Pigeon owners held for illegal betting
Taipei - Taiwanese authorities said on Wednesday they would prosecute 129 people for illegal gambling on pigeon races - part of a broader investigation into the sport after animal rights group PETA filed complaints.
More than Tw$66.6 million ($2 million) was seized from the Fengyuan Pigeon Club in the central city of Taichung, according to the district prosecutors office.
US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted the results of its investigation last year to Taiwanese authorities, saying pigeon racing kills 1.5 million birds a year on the island.
“This particular club we found to have gambling offences but we didn't find there's a situation of animal abuse,” Hung Jia-yuan, director of Taichung's prosecutors office, told AFP, adding investigations would continue elsewhere.
The main suspects in the gambling case face a maximum of three years' imprisonment, while others may be fined.
In a raid last month on a pigeon-racing club in the southern city of Kaohsiung, 35 people were prosecuted and about Tw$18 million was confiscated.
PETA in a statement Wednesday commended Taiwanese authorities for cracking down on the sport which it called cruel.
It said a recent series of races by the Kaohsiung club started with 7 301 birds but only had 36 by the fifth race.