This past Labor Day weekend I had the pleasure of being apart of two animal outreach events through SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), Animal Activists of Philly and our own Animal Action of Greater Reading. The target? Ending live pigeon shoots NOW.
While Pennsylvania is not the only state to hold live-pigeon shoots, it is the only state known to host multiple pigeon shoots and most of them at private rod and gun clubs. Pigeon shoots are disgusting competitions where thousands of beautiful, loving, innocent birds are shot, killed and/or suffer terrible wounds and crippling pain. Even the 1900 Summer Olympics included live pigeon shooting as a demonstration event, although due to public outrage at the cruelty it was never granted official status.
These harmless birds are given no food or water and are kept in darkness for days prior to the live shoot. They do this so the birds will be exhausted and confused, making them easier “targets”.
Distressed from dehydration and starvation, the birds are then launched out of small wooden boxes into gunfire. Most of these birds are too weak to fly and are shot on the ground. The goal is to shoot the most birds within a ring. Thousands of birds may be killed outright but are usually left to suffer a slow death. This is beyond heartbreaking and cruel. Full of pain and shock from searing bullet lacerations, “some will twist and fall from the sky with broken wings and backs. Others will escape, though death comes slowly for these poor birds for it may take days for them to succumb to their wounds.” —PAshame.com
70 percent of the birds released in pigeon shoots are wounded rather than killed, escaping into the area to suffer for hours or days before dying. Unacceptable.
An October 2013 poll shows that 75% of Pennsylvanians favor passing legislation to ban live pigeon shoots. Now is the time more than ever to get loud and be heard for these birds. The poll found that 75 percent of Pennsylvania voters favor a law that would ban live pigeon shoots, while only 16 percent oppose it. Overwhelming majorities of men and women, as well as Democrats, Republicans and Independents, support a complete prohibition on live pigeon shoots. When asked whether live pigeon shoots were a tradition that should be preserved, or an unnecessary form of animal cruelty, 83 percent of respondents agreed with the latter. Supporters of SB 510 include: The Pennsylvania Bar Association, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, the Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies and the ASPCA.
–Mason-Dixon Polling & Research
On Friday a protest was held at our Berks County Courthouse in Reading, PA. This protest was focusing on the newly appointed Common Pleas Judge, Adolph Antanavage. Adolph is a racist asshole who gets off shooting and killing animals along with illegal gambling practices. There will be NO JUSTICE IN HIS COURTROOM, and it is imperative that we get his out NOW.
“Many of the people who will come before Antanavage recognize that the Confederate flag is a symbol of bigotry and oppression. A judge cannot hold in his office with that much staining him. We are therefore calling on judge Antanavage to immediately resign”-SHARK
Please stand up for these birds and any poor soul that would be assigned Antanavage as Judge. Call President Judge Paul M. Yatron and ask him to pull all of Antanavage’s cases.
President Judge Paul M. Yatron
Court of Common Pleas of Berks County
633 Court Street Reading, PA 19601
Call Governor Tom Corbett and ask him why he PERSONALLY nominated Adolph Antanavage.
Governor Tom Corbett
The second event was held in front of The Reading Public Museum, where they were memorializing the 100th anniversary of the death of the last passenger pigeon.
The passenger pigeon was once the most abundant bird in North America and possibly the world. It accounted for more than a quarter of all North America birds. The species lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century. The exact number of passenger pigeons in North America is not known but the best guess is around 5 billion — a third of all the birds in North America at the time and the same as the total number of birds to be found today in the United States.
The early Europeans in North America frequently spoke of the huge numbers of blue, long-tailed, fast and graceful pigeons in the country. One of the first settlers in Virginia wrote, “There are wild pigeons in winter beyond number or imagination, myself have seen three or four hours together flocks in the air, so thick that even have they shadowed the sky from us.”
In 1854 in Wayne County, New York, a local resident wrote. “There would be days and days when the air was alive with them, hardly a break occurring in the flocks for half a day at a time. Flocks stretched as far as a person could see, one tier above another.”
People were amazed by the group size of these birds. It was breath taking.
Very sadly hunting and habitat destruction led to their demise. It is sickening to think about what mans selfish, profit hungry, egotistical bullshit is capable of.
After 1830, the practice of releasing live pigeons from traps for shooting practice began. By 1855, 300,000 pigeons a year were being sent to New York alone to be sold as easy cheap meat. Even in 1880, Michigan sent over a million birds to the markets in the east and two years later was sending 400,000 a week at the height of the season and a total of 1.6 million a year. In 1869, Van Buren County, also in Michigan, sent 7.5 million birds to the east.
Not surprisingly, even the vast flocks of pigeons could not withstand slaughter on this scale. Numbers fell rapidly and by the late 1880s large flocks, which had once been so common, dwindled so rapidly that their numbers had become a matter for comment and investigation. Most flocks by this time were no more than a few hundred strong. The passenger pigeon became extinct in the wild in Ohio about 1900. The last survivor of a species that had once numbered 5 billion died in captivity in 1914.
“Probably the most terrible example of mass slaughter in the history of wildlife was not the bison but the passenger pigeon – a story that almost defies belief.” — Clive Ponting
We stood outside the museum with large signs in hopes that people saddened by the extinction of the beautiful passenger pigeons, would wake up to the fight against the live pigeon shoots that are still happening in PA. A man approached us and said, with a smirk on his face, “What a waste of time. Don’t you have anything better to do? They’re just rats with wings.” I walked over to him and said, “Breeding innocent, sentient animals just to be shot and killed as a ‘sport’ is unacceptable, and if you feel differently please keep walking.” And he did. However we got a lot of honks and thumbs up which always makes it worth it to me.
Our group was small, and I don’t know how exactly we helped the situation, but I do know that when you stand up for the innocent, no matter the size of your group, people see it, feel it and know we’re here. Our presence was felt, and as long as we stand strong for the voiceless, we are creating and promoting change. Good work will not go unnoticed. Good work will spark change, and once it’s sparked, we’re well on our way to creating a more compassionate and conscious community. It starts at home — it starts with us — it starts with YOU.
I hope reading this has moved you to want to take a stand for these animals. So, what can you do to help? Easy peasy. Tell your legislators that pigeon shoots don’t belong in modern day Pennsylvania
and tell them to pass SB510 which explicitly bans pigeons shoots once and for all. The current legislative session ends September 30. 2014.
Please contact Governor Tom Corbett and tell him that it’s long past time for them to end the abominable cruelty of live pigeon shoots.
Governor Tom Corbett
Governor’s Facebook page
Please contact the Pennsylvania Tourism Bureau and tell them that you won’t be vacationing in PA because of illegal live pigeon shoots. Phone: 800-847-4872