State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Senate to take up ban on live pigeon shoots

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 26, 2014 9:52 PM
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Photo by Wikimedia Commons


The umpteenth effort to ban pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania has cleared a state Senate panel.

Animal rights activists have been trying for decades to end pigeon shoots - private events during which hunters take aim at live pigeons released from traps. Activists call it barbaric, though judges and prosecutors have said it breaks no animal cruelty laws.

Sen. Rich Alloway (R-Adams) counts himself among the traditional sportsmen against the practice. He called it a wasteful "blood sport" before voting for the ban during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

"I hunt for my family. I eat what I kill," said Alloway. "If I shoot something and injure it and I can't find it, it drives me crazy because I know that I hurt that animal and it's going to go to waste."

The bill will go to the full Senate for consideration, though Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) found it odd to see such compassion for animals often called "rats with wings."

"If we're concerned about the welfare of these pigeons, and I guess that's the point of what we're trying to do here, then we should also prohibit municipalities from poisoning pigeons, shocking pigeons to death, trapping pigeons and taking them off-premises and killing them," said Eichelberger. "All those thing happen all the time."

The pigeon shoot ban was amended into a bill that would also prohibit the slaughter of cats and dogs for private human consumption.

Legislative efforts to eradicate pigeon shoots haven't flown far in the past. In 2011, a proposed ban cleared a Senate committee, but never got a vote by the full chamber.

A Senate GOP spokesman said he expects this plan to be passed and sent to the House before lawmakers take their traditional summer recess.

Alloway noted the NRA has been targeting him for his stance against pigeon shoots.

"For someone to attack me and say that I'm somehow not a hunter, not a sportsman, not a Second Amendment guy, is just outrageous," Alloway said.

The Judiciary Committee also passed a separate proposal allowing people to store any legally-owned guns in their vehicle during work hours, even if the vehicle is parked on private property belonging to or used by their employer.

If the pigeon shoot ban goes to the full Senate, it is expected to get a vote the same day as the gun storage bill.

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