Audubon's Alisa Opar reports that PETA is (predictably) up in arms over former boxing champion Mike Tyson's latest gig: Taking on Tyson, a show about pigeon racing on Animal Planet. I don't always see eye to eye with PETA, but in this case I think they're right. Audubon reported in a recent issue that "roller" pigeons—the kind of bird Tyson competes with—are bred for a "genetic seizure-like disorder" that causes them to tumble to the ground, sometimes dying on impact. And the pigeons aren't the sport's only victims. Hawks and other birds of prey are harmed, too:
When their pigeons start doing their thing, birds of prey see them for exactly what they are—genetic invalids ripe for plucking. As Tony Chavarria, owner and publisher of the Birmingham Roller Pigeon Discussion Board (roller-pigeon.com), perceptively notes, “Many fanciers have been forced to leave the hobby/sport due to incessant attacks by these birds of prey which seem to focus on these roller pigeons as a primary food source (especially in the cities).” Solution: Make the world safer for rollers by continuously killing raptors as they gravitate to roller lofts from all compass points, like stars to black holes.
In 2007, seven members of "roller" clubs in southern California were charged with fatally beating and shooting federally protected raptors. Tyson himself has never killed an encroaching hawk, but it's said that Los Angeles' roller club members kill as many as 2,000 hawks every year. Weird choice, Animal Planet. I'll take Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom instead, please.