From 'The Guardian' vom 23.01.04: Phone masts blamed for pigeons' lost art
Vivek Chaudhary, chief sports correspondent
Homing pigeons excel in the art of endurance while using age-old instincts to make their way home across thousands of miles. But modern technology is being blamed for their demise after claims that mobile phone masts are causing thousands to get lost each year.
According to homing pigeon enthusiasts, powerful electromagnetic microwave radiation from the masts is destroying the birds' sense of direction. Many owners have had to change the route their birds take to fly home, known as the road, to avoid the perils of modern technology.
The British Royal Pigeon Racing Association (BRPRA) is calling for research into the impact of the masts. It also wants them fitted with tracking devices to monitor what happens when they pass the masts.
Delegates at the British homing world show of the year in Blackpool, which took place last week complained that they had lost dozens of homing pigeons over the past few years because of the masts.
Anne Pitkeathly, from the Isle of Wight, who has been racing pigeons for the past five years said that the problem with masts had become so severe that she had had to change the road her birds take to fly home.
Ms Pitkeathly said: "The route between Cornwall and the island used to pass through Dorset, where there has been a proliferation of masts. In a season I lost 40 birds and had to switch to the Dover south road which has been much better.
"I would think that it should be possible to fit trackers to birds... to know exactly if they are put off course by emissions from masts."
Graham Deacon, also from the Isle of Wight, said he would welcome research into the issue. "On one race from Winchester last year I lost more than 80 birds," he said.
Peter Bryant, general manager of the BRPRA, said the organisation had been inundated with complaints about pigeons getting lost because of mobile phone masts.
Mr Bryant drew a contrast between the stark dangers faced by pigeons carrying vital messages during the second world war and the risks posed to the birds today.
"Their instincts carried them back through hostile fire and they were even parachuted to members of the resistance and made their way back from that," he said.
"It would be ironic if they were now the victims of an unseen enemy." www.guardian.co.uk