After two decades of fighting to stop cruel pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania, animal advocates stepping up to support a bill that would finally ban them for good.
During these shoots, pigeons who have been brought to events are launched out of boxes and shot at close range by participants. Sadly, by some estimates, the majority of the birds used in these shoots are only wounded and may be inhumanely killed by those involved, including children, or may escape into nearby areas where they suffer for prolonged periods before eventually dying from their wounds, starvation or predation.
While the nation’s largest shoot in the used to take place in Hegins, it was brought to an end in 1999 when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that animal cruelty laws applied to pigeons after charges were brought against event organizers by a humane officer.
Unfortunately, even though the majority of the state’s residents oppose these events and alternatives to using live birds are widely available, they still take place at private clubs and draw out-of-state “hunters” whose own states don’t allow this type of blatant cruelty.
Now the legislature is finally moving forward with a bill that could ban these events once and for all. The measure to ban pigeon shoots was tacked on to House Bill 1750 that, of all things, was introduced to ban the breeding and killing cats and dogs for human consumption.
While it’s a common sense measure that will end the suffering of birds used at these events, it’s still raising opposition from shoot supporters and organizations including the National Rifle Association (NRA). According to Reuters, the organization sent out an alert defending these events as “a traditional shooting sport” that asked members to call on legislators to oppose it.
Separately, the NRA argued that a ban will create a “slippery slope” that will eventually shut down all recreational hunting. At least some lawmakers see through its pathetic attempt to keep these shoots alive. Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) called the slippery slope argument “the last refuge of someone with no better argument.”
Hopefully lawmakers won’t cave to pressure from special interest groups that want to keep these shameful events going and will recognize that this issue isn’t about gun rights, or even hunting – pigeons aren’t even considered game birds – but that it’s about causing suffering for thousands of birds as a twisted form of entertainment for the few who choose to participate.
Please sign and share the petition urging Pennsylvania lawmakers to ban live pigeon shoots forever.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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