Sydney, Australia, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- Australian authorities plan to sacrifice a racing pigeon that supposedly crossed the Pacific Ocean on a boat from the United States, leading to a social media campaign to save it.
The Agriculture and Environment Ministry said in a Friday statement, that if the bird’s provenance is confirmed, it could pose a “risk” to the native bird population and the poultry industry – valued at AUD3,700 million ($2,875 million) – as the pigeon could “carry a number of diseases.”
The bird, known as Joe, apparently disappeared in October during a race in Oregon, United States, and found Dec. 26 about 13,000 kilometers away with obvious signs of fatigue in a garden in Melbourne, Australia.
The country has strict quarantine laws for animals from abroad due to the many problems it has suffered due to the introduction of non-native species throughout its history that damage Australia’s unique ecosystem.
Such problems continue to this day with, for example, the overpopulation of wild horses or camels, or the pests of the poisonous cane toad (Rhinella marina), introduced in Australia in 1935, which has since threatened several native species.
Australian officials have launched an operation to capture Joe with the aim of confirming his provenance and have requested “the urgent cooperation of the population” to locate the pigeon.
“The [Environmental] department is exploring options to assess and manage biosecurity risks. This may include repatriation of the pigeon to the US, which would require the agreement of the relevant US authorities,” the statement read.
The bird’s journey has won the sympathy of thousands of Internet users who started the petition “Let’s save Joe” on online platform Change.org, which had gathered more than 1,000 signatures as of publication time.
However, the American Union of Racing Pigeons said Joe “does not wear a genuine band” of the organization, which fuels doubts about its true origin. EFE-EPA