Fowl treatment? Ontario fair under fire for pigeon bowling
An event at an Ontario fair this weekend has ruffled some feathers after a video of competitors rolling pigeons on the ground was posted to social media.
An animal rights advocate going only by “Jo” out of fear of reprisals posted a video to Facebook after attending the annual Harrow Fair, operated out of the community of Harrow in the town of Essex.
In the video, competitors -- holding a pigeon in one hand -- crouch slightly, as if preparing for a round of lawn bowling, and roll the pigeon on the grass, wings flopping all over, until it comes to a stop and rights itself. The pigeon is then scooped up and the distance is recorded.
“I thought it was absolutely horrific,” Jo told CTV News Windsor. “Blatant disrespect and cruelty for animals.”
Harrow Fair President Luke Korcok is striking back, saying the pigeons used are a specific breed that evolution has equipped to do one thing other birds don’t: roll.
“They don’t fly, they roll,” Korcok said. “Nobody train them that way. They are hatched that way.”
According to the fair’s website, “they are the bowling balls of the avian world.” They are referred to sometimes as Parlour Tumblers, the website says, and “make their way through life … by somersaulting on the ground.”
Korcok raises many of the pigeons that are used in the event, and told CTV News that some roller pigeons can flip-flop the length of two and a half football fields.
He said the event is unlikely to change, despite advocates’ criticisms, and claimed that anyone complaining clearly has “nothing better to do.”
But advocates like Jo don’t see the point in tossing pigeons on the ground, regardless of whether they have the ability to roll. She argues that it is stressing the birds out for no reason, and potentially teaching children the wrong message about how to treat animals.
“Traditions get outdated,” Jo said. “They do. I just believe that there are more sports or competitions they can do with actual non-living beings.”