In an exceptional and unusual event, a pigeon has flown 8,000 miles from Oregon to Australia across the Pacific Ocean – so why do authorities want to kill this resilient bird?
The bird is a participant in pigeon racing, a sport specialized for the cross-bred homing pigeon. According to CBS News, Kevin Celli-Bird said he discovered the pigeon, which he has named Joe after President-elect Joe Biden, in his backyard in Melbourne on December 26. At the time, it was visibly exhausted. Joe disappeared from a race in Oregon on October 29 – experts think that the pigeon may have gotten onto a cargo ship and crossed the Pacific that way.
The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, which is known for being strict, is now concerned that Joe may be carrying bird diseases. Authorities from the AQIS asked Celli-Bird on Thursday, January 14 to catch the pigeon.
Celli-Bird told CBS News that he told them he doesn’t think he can even catch the bird, because every time he gets close to it, it moves. Now, AQIS is considering getting a professional bird catcher to retrieve Joe.
A statement from the Australian Agriculture Department said that the pigeon poses a biosecurity risk to the continent’s wild bird life and poultry industry.
For now, the pigeon is still alive, and he’s been traced back to someone from Montgomery, Alabama. Celli-Bird has made attempts to contact the owner but has had no such luck so far in speaking with them.
Until AQIS can get their hands on him, Joe continues to spend the days in Celli-Bird’s backyard, being fed pigeon food from Celli-Bird and drinking water out of his fountain.
The Australian National Pigeon Association Secretary Brad Turner told CBS News that though killing Joe sounds cruel, there is a legitimate risk associated with keeping the pigeon alive.
By Cara Nixon