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Urge the Attorney General to Investigate Cruel and Unlawful Pigeon Races!

In April 2012, PETA released a 15-month undercover investigation—spanning five states—into some of the largest pigeon-racing operations in the U.S. PETA documented massive casualties of birds during races and training, discovered rampant and deliberate killing of the birds and abusive training and racing methods, and exposed an illegal, multimillion-dollar gambling industry.

PETA's investigators found that in many races, which are as long as 600 miles, more than 60 percent of the birds get lost or die as a result of extreme weather, predators, hunters, electrical lines, or exhaustion. Races that are particularly fatal—in which only a minuscule percentage of birds makes it home—are referred to as "smash races." In one such race in Queens, New York, only four out of 213 birds returned. At the 2011 American Racing Pigeon Union Convention, only 487 out of the original 2,294 birds reportedly completed the 325-mile race by nightfall.

 Birds who aren't considered fast enough and aren't wanted for breeding are typically "culled"—killed by suffocation, drowning, neck-breaking, or decapitation.

Pigeons are complex problem-solvers and have even tested higher than cats, dogs, and primates on intelligence tests. They are loyal mates and doting parents—the mothers and fathers take turns caring for their hatchlings. Pigeon racers exploit these qualities by removing birds from their mates and babies so that they will be frantic and fly home faster. Once the racing season is complete and the babies are no longer needed, they're often killed.  

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  • Eric Holder

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