• Arsonists have burned down flock belonging to prize-winning pigeon racer
  • A day earlier, thieves broke into his property, stealing most of his collection
  • Such attacks are not unusual in the pigeon racing community due to intense competition

A prize-winning pigeon collector has been left devastated after suspected arsonists burned down his three lofts that housed a flock of 20 birds.

The 71-year-old Stuart Russell, says he believes that jealous rivals were behind the arson attack as one of dirty tactics to force him out of the sport of bird racing, which he has engaged in for over 45 years.

Authorities estimate that damages caused by the fire has reached £9,000. A day earlier, however, thieves had already stolen most of his prized collection of pigeons from his rural compound near Glastonbury, Somerset in the United Kingdom.

Calling the culprits “parasites”, Russell bemoaned the intense competition in the pigeon racing community.

“This is not a coincidence. I’ve been dreading something like this since last year. I built up a family of pigeons and they became very successful and they want to stop me from winning. It’s happening throughout the UK. It’s happening all the time. You just don’t expect something like this to happen. These parasites just want to stop you from doing what you enjoy doing and from winning,” he told the Mirror.

Russell, who is nicknamed “Grandpa Pigeon”, also said that with the attacks on his farm, he has no birds left and will no longer join pigeon racing competitions fearing another attack in the future.

“I’ve got nothing left. Absolutely nothing. I spent a lot of time looking after them. It’s a seven days a week, 52 weeks a year job. I have no idea what I’m going to do now. I just haven’t got the heart for it any more. It is truly heartbreaking. I’m pretty certain someone would do this again. Someone is determined to stop me racing my birds,” he said.

The stiff competition among competitive pigeon racers have prompted a number of attacks over the years; putting a dark mark on an otherwise wholesome sport.

“It is a very competitive sport and obvious things like this do happen. If someone is doing very well and doing a lot of winning, there is money involved so people do get jealous and they want to be disruptive. Fortunately, 99 per cent of pigeon fanciers are genuine, honest people who enjoy the competition. It is a small minority of people doing this but this is happening around the country and we urge people to take all necessary precautions to protect their birds,” explains the editor of pigeon racing magazine British Homing World, Steve Richards.