Animals are Not Ours

Animals are Not Ours

GRAPHIC: Investigation Reveals Blood, Misery for Birds

Update: Following PETA's investigation, three race organizers—including the executive director of the American Racing Pigeon Union, the largest pigeon-racing organization in the country—were charged with violations of Oklahoma’s felony gambling laws. All three defendants pleaded no contest to charges of commercial gambling—the first time in history that anyone has been held responsible for illegal conduct associated with cruel pigeon races. These prosecutions should stand as a warning for anyone looking to profit from pigeons’ misery: There are consequences to gambling with birds’ lives!

Over a span of two months, PETA went undercover into the world of pigeon racing in the United Kingdom and discovered believed illegal activity and deadly outcomes for hundreds of thousands of birds during a single racing season. PETA investigated all the major pigeon-racing organizations in the U.K. and documented British pigeon races starting in the Channel Islands, France, and Spain. These races across the English Channel are so deadly that they are often called "graveyard" races.

PETA's investigations into pigeon racing have uncovered the following:

  • More than 5,500 pigeons from the U.K. were released from Fougères, France, for a major race, but 89 percent did not make it home from this "disastrous" contest.
  • For races such as the Barcelona International, pigeons were crammed into cages of 20 birds or more in the U.K. and trucked for up to seven days to the Mediterranean coast of Spain just to get to the release point. British birds were then released along with tens of thousands of others from throughout Europe, with whom they may have exchanged viruses and infections while trying to make their way back to their home country.
  • A man broke the neck of an unwanted racing pigeon with his bare hands and left the bird, whose wings were still flapping, to die slowly inside a bag.
  • In order to make the birds fly faster, pigeon racers separate lifelong mates and even place rivals in the cages to make the pigeons fly desperately home in what is ominously called the "widowhood method."
  • Pigeon racers forcibly remove parents from eggs and babies to make the parents fly home faster to protect their young.

After the races are over, most of the pigeons who did not finish in the money or aren't kept for breeding are deemed useless and are "culled" (killed) by having their necks broken, being drowned, or being gassed with car exhaust! But this cruelty also exists outside the borders of the United Kingdom: 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's investigators found that in many races, more than 60 percent of the birds get lost or die as a result of extreme weather, predators, electrical lines, hunters, or exhaustion. At the 2011 American Racing Pigeon Union Convention, only 827 of the original 2,294 birds survived training flights. Of those, only 487 completed the 325-mile race by nightfall. Learn more about our U.S. investigation, and then take action below.

Please contact the Arizona attorney general and urge him to act on PETA's investigation of the Phoenix-based American Racing Pigeon Union Convention by bringing charges against those involved in extensive illegal gambling at the convention as other prosecutors have done.



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