A pigeon at first believed to be from America and ordered to be euthanized for fear of contamination after landing in Australia has been granted a reprieve.
Joe the Pigeon, named after the U.S. President-Elect by the Melbourne-native that found the bird in his backyard, was saved by a case of mistaken identity after the American Racing Pigeon Union claimed the bird's leg label was a fake.
"The pigeon found in Australia sports a counterfeit band and need not be destroyed per biosecurity measures, because his actual home is in Australia," the group said in a statement.
Australia's Agriculture Department, which had initially ordered the "humane destruction of the bird," agreed.
"Following an investigation, the department has concluded that Joe the Pigeon is highly likely to be Australian and does not present a biosecurity risk," read a statement. "The department is satisfied that the bird's leg band is a fraudulent copy of a legitimate leg band."
The department added that no further action would be taken against Joe.
Although it is unclear why Joe had a fake label, counterfeiting bands is "happening more and more" as racing pigeons have become increasingly popular, and pricey, according to the American Racing Pigeon Union's sport development manager Deone Roberts.
"People coming into the hobby unknowingly buy that," she said, per CBS.
Meanwhile, "pigeon pardon" for Joe was requested by Andy Meddick, a lawmaker for the minor Animal Justice Party, according to the outlet.
"Should the federal government allow Joe to live, I am happy to seek assurances that he is not a flight risk," he said.
ORIGINAL STORY 1/14/2021 12:36 PM
An American racing pigeon that survived an 8,000-mile journey across the Pacific to land in Melbourne is to be put down by Australian authorities over risk of disease infecting the country's bird population.
On Thursday, Kevin Celli-Bird reported he found the pigeon, which he nicknamed "Joe" after the U.S. President-Elect, in his yard on December 26.
"It rocked up at our place on Boxing Day," he told the Associated Press. "I've got a fountain in the backyard and it was having a drink and a wash. He was pretty emaciated so I crushed up a dry biscuit and left it out there for him."
After some internet sleuthing, Celli-Bird discovered Joe was last seen during a race in Oregon back in October. The American Racing Pigeon Union confirmed Joe was registered to an owner in Alabama, according to Celli-Bird.
The news of Celli-Bird's fowl friend eventually caught the attention of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, who contacted Celli-Bird, according to the outlet.
"They say if it is from America, then they're concerned about bird diseases," Celli-Bird explained. "They wanted to know if I could help them out. I said, 'To be honest, I can't catch it. I can get within 20 inches of it and then it moves.'"
"While it sounds harsh to the normal person -- they'd hear that and go, 'This is cruel,' and everything else -- I'd think you'd find that A.Q.I.S. and those sort of people would give their wholehearted support for the idea."
While it is unclear how Joe managed the extremely long trip from America to Down Under, some experts say he could have possibly sailed part of the way on a cargo vessel.
Meanwhile, Celli-Bird claimed he has tried to get in touch with Joe's owner, but has had no luck.