THE stigma of pigeons as flying rats has blindsided Cockburn council and led it to make a “ridiculous” decision, claims the WA pigeon racing federation.
PRF member Chris Warner had applied to keep 50 racing pigeons at his new 858sqm Munster property, but his application was rejected because of a single complaint from a neighbour over potential bird poo and noise.
Federation president George Azar says the detailed application met all the council’s guidelines and the rejection was based on prejudice of feral pigeons, not racing pigeons, which are the Usain Bolt of the skies.
“Racing pigeons are prime athletes who are kept and maintained to the highest standards—better than most humans,” he says.
“They don’t soil or feed in other people’s gardens: races are decided by decimal points and they shoot out, race and then fly back in with no hanging about.
“Unlikes parrots and budgies they don’t graze on seed all day and feed only once, so there’s no vermin, and they don’t transmit diseases to humans, like parrots.
“It’s proven that a flock of them in a loft make less noise than a poodle.
“The decision was botched and not based on fact, but prejudice.”
Mr Warner, who has kept pigeons for 34 years, says under council guidelines he is allowed to keep 20 pigeons without a licence: he has been penalised for being honest.
“I tried to do the right thing, but it has obviously backfired,” he says.
“I’m going to appeal the council’s decision to the state administrative tribunal and plan to keep my pigeons. I believe I have a good case.”
Cr Steve Portelli was the only councillor to support Mr Warner.
“My father-in-law used to race pigeons and he said that if they’re kept professionally, there’s no problem,” he says.
“I understand that Mr Warner is a model member of the association.
“We should have granted a trial 12-month licence to see how it went and then made a call.”
Mr Azar adds that in his 17 years as president, this was the only problem his members had encountered when applying to local government to house pigeons.
He estimates there are 150 racing pigeon members across Perth, with another 800 members with homing and fancy pigeons across the state.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK