Experts suspect that the pigeon hitchhiked on a freighter to cross the Pacific Ocean.
A carrier pigeon survived an extraordinary 13,000 kilometer (8,000 mile) journey through the Pacific Ocean, setting out from the United States to find a new home in Australia.
But authorities now consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it.
Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird said Thursday he discovered the exhausted bird in his backyard on December 26. He had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on October 29.
Experts suspect that the pigeon Celli-Bird named Joe, named after America’s president-elect, hitchhiked on a freighter to cross the Pacific.
Joe’s feat caught the attention of the Australian media as well as the notoriously strict Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
Celli-Bird said quarantine authorities called him on Thursday asking him to catch the bird.
“They say if it’s from America, they’re concerned about bird diseases,” he said. “They wanted to know if I could help them. I said, ‘to be honest I can’t catch it. I can get within 500mm of it and then it moves ”.”
He said quarantine authorities are now considering contracting a professional bird catcher.
The Agriculture Department, responsible for biosecurity, said the pigeon was “not allowed to stay in Australia” because it “could jeopardize Australia’s food security and our wild bird populations”.
“This poses a direct biosecurity risk to Australian birds and our poultry industry,” a ministry statement said.
Celli-Bird, who says he is not interested in birds “other than my last name”, said he could no longer catch the pigeon with his bare hands since he had regained his strength.
He said the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union had confirmed that Joe was registered with an owner in Montgomery, Alabama.
Celli-Bird said he tried to contact the owner but has so far been unable to get through.
It is claimed that the greatest long-distance flight recorded by a pigeon is the one that started in Arras, France and ended in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1931. The distance was 11,600 km (7,200 miles) and has lasted 24 days.