By ROD McGUIRK, The Associated Press
Canberra, Australia (AP) – A pigeon that has been declared a biosafety risk may be rejected by Australia after a leg band announced by an American bird organization was fake.
The band suggested that the bird found in Melbourne’s backyard on 26 December was a racing pigeon that left the US state Oregon, 13,000 kilometers (8,000 mi) away, two months ago.
On that basis, Australian authorities said on Thursday that they considered the bird at risk of disease and planned to kill it.
But Deone Roberts, game development manager for OklahomaAccording to the American Racing Pigeon Association, the band was fake on Friday.
The band number is a blue stripe pigeon in the United States and is not a painted bird in Australia, she said.
“The Bird Band in Australia is not fake and traceable,” Roberts said. “It’s definitely a house in Australia and not America”
“Somebody needs to see that band and then understand that the bird is not from America. They don’t need to kill him,” she said.
The Fraud Bird band “is getting more and more,” Roberts said. “People who get into the hobby inadvertently buy it.”
Pigeon racing has seen a resurgence in popularity, and some birds have become quite valuable. A Chinese pigeon racing fan set a record price of 1.6 million euros ($ 1.9 million) in November for a Belgian-bred pigeon.
Acting Australian Prime Minister Michael McCormack said he did not know what the fate of the bird named Joe would be after the election of the US President. But there would be no pity if the pigeons were from the United States.
McCormack told reporters, “If Joe has come this way, which does not meet our strict biosecurity measures, then bad luck that either flies home or suffers the consequences.”
But Martin Foley, Victoria State’s Minister of Health where Joe lives, called on the federal government to save the bird.
“I would urge the Commonwealth Quarantine Officers to show some mercy,” said Foley.
Andy Medic, a Victorian MP for the minor animal justice party, who “called for pigeon pardon.”
“Should the federal government allow Joi to live, I am glad to be assured that he is not a flight risk,” said Medic.
Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird, who found the decaying bird in his backyard, was surprised by the development and was pleased that the bird he had named could not be destroyed.
“Yes, I’m happy about it,” said Celli-Bird, who quoted the news as saying that that might not be a biosafety threat.
Celli-Bird contacted the American Racing Pigeon Union to find the owner of the bird based on the number on the leg band. The band has both a number and a symbol, but Celie-Bird did not remember the symbol and said that he could no longer catch the bird because it had overcome its initial weakness.
The real leg-banded bird had disappeared from a 560-kilometer (350-mile) run in Oklahoma on October 29, said crooked river challenge owner Lucas Kramer.
He said that the bird did not have a racing record, which was valuable enough to steal his identity.
“That bird didn’t complete the race series, it didn’t make any money and is therefore worthless,” Cramer said.
He said it was possible that a pigeon could cross the Pacific on a ship from Oregon to Australia.
“It happens. We find birds in the United States that come from Japan,” Kramer said. “Actually, it could possibly happen, but it’s not the same pigeon. It is also not a racing pigeon. “
The bird spends every day in the backyard, sometimes with a native pigeon. Celli-Bird has been feeding it to pigeons since its arrival days. “I think he just decided that since I gave him something to eat and he got a place to drink, he’s home,” he said.
Lars Scott, a caretaker of bird welfare group Pigeon Rescue Melbourne, said American leg-banned pigeons were not uncommon around the city. Scott Mell said that many Melbourne breeders bought them online and used them to keep their records.
Australian quarantine officers are extremely strict. In 2015, the government threatened two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, of euthanasia after being smuggled into the country by Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Hurd.
With a time limit of 50 hours to leave Australia, the dogs made it to a chartered jet.
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