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Don’t turn PKI pigeons loose: Fanciers

Farmers in Canada and the U.S. left holding flocks of pigeons after the reported bankruptcy of Pigeon King International shouldn’t just release the birds, a national fanciers’ group urged Monday.

Ontario farm media reported last week that farmers in several provinces who had invested in meat pigeons through Waterloo, Ont. company PKI have now received notice from PKI that it will enter bankruptcy protection.

The Canadian Pigeon Fanciers’ Association (CPFA) on Monday released a statement that led off by emphasizing it has “no affiliation of any sort” with the company, founded by businessman Arlan Galbraith.

The CPFA, which represents pigeon fanciers and hobbyists from coast to coast, said in its statement that it “expresses deep sympathy for people affected by the apparent collapse of Pigeon King International, and great concern for the birds involved.”

However, the group said, “on humanitarian grounds (CPFA) strongly advises against the release into the wild of pigeons originating from Pigeon King International operations.”

Instead, the group said it “urges persons involved in those operations to find humane solutions to any issues arising from the apparent demise of Pigeon King International.”

According to a June 20 article on the web site of Ontario’s Better Farming magazine, the notice from Galbraith to those holding PKI birds says they “are free to deal with the pigeons in their barns in any way they choose. You can sell them for whatever price you want to whomever you want. You can auction them off. You can let them fly free in the fields with the wild pigeons. You can gas them and bury them on your farm.”

PKI, which according to several published reports has solicited investment in several provinces and states, is reported to have collected thousands of dollars per investor in return for breeding stock, to raise pigeons for what the company said would eventually be a processing operation producing pigeon meat, also called squab.

The office of Iowa attorney general Tom Miller in late 2007 began investigating the company, saying Dec. 13 that it issued a formal “civil investigative demand” asking PKI and Galbraith to provide various detailed information about their operation and plans for the future.

Iowa’s demand said Miller’s office had “concerns” that PKI’s business practices may be violating the state’s Consumer Fraud Act and the Iowa Business Opportunities Law, including “misleading consumers regarding the true viability of establishing several large pigeon processing plants within a time frame that would allow the business opportunity marketed by the respondent (PKI) to have a legitimate independent business purpose” other than “providing inventory for new growers in furtherance of a ‘Ponzi’ type of investment scheme.”

Miller’s office said in a Dec. 21 statement that it had received materials from PKI and its farm division would review them.

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