Did you know shooting pigeons for sport in Pennsylvania is legal? Pennsylvania is the only state that does not consider pigeon shooting animal cruelty. Legislators, judges and district attorneys have decided pigeon shooting is exempt from Pennsylvania animal cruelty laws.
There is a long history of animal advocates demonstrating against live pigeon shoots in the state. An equally long history of attempted legislative bills to ban the practice rarely made it out of committee in Harrisburg (Pennsylvania state capitol). The most recent vote in December, 2011 sent the bill back to committee for review.
The belief is the NRA (National Rifle Association) has the undivided ear of Pennsylvania legislators.
What Constitutes a Pigeon Shoot?
Pigeons used in Pennsylvania pigeon shoots are captured in places like New York City where they are considered nothing more than pests. Some gun clubs go to the trouble of actually breeding pigeons in factory farms just so they can become target practice.
These “hunters” put living pigeons into mechanical launches that sit about 20-30 yards away from themselves and propel the birds into the air for target practice. Some will be shot while they are airborne; others are shot while on the ground.
The majority – about 70% — are not killed immediately and either suffer with gunshot injuries or drown if they happen to land in a body of water. Some birds are even tethered to the ground before a gun is aimed at them, thereby ensuring a kill.
For the injured birds lucky enough to be collected from the ground by trapper boys and girls — teenagers and children — they get to die early by having their necks wrung or heads cut off. Some are simply put in a barrel with other injured birds to suffocate. Injured pigeons who fall outside of the gun club’s property are left to suffer for hours or days before death claims them. Strange that this is called a sport by many.
Many hunters deny that the living creatures they hunt and kill are sentient beings, preferring to consider them property like chairs, cars and the like. If you destroy an inanimate object like a car or a chair, that object does not feel pain or suffering. Pigeons do.
Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), an Illinois-based animal advocacy organization, has been advocating for Pennsylvania’s pigeons for decades. It was founded in 1992 by Steve Hindi who managed to get pigeon shoots outlawed in Illinois.
Since 1990, he demonstrated against the pigeon shoots in Hegins, Pennsylvania. This particular shoot was held every year from 1935 to 1999. According to Animal People Online, “The Hegins pigeon shoot was stopped by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling which upheld the application of the state humane law against pigeon shoots – but charges have to be filed to be prosecuted.”
This fact is important to understand because the district attorneys in Berks and Bucks Counties refuse to prosecute pigeon shoots claiming they are exempt from the state’s animal cruelty laws. Most of the live pigeon shoots are held in Berks and Bucks Counties, in southeast Pennsylvania.
In 2010, Bob Barker — former game show host and animal philanthropist– donated $1 million to stop pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania. The $1 million donation was given to SHARK; an organization that continues to film pigeon shoots at the Philadelphia Gun Club in Bucks County and the Wing Pointe Gun Club in Berks County.
Barker’s donation helped to fund the Octocopter, a remote control aircraft equipped with a camera that was later shot down while filming a pigeon shoot at the Wing Pointe Gun Club. It landed on Wing Pointe property and Pennsylvania State Police refused to investigate. Berks County District Attorney John Adams refused to prosecute Wing Pointe even though the shooting was in close proximity to homes in the area, clearly a danger to innocent citizens.
Read more: animal cruelty, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, berks county, bucks county, david heckler, john adams, pennsylvania, pennsylvanis pigeon shoots, philadelphia gun club, pigeons, sean corr, shark, showing animals respect and kindness, steve hindi, wing pointe gun club
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