Actress and animal advocate Pamela Anderson recently traveled to Berlin on behalf of PETA to promote upholding Germany’s ban on seal fur. Now, she is helping PETA expose the findings of an undercover investigation of pigeon-racing.
This morning, Anderson tweeted a link to photos from the 15-month investigation spanning five states and documenting some of the biggest pigeon-racing operations. She writes “Each year, tens of thousands of pigeons are torn from their mates and babies, packed tightly into crates…” The organization’s report states, “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 result in the deaths of the almost all of the birds are known as “smash races” and PETA cites one race in Queens, NY in which only 4 of 213 birds made it back home. They also mention the 2011 American Racing Pigeon Union Convention where 2,294 birds raced in training flights but only 827 survived, and of the survivors only 487 returned by nightfall after the race of 325 miles.
The investigation revealed that pigeons who can’t keep up in the races and aren’t useful for breeding are killed “suffocation, drowning, neck-breaking, gassing, or decapitation.” One racer said that often he will buy 12 pigeons to breed before he finds the right one, and the others and their babies are killed. Another told investigators “The first thing you have to learn—how to kill pigeons.”
The report also points out that not only are the races cruel to the birds, but there are other legal issues involved. “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,” the organization writes.
PETA is urging Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate and take action against the “cruel and unlawful” races.