A racing pigeon that survived a 13,000-kilometer Pacific Ocean flight from the U.S. to Australia now faces the death penalty.
Australian authorities plan to kill the bird over fears it may be carrying diseases, New Daily and other outlets reported Friday.
Kevin Celli-Bird said Thursday he found the emaciated bird in the garden of his Melbourne home Dec. 26. It had disappeared from a race in the U.S. state of Oregon Oct. 29.
He said the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union confirmed the pigeon was registered to an owner in Montgomery, Alabama.
Experts suspect 'Joe' - named by Celli-Bird after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden - hitched a ride on a cargo ship.
The pigeon has since recovered from the crossing but authorities still want it dead.
The strict Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service contacted Celli-Bird to ask him if he could catch the bird. "They say if it's from America, then they are concerned about bird diseases," Celli-Bird said. 'To be honest, I can't catch it. I can get within millimeters or 20 inches of it and then it moves."
According to Australia's Department of Agriculture, the bird wasn't allowed to remain in the country because it could endanger its food security and wild bird populations. The pigeon poses "a direct biosecurity risk" to Australia's poultry trade and birdlife, agriculture officials said.
Pigeon races are generally between 100 kilometers and 1,000 kilometers long. In the U.S., races of up to 1,800 kilometers have been recorded.
It is claimed that the longest flight made by a pigeon is one that started at Arras in France and ended in Saigon, Vietnam in 1931. It took the bird 24 days to cover 11,600 kilometers, according to pigeonpedia.com.
Pigeons are the oldest domesticated bird, according to Wikipedia. The predecessors of modern-day racing pigeons were birds bred for their homing ability, primarily to carry messages.