Restrictions had been in place for some time (2 seasons) because of concerns about Avian flu and had also previously been stopped for long periods because of Foot and Mouth. See post by Lord Patel "Ban removed on Pigeon Racing"
Grateful but amazed that restrictions had been lifted so soon after the Bernard Matthews Suffolk bou-ha-ha, the 120,000 flyers set to, and arranged very quickly a summer schedule - a monster task in logistics, regardless of adjusting training schedules, breeding programs etc.,
Imagine their surprise then that yesterday afternoon Chief Veterinary Officer, Debby Reynolds, at DEfRA announced ;
"...a ban on all international pigeon racing from continental mainland
Europe (including the Channel Islands) to the UK.
The ban is being introduced with immediate effect, as a precautionary
measure, following the recent finding of H5N1 in wild birds in France. It will
not affect domestic pigeon racing activity within the UK which is permitted to
Continental races take place at weekends with birds despatched on Friday to return Saturday / Sunday - depending on location. That means 30,000 - 50,000 pigeons on road transporters crossing the Channel on a Friday afternoon - evening.
Playing ducks and drakes with the regulations naturally incurs costs and displeasure - pigeon racers would have been content that racing continued to be banned - they after all have a special interest as they own huge flocks nationally of great value.
As we speak Lord Patel's loft manager is steadying his nerves with several brown ales. Pic is of one of Lord Patel's chicks earlier this year - destined for great things in 3 years time.