Joe, an Alabama racing bird, reportedly went missing in October.
An American racing pigeon that survived an 8,000-mile journey across the Pacific to land in Melbourne is to be put down by Australian authorities over risk of disease infecting the country’s bird population.
On Thursday, Kevin Celli-Bird reported he found the pigeon, which he nicknamed “Joe” after the U.S. President-Elect, in his yard on December 26.
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“It rocked up at our place on Boxing Day,” he told the Associated Press. “I’ve got a fountain in the backyard and it was having a drink and a wash. He was pretty emaciated so I crushed up a dry biscuit and left it out there for him.”
After some internet sleuthing, Celli-Bird discovered Joe was last seen during a race in Oregon back in October. The American Racing Pigeon Union confirmed Joe was registered to an owner in Alabama, according to Celli-Bird.
The news of Celli-Bird’s fowl friend eventually caught the attention of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, who contacted Celli-Bird, according to the outlet.
“They say if it is from America, then they’re concerned about bird diseases,” Celli-Bird explained. “They wanted to know if I could help them out. I said, ‘To be honest, I can’t catch it. I can get within 20 inches of it and then it moves.'”
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He said authorities are now considering hiring a professional to capture Joe.
The Agriculture Department released a statement saying Joe is “not permitted to remain in Australia” because the bird “could compromise Australia’s food security and our wild bird populations.”
“The only possible outcome to manage the biosecurity risk is humane destruction of the bird.”
Australian National Pigeon Association secretary Brad Turner told the AP he agreed with putting the bird down for fear of it carrying exotic diseases.
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“While it sounds harsh to the normal person — they’d hear that and go, ‘This is cruel,’ and everything else — I’d think you’d find that A.Q.I.S. and those sort of people would give their wholehearted support for the idea.”
While it is unclear how Joe managed the extremely long trip from America to Down Under, some experts say he could have possibly sailed part of the way on a cargo vessel.
Meanwhile, Celli-Bird claimed he has tried to get in touch with Joe’s owner, but has had no luck.
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