Filmmaker Michael Bay is now charged with killing a pigeon while directing a film in Italy ... but he's firing back, denying it ever happened under his watch.
The blockbuster director was hit with charges relating to the murder of the bird, which allegedly happened back in 2018 on the set of the Netflix flick “6 Underground."
However, sources connected to the production tell TMZ ... all the homing pigeons used in the film landed safely during filming.
One source told us, "Everyone knows Michael is an animal activist. This would never happen on his set. There are dozens of witnesses who said that this didn’t happen."
Italian officials say otherwise -- prosecutors claim the pigeon was killed by a dolly while Michael was filming in Rome ... where it is illegal to harm or kill wild birds.
Authorities say someone from the set saw the whole thing, and took a photo before reporting it to law enforcement.
The allegation isn't that Michael himself harmed the bird, but because he was the director ... he's being held responsible for the incident. Michael reportedly tried to get the case thrown out several times, but prosecutors persisted.
According to reports, Michael was given the option to pay a small fine to settle the entire case, but he declined, saying he simply wouldn't plead guilty to harming an animal.