MANHEIM, Pa. - Dozens of domestic turkeys were staked to bales of straw and used as live targets at an archery contest, according to authorities who charged a sportsmen's club with violating animal-cruelty laws.
The birds were secured at their feet but able to flap their wings as participants who paid $12 got three attempts to hit one with an arrow. Those who drew blood won the birds, said Christine Wilson, a Lancaster County assistant district attorney.
About 40 turkeys were killed in the contest at the Elstonville Sportsman's Association, Wilson said. They were butchered at the site, along with a number of additional turkeys, according to Keith Mohler, a Humane Society officer who investigated the case.
"The butchering part is fine," but intentional cruelty to animals is illegal, said Mohler, who works for the Farm Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, an animal-welfare agency.
Mohler, one of dozens of humane officers authorized by county courts to enforce Pennsylvania's laws against animal cruelty, worked undercover as the guest of a club member who called him to report the activity. He took photographs of the action and alerted state police.
The Sept. 9 event involved people "seeking amusement from the senseless torture of animals," Mohler said.
"It was unnecessary, unsportsmanlike, and perhaps the most gutless act of cruelty I've seen," he said.
The association's club, which sits a couple of miles off the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Lancaster County, features a shooting range, a fishing pond, and a lounge with a bar, according to its Web site. The club's manager declined to discuss the case yesterday.
The association faces fines of as much as $4,000 for eight summary violations of laws against the cruel treatment of animals and offering live animals as prizes in a contest, Mohler said.