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Guest Opinion

End the cruelty of live pigeon shoots


Pennsylvania, often celebrated for its rich history and diverse landscapes, harbors a dark secret that stains its reputation. We are the last state in the country to openly and legally permit live pigeon shoots. This cruel practice involves launching pigeons into the air to be then shot, and it is a blatant contradiction to ethical hunting norms.

For decades, advocates have worked to pass legislation to ban what the legendary Bob Barker called “Pennsylvania’s Shame.” This session, House Bill 1475, introduced by Bucks County state Rep. Perry Warren, aims to do just that.

Live pigeon shoots involve trapping pigeons in boxes, launching them into the air using spring-loaded mechanisms and subjecting them to the chaos of gunfire. The result is an event marked by unimaginable suffering, where disoriented and confused birds are mercilessly targeted. Neighbors near these shoots have witnessed wounded pigeons bleeding to death for hours and even days, which is a disturbing testament to the extent of the cruelty involved.

The most heart-wrenching aspect is the involvement of children in these events. After each round, young participants are often responsible for collecting and killing the birds within the shooting circle. The methods employed, such as slamming, snapping, snipping the heads off, or breaking their necks, are not only cruel but also contribute to the desensitization of young minds and hearts. This blatant exploitation of children in such violent activities is a form of corruption and abuse.

Comparisons to dog fights are not unwarranted, as participants in live pigeon shoots often bet on the outcome, with the so-called “winners” receiving prizes for the number of birds they manage to kill. This gruesome gambling on the agony of innocent creatures reveals a disturbing facet of these events, raising questions about the ethical values of those involved.

Even many hunters condemn live pigeon shoots because there is nothing ethical or sporting about close-range shooting of mechanically launched, dehydrated and disoriented birds. The essence of what is considered “ethical hunting” lies in pursuing a fair challenge in harmony with nature, which is entirely absent in this heinous practice.

The overwhelming support for a ban on live pigeon shoots comes from a diverse array of organizations and communities across Pennsylvania. Major and minor newspapers and respected organizations with the support of numerous shelters, humane societies and animal advocacy groups have highlighted the urgent need for legislative action.

House Bill 1475 is a crucial step in the right direction, representing an opportunity for Pennsylvania to shed the shameful distinction of being the last state to allow live pigeon shoots.

The time has come for Pennsylvania to align itself with modern ethical standards and put an end to live pigeon shoots.

This is not just about animal rights; it is about reclaiming the state’s dignity and joining the rest of the nation in condemning this barbaric practice.

Support for House Bill 1475 is a moral imperative and a chance for Pennsylvania to emerge from the shadows of cruelty and proudly uphold the principles of compassion and decency.

Natalie Ahwesh is Pa. state director for Animal Wellness Action.

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