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I have found a racing pigeon. What shall I do now?

Racing pigeons are classed as pets and therefore they have got an owner. The ring number can be used to get in touch with the Racing Pigeon Association and the owner respectively. You can contact the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) as they have a dedicated team to help reunite lost pigeons with their owners. They can be contacted by telephone on 01452 713529 or via their website. Theoretically, Racing Pigeon Associations have rules and guidelines that make it clear that it is the racing pigeons owner‟s responsibility to ensure their pigeon is returned to them. The pigeon owner will be advised by the RPRA to arrange the collection of the pigeon within 48 hours or two working days. If the owner fails to do so, the RPRA will arrange collection. In both cases the pigeon owner has to pay for the necessary costs involved.

However, in practice, this does not happen very often. It is more likely that the owner will suggest to kill the bird concerned or to let the poorly animal go again. If racing pigeons are found by a pest controller, the owner can advice the pest controller to kill the bird humanely. There is also always the inherent risk that the bird will be killed anyway when arriving back home, simply because a racing pigeon, who came off course or is not fast enough, is not regarded as worth keeping or breeding. Pigeon racing is a cruel ‘pseudo sport’ often leading to the death of animals involved. Mated pairs are commonly separated or parents taken away from their babies to make them fly back home even faster. Pigeon racing is a business with the aim to breed the fasted racing pigeon and has nothing to do with sport or compassion for animals.

Racing pigeons are raised as pets and have never learned to find food or water in the wild. The RPRA suggests to feed exhausted pigeons for a maximum of two days, as they will otherwise decide to stay. This practice is cruel, as many racing pigeons are so much exhausted that they have problems to digest food and are also easy prey for predators. From this respect this practice could be regarded as a breech of the Animal Wellfare Act 2006, which also describes the release of animals being unfit for survival as an offence. If you find an exhausted, poorly or injured racing pigeon, then make sure that the bird rescue or rehabber you want to bring the bird to is pigeon friendly.