2013: 5,044 "released" to race....36 returned.
More than a million homing pigeons die every year during Taiwan's seasonal pigeon races, grueling sets of seven races over open ocean from ever-increasing distances. Young birds—not even a year old—are shipped out to sea, released in the middle of the ocean and forced to fly back home even in the midst of typhoon-strength winds.
Most often, less than 1 percent of these highly intelligent birds complete each seven-race series; many drown from exhaustion, perish in the storms, or are killed afterward for being too slow.
Millions of dollars fly in this business, but for the pigeons it's always a losing bet.
Tell Wang cho-Chiun, Director-General of National Police Agency, to end this cruelty AND to prosecute illegal gambling.
Sign an online petition.
"It was raining pigeons—literally. I've never seen such a scene. Every one of them crashed onto the boat. ... Some crashed into the ocean. … About one hour after the pigeon rain, you could see the whole surface of the ocean filled with dead pigeons." —Taiwanese fishing boat captain
Top racers and high-ranking club officials admitted to deadly conditions for the birds, who fly with untreated injuries, without enough rest between races, and through heavy rainstorms. PETA investigators captured video of a race in which tens of thousands of birds disappeared in a matter of hours and were presumed to have drowned. Even birds who survive these extreme conditions may be killed or discarded by their owners if they do not make the qualifying time for the next race in the series. Pigeons are smart, gentle, and loyal birds. They bond for life and can live more than 20 years. Yet almost all of the birds who begin their lives as racing pigeons in Taiwan perish in their first year of life.
Money—not just entry fees, but vast illegal wagers—fuels the
multibillion-dollar pigeon-racing industry in Taiwan. Wealthy racers pay
upwards of $100,000 for imported breeder birds, and top flyers admitted to
making millions on a single race. "Prizes" such as refrigerators are listed
on gambling sheets as a cover for the cash bets that are the main draw for
these events. Racers boasted that government law enforcement "can't catch
us." The chance to win staggering sums leads to extortion, drugging of
birds, the kidnapping of birds for ransom, and the use of rigorous
anti-cheating systems that involve RFID tags, multiple stamps on birds'
wings for identity, covering their leg ring numbers, and meticulously
comparing photographs of the birds' feathers.
An international web of commerce supports Taiwanese pigeon racing: Breeder birds are bought and sold for tens of thousands of dollars from U.S. and international dealers, then kept as "prisoners," constantly reproducing while their offspring are serially exterminated in race after race. A prominent U.S. racer and breeder who is currently facing felony charges as a result of a previous PETA undercover investigation is involved in selling birds to Taiwan. Bieche Lofts, another top U.S. breeder, recently sold a prize-winning bird to a Taiwanese racer for an undisclosed price. An Idaho company called Dynamite is even producing a specialized pigeon feed for the Taiwanese pigeon-racing market. Millions of dollars fly in this business, but for the pigeons it's always a losing bet.
Thank you for everything you do for animals!
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