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Graveyard Races: A PETA Undercover Investigation

March 29, 2013

Please click HERE to end similar cruel races in the US.

Background | Source PETA

On September 1, 2012, the National Flying Club released more than 5,500 pigeons from Fougères, France, for a large international pigeon race. The birds had to attempt to fly hundreds of miles back to the U.K., including across the English Channel, where winds can be fierce and exhaustion means drowning, and only 622 pigeons reportedly made it back home. The rest, some 89 per cent, are believed to have perished. This is just one example of the enormous number of casualties documented during PETA’s heartbreaking investigation into the secretive world of pigeon racing in Britain.

Our investigators went undercover at multiple races across Europe and gained access to all major British pigeon-racing organizations. Everywhere we turned, the findings were the same—most birds who are entered into pigeon races never make it home. Click here to learn more.

There are many reasons why pigeons don’t survive races. Young birds easily become disoriented, and because they have no experience at finding food, water, or shelter on their own, they often succumb to the elements, starvation, or predators. Pigeons used for racing are forced to travel extremely long and dangerous distances, including over the English Channel, which is commonly referred to as the “graveyard” in racing circles. They have nowhere to land if they become tired or injured or encounter treacherous winds and storms, and many of them die.

Those birds who do make it home aren’t as lucky as you might think. It’s common practice for birds who are not winning or producing winners to have their necks broken. Our video shows one man who kills a pigeon with his bare hands and leaves the bird, while the animal’s wings are still flapping, to die slowly in a paper bag.

Please click here to watch the video from our breaking investigation, and click here to learn more about the case.

The death of one animal, let alone thousands, is heartbreaking, but if you are like me, you must be thinking, “What is being done, and how can I help?” PETA is calling on residents of the U.K. to help us fight the European races, but we need you to help us end similar cruel races here in the United States. Find out more by clicking here.

we are pigeons and we are
born to fly,
but for your races
we are not born
to die!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

13 Comments leave one →
  1. karenlyonskalmenson permalink
    March 29, 2013 6:22 pm

    we are pigeons and we are
    born to fly,
    but for your races
    we are not born
    to die!


  2. March 29, 2013 9:35 pm

    Reblogged this on Glenn62’s Blog.


  3. March 30, 2013 8:42 am

    what a disgrace!


  4. March 30, 2013 11:21 am

    People in Pigeon Clubs rarely have compassion for their birds…they’re in it for the big money prizes only and birds they don’t want are usually cruelly killed without a second thought…I heard of one man who’d bite the heads off any poor racing pigeon that was late getting home (no second chances for them!!) The kinder people are those who just keep pigeons as a hobby, content in loosing them out to fly round then return to the loft, and with no interest in the Racing Clubs. My eldest son once raced pigeons and had a great winner for several races when others said it was always seen coming home way in fron of the others…then it mysteriously disappeared…Wherever big money is involved there is usually very little compassion.


    • March 30, 2013 5:37 pm

      “Wherever big money is involved there is usually very little compassion.” I completely agree. I suspect, however, that there is none.


  5. March 30, 2013 4:20 pm

    petition signed and shared in several place this is disgusting and must be stopped more than half of these birds never make it back and to get these birds to fly even faster their owners will put an enemy bird in with the racing birds mate to make the racing bird fearful of losing its mate so it will fly extra fast to get home they also mess with the birds eggs to entice them to get home faster its a real sad abusive cruel mess my best friend Danny the bird man of Long Beach is one of the few people who specializes in and rescued birds so i know alot about the cruelties of the bird racing crap Danny has rescued many of those exausted birds to Thanks Stacey


    • March 30, 2013 5:39 pm

      I love birds so much, they are so special to me, and I completely agree with your thoughts. I was unaware of the enemy bird, that is just disgraceful and completely discompassionate! I am glad you know of a kind, compassionate person such as Danny. I am so happy there is someone who rescues birds! There is a small rescue here, and I’ve been there rescuing an injured rock dove (pigeon). Thank you so much for sharing and for being such an amazing soul, Florence.


  6. April 10, 2013 2:12 am

    Check out my blog at for a more accurate account of pigeon racing.

    I hope that you don’t block your comments like PETA have on Youtube. What happened to free speech there!!

    When you get to my site, read the post titled ‘One step closer to the grave for PETA, or just another brick in the wall!’

    Cheers, fergie, nz.


  7. Mike King permalink
    November 26, 2014 10:29 am

    I have been racing pigeons for several years. I still have the birds that were given me the year I started. I fly 8 young bird races each year. Mostly I just sit in the back yard and watch the birds fly around the loft. My wife and I call them our kids. Like everything else there is good and bad. The people that mistreat or break the law should be dealt with. But remember this, the vast majority of pigeon fanciers love thier birds and love the sport.
    My birds are cared for and loved. There are is no “big money” or “money races” in our club or combine. Money is spent on proper feed, proper supplements, and proper loft management to ensure healthy happy birds. They must be happy they always come home.
    For PETA to claim that Pigeon flyers are inhumane is incorrect. Can I say that PETA is bigotted because they claim people like me are cruel to animals when they kill thousands of animals each year in thier so called Animal Shelters.


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