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Groups meet to discuss racing pigeon and peregrine issues

27 November 2008

Stephen Harris
People Engagement Officer

The RSPB, the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group (NIRSG) and representatives of pigeon racing or show groups have met for the first time.

This unusual group of collaborators has come together to try to solve the problems faced by each side. The pigeon groups are very concerned at the loss of their pigeons to peregrine falcons, while the RSPB and the NIRSG aim to protect peregrine populations.

James Robinson, Conservation Manager at the RSPB is pleased the groups have met: “We recognise the strong wish of the pigeon groups to undertake their sport and protect their birds. At the same time, the peregrine falcon is a species protected by European and national law. The peregrine population in Northern Ireland has declined in recent years, and we believe this is linked to illegal persecution although no convictions have been secured. We hope that this meeting will be the first of many to consider solutions that will reduce pigeon losses, while protecting peregrine populations at the same time. We hope all groups will condemn any illegal activity.”

Peter Martin of the Ulster Federation of Racing Pigeons said, “The meeting was never going to be easy, but we are pleased to have the opportunity to raise our concerns with the RSPB and the NIRSG face to face. It’s great the RSPB has said it is willing to talk about solutions like ‘hawk-eyes’ to scare peregrines and other raptors from pigeon lofts, or diversionary feeding. The problems won’t stop tomorrow, but we want to reassure our members that we are working to uphold their interests.” 

Marc Ruddock, Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group and Queen’s University agreed: “I’m delighted that the pigeon groups will help to collect data that will inform better research into these problems in future. We’ve also agreed to do joint press releases in future.”

The meeting was hosted by Quercus at Queen’s University Belfast. The groups intend to meet again to discuss specific solutions.


Notes to editors

For further information or to arrange an interview, contact the relevant representative below.


RSPB NI Media Officer Stephen Harris or 07736 477526


The pigeon groups attending the meeting were:

·            Local Tumblers and Tipplers representatives – Bobby Dunseith 07756 202345

·            The Irish Homing Union (IHU) – Ken McConaghie or 07512 856775

·            The Northern Ireland Provincial Amalgamation of Racing Pigeons (NIPA) - Fred Russell, 90351441 or 90234805

·            The Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA)

·            The Ulster Federation of Racing Pigeons - Peter Martin or 07770 415941


Marc Ruddock, NIRSG and QUB, can be contacted on or 07762 122755


Quercus is the Northern Ireland research centre for biodiversity and conservation biology. The group was established as a partnership between the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Queen's University, Belfast.