No, it's not a fishing thing, but it's outdoorsy, and has some parallels to an annual fishing "Rite of Spring" so I thought I might be worth posting.
It comes up in local press every few years. Basically the deal is that rather than shooting clays or stationary targets, the Philadelphia Gun Club (and a few other clubs in the State), round up pigeons and systematically release them to let club members have at them as target practice. It's kind of like opening day of trout season, when hundreds of stockies are thrown in a 10 by 20 foot hole to be removed one after another. Like the trout that doesn't care for Powerbait, many pigeons get/fly away to "safety," but the ones that don't...well...don't.
Other than shooting a bunch of what some might think are nuisance birds...
what's the issue might you ask?
First off, pigeon shoots are perfectly legal in Pennsylvania. But since we're talking shotguns, a good portion of the birds don't die right away upon getting hit...rather they're knocked out of the sky by the gunshot and fall to the ground with crippling injuries, blows that most times will prove fatal later. Do the birds suffer in that time between flight and expiration? I suppose so. But then again, so do those opening day trout latched on to stringers bound for the dinner plate. Animal cruelty groups definitely think the pigeons are getting a raw deal, and have been trying to shut these shoots down for years.
What I find most interesting is the latest tact taken in the war against pigeon shoots. Since the Philadelphia Gun Club property resides on the banks of the Delaware River, it is now being sued by said environmental groups for violating the Clean Water Act...or in other words, polluting the river with a bunch of dead birds and spent shotgun shot without permit.
To quote the Inquirer article:
"The shoots are a violation of the Clean Water Act because of shot and carcasses falling into the river," van Rossum said. "They can't have a discharge into the water without a permit."
Federal and state agencies have failed to enforce the Clean Water Act, van Rossum said. So she and her nonprofit group, which has more than 7,700 members, filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia on March 30.
In addition to the pigeon carcasses, gunshot containing lead, bismuth, tungsten, copper, steel, and other metals are polluting the river, according to the suit."
Hmmm...that's an interesting angle. Does it carry any real weight? Probably not, especially considering the fact that pretty much every waterfoul hunter could be considered guilty of the same "crime" if precedent is set.
Something tells me pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania aren't going anywhere anytime soon, but what are your thoughts; environmental and/or moral? I'm especially curious considering parallels to fishing, and the strong "catch & release" ethic that is prevalent in such circles.
As always, comments are welcomed below...