READING, Pa. - With a three-day live pigeon shoot now underway in Berks County, animal rights advocates are continuing their fight to end the century-old contest.
Describing the game as "abhorrent" and "cruel," John Goodwin, director of animal cruelty policy with The Humane Society of the United States, spoke out during a news conference at the group's location in Reading on Friday.
Goodwin said Pennsylvania is the only state in which the trapshooting contest is technically legal and openly-practiced.
"Here we have pigeons that are rounded up by various means, kept in little coups... they're placed in a box, the box is opened, and as the bird is flying out, he or she is shot just so they can have a contest and so spectators can gamble on which shooter will be the most successful," said Goodwin, comparing the sport to cockfighting.
The conference was scheduled in light of a pigeon shoot taking place Aug. 1-3 at Winge Point sporting resort in Perry Township. Goodwin estimated that thousands of pigeons would be shot at over the course of the weekend, with only 30 percent dying instantly.
69 News traveled to Winge Point for comment and was turned away.
"We believe that the acts at Winge Point this weekend, and live pigeon shoots in general, are heinous acts that we want the public aware of," said Dan Sauder with the Humane Society of Berks County.
Sauder, Goodwin, and Anne Irwin, vice president of Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania told media that they are calling on state lawmakers to pass House Bill 1750, which was amended in the Senate to prohibit live pigeon shoots.
69 News reached out to Pennsylvania Representative Thomas Caltigirone, a Berks County Democrat, for comment. Although a proponent of the amended bill, Caltigirone said he fears its chances of reaching the floor are bleak.
Still, Humane Society officials are urging supporters to contact their state representatives and push for the bill.
Sauder said he has contacted Berks County District Attorney John Adams to prosecute the live pigeon sportsmen under existing state animal cruelty laws.
Adams told 69 News his hands are tied, as live pigeon shoots are permitted under state law.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Lehigh Valley 69 News