Sunday Express

Race on to stop the new lord of the flies

- By David Williamson

RACING pigeon enthusiast­s want government action to stop their birds being ripped apart by falcons lured to towns and cities to live in man-made nests.

Britain is home to 30,000 pigeon fanciers but people are quitting the sport after seeing their birds killed by predators.

The Royal Pigeon Racing Associatio­n (RPRA) claims people are putting up “nesting structures” for falcons in the hope the birds will keep down the “feral pigeon” population.

The resurgence in numbers of the Peregrine Falcon, Goshawk and Sparrow Hawk has been a conservati­on success story.

But the RPRA says camera evidence shows falcons prefer to prey on racing pigeons rather than their feral counterpar­ts. A spokesman added: “Many fanciers have left the sport due to the fact birds of prey attack their birds on a daily basis – something which is heartbreak­ing for the owners who take great care to look after them.”

The RPRA wants the

Government to issue licences for man-made nesting sites.

Richard Holden, Conservati­ve MP for North West Durham, backs the plan and called on Natural England to take on board the concerns. He said: “Racing pigeons and pigeon crees have been an important part of the culture of County Durham for decades.

“It’s important we safeguard this cherished pastime.”

Labour MP Chris Evans, a former chairman of the all-party parliament­ary group for pigeon racing, said: “It would be awful if this long-standing sport died out. I call on the Government to look at any measures which could help support pigeon racing.”

Environmen­t minister Victoria Prentis said that while licences could be granted, there were no provisions to protect racing pigeons from predators. She put forward ideas to help.

The RPRA said all suggestion­s have been carried out but failed.

‘It would be awful to die out’

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 ??  ?? THREAT: Racing pigeons are being torn apart by falcons, right
THREAT: Racing pigeons are being torn apart by falcons, right

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