May 4, 2009
Pa. Bill Could Ban Mechanical Launching
Bill would prohibit launching live animals for target practice
H.B. 1411, introduced by Reps. Eugene DePasquale, D-95, and John Maher, R-40, and S.B. 843, introduced by Sen. Patrick Browne, R-16, will also prohibit tethering live targets.
This legislation will finally end live pigeon shoots in the last state where they are openly practiced. During these events, participants compete for prizes and money to shoot live birds launched from spring-loaded boxes and have them land within a ring.
A related activity called live block shoots involves live, domestic turkeys who are tied to bales of hay and shot from yards away with arrows.
House Bill 1411 has the support of 44 cosponsors, and Senate Bill 843 has the support of 19 cosponsors.
Good Bills for Birds
"Citizens have made it clear to me that we must update our animal cruelty laws. Allowing the capture, caging and mechanical launching in contests is not only cruel, but unsportsmanlike. I look forward to seeing this overdue legislation passed. It is time," said Rep. DePasquale.
"Local efforts to shut down these competitions, where live animals could easily be replaced by clay targets, are costly and unnecessary. It is time for the legislature to finally pass this common-sense bill," said Heidi Prescott, senior vice president for The HSUS.
"The HSUS thanks Representative DePasquale, Representative Maher and Senator Browne for leading an ever-growing group of legislators committed to outlawing animal cruelty."
The bill exempts legal, traditional hunting activity.
The Cruelty of Mechanically-Launched Animal Shoots
A small circuit of pigeon shoots exists in Pennsylvania, attracting out-of-state shooters who cannot participate in the activity, considered animal cruelty in their home states.
Besides preventing stomach-turning cruelty to animals, these bills would also prevent human conflict by ending an ongoing struggle against what some call "Pennsylvania's shame."
Mechanically-launched animal shoots in Pennsylvania have caused a number of problems, including:
- Townships in Lackawanna and Bucks counties have recently battled to keep shoots from settling in their borders. For engaging in a live pigeon shoot, members of the Philadelphia Gun Club were recently charged with animal cruelty and violating local township ordinances.
- The demand for thousands of birds to supply shoots is causing a law enforcement challenge in other states. New York City officials pursue individuals illegally netting birds to be trafficked across state lines to Pennsylvania. The HSUS offers a standing $2,500 reward for information regarding illegal activity connected with shoots.
- Typically, 70 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.
What You Can Do
If you live in Pennsylvania, please urge your legislators to co-sponsor and otherwise support legislation to outlaw this kind of cruelty.