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Australia to Kill US Pigeon That Made It Across the Pacific

It considers the racing pigeon a quarantine threat
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 14, 2021 8:01 AM CST

(Newser) – A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 8,000-mile Pacific Ocean crossing from the United States to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird said Thursday he discovered that the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on Oct. 29. Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe, after the US president-elect, hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. Joe’s feat has attracted the attention of the Australian media but also of the notoriously strict Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, reports the AP. Celli-Bird said quarantine authorities called him on Thursday to ask him to catch the bird.

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"They say if it is from America, then they're concerned about bird diseases," he said. When the bird arrived "he was pretty emaciated so I crushed up a dry biscuit and left it out there for him," Celli-Bird noted. "Next day, he rocked back up at our water feature, so I wandered out to have a look at him because he was fairly weak and he didn’t seem that afraid of me and I saw he had a blue band on his leg. Obviously he belongs to someone, so I managed to catch him," he added. Cellis-Bird, who says he has no interest in birds "apart from my last name," said he could no longer catch the pigeon with his bare hands since it had regained its strength. He said the Oklahoma-based American Pigeon Union had confirmed that Joe was registered to an owner in Montgomery, Ala. He said quarantine authorities were now considering contracting a professional bird catcher.

(Read more pigeon stories.)

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