DA to withdraw cruelty charges in live pigeon shoots

Blog Image 982908 - Reed
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Animal cruelty charges filed against the Philadelphia Gun Club for two live pigeon shoots in March will be withdrawn Wednesday, following a review by the Bucks County District Attorney’s office.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.