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The HSUS Praises Pa. Bill to Ban Mechanical Launching of Animals for Target Shooting

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States and humane organizations across Pennsylvania welcome the introduction of anti-cruelty legislation to prohibit the mechanical launching of live animals for target shooting. 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 the tethering of live targets.

This legislation will finally put an end to live pigeon shoots in the last state where they are openly practiced. During these events, participants compete to shoot live birds launched from spring-loaded boxes and have them land within a ring for prizes and money.

House Bill 1411 has the support of 44 cosponsors, and Senate Bill 843 has the support of 19 cosponsors.

"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," stated 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. 

About 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. 
  • 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 for 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. 
  • During a live block shoot, live, domestic turkeys are tied to bales of hay and shot from yards away with arrows.


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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