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Pigeon Racing: The Deadliest Marathons

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Originally Posted: May 7, 2012

Pigeon Racing: The Deadliest Marathons

FROM People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

ACTION

PETA has just released a 15-month undercover investigation—spanning five states—into some of the largest pigeon-racing operations in the U.S. PETA documented massive casualties of birds during races and training, discovered rampant deliberate killing of the birds and abusive training and racing methods, and exposed a multimillion-dollar illegal gambling industry.

We need you to urge the attorney general to investigate these cruel and unlawful pigeon races now!

Sign an online petition:
https://secure.peta.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=4085

And/or better yet, make direct contact:

Eric Holder
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
By Phone
Department of Justice Main Switchboard (202) 514-2000
Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line (202) 353-1555
askdoj@usdoj.gov

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

In April 2012, PETA released a 15-month undercover investigation—spanning five states—into some of the largest pigeon-racing operations in the U.S. PETA documented massive casualties of birds during races and training, discovered rampant killing of unwanted birds and abusive training and racing methods and exposed a multimillion-dollar illegal gambling industry.

PETA's investigators found that in many races, which can be as long as 600 miles, more than 60 percent of the birds get lost or die as a result of extreme weather, predators, electrical lines, hunters, or exhaustion. Races that are particularly fatal—where only a minuscule percentage of birds makes it home—are referred to as "smash races." In one such race in Queens, New York, only four out of 213 birds returned. At the 2011 American Racing Pigeon Union Convention, only 827 out of the original 2,294 birds survived training flights, only 487 of whom completed the 325-mile race by nightfall.

View the exclusive undercover photos:

 pigeon racing marathon PETA
Pigeons packed for an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, race.

pigeon racing marathon PETA
A glimpse inside the transport truck before the release for a major Bronx, New York, race.

pigeon racing marathon PETA
Pigeons are released for a Bronx, New York, race.

pigeon racing marathon PETA
Pigeons take to the sky for a Bronx, New York, race.

pigeon racing marathon PETA
One of many betting boards at a Phoenix, Arizona, race.

pigeon racing marathon PETA
Pigeons rescued from culling (killing) arrive at a sanctuary.

Birds who aren't considered fast enough and aren't wanted for breeding are typically "culled"— killed by suffocation, drowning, neck-breaking, gassing, or decapitation. PETA documented one world-renowned racer as he admitted that he generally has to buy 12 pigeons for breeding before he finds one he can use in his loft and just kills the others and their offspring. Another racer told investigators that when starting out in pigeon racing, "The first thing you have to learn—how to kill pigeons."

Speak up for pigeons now!

Like cockfighting and dogfighting, pigeon racing is all about gambling. PETA penetrated racing organizations in which a quarter of a million dollars is bet on a single race and discovered that pigeon racing generates an estimated $15 million a year in illegal gambling proceeds and involves felony violations of federal gambling, racketeering, and tax-evasion laws. The high stakes also lead some flyers to cheat: Investigators found that several racers' birds tested positive for illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and one racer admitted to shooting federally protected raptors. 

SAMPLE LETTER INFO:

I was shocked to learn that there is extensive felony gambling, racketeering, and tax evasion in pigeon racing. In races throughout the country, participants wager hundreds of thousands of dollars in betting pools and other gambling schemes. An estimated $15 million is at stake annually on the pigeon races, with some races bringing in more than a quarter of a million dollars in wagers. During the process, the intelligent, gentle, and loyal pigeons--who are regarded as nothing more than objects on which to wager--die or are violently killed by the thousands.

In any given pigeon race, hundreds or even thousands of birds are torn from their mates and hatchlings, packed tightly into crates, loaded onto trucks, and driven as many as 600 miles away to see if they're able to return home faster than the others. As the birds are raised in captivity, they cannot fend for or even feed themselves away from home. Often 60 percent--and up to 95 percent--of the birds die in a given race from severe weather, predators, exhaustion, hunters, electrical wires, or starvation. Birds who survive the ordeal but aren't making their owners money and aren't valuable for breeding are typically killed by suffocation, drowning, neck-breaking, or decapitation.

Please investigate and prosecute these unlawful enterprises immediately for brazenly violating federal gambling laws. Let them know that future violations will not be tolerated. 


Thank you for everything you do for animals!