WHAT IS A LIVE PIGEON SHOOT? Live pigeon shoots are inhumane contests where live birds who have been captured, brought into Pennsylvania, often illegally from neighboring states, are shot at close range by shooters who earn points for every bird they shoot down within a certain range. Observers estimate that 70% of the birds are wounded but not killed outright. Pennsylvania remains the one of the last states where these notoriously cruel events are openly and regularly held.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH LIVE PIGEON SHOOTS? They are extremely cruel. Each live pigeon shoot results in untold animal suffering; neighbors around the shoots have watched wounded birds slowly bleed to death over hours and days. Additionally, children are used to retrieve the shot birds and pets pick up the dead and dying birds left in the shooting area.
In preparation for the shoot, pigeons are kept in boxes and then launched one-by-one into the air by a spring loaded bottom when the box is opened. The shooter must react to which box opens and receives points according to where the birds land. The birds are disoriented and confused as the shooter opens fire. At the end of the events, shooters receive prizes for their performance.
After each round of shooting, birds within the shooting circle are collected – often by youth with no training in proper euthanasia methods – and killed or immobilized by slamming, snapping, or snipping the head off or breaking of the neck. The birds are then tossed into a barrel or pile of dead and dying pigeons and discarded as garbage. It is common to find live birds mixed with the dead in the garbage heap hours, or even days, after the shoot.
Pigeon shoots are similar to dog fights and cockfights in that participants gamble on the outcome of these events where winners kill the most birds.
True Sportsmen Oppose Pigeon Shoots: Most hunters recognize there is a big difference between stalking a wild animal in the woods and shooting a disoriented, captive bird just released from a box in a competition. Pennsylvania is the only state that openly allows pigeon shoots. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has opined that a narrowly tailored ban, as provided for in this legislation, on live pigeon shoots will not affect any legal hunting activities in Pennsylvania. Pigeon shoots are not genuine “sportsmen” events and there is nothing sporting about close range shooting of mechanically launched dazed, weakened and disoriented birds.
WHAT ORGANIZATIONS SUPPORT AN END TO LIVE PIGEON SHOOTS? Humane PA,The Humane Society of the United States, Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, ASPCA, The Pennsylvania Bar Association, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies, Humane Society of Berks County (where most shoots are held) as well as most shelters, humane societies and animal organizations in the state.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF LEGISLATION? Senate Bill 510 has been introduced by Senator Browne and cosponsored by senators Pileggi, Costa, Williams, Greenleaf, Leach, Erickson, Dinniman, Alloway, Ferlo, Solobay, Fontana, Blake, Boscola, Washington, Kitchen, Tartaglione, Smith, Wiley, Teplitz, Farnese, Hughes and Stack.
It is long past time for the Pennsylvania legislature to end this backwards and cruel practice that has more in common with cockfighting and dogfighting than with hunting.
Times-Tribune Opinion: End cruelty