PETA at it Again – Investigation Exposes Pigeon-Racing Cruelty


In April 2012, PETA released a 15-month undercover investigation—spanning five states—into some of the largest pigeon-racing operations in the U.S. PETA documented massive casualties of birds during races and training, discovered rampant killing of unwanted birds and abusive training and racing methods and exposed a multimillion-dollar illegal gambling industry.

PETA’s investigators found that in many races, which can be as long as 600 miles, more than 60 percent of the birds get lost or die as a result of extreme weather, predators, electrical lines, hunters, or exhaustion. Races that are particularly fatal—where only a minuscule percentage of birds makes it home—are referred to as “smash races.” In one such race in Queens, New York, only four out of 213 birds returned. At the 2011 American Racing Pigeon Union Convention, only 827 out of the original 2,294 birds survived training flights, only 487 of whom completed the 325-mile race by nightfall.

View the exclusive undercover photos.

Birds who aren’t considered fast enough and aren’t wanted for breeding are typically “culled”— killed by suffocation, drowning, neck-breaking, gassing, or decapitation. PETA documented one world-renowned racer as he admitted that he generally has to buy 12 pigeons for breeding before he finds one he can use in his loft and just kills the others and their offspring. Another racer told investigators that when starting out in pigeon racing, “The first thing you have to learn—how to kill pigeons.”

Like cockfighting and dogfighting, pigeon racing is all about gambling. PETA penetrated racing organizations in which a quarter of a million dollars is bet on a single race and discovered that pigeon racing generates an estimated $15 million a year in illegal gambling proceeds and involves felony violations of federal gambling, racketeering, and tax-evasion laws. The high stakes also lead some flyers to cheat: Investigators found that several racers’ birds tested positive for illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and one racer admitted to shooting federally protected raptors.

=> Want to show PETA who pigeon fanciers really are? Click here to go to PETA’s page and leave a comment.

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20 thoughts on “PETA at it Again – Investigation Exposes Pigeon-Racing Cruelty


  2. , theres good and bad people in every sport they shouldent paint every one with the same brush let them film the people who spend vast amounts of money on there bird sick and badly cared for birds dont have a problem getting home its the love of home and the care and attention they get that brings them home

  3. when horse racing stops,dog fighting, dog racing,pigeon racing ,moonshining, drugs, aolchol, over the counter junkies,car raceing, tractor pulls,tree huggers bird fanatics sister bertha better than you, and all other, facets of life live up to peta or whatever the name is ,then please let me know why don’t you check out greyhounds, fox hunting,deer hunting dove shoots oh i could go on– JUST FIX THE WORLD AND THEN CALL ME

  4. WOW. PETA SUCKS. Ive delt with them on a personal and professional basis for many years. Ive watched the video in its entirety and i must say(as an investigator) they played this one by the book and they showed just enough negative aspect to get the eyeballs turned in our direction. Illegal gambling is a big part of every sport in the world. Not just with us. Its nothing new. Its rampant all over the world. And as for the dummbasses that where caught on the video THEY SHOULD BE IDENTIFIED AND DELT WITH ACCORDINGLY. BANNED PERMANENTLY AND PROCECUTED. Congats PETA, you tried again. But dont think for one minute that youre gonna bully me into giving up my passion and love for my birds. PETA, you need to prioritize your investigations and please, NEVER COMPARE PIGEON RACING TO COCK FIGHTING OR DOG FIGHTING!!! Pull your heads out of your asses!! Thats like comparing a BABY AND MOM swimming class at a local pool to those distressed mothers that lock their kids in cars and drive them into lakes to drown. We dont force the birds to do anything. They either do or they dont. I free bob my birds twice a day. Thats twice a day they have the chance to leave and not return, no questions asked. They come home because they like to be here. Because I care for them, and well. PETA TRY AGAIN! BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME!!

  5. Fortunately, here in New Zealand conditions seem to be a lot better than in other countries even though there have been issues with a long race release last year. In some ways, I understand PETA. They see the cruel racers and think everyone is like them – but it’s not that way. The pigeon racer I work for (cleaning lofts, letting birds out in the mornings etc.) doesn’t kill unless a bird would suffer too much. He has many older birds who are retired and are pets – because he wouldn’t want to kill them just because they are too old to race. The racers, however, who simply kill dozens of pigeons even though they aren’t sick, they should be banned from ever having any kind of pet. It’s not right. They want to play god and no one should do that.

  6. Last week, the 14th we had terrible weather in Port Elizabeth South Africa , but the EP pigeon union still decided to fly 2 races, they released the one race from Kimberley in terrible cold weather -2 deg, I know of 2 clubs that lost almost 120 birds, what about the other clubs?? On Tuesday a meeting was held and still the dum dum person told the guy’s if he should decide to fly in that weather again he will do the same. His attitude is we clocked, but don’t care about the pigeons, here it’s all about the person and not the pigeon. Thanks, from a pigeon fancier that didn’t fly last week.

  7. Our pigeon racers that love our pigeons should show the world out there what pigeon racing is really about. These handfull of idiots is going to spoil it for all of us so if we as pigeon fanciers that love our birds and hobby dont do anything we are going to lose our beloved sport

  8. I’ve been around pigeons all my life as my father, and now I, raced them and I would agree that there is much truth in the video except exaggerated, especially the culling and gambling.
    Personally, I treat my pigeons as pets but there is indeed widespread culling especially amongst the ”top” fanciers.I race in a club with usually over a thousand pigeons per race and our top member openly admits to widespread culling so don’t get too hung up on this video.

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