Bob Barker last week announced a $1 million donation to SHARK, an organization led by Steve Hindi that concentrates on anti-cruelty investigations and animal advocacy, to support the effort in Pennsylvania to ban live pigeon shoots. It’s a tremendous investment of resources that could prove the death knell of these sickening events, and it’s just the latest of Barker’s philanthropic efforts. He’s previously made a series of million-dollar gifts to esteemed law schools to support the development of animal law programs. And he also recently announced a multi-million dollar gift to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for its anti-whaling activities.
Bob Barker is a modern-day legend in animal advocacy. For decades, he helped popularize efforts to promote spaying and neutering on his enormously successful daytime game show, "The Price Is Right." Since his retirement from television a few years ago, he’s spent even more time on animal advocacy. He’s put his fame and his personal resources to work for our cause in a major way.
A pigeon is shot in flight.
The HSUS has long fought the practice of live pigeon shoots, and we are working hard in Harrisburg to pass legislation to eliminate this cruel spectacle throughout Pennsylvania. That effort is being ably led by State Reps. John Maher and Eugene DePasquale and Sen. Pat Browne. I’ve personally been to many of the shoots in Hegins, Pa. and it is a scene I will never forget.
Individual birds are ejected one by one from spring-loaded boxes just 30 yards in front of shooters, who aim to shoot them down within a scoring area; about three-quarters of the birds are not killed immediately, but are wounded either to escape and die slowly of their injuries or to be collected by young children who wring their necks, cut off their heads, or throw them into barrels to suffocate on top of each other. The Hegins shoot, fortunately, is no longer, but shoots occur at a variety of other gun clubs throughout the state, despite their apparent violation of state anti-cruelty laws.
Pigeon shoots have nothing to do with hunting, and are more like dogfighting and cockfighting, pathetic spectacles of cruelty that deserve condemnation and scorn. It’s not hunting since there’s no licensing. The animals are trucked in to the community, so there’s no wildlife management or nuisance control. In fact, a few of the birds somehow manage to evade the shooters and then add to the local pigeon population. The carcasses are not consumed, and the bodies are dumped in a trash heap.
Target shooters can hone their skills with inanimate objects, and that happens every day at shooting ranges across the nation. Most states ban live pigeon shoots, and the idea that a ban on that practice is an antecedent to a ban on all hunting is a fantasy and a suspension of rational thought.
Heidi Prescott on our staff has been leading our efforts for years, and we’ll continue to fight to put an end to these shoots. Bob Barker’s effort, in tandem with SHARK, is a great boost, and we look forward to working with them.