An animal rights group has filed a criminal complaint with the Berks County District Attorney's office after rescuing 21 injured pigeons left for dead following a shooting contest at a Hamburg hunting resort on Sunday.
A video produced by SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) documents a five-hour live pigeon shoot that was held at Wing Pointe, a luxury hunting resort, which advertises pheasant and quail hunts but does not mention pigeon shoots on its website.
Wing Pointe is one of only four sites left in the state (one of them is Philadelphia Gun Club in Bensalem) where hunters still shoot live pigeons launched from spring-loaded boxes at close range.
Hundreds of pigeons are killed during the average shoot - a cruel contest that animal welfare advocates have been lobbying for decades to ban because of the suffering it inflicts on the birds, many of which are injured and do not die immediately. Under the animal cruelty law, pigeon shoot operators - like responsible hunters - must not allow animals to suffer.
In the most recent case, SHARK activists documented the Dec. 5 shoot at the hunting resort and then returned yesterday to find dozens of wounded and crippled birds strewn across the field and surrounding brush.
“Every time we turned we saw another wounded bird and we rescued every one that we could,” said Steve Hindi, president of SHARK - the group that received $1 million last year from former TV game host Bob Barker to help end pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania.
“No one - either the shooters or Wing Pointe personnel - cared about the vast number of dying birds they left behind. It is unfathomable how soulless you have to be to cause such unbelievable suffering just for pleasure.”
SHARK was only able to rescue 21 birds so badly injured they could not fly away. They believe many more injured birds may still be in the brush.
“We found one bird that had escaped the killing field only to have fallen and impaled herself on them," said Hindi. "We tore our clothes and skin trying to rescue others trapped in there. It was just a complete nightmare and unnecessary tragedy.”
Two weeks ago, Hindi and others found several wounded birds among the carcasses on the "dead pile," at Wing Pointe, a clear violation of the cruelty law, they contend.
The surviving birds were taken to the Kutztown Veterinary hospital and SHARK is setting up a special fund for people to donate to the medical treatment the animals will need, which is expected to run into thousands of dollars.
They will also be looking for individuals willing to adopt the birds once they are healed. For information on how to help, please visit www.PAshame.com