‘Death row’ pigeon’s life to be spared after fake leg tag claims he came from US

A racing pigeon thought to have travelled from the US to Australia will no longer be killed after it emerged he’s a fraud.

The bird, named Joe, was on due to be put down by Australian quarantine officials to stop the risk of disease spreading.

He was believed to have travelled 8,000 miles to Melbourne on a cargo ship.

At first, it was thought his blue leg tag proved he had vanished from a race in the US state of Oregon on October 29.

The tag suggested he was registered to an owner in Alabama, US.

But it turned out the winged creature was actually wearing a counterfeit band which could have been bought on eBay.

Officials say he is highly likely to be Australian.

Many people expressed relief at the stay of execution for the bird, who was named after US President-elect Joe Biden.

The feathered animal turned up at the home of Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird on Boxing Day.

This comes after the American Racing Pigeon Union posted a statement saying Joe’s tag was not genuine and his actual home is in Australia.

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It said: "What a relief to know that Joe the Pigeon found in Australia does not wear a genuine AU band.

"The true band is in the US worn by a Blue Bar, not the pigeon featured in news photos about Joe."

It went on: "The pigeon found in Australia sports a counterfeit band and need not be destroyed per biosecurity measures, because his actual home is in Australia."

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A Blue Bar pigeon looks like a normal grey pigeon – instead of the white and brown type Joe seems to be, according to the Guardian.

Officials from Australia’s Agriculture Department said the bird was wearing a fraudulent copy of a leg band.

They said: "Following an investigation, the department has concluded that Joe the Pigeon is highly likely to be Australian and does not present a biosecurity risk."

The group Pigeon Rescue Melbourne said: "We believe he is not an American pigeon at all – rather an Australian pigeon wearing a knock-off American ring that anyone could buy off eBay."

Mr Celli-Bird said the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service had asked him to help catch the pigeon.

He said he couldn’t catch it as if he gets too near it moves.

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