This statement is issued on behalf of the following Organisations which represent pigeon racing in the UK: Royal Racing Pigeon Association, Welsh Homing Pigeon Union, North West Homing Union, Scottish Homing Union and North of England Homing Union
“As representatives of pigeon racing within the UK we are extremely concerned by findings from PETA’s investigation into pigeon racing in the UK.
All pigeon racing unions work hard to promote positive animal husbandry. We are committed to safeguarding racing pigeons’ welfare in all aspects of life – including, but not limited to birds which take part in the sport. We advocate that all racing pigeons in the UK are well looked after at all times – and promote the highest possible standards in training and racing.
We offer advice, carry out regular health checks, campaign for changes in law to protect our birds and enforce existing welfare guidelines through education and monitoring. Poor husbandry is frowned upon by fanciers and not accepted or tolerated by any of the racing pigeon unions. Individual acts of animal cruelty are not exclusive to pigeon racing or sports in which animals participate. None of the UK homing unions condone acts of cruelty against pigeons regrettably it remains a societal problem, carried out by an irresponsible minority.
Racing pigeons offer company, affection, comfort and fun and in the vast majority of cases, they receive the care and respect they deserve. UK pigeon fanciers love their birds and their birds love racing – pigeons compete and race naturally every time they are released from their lofts.
Losses do occur during races for a myriad of differing reasons – wire or other such hazard strike, predation by raptors and in the past few summers rapidly changing weather conditions on route. The last few summer’s very strange weather patterns has resulted in higher than normal losses when compared to the historic norms, this being despite shortened races, the improvements in weather forecasting and improved race communications.
Lost racing pigeons can easily be reported and reunited with their owner. It is a requirement that every racing bird have a ring with a unique identification number. The RPRA, for example, has four designated phone lines for the reporting of lost pigeons and an established pigeon courier network. All unions have a similar method of repatriating stray pigeons.
Pigeon racing is a long-standing British tradition. There are about 43,000 fanciers in the UK who race their pigeons from April to September, using the winter months for breeding and husbandry.
The sport of pigeon racing is practiced in all areas of the UK and the five unions representing the sport can be contacted should further information be required.”