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CanadaPigeon rolling contest at Harrow Fair 'cruel' and 'disrespectful,' says Windsor woman

08:35  02 september  2019
08:35  02 september  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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The woman who uploaded the video says the birds are not meant to be rolled into a ball and thrown by children, but the fair 's secretary says tumbling is part of the Organizers of the Harrow Fair are being criticised after a video of its pigeon rolling contest was shared by more than 200 people on Facebook.

An organizer for the Harrow Fair says its pigeon rolling contest serves as a demonstration of the unique movement of a particular bird — but a Windsor woman who posted a viral video of the event is calling it " disrespectful " and " cruel ."

Pigeon rolling contest at Harrow Fair 'cruel' and 'disrespectful,' says Windsor woman © Jo Bulm/Facebook A pigeon tumbles across the grass during the Harrow Fair's pigeon rolling contest Friday. An organizer for the Harrow Fair says its pigeon rolling contest serves as a demonstration of the unique movement of a particular bird — but a Windsor woman who posted a viral video of the event is calling it "disrespectful" and "cruel."

"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 However, traditions are outdated — and this one absolutely is," said Jo Bulm, whose Facebook video of Friday's pigeon rolling event has been shared by almost 200 people.

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A Windsor woman who posted a viral video of the event is calling it " disrespectful " and " cruel ."

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The Harrow Fair's website refers to roller pigeons — or parlour tumblers — as the "bowling balls of the avian world," adding they are judged based on the distance and number of tumbles they take as their handlers roll them across the grass.

An organizer with the fair says contest participants are supposed to set the birds down and watch them tumble on their own. But according to Bulm, that's not what she saw.

"They were winding up their arm and throwing the pigeon to roll. If you actually look at my video, you can actually see they're using force to roll the pigeons as far as they can," said Bulm.

"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."

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Participants at the Harrow Fair , in the Canadian province of Ontario, are invited to bowl a pigeon along the ground, with 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”.

Pigeon rolling contest at Harrow Fair ' cruel ' and ' disrespectful ,' says Windsor . Alla Wagner, the Millarville woman behind the letter-writing contest launched in January, said people are threatening When she only received about 4,000 submissions, she called the contest off.

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Bulm said she knows that — but added any form of animal cruelty is "worth speaking up about."

"If we just allow these traditions to continue to go forward, when does it end? How will they come to an end? People are paying money to go and see this happen. It's not going to end unless someone speaks up about it."

'Totally taken out of context'

Roller pigeons at the Harrow Fair are brought in from other farms and are treated very well during the fair, according to event secretary Peggy Anger. She said pigeon rolling is not "cruel" — but rather, it simply demonstrates the "nature of that bird."

"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," said Anger.

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"It's been totally taken out of context, which happens often and is certainly not fair."

She said a number of phone calls have come in from people expressing their displeasure for the tradition. But according to Anger, some have taken issue with aspects of the contest which are completely false.

"I had a couple people that thought we hit them with sticks. They're not hit with sticks," said Anger.

"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. ... and then they go home."

She said a discussion will be "at the table" to decide if the pigeon rolling contest continues in future years — but adds the criticism is a "slap to all the people that put in countless hours to pull our community fair together."

"The agenda is not to improve the quality of anything here and in the community — to be able to just post something, take something totally out of context, post something to make it look bad."

According to its website, the Harrow Fair awards cash prizes of five, 10 and 15 dollars to three people whose pigeons tumble the furthest. Anger said she would have no problem with someone from the humane society showing up to the Harrow Fair to investigate the contest.

"We do our absolute best. We're a team of volunteers. Nobody wants to harm any human or animal — and we don't condone that."

Melanie Coulter, executive director for the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society, says pigeon rolling is not illegal. But she would discourage anyone from engaging in the activity because it's "not the kindest way to treat animals."

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