The ban on pigeon racing, originally imposed in October 2005 following a veterinary risk assessment of the likelihood of H5N1 avian influenza transmission, was lifted this month.
Since January 2007, confirmed outbreaks have occurred in poultry in Hungary, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Russia. Apart from a case in Cellardyke, Scotland where highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus was isolated from a dead wild Whooper swan sampled on March 31, 2006, there have been no confirmed isolations of this virus in wild birds.
International pigeon racing will be permitted from France, the Channel Islands, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. The end of the higher risk autumn migration and over-wintering period, coupled with the absence of evidence of disease in wild birds in Europe, has led to a revised veterinary risk assessment which has informed the decision to lift the pigeon racing ban.
Racing pigeons have been clocked at over 100 miles per hour for distances of more than 100 miles. Pigeon racing from Western Europe will still be subject to the existing conditions on domestic races of notifying in advance, record keeping and biosecurity.