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FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2021, file image made from video, a pigeon with a blue leg band stands on a rooftop in Melbourne, Australia. A U.S. bird organization said the leg band identifying the bird as a U.S. racing pigeon was counterfeit, which may save the bird from strict Australian biosecurity policies that would call for a U.S. pigeon to be killed. (Channel 9 via AP)

FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2021, file image made from video, a pigeon with a blue leg band stands on a rooftop in Melbourne, Australia. A U.S. bird organization said the leg band identifying the bird as a U.S. racing pigeon was counterfeit, which may save the bird from strict Australian biosecurity policies that would call for a U.S. pigeon to be killed. (Channel 9 via AP)

FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2021, file image made from video, a pigeon with a blue leg band stands on a rooftop in Melbourne, Australia. A U.S. bird organization said the leg band identifying the bird as a U.S. racing pigeon was counterfeit, which may save the bird from strict Australian biosecurity policies that would call for a U.S. pigeon to be killed. (Channel 9 via AP)

A pigeon that Australia declared a biosecurity risk may get a reprieve after a US bird organisation declared its identifying leg band was fake.

The band suggested the bird found in a Melbourne backyard on December 26 was a racing pigeon that had left the US state of Oregon, 8,000 miles away, two months earlier.

On that basis, Australian authorities on Thursday said they considered the bird a disease risk and planned to kill it.

But Deone Roberts, sport development manager for the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union, said on Friday the band was fake.

Somebody needs to look at that band and then understand that the bird is not from the US. They do not need to kill himDeone Roberts

The band number belongs to a blue bar pigeon in the United States and that is not the bird pictured in Australia, she said.

“The bird band in Australia is counterfeit and not traceable,” Ms Roberts said. “It definitely has a home in Australia and not the U.S.”

“Somebody needs to look at that band and then understand that the bird is not from the US. They do not need to kill him,” she added.

Pigeon racing has seen a resurgence in popularity, and some birds have become quite valuable.

Acting Australian Prime Minister Michael McCormack said he did not know what the fate of the bird named Joe, after the US president-elect, would be.

But there would be no mercy if the pigeon were from the United States.

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The pigeon stands on a rooftop in Melbourne (Channel 9/AP)

The pigeon stands on a rooftop in Melbourne (Channel 9/AP)

The pigeon stands on a rooftop in Melbourne (Channel 9/AP)

“If Joe has come in a way that has not met our strict biosecurity measures, then bad luck Joe, either fly home or face the consequences,” Mr McCormack told reporters.

But Martin Foley, health minister for Victoria state where Joe lives, called for the federal government to spare the bird.

“I would urge the Commonwealth’s quarantine officials to show a little bit of compassion,” Foley said.

Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird, who found the emaciated bird in his backyard, was surprised by the development and pleased that the bird he had named Joe might not be destroyed.

“Yeah, I’m happy about that,” Mr Celli-Bird said, referring to news that Joe probably is not a biosecurity threat.

Mr Celli-Bird had contacted the American Racing Pigeon Union to find the bird’s owner based on the number on the leg band. The bands have both a number and a symbol, but Mr Celli-Bird didn’t remember the symbol and said he can no longer catch the bird since it has recovered from its initial weakness.

Australian quarantine authorities are notoriously strict. In 2015, the government threatened to euthanise two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, after they were smuggled into the country by Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Faced with a 50-hour deadline to leave Australia, the dogs made it out in a chartered jet.

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