This was an important week in the fight against live pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania and one that saw anti-shoot lobbyists come the closest they’ve ever come to a vote in the State House. The vote didn’t happen because of political maneuvering, but the battle is still on.
What are “pigeon shoots”?
To see video of what happens in a pigeon shoot, click here
Warning: the images in the above video are graphic and are not suitable for children, which is why we are not embedding the YouTube video directly. However, we recommend watching, since the footage really says it all and will probably answer your questions about why this bill is so important on many levels.
Live pigeon shoots are often referred to as “Pennsylvania’s shame,” since Pennsylvania is now the only state in the Union that openly authorizes the use of live animals for target practice. During these events, which are usually held at private gun clubs, the pigeons (netted in urban areas as far away as New York City) are released from a trap as live shooting targets. The birds are often “stored” with little or no food in small enclosures for long periods before the shoot, and so tend to be dazed and unsteady when the trap door is released, making them an easier target. In the majority of cases, the pigeon is injured rather than killed outright. Injured birds make their escape as best they can to die slowly away from the site, or are eventually picked up off the field and killed on the spot. The contests – most of which are held in the Eastern part of the state – attract participants from all over a broad area of the East Coast.
These shoots are in no way a “sport.” They are a bloody and antiquated spectacle and many hunters have acknowledged their disapproval of them. However, due to lobbying from the NRA and other interest groups, the huge efforts made by animal protection groups over past decades to get these shoots banned have been pushed back repeatedly.
However, momentum has been gaining in the Pennsylvania legislature within the past year or so thanks to a handful of representatives who have taken on the anti-pigeon shoot cause. John Maher (Upper Saint Clair) is one such local representative, as is Dom Costa (Allegheny Co. 21st legislative district). This past week, the anti-shoot lobbyists who have been working so tirelessly on this issue came painfully close to a vote, only to run out of time. Now the Senate is their last hope of getting a vote through this session.
Why is this bill so important?
It’s really not just about the pigeons… It’s about the legalization of cruelty in the name of “sport,” and about raising our judicial standards in relation to all animal-related issues.
How you can help
Please, contact your state legislators by phone or email. To make this as simple as possible, go to this link where you can fill out your zip code and have an email sent automatically to both legislators. If possible, follow up with a phone call, this really helps… Ask your Senator in particular to make sure that an amendment for the anti-pigeon shoot bill is put on the schedule this coming week (starting Oct 11). Be sure to express your frustration with the way this bill has been juggled with over the years. We’ve had enough of the intimidation tactics and the stalling, and we want the cruelty to stop!
To find out more about this issue and its history, visit the HSUS site here