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Pennsylvania Voters Show Statewide Support for Banning Live Pigeon Shoots

New poll shows Pennsylvania voters favor bill by a more than four-to-one margin

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research

A statewide survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research reveals that Pennsylvania voters, by more than a four-to-one margin, strongly support legislation to ban live pigeon shoots. Sen. Pat Browne, along with 22 co-sponsors, introduced SB 510, which would end contests where live pigeons are launched into the air and shot. A handful of gun clubs continue to use live pigeons in these contests, despite the widespread availability of clay pigeons.

The poll found that 75 percent of Pennsylvania voters favor a law that would ban live pigeon shoots, while only 16 percent oppose it. Overwhelming majorities of men and women, as well as Democrats, Republicans and Independents, support a complete prohibition on live pigeon shoots.

When asked if live pigeon shoots were a tradition that should be preserved, or an unnecessary form of animal cruelty, 83 percent of respondents agreed with the latter.  

“Pennsylvania voters, by wide margins, want their lawmakers to outlaw cruel contests where live pigeons are launched in front of waiting shooters,” said Heidi Prescott, senior vice president of campaigns at The Humane Society of the United States. “Pennsylvanians don’t approve of animal cruelty and want their legislators to adopt common-sense policies to protect animals.”

Legislation has been reintroduced every legislative session in Pennsylvania for 26 years to address live pigeon shoots, and although there have been numerous amendment attempts, the last time the bill was voted on as a free-standing bill was 1989.

The survey also found that Pennsylvania voters agree that animal cruelty should be taken seriously by the legislature.


  • Supporters of SB 510 include: The Pennsylvania Bar Association, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, the Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies and the ASPCA.
  • A small circuit of pigeon shoots exists in Pennsylvania, attracting out-of-state shooters who cannot participate in the activity, which may be considered animal cruelty in their home states.
  • Live pigeon shoots, are similar to clay shoots, except live birds are used, being launched one at a time from traps in front of shooters.
  • Typically, 70 percent of the birds released in pigeon shoots are wounded rather than killed, 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 for participants.
  • 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. Shoots have continued at private clubs.


Media Contact: Cheylin Parker, 301-258-1505; cparker@humanesociety.org

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