Story at a glance
- Joe the pigeon garnered international attention this week following reports the bird made the 8,000-mile trek across the Pacific Ocean into Australia.
- Health authorities wanted to capture and kill the bird due to disease concerns.
- But on Friday, it was reported the identifying leg band found on Joe was a fake, and he was likely not from the U.S.
A pigeon that was thought to have travelled from the U.S. to Australia and was the target of Australian health authorities has escaped death after it was discovered he’s likely just a local bird.
Joe the pigeon garnered international attention this week following reports the bird made the 8,000-mile trek across the Pacific Ocean into Australia. The Associated Press (AP) reported a Melbourne resident — appropriately named Kevin Celli-Bird — found the exhausted bird in his backyard on Dec. 26 drinking from a fountain.
A tag on the bird’s leg later identified the animal as a racing pigeon that had left the state of Oregon during a race several months prior.
The revelation that the bird could be American prompted Australian health authorities to say Joe needed to be captured and killed, in accordance with the country’s quarantine rules. Australia has strict quarantine rules when it comes to bringing live animals into the country in order to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases on the continent.
But on Friday, it was reported the identifying leg band found on Joe was a fake.
“Following an investigation, the department has concluded that Joe the Pigeon is highly likely to be Australian and does not present a biosecurity risk,” Australia’s Department of Agriculture said in a statement.
“The department is satisfied that the bird’s leg band is a fraudulent copy of a legitimate leg band. No further action will be taken by the department in relation to this matter,” the department said.
The American Racing Pigeon Union said the band number belongs to a blue bar pigeon in the U.S., which is not the pigeon featured in news photos about Joe.
“What a relief to know that Joe the Pigeon found in Australia does not wear a genuine AU band,” the group said in a Facebook post.
READ MORE FROM CHANGING AMERICA