Has an air war erupted over pigeons in the skies of Pennsylvania? An animal protection group fighting to ban the practice of launching live birds out of boxes to be shot at close range, says they think someone shot down their mini-drone on Sunday that was carrying a camera to document a Berks County pigeon shoot.
On Tuesday the group SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), seeking legislation to end pigeon shoots in the last state where they are legal, took their case to the crowds of people - lobbyists, lawmakers and their families and supporters - who flocked to the Capitol for swearing-in day. In the crowded Rotunda, Shark displayed graphic video of wounded pigeons flailing around a field.
Among those in attendance at the Capitol yesterday was Robert Tobash, who once served as chairman of the infamous and now defunct Hegins pigeon shoot in Schuylkill County (his son Mike is a newly-elected lawmaker) and Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, who animal welfare activists say has failed to prosecute the Philadelphia Gun Club for holding shoots - which they argue constitutes animal cruelty - over the Delaware River in Bensalem.
“Some legislators might want to forget the horrendous cruelty that goes on in Pennsylvania,” states Steve Hindi, President of SHARK, “But we aren’t going to let that happen. Pigeon shoots are sick, twisted cruelty. By being at the capital on the day the new legislature is sworn in, we are making a strong statement that we are going to fight hard to end them.”
SHark activists, backed by a $1 million donation from TV game show host Bob Barker, have documented numerous shoots - including the one Sunday at Wing Pointe commercial hunting resort - and rescued dozens of wounded and crippled pigeons. Hindi says they have found dozens of live birds thrown in the dead pile.
Wing Pointe officials did not return a phone call seeking comment, but an employee told Philly Dawg that they send out hunters with young dogs after the shoots to "train" the dogs using the wounded birds.
On Sunday two SHark activists said they heard gun fire from a weapon other than a shotgun just prior to the downing of their aircraft. There was a loud cheering coming from the pigeon shooters as the copter went down, suggesting that they were watching and waiting for it to happen.
SHark members said they contacted the Pennsylvania State Police to retrieve the damaged aircraft, but the owner of Wing Pointe refused to hand it over.