The hobby of pigeon racing is getting a bad rap after two PETA investigations, including one that resulted in illegal gambling charges.
Richard Mardis will go to trial in September on illegal gambling charges stemming for pigeon racing held four years ago. The charges came after a PETA investigation years ago.
“We haven’t come to the plea deal, because we are not going to say we did something wrong when we didn’t,” said Steve Mardis, Richard’s son and the owner of OKC based Continental Breeding Station.
Pigeons instinctively will try to fly back home if they are released several hundred miles away. That is how they are raced. A special chip that tracks the speed of the pigeon is put around the bird’s ankle. The bird’s average speed is approximately 45 miles per hour.
PETA says it just finished with another long investigation into pigeon racing and illegal gambling in Taiwan. It concluded that at times 90% of the birds raced in Taiwan die because of the long stretches over water.
The PETA report says pigeons from the Continental Breeding Station have been sold overseas for breeding.
“We believe these races are incredibly cruel and deadly and should be stopped,” says PETA Attorney, Jared Goodman.
Mardis says the racing here in Oklahoma is not cruel and very safe. He says only a couple of pigeons may not survive the eight-week long season because they are targeted in the sky by a hawk.