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Doris Lin

Pigeon Shoots: Good News and Bad News

By January 28, 2010

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Pigeon

I'll give you the bad news first. Pigeon killers in Pennsylvania will not be prosecuted for animal cruelty because of the interference of the county's district attorney. According to the New York Bird Club:

"In another effort to protect cruel pigeon shooters in Pennsylvania, Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams has ordered animal cruelty charges withdrawn against the Pike Township Sportsmen's Association . . . It has been revealed DA John Adams has received a contribution from the Flyers Victory Fund (the pigeon shooters)."

The charges had been filed by Johnna Seeton, an officer for the Pennsylvania Legislative Animal Network, who stated:

"My attempt to do my job protecting animals is blocked if I cannot enforce our (Pennsylvania) cruelty law . . . I've been attending and documenting cruelty at pigeon shoots for 23 years, and I've spent 16 years lobbying at the Capitol to ask the legislature to prevent situations like these where an incorrect interpretation causes continual animal suffering."

Pigeon shoots are horribly cruel, and are more target practice than hunting. You can watch a video of an actual pigeon shoot here, but I warn you that it's disturbing. This political move by the DA would be wrong even if he hadn't accepted a donation from the shooters.

Pennsylvania is the only state that still allows pigeon shoots, and the hotbed for this cruelty is Berks County. Why is this? Are pigeon shoots culturally acceptable in Berks County, PA? Not according to the Humane Society of Berks County:

We . . . recognize that organized pigeon shoots for profit are not in the mainstream of Berks County and Pennsylvania values. Pigeon shoots are not hunting, as the PA Game Commission and any reasonable hunter will tell you. They are not even about "pest control" as some would claim since all these birds are being imported to Pennsylvania from New York and the mid-west. They are unsporting canned hunts, undertaken for profit and rife with out-of-state money and gambling.

The good news? Former TV game show host and animal activist Bob Barker has donated $1 million to SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness) to fight pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania. Barker plans to participate personally in protests outside of the Bensalem gun club where multiple pigeon shoots are regularly held. The campaign will also include working toward a state-wide ban on pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania.

If you live in Pennsylvania, please contact your state representative and state senator, and ask them to ban pigeon shoots.

Chris Hepburn / Getty Images

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