Philly.com - The images are stark: men and teenagers drop-kicking wounded pigeons like footballs, stomping on them, slamming them against their heels until they explode.
The Illinois-based group SHark (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) says the images from a Berks County pigeon shoot last month are evidence that the shoots violate state animal cruelty laws and legislators should stop them.
"This is the worst cruelty I've seen in 20 years of doing this," said SHark spokesman Stuart Chaifetz.
Cindy Neel, general manager for Wing Pointe, the hunting resort where the shoot took place, said Wednesday that the owner, Joseph Solana Jr., was out of the country.
The fight to ban pigeon shoots is one of the longest-running issues in the state capitol, dating to the late 1980s when the first protests over the infamous Hegins pigeon shoot in Schuylkill County appeared in national headlines.
Since then, pigeon shoots, which usually involve launching birds from battery cages to be shot at close range, have been held at private hunting clubs like the Philadelphia Gun Club in Bensalem.
In 2010, retired game-show host and animal lover Bob Barker donated $1 million to SHark to help stop the shoots. Since then the group has filed lawsuits, lobbied the legislature, and documented activities at the clubs.
The National Rifle Association's defense of pigeon shoots as a Pennsylvania "hunting tradition" has effectively blocked legislation to bar the shoots, although this year for the first time a bill won approval by a Senate committee.
Despite the committee vote, there are no "set plans" to bring the bill to a floor vote before the session ends Wednesday, said Erik Arneson, spokesman for Sen. Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.
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Written by Amy Worden
Image via Sharkonline.org