Feathers are being ruffled in the pigeon racing heartland of Ballymena according to a local MLA.
Ulster Unionist Robin Swann says there have been several thefts of prized birds from lofts and he has called on the Stormont Executive to work with the Justice Department and police to clip the wings of thieves.
Mr Swann said members of the racing pigeon fraternity alerted him to the fact that pigeon thefts were increasing in the Ballymena area.
Some racing pigeons are worth thousands of pounds.
He said: “It has been brought to my attention by the chairman of one of the local homing pigeon clubs that there was an increasing number of thefts of racing pigeons across the Ballymena borough in recent weeks.
“The target for these heartless thieves is mostly breeding stock. According to statistics provided to me, five birds have been stolen in the Broughshane area, 30 from the Grove Road area and, recently, 30 from the Kells area. These are not opportunist thefts, but well planned.
“I encourage local pigeon fanciers to increase loft security and lock doors.
“Anyone with information should give it as soon as possible to the police.”