Animal rights groups protest pigeon shoot

Posted 2/29/24

Reports of a shooting event in Okeechobee County made national news earlier this week, when animal rights groups released a video and statements ...

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Animal rights groups protest pigeon shoot


OKEECHOBEE – Reports of a shooting event in Okeechobee County made national news earlier this week, when animal rights groups released a video and statements about the event.

A press release from Animal Wellness Action and SHARK states:  “According to sources, there were about 15,000 pigeons shot at a 'Swamp Shoot-Out' at the Quail Creek Hunting Ranch in Okeechobee, Fla., this past weekend, in an event using live animals in a competitive event.

“These live pigeon shoots are outlawed in many states. Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) and Animal Wellness Action believe this conduct violates Florida’s anti-cruelty laws, and should subject those involved to felony offenses. There are other potential violations of law related to jeopardy for bald eagles who feast on wounded pigeons with lead ammunition embedded in their bodies,” the statement continues.

“The organizations have obtained secretly recorded drone footage of the mass killing of the animals. In the video, live pigeons are launched into the air from spring-loaded boxes and shot after fluttering out of the contraption. The majority of the birds barely rise a few feet before they are blasted and typically fall onto the shooting field, where runners then wring the necks of the birds.”

“Target shooters have skeet and clay targets for recreational target shooting. To choose instead to slaughter live animals is just pathological,” said Steve Hindi, president of SHARK, who campaigned to help stop a live pigeon shoot in Hegins, Penn. “Only a sick mind shoots animals for target practice when fast-moving clay targets are far more challenging.”

“This debasing activity bears no resemblance to hunting, which involves obtaining a license, honoring ‘fair chase’ principles, and consuming the meat of the animals,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, who also has campaigned against pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania and other states. “If this isn’t staged animal cruelty, I don’t know what is.”

“Florida animal cruelty laws contain several provisions that would seemingly apply to this kind of inhumane conduct,” said Scott Edwards, general counsel for the Center for a Humane Economy. “We believe this kind of activity demands an investigation by state officials and should not be allowed to continue.”

A link to a flier about the event was shared by the animal rights groups. According to the flier, the shoot was by invitation only and limited to the first 120 entries. Entry fee for the three-day event was $600 per day.

Quail Creek officials declined to be interviewed by phone and asked that any questions be emailed.  The Lake Okeechobee News emailed questions. This story will be updated when answers are received.

History of pigeon shooting

According to Wikipedia,Traditionally, there are two types of competition: box birds and columbaire. In box birds, the pigeons are held in a mechanical device that releases them when the shooter calls out. In columbaire, the birds are hand thrown by a person when called upon. The equipment for the sport can be specialized and purpose-built.”

In Europe, pigeons are bred for the sport. In the United States, feral pigeons are captured in urban areas where they are considered a nuisance, Wikipedia explains. Live pigeon shoots are banned in 14 states.

Quail Creek, pigeon shoot