in cities are commonly known as Flying Rats –  Robotnik Mar 3 '13 at 22:37
    
You could try long ranged snipers? Or maybe kill them using melee attacks? That is about as silenced or unnoticed you are going to get I think. –  Lyrion Mar 4 '13 at 14:26

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All pigeons must be shot unfortunately. And accurately too. For instance, I don't believe it's possible to kill a pigeon with a rocket launcher.

You could attempt to stand on a high-rise building and use the sniper rifle but I think that the cops are still able to detect this too. In fact, there are a few pigeons that can only be killed via sniper (e.g. around the airport) because they are so well-hidden that can only be viewed from a certain point far away.

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You definitely can kill them with a rocket launcher. I used it for a couple that I couldn't quite see to shoot them but couldn't figure out how in the world to get there. So I just barraged the area with rockets or grenades and it got the job done. :) –  animuson Mar 19 '13 at 18:43

There's no way to avoid the wanted level, you have to just put up with it.

You CAN in fact shoot a pigeon with a rocket launcher, has been the only way I've been able to get some of them.

You can also get them with a hand grenade if it detonates close enough to it.

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You could use a cheatcode that gets rid of your wanted level.

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