Pigeon rolling contest sparks outrage among animal rights activists

Game is similar to lawns bowls but with living creatures

'Pigeon rolling' contest captured on camera in Canada

A community fate has been criticised after a video of its annual “pigeon rolling” event was posted online.

Participants at the Harrow Fair, in the Canadian province of Ontario, are invited to bowl a pigeon along the ground, with the person who sends the bird furthest declared the winner.

The game is similar to lawns bowls but with living creatures.

Animal rights activists have called fowl after footage of the event was shared on Facebook.

“I thought it was absolutely horrific," said Jo Blum, the attendee who recorded the video. "Blatant disrespect and cruelty for animals.”

She told Canada’s CBC network: “I understand it’s a tradition and I understand that it’s an attraction that draws people to come to the Harrow Fair. However, traditions are outdated — and this one absolutely is.”

Organisers defended the contest saying the birds were a unique species which had evolved to roll rather than fly – and the competition was just showing off what they did naturally.

But Ms Blum, from nearby Windsor, said the participants "were winding up their arm and throwing the pigeon to roll."

She added: “If you actually look at my video, you can actually see they’re using force to roll the pigeons as far as they can. It’s not who has the best bird that rolls the furthest; it’s what child is able to roll the roller pigeon as far as possible.”

“These roller birds were definitely not put on this earth to be rolled into a ball and thrown by children.”

Despite the outcry, organisers of the 155-year-old fair appeared unrepentant.

Secretary Peggy Anger said: “The bird is set down and it does its natural tumble. The bird picks itself up, and then it’s picked up. They’re not manhandled. They’re not pushed. They’re simply put on the ground. It’s been totally taken out of context, which happens often and is certainly not fair… Our animals are well taken care of. Our animals are fed. they’re watered, they’re cared for the entire weekend. At no point are they ever in danger of being harmed.”

She said a decision would be made if to continue the tradition next year but said the criticism was “a slap “to all the people that put in countless hours to pull our community fair together”.

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