Australia’s Intercontinental Pigeon
On December 26, 2020 resident of Melbourne found a pigeon in his backyard with what appeared to be a US identification band on its leg. Later on, this pigeon was declared to be a biosecurity risk by Australian authorities, and was being investigated by biosecurity officers from Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.
Victorian resident Kevin Chelli-Bird discovered the exhausted and emaciated pigeon, whom he named “Joe” after US President-elect Joe Biden, in his backyard in Officer, south-east of Melbourne, on Boxing Day. The Agriculture Department, which is responsible for biosecurity, said the pigeon was “not permitted to remain in Australia” because it “could compromise Australia’s food security and our wild bird populations.” “It poses a direct biosecurity risk to Australian bird life and our poultry industry,” a department statement said.
Officials then theorised the bird probably hitchhiked onboard a cargo vessel and made its way into Australia. Now, the American Pigeon Racing Union has said the band found on its leg is counterfeit and the pigeon is likely Australian. Pigeon Rescue Melbourne said the pigeon was wearing a “knock-off American ring that anyone could buy off Ebay”. The department is satisfied that the bird’s leg band is a fraudulent copy of a legitimate leg band. No further action will be taken by the department in relation to this matter,” the statement said.
The death sentence had earlier been thrown into doubt after American Racing Pigeon Union spokeswoman Deone Roberts said the racing tag attached to the pigeon’s leg – which had originally been traced back to Montgomery, Alabama – was forged.