Fears Brexit red tape could kill pigeon racing due to quarantine rules

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A NORTH-East pigeon fancier has warned that Brexit red tape could kill the sport he loves.

After leaving the EU Britain is now classed as a third party country meaning homing pigeons have to be quarantined for three weeks before they can released in France to race across the Channel.

The pigeon fraternity say the extra cost of this would be prohibitive and that birds wouldn’t be fit to race after such a long time away from home.

The Royal Pigeon Racing Association, the sport’s governing body, is calling for an exception to be made so that these races can still happen.

In a letter to the European Commission for Health and Food Safety the association’s CEO, Ian Evans, said releasing racing pigeons in France is a “non-commercial process that has happened for one hundred years without any negative impact on health.”

Alan Todd, from Gateshead, who is a member of Winlaton Homing Society, said that previously enthusiasts could release their birds in France without the need to quarantine.

He said: “If we want to race pigeons from France they have to be quarantined for three weeks.

“Before they would leave here on Thursday, get to France on Friday, and race back to Britain on Saturday.”

The 59-year-old, who has been involved in the sport all his life,  said that the new regulations are causing people to leave the sport.

Mr Todd currently has 120 birds, and has owned two cross channel winners.

His blue pied cock Bob was also awarded Channel bird of the year by his club.

Mr Todd continued:”It’s got us all up in arms. I think it could kill the sport.

“They’re telling us we can’t fly our pigeons – it’s a disgrace. A lot of people are planning of walking away from the sport because of this.

“There’s people in the club who are in their 80’s all they have got is pigeons, it’s more than a sport, it’s a way of life.”

Mr Todd also warned that the rules could threaten the livelihoods of those that earn their living from the sport.

He added: “A lot of people are employed because of the sport, like the wagon drivers that take the pigeons to France and people buy pigeons from Belgium  and Holland.  It could stop people earning a living.

“Pigeons are sent abroad after the age of two, when they get to that age they don’t compete in British races because they aren’t fast enough.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have been approached for comment.

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