Air wars have erupted again in the skies over Berks County.
An animal welfare group trying to call attention to pigeon shoots says its camera-equipped drone that was flying over Wing Pointe hunt club Sunday where hunters were shooting captive live pigeons was shot down.
Now the group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) has released footage of the drone being shot and the damage as well as men chasing injured pigeons with nets and collecting trash bags full of dead pigeons.
It was the second time a drone owned by SHARK was shot down. The first piece of equipment was brought down on the Wing Pointe property and never returned. SHARK sued the club to get its equipment back and that case is still in court.
The group is supported by a $1 million donation from ex- game show host and animal lover Bob Barker who wrote to Gov. Corbett and other state leaders voicing his outrage after seeing video from the Sept. 30 pigeon shoot at Wing Pointe, and the fact no one had been prosecuted for animal cruelty.
“It is very distressing to me personally to see such appalling cruelty," Barker wrote. "This is not a hunt or sport, but a massacre of the cruelest kind. SHARK’s most recent video filmed at the Wing Pointe hunting club documents unspeakable acts of violence against docile, semi-tame and even banded pigeons.”
Barker added: “It is equally disturbing to me to watch not only adults committing the abuse, but also young boys being indoctrinated into such gratuitous violence. As I am sure you are aware, teaching children such heartless cruelty and careless behavior toward animals leads down a very dangerous path.”
SHARK is among the animal welfare groups trying to ban pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania - the last state which sanctions this activity.
captive pigeons shoved in boxes and launched electronically to be shot at close range.
The group has tried unsuccessfully in both Berks and Bucks counties, home to the Philadelphia Gun Club, to engage law enforcement to prosecute those involved in the shoots based on the fact many wounded pigeons fly off to suffer and die slow deaths - a fate the animal welfare advocates say is clearly cruelty.
Berks County district attorney John Adams - who has taken campaign contributions from the Pennsylvania Flyers, a pro-pigeon shooting group and Bucks County district attorney David Heckler, have thrown out citations issued by humane police officers, saying the shoots are legal, therefore the shooters are committing no crime.
I witnessed one such shoot at Wing Pointe on September 30. Here is my report.
Pennsylvania is the only state where open pigeon shooting is sanctioned. A decades-long campaign has been underway in Harrisburg to outlaw pigeon shoots. Over opposition of the National Rifle Association, a bill was approved in the Senate Judiciary Committee this year, but failed to get action by the full Senate by the time the legislature recessed in October.
Advocates say they will try again when the new session begins in January.
Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania State Police says it is investigating the vandalism to the drone, which sustained some $4,000 worth of damage, according to local news reports. The footage, however, was saved and posted to You Tube below.