In spite of the recently established exemption for races and training flights, the new European animal health legislation (also known as "Animal Health Law" or AHL) still hangs like a dark cloud over all other activities in our racing pigeon sector.
At the end of last year it became known that this legislation, in its fight against bird flu, threatens to restrict the whole European pigeon sport. As of 21 October, every time racing pigeons are moved from one European country to another, a health certificate issued by the government will be required. In addition, the sender must be able to prove that the pigeons being moved to another country have remained in his or her loft for at least 21 uninterrupted days before departure. Moreover, racing pigeons may only be moved between countries between senders and recipients registered by the government. This concerns both professionals and hobbyists. In other words, it affects everyone who keeps racing pigeons.
As is now known, thanks to the lobbying efforts of the FCI, the KBDB and other national European pigeon associations, a total catastrophe has already been avoided. The European Commission has agreed to change the law so that races and training flights can still take place without certification and without a 21-day residency period.
Despite this important victory for the sport, the law still applies to all other types of movements that are not aimed at releasing pigeons abroad. For these movements, a 21-day presence at the place of departure and a health certificate will still be required.
In concrete terms, this includes movements to and from another European country for:
- Exchanging, breeding together, trading, gifting etc. pigeons with/to a pigeon fancier abroad;
- The return of recovered pigeons by a race organizer;
- Repatriation of lost raced pigeons;
- Transporting pigeons to an exhibition, prize-giving ceremony or other event;
- Transporting pigeons to a photographer, handler, laboratory, one loft race, etc.;
Even if the pigeons are only moved abroad for a very short time (e.g. a few hours), before they can return to their country of origin they will again have to spend 21 days at the registered place of departure abroad, and a health certificate will again have to be issued (this time by the foreign authorities) to allow the movement.
It goes without saying that this legislation will have extremely expensive and unworkable consequences in practice and will damage not only the economic fabric of our industry but will also have a negative impact on the welfare of racing pigeons.
Moreover, the measures imposed by the law are completely unnecessary for racing pigeons, as they can only be infected with avian influenza themselves in very rare cases and certainly never transmit the disease to other birds. This is supported by the latest scientific research and publications.
For the above reasons the new interest group Racing Pigeon Partners (RPP) is launching a petition that will be circulated throughout Europe to denounce the disproportionate consequences of the legislation and to request a consultation with the competent policymakers at both national and European level.
RPP (https://racingpigeonpartners.com) was recently founded by PIPA, Herbots, Pigen, De Duif, Bricon and EPW with the mission to defend the economic interests of all pigeon fanciers.
RPP invites everybody to sign the petition in their own name to express their support for this cause. Every signature counts.