World

Missing US pigeon shows up in Melbourne, becomes fugitive

MELBOURNE: An American pigeon believed to have strayed 14,480km from home had Australian authorities in a flap yesterday after it turned up in a Melbourne backyard having evaded strict quarantine rules.

Melbourne local Kevin Chelli-Bird discovered the emaciated pigeon tagged with an ankle band outside his home on Dec 26, local media reported.

Dubbed "Joe" after US President-elect Joe Biden, the bird went missing during a US race in October, Mr Chelli-Bird told the Herald Sun newspaper, and has been tracked to an owner in Alabama.

"The only thing we can think of is, in this race, he was blown off course and out to sea, landed on a boat and hitched a ride," he told the newspaper on Wednesday.

"Perhaps he was sick of (US President Donald) Trump and decided to leave."

The pigeon's epic journey sent local media into a flutter, but as the news reached the authorities, the bird became a fugitive for skipping Australia's strict entry procedures.

A Department of Agriculture spokesman said in a statement: "It poses a direct biosecurity risk to Australian bird life and our poultry industry."

It will have to be humanely destroyed if it came from the US without passing through quarantine, according to the department. - AFP

WORLD