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GREAT THREAT TO OUR HOBBY

"... If new laws in a city as renowned as Chicago can pass a ban on all pigeon-keeping, a precedent is set which will undoubtedly get the attention of other cities and towns and their attorneys... Each one that falls will make it easier for the next..." Butch Guericke

"... I see this as the greatest single threat to the hobby..." Bob Berggren

"... Many pigeon men will bicker to no end about minor matters of pigeon politics while their hobby is pulled out from under them by municipal politics..." Bob Munson

"... Yes, they can do it. Is it right? NO!" Gregg Sale

"...The pigeon men in Illinois were asleep at the switch..." Tom Monson

"...The American Racing Pigeon Union is very much involved in this matter and has undertaken a course of action... This is not only a racing pigeon problem, but a problem for anyone who flies or keeps pigeons..." Joe Houghton

"... I think the officers of the NBRC need to get together and officially get into the fight and come up with a game plan...this is now a war...for our rights to raise pigeons.....You can't say it enough....United we stand....Divided we fall..." Paul Fullerton

These sentiments, expressed by but a few of the NBRC members, represent a common thread of concern among many members of the organization. That we need to act as an organization seems fairly obvious, one would think.

However, there are strong feelings by some who are of the opinion that, perhaps, inaction is best in order to avoid exposing themselves and their personal activities in the hobby to potential risk from aggressive neighbors and municipalities seeking to put an end to them. Failure to act out of fear of exposure is a fallacy. Just ask the American Indians whether they would have been more effective in preventing the spread of European imperialism had they experienced a broader vision and a more colllective united front in their resistance to the changes being imposed upon them.



As individuals in the pigeon world, this may be a rational line of thinking and might protect your personal loft. Acting as individuals at this point in time, though an understandable position, may not be the prudent thing to do for the hobby as a whole, and may not put us in a position of power and control over the changes that are likely to our in our future. As an organization, we cannot afford to promote the mindset, "I can't afford to worry about the other guy...as long as they leave me alone."

They will pick us off and close us down, one individual at a time, as they are doing right now. We must acknowledge that we are faced with major problems in the hobby, such as avian flu propaganda and municipalaties seeking to ban pigeon- keeping; and all who are keepers of pigeons will be affected by them. We need to engage in the proactive planning of activities to neutralize this threat to our hobby, and we need to do it now.  

Our NBRC President, Juan Navarro, has proposed a three-pronged approach to the problem, with the primary goal of educating the public; globally, using the internet to spread positive information about our hobby, possibly through the use of on-line radio networks; locally, using Public Television and Public Radio programs; and, as individuals, being good ambassadors for the hobby, meticulous loft mangement practices, etc.

I support these recommendations 100%. Looking at our track record, acting primarily as individual hobbyists in activities such as these over the past several decades, we have been somewhat effective, on a limited basis, in isolated localities. Good loft management practices and yard/loft hygiene are important things for all of us to keep in mind.

But in the broader scheme of things, they have been relatively ineffective and achieved very limited benefits for our hobby as a whole, in promoting positive awareness or in educating the public about what we do.  Newer technologies trough the Internet will certainly make us more effective than we have ever been before, and we need to promote these activites with all vigor, but I fear we are shoveling sand against the tide if we limit our scope of action to this arena alone.

We need a broader vision of possibility. We have fellow hobbyists who are actively engaged in litigation with individuals and with municipalities. They have limited resources and they require our assisstance. We have other pigeon-keeping organizations with which we need to liason regarding these issues. There is a great deal more that needs to be done if we are truly in earnest about protecting our rights to participate in the hobby we have chosen and love.  

The most effective way to bring about the necessary activites that can direct the future course of events, with regard to our hobby, is to create a permanent Public Relations Committee; a task force, if you will, as has already been publically discussed and recommended by many NBRC members. I say permanent, because I believe that we are in this for the long haul.

This committee would serve as a focal point for the tremendous resources available through the individual members of the NBRC in all facets of business, technological, and creative thought. For example, in the monitoring, gathering, and recording of information regarding avian influenza, legal actions in progress to close down hobbyists; precedents, legal definitions, rights, etc.

It would serve as a place to refer individuals who are in need of information or support; and as a very important liason with other groups, such as the American Racing Pigeon Union, show breed organizations and the dove fancy, in order to coordinate our efforts along a united front. The keeping and breeding of pigeons, regardless of the breed, is a universal hobby and sport. We are all in this together. United we must stand.

One effective educational tool that could be developed and promoted is a "National Pigeon Awareness Month" during which the entire hobby would focus its resources and energies along the lines the NBRC President has suggested. Hobbyists will generate many more ideas to consider implementing. The NBRC, through this committee, ought to begin to work to develop printed and video resource materials that could be reserved by members who engage in these activites, locally, in their home towns. And we need to do much more.....the members of the NBRC have many great ideas. 

Most importantly, the NBRC and its members need to invest capital in preserving their future. The Public Relations Committee needs a significant budget. Typically, the effectiveness of this committee in bringing about the desired result may depend fully on the amount of money invested. The AU has established a "Legal Defense Fund" to press for laws to protect the rights of individuals involved in law suits with local authorities. It also has a location on its website, "Take a stand, protect your rights to race, and how you can help", which actively solicits donations to the effort.

Through the actions of this committee, the NBRC, on behalf of its members, needs to resist laws that would ban, limit, restrict, or impose burdersome limitations on our hobby. Such actvites from the national organization will protect individual hobbyists from the potential exposure they risk in acting alone as individuals who lend support to their colleagues in the sport.

Capable and qualified men with experience and committment, indeed, have already stepped forward to take on the task at hand in volunteering to chair or participate in such a committee. Unfortunatley however, in a dismal display of apathy, combined with the legitimate concern that intervening on behalf of members who come under attack might, unnecessarily, put the hobby at even greater risk; when this proposal was introduced to the NBRC for disussion, only one or two comments could be elicited.

As a result of the lack of interest that was expressed, the NBRC has dropped this issue without acting . Too bad...... If you agree that action on the part of the NBRC would be prudent, the best option for members and hobbyists, at this point, is to contact your Regional Directors and Officers and let them know how you feel. Maybe next time.......

Cliff Ball

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