Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Australia: Fake Label Claim Gives Pigeon a Stay on Death Row | Australia News

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The pigeon, for which Australia has declared a biosecurity risk, could have a lifeline after a U.S. bird organization said its blindfold was fake.

A carrier pigeon held by Australian authorities and on the verge of destruction for fear of being an American intruder received a lifeline on Friday when experts revealed his leg tag was likely fake.

Originally thought to have flown from Alabama to a back yard in Melbourne – an epic 14,500 km (9,000 mile) journey – “Joe” the carrier pigeon made headlines around the world.

Australian media had reported that Melbourne man Kevin Chelli-Bird discovered the pigeon – which he named after President-elect Joe Biden – with an ankle band tied to an American racing bird.

As word spread, quarantine officials called Joe a “biosecurity risk” and suggested he may need to be humane destroyed to prevent possible illness.

But as execution loomed for the feathered flyer on Friday, pigeon enthusiasts questioned Joe’s identity.

The American-style running band around Joe’s leg appeared to be a knockoff available online and often used by local owners.

And it turned out that Joe was not an American racing breed, as its label seemed to suggest, but a local Turkish tumbler.

“They are not bred to fly long distances, they are bred for tricks in the air. So they really are a show bird, ”Lars Scott of Pigeon Rescue Melbourne told AFP news agency.

Scott’s claim that the label was bogus was backed by the American Racing Pigeon Union, who posted on Facebook in an attempt to save Joe.

The union said the US owner of the bird linked to the tag said he did not own Joe.

Quarantine officials said they are still working to find out Joe’s origin.

“The bird has been marked with what appears to be an American identification – the department is still working to determine its authenticity,” a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said.

Earlier, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister had sent Joe a stern message.

“If Joe has come in a way that hasn’t followed our strict biosecurity measures, then – bad luck Joe, either comes home or faces the consequences,” McCormack told media.

McCormack’s predecessor had previously threatened to euthanize Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s companion dogs when they were illegally brought into the country.


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