Post-Brexit rules mean cross-Channel pigeon racing could soon become a flight of fancy

Anger over ruling that birds must be on EU territory for three weeks before racing

YEOVIL, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Racing pigeons are liberated by the South Birmingham Federation at  Yeovil Showground on June 13, 2020 in Yeovil, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Post-Brexit rules on animal health have forced the British pigeon racing world to rethink the decades-old practice of cross-Channel races from France.

MPs are lobbying the government to push for changes to the rules that prevent racing from France to the UK without organisers first filling in additional paperwork.

The UK’s Royal Pigeon Racing Association said it was considering alternative cross-Channel races from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany because of the red tape associated with France.

For decades homing pigeons have been taken to France where they are released and make the trip back to the UK to their owners.

But new rules that were due to start in April but were put back until October stipulate that pigeons must have been in the EU for 21 days before racing.

John Healey, an MP for the opposition Labour party, wrote the government after complaints from pigeon fanciers.

"Owners appreciate the need for stringent regulations for movement into the EU," he told the BBC. “But these birds are low-risk and are not being imported, only transported then released."