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Australia to kill racing pigeon that flew 8,000 miles from Oregon over quarantine concerns

Australia Trans-Pacific Pigeon
Posted at 9:21 AM, Jan 14, 2021

CANBERRA, Australia — 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 says he discovered the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard in December had disappeared from a race in Oregon two months earlier.

Experts suspect the pigeon, named Joe after the president-elect, hitched a ride on a cargo ship.

Joe’s feat has attracted the attention of Australian media but also of the notoriously strict quarantine authorities.

Celli-Bird says they asked him to catch the bird because they considered it a disease risk.

"Regardless of its origin, any domesticated bird that has not met import health status and testing requirements is not permitted to remain in Australia," a Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment spokesperson said in a statement.

"The only possible outcome to manage the biosecurity risk is humane destruction of the bird," the statement continued.

He says the American Racing Pigeon Union confirmed it was registered to an owner in Montgomery, Alabama.

The process to legally bring pigeons into Australia is difficult and can cost tens of thousands of dollars, according to the BBC. None have been legally imported from the U.S. in more than a decade.