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February 12, 2009

Gun Club's Pigeon Shoot Ended, Again

The Humane Society of the United States

pigeon blue on grass

iStockphoto

Unauthorized pigeon shoots at the Philadelphia Gun Club recently prompted Bensalem Township, Pa., officials to step in and enforce a "cease and desist" order—a second time.

A cease and desist order had stopped the cruel shoots seven years ago.

The Humane Society of the United States, which documented the event and alerted township officials that the shoot had resumed, praised the leaders for their prompt action once again to stop the pigeon shoot.

"The birds who would have been killed are safe for now, but the organizers could show up again anywhere in the state," said Heidi Prescott, senior vice president of campaigns for The HSUS.

"It is now time for lawmakers to make 2009 the year they finally pass legislation to put an end to these cruel shooting parties once and for all."

Prescott has campaigned to end Pennsylvania's pigeon shoots for years and is a fixture in the state legislature.

Gathering Steam

Statewide humane organizations' efforts to compel Pennsylvania legislators to ban pigeon shoots have gained momentum in recent years, with more and more lawmakers signing on to cosponsor bills to end them in the state.

Last year, New York State Senator Liz Krueger joined in calling for an end to the pigeon shoots, citing concerns about pigeons being taken from New York City to Pennsylvania to be released and shot.

Death for Fun and Prizes

Before Bensalem Township officials stepped in, event participants competed to kill hundreds of animals in the live-target shooting game.

During these events, participants aim to shoot birds launched from spring-loaded boxes and have them land within a ring for prizes and money.

Typically, seventy percent of the birds released in pigeon shoots are shot and wounded rather than killed outright, with some wounded animals escaping into the area to suffer for hours or days before dying.

In December, The HSUS received a tip that the club had quietly resumed the shoots despite the cease and desist order. The events reportedly occurred every other weekend.

At the Philadelphia Gun Club, birds were loaded underground into mechanized traps, then released to be shot. The shooting field is merely yards from the Delaware river and neighbors reported dead pigeons washing onto shore.

Inconsistent Pennsylvania Policies

A patchwork of local ordinances and policies across Pennsylvania strains local townships when they must put a stop to these events. A definitive statewide ban against this animal cruelty would create consistent policy.

The HSUS is actively pursuing litigation and legislation in Pennsylvania to end pigeon shoots.

PENNSYLVANIA'S PIGEON SHOOTS

Dec. 30, 2008: Bensalem Township leaders halted an unauthorized pigeon shoot held by the Philadelphia Gun Club.

Dec. 20, 2008: Hundreds of birds were killed and wounded at the Philadelphia Gun Club.

Jan. 2008: Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced a bill to ban pigeon shoots across Pennsylvania.

Fall 2006: The HSUS helped Covington Township officials stop a three-day pigeon shoot.

2002: Bensalem Township issued a cease and desist notice to halt an unauthorized pigeon shoot at the Philadelphia Gun Club.

1999: The notorious Hegins shoot in Schuylkill County was canceled after a unanimous Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision allowed humane officers to prosecute participants for animal cruelty.

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