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The HSUS Lauds Committee Approval of Bill to Ban Live Pigeon Shoots In Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 3 today in favor of legislation to end target shoots with live pigeons once and for all. Perhaps these events occur elsewhere in the shadows, but there is no question that Pennsylvania is the state where pigeon shoots openly occur, year after year. SB 626, sponsored by Sen. Pat Browne, R–16, now goes to the full Senate.

Pigeon shoots are bloody, wanton events where trapped birds are launched from boxes. Prizes are granted for shooters who kill the most.

“We thank Senator Patrick Browne for tirelessly pushing this legislation to end cruel contests outlawed in most states, and Senator Stewart Greenleaf and members of the Judiciary Committee for passing this legislation onto the Senate,” said Heidi Prescott, senior vice president for The Humane Society of the United States. 

Today’s committee approval represented the first legislative vote on the issue in 11 years despite widespread opposition to these events. 

Sen. Browne’s measure specifically states that traditional hunting activity is not included in the ban.  

About pigeon shoots:

  • Other supporters of SB 626 include the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, the Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies, The Pennsylvania Bar Association and the ASPCA.
  • 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. 
  • In pigeon shoots, the birds are launched one at a time from traps in front of shooters who blast away at close range.
  • Typically, 70 percent of the birds released in pigeon shoots are wounded rather than killed outright, with some wounded animals escaping into the area to suffer for hours or days before dying. 
  • Like dogfighting and cockfighting the shoots are invitation-only events with participants said to bet large sums on the outcomes.
  • In 1999, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that pigeon shoot participants could be prosecuted for animal cruelty leading to the ending of the annual Hegins Labor Day Pigeon Shoot. But shoots have continued at private clubs.


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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