Prince Albert man wins racing pigeon ruling

A pigeon-racer in Prince Albert, Sask., says a city council ruling that lets people now keep as many as 30 birds on their properties is an important victory.

A pigeon-racer in Prince Albert, Sask., says a city council ruling that now lets people keep as many as 30 birds on their property is an important victory.

John Steel moved to the city in 2003, but was told people were limited to keeping no more than five pigeons.

Steel fought city council, arguing that the five-pigeon limit was not enough to form a racing team.  

"You can't send the same bird week after week, because it'll just wear them out," Steel told CBC News on Thursday after the ruling, which was made Monday at Prince Albert's city council meeting.

For almost 30 years, Steel has released homing pigeons during the summer from far-off places, such as Ontario, timing the birds to see how quickly they return home.

He told CBC News that being able to keep as many as 30 birds will allow him to establish a full racing team immediately.

However, some Prince Albert residents are not happy with the ruling, complaining that pigeons land on roofs and make noise.

Grant Gustafson, who lives near Steel's house, told CBC News he thinks city council should have done a better job of consulting with the community.

Steel said people need to understand that homing pigeons are different from common, wild pigeons, which he agrees can be disruptive.

"[It's] like comparing wild mustangs to thoroughbreds."

According to the Canadian Racing Pigeon Union website, there are about 20,000 registered racing-pigeon lofts in North America.