End Live Pigeon Shoot Killing Contests


It is long past time to end these horrific, cruel contests in our state!  SB 787 introduced by Senator Pat Browne and joined by co-sponsors Senators FARNESE, FONTANA, K. WARD, SANTARSIERO, COLLETT, YUDICHAK, HUGHES, DINNIMAN, KILLION, LEACH, BLAKE, TARTAGLIONE, COSTA, MUTH, HAYWOOD, and STREET.  Enough is enough. This bill has been denied a fair vote in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for decades, despite widespread public support including our State Senate, which passed the bill in 2014 36-12 only to have it die without a vote in the House.

You can help! It is long past time to vote on a bill to end live pigeon shoots and with powerful opponents like the NRA, it will take all our efforts.  Please contact your state senator to ask them to support Senator Pat Browne’s SB 787 which will end barbaric pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania.  Then follow up with your state representative to ask for their commitment to support SB 787 – without strong support in the House, this bill WON’T move.

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 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.

IS PENNSYLVANIA THE ONLY STATE WHERE THIS IS LEGAL?  No, but we believe that it violates the PA Cruelty Statute, so we don’t classify it as legal in our state either, but as long as law enforcement refuses to prosecute, or asks for clarification, Pennsylvania needs a bill specifically outlawing it. Pennsylvania is unique in that it openly and regularly holds these shoots. Fourteen states have laws that make it explicitly illegal. Eight states have either an attorney general opinion or a court opinion that pigeon shoots are illegal or violate the cruelty statute and 22 more states have cruelty codes that should prevent live pigeon shoots, if they were held and we never hear of them. Because it is underground and clandestine, they may not come under scrutiny, but when they do crop up in other states,  they are usually, but not always shut down.

TRUE SPORTSMEN OPPOSE LIVE 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. 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 Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association; The Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies;The Pennsylvania Bar Association; Women’s Humane Society (3 miles from the shoots held in Bucks Co); The Humane Society of the United States; ASPCA; Pennsylvania Council of Churches;  Humane Society of Berks County (where most shoots are held) as well as most every humane society and animal organization in the state.

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF LEGISLATION?  SB 787 is pending in Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will stay until enough pressure is felt by the legislature to finally address this particular form of cruelty.  Please contact your state legislators  again and again to ask them to help move Senator Pat Browne’s SB 787 which will end barbaric pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania. And please share this alert with everyone you know to inspire new voices to take action.

For 25 years, this bill has not received a vote as a free-standing bill. 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.  This bill deserves a vote.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP THESE BARBARIC CONTESTS: Contact your state legislators to ask for their support of SB 787 to end live pigeon shoots.


2014 Editorials in support of ending live pigeon shoots

NPR: Fair Or Foul? Pigeon Shoots Ruffle Feathers In Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial: Caged birds aren’t singing to be targets

Times-Tribune Opinion: End cruelty

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