Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Game show host Barker urges lawmakers to ban pigeon shoots, bill primed for Senate vote

Legendary game show host Bob Barker is putting his mouth where his money is.

Game show host Barker urges lawmakers to ban pigeon shoots, bill primed for Senate vote


(This story has been updated to reflect status of bill in Senate)

Legendary game show host Bob Barker is putting his mouth where his money is.

Barker - the former host of "The Price is Right" - released a video plea to the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a bill ending live pigeon shoots which he described as "barbaric acts."

In the video - which contains graphic images - Barker describes how tens of thousands of birds are slaughtered each year during the shoots in which they are typically launched from metal boxes and shot at close range.

In 2010 Barker announced he would donate $1 million to the anti-animal cruelty group SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) which has been protesting the shoots.

The NRA and Pennsylvania Flyers Association, a pigeon shooting advocacy group, defend the shoots, which have been held since the 19th century, as a proud hunting tradition, while the Pennsylvania Game Commission has said such an activity is not hunting.

(Here is my account of witnessing a pigeon shoot at Wing Pointe hunting preserve in Berks County last fall.)

Opponents of pigeon shoots say leaving hundreds of wounded birds to suffer and die constitutes animal cruelty and should be prosecuted. Their efforts to bring cases to court in Berks and Bucks counties have been blocked by the district attorneys who say pigeon shooting is legal.

Last year the Delaware River Keeper joined the effort to halt pigeon shoots at the Philadelphia Gun Club because of the environmental threat posed by large amounts of lead shot and numbers of dead birds in the river.

Barker made his appeal to state legislators to pass Senate Bill 510 sponsored by Sen. Pat Browne (R., Lehigh), which would ban live pigeon shoots.

A similar bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last session but failed to get a vote in the full Senate. Gregg Warner, chief counsel to Judiciary committee chairman Stewart Greenleaf (R., Bucks) said Greenleaf is prepared to move the bill again but will not do so until he is assured a vote by the full Senate.

Erik Arneson, spokesman for Sen. Majority leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), says Pileggi supports the bill (he is a co-sponsor), but wants to have a GOP caucus discussion on the legislation before a vote.

He cautioned time is short before the summer break (July 1) and the primary focus now is passing a state budget.

Pigeon shoots held on private gun clubs draw a relative handful of people, many of them from New Jersey where such shoots are illegal but they have a powerful lobby.

Among the regulars participating at pigeon shoots at the Philadelphia Gun Club is New Jersey shipping terminal magnate Leo Holt, president of Holt Logistics. Holt was one of a small group of businessmen who traveled with Gov. Corbett on his trade mission to South America in March.



Inquirer Staff Writer
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Amy Worden Inquirer Staff Writer
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