Thursday, May 28, 2009

A New Commandment for Pennsylvanians: Thou Shalt Not Kill....Pigeons

-Lebanon Daily News

Perhaps Pennsylvania's Legislature can only handle one dog-and-pony (or dog-and-pigeon) show per term. Last session, there was considerable focus on legislation changing dog laws to prevent so-called "puppy mills."

While that debate was going on, another piece of animal-related legislation came and went (again).

Pigeons don't have quite the same fun-and-furry reputation as puppies. People will get considerably more wrought up about a baby Rottweiler than even the most attractive squab.

But that's no reason to trap them elsewhere, haul them to Pennsylvania and blast them out of the air—and then call it a sport and expect Pennsylvania's many real sportsmen follow allow with the thinking.

The bill to finally ban live-pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania—the only state left standing when it comes to these senseless shoots—came and went again during the last legislative session. It's been about two decades that efforts have been ongoing.

We shouldn't be shooting live pigeons in Pennsylvania. It's not a sport by any definition. It's been done better with artificial targets for years. The efforts to ban it are written explicitly so that the shoot legislation cannot be used as a jump-off point against other blood sport.

This is an area where hunting is deep in the fiber of the community. We've had a busy outdoors page in our paper for years. We get plenty of photo submissions when it comes to deer and even bear season. We have written in this space of the significance of Pennsylvania's and the Lebanon Valley's hunting traditions. We do not now nor will we ever seek to undermine that.

The legislation banning pigeon shoots does not undermine the tradition. Don't make the argument; it's got no traction with us. Pigeon shoots, quite simply, are inhumane and not at all sporting. They are almost diametrically opposed to the philosophy of hunting, in that a caged animal is released under controlled circumstances and blown away at short range (or, too often, wounded and able to get far enough away to die in agony—that's also not a part of hunting philosophy. You shoot to kill, and if you don't kill it, you track it.

The new legislation has been written for both the House and the Senate. It's HB 1411 and SB 843. Rep. RoseMarie Swanger has signed on as a co-sponsor of the House bill, and we think that's the proper move.

Get real, Pennsylvania. Pigeon shoots aren't for real hunters, and no real argument can be made to continue them. If they're no good in Texas, Colorado, West Virginia and other hunting states, they certainly aren't any good here.

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