HARRISBURG Pa. (Reuters) - Legislation that would ban pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania moved out of the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, the most progress the measure has made in two decades with backing by senior Republicans.
Support for such a ban has grown in recent years, said Republican Senator Stewart Greenleaf, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
“People are passionate about it," he said.
The best-known pigeon shoot in Pennsylvania took place in Hegins between 1934 and 1998, when hundreds of pigeons would be released from cages and shot by participants. The event would raise money for the town park.
That ended after a 1999 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that pigeons were protected by animal cruelty laws.
But private gun clubs host pigeon shoots to this day, said Heidi Prescott of the Humane Society of the United States.
The Humane Society and other advocates have pushed for a ban for two decades.
The measure is opposed by the National Rifle Association, which sent an alert this week to members in Pennsylvania urging them to call on their legislators to oppose the bill.
Pigeon shoots were “a traditional shooting sport” for more than a century, said the alert, which called the Humane Society an “animal rights extremist group.”
The proposed ban on pigeon shoots was attached this week to legislation that would ban the sale and slaughter of dogs and cats for food.
Another senior Republican, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, also supports the bill, said a spokesman.