Race on to stop the new lord of the flies
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’