Wednesday, June 3, 2015

DA to withdraw cruelty charges in live pigeon shoots

The Philadelphia Gun Club took appropriate measures to euthanize wounded birds, District Attorney David Heckler said.

DA to withdraw cruelty charges in live pigeon shoots

Blog Image
One of the four wounded pigeons that members of SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness rescued from the Delaware River and along shore during the Philadelphia Gun Club's shoot on March 31. (SHARK)

Animal cruelty charges filed against the Philadelphia Gun Club for two live pigeon shoots in March will be withdrawn Wednesday, following a review by the Bucks County District Attorney’s office.

The Bensalem club was issued five citations for allegedly failing to euthanize five pigeons that were wounded during the shoots along the Delaware River. The birds were retrieved from the river and shore and saved by an animal rights group.

The club has “acknowledged and accepted” its responsibility to humanely kill birds that have survived the pigeon shoot, District Attorney David Heckler said Monday in a written statement. It erected a barrier to prevent birds from escaping from its shooting range and has employees to patrol the river for wounded birds, he said.

“These steps represent a good faith effort on the part of the gun club to comply with the obligations imposed by Pennsylvania law,” Heckler said.

The citations were filed with District Justice Leonard Brown, and the district attorney’s office was planning to withdraw them Wednesday, a clerk said.

Humane Society police officer Johnna Seeton, who filed the citations, said she was “very disappointed” they were being dismissed.

“I don’t believe you can have a pigeon shoot without cruelty occurring,” she said.

Pigeon shooting in Pennsylvania “is unquestionably legal,” Heckler said, citing an 1891 ruling by the state Supreme Court. Efforts in the legislature to ban the shoots have failed for decades.    

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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