National Pigeon Day: Honoring America's Heroes! Sat, June 19, 2010, 10 am - 3 pm, Pilgrim Hill, Central Park, NY

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As the New York Bird Club rallies to declare June 13th a national US holiday at an event in Central Park, NY, legislation sitting in both the Pennsylvania House and Senate (H.B. 1411/S.B. 843) would ban the killing of pigeons launched for trap shoots if passed into law. Pennsylvania is one of the last states in the USA where pigeon shoots are still legal. Protecting pigeons from cruel shoots has been a hard-fought battle in Pennsylvania for animal advocates.

Pigeon shoots are competitions wherein hundreds to thousands of live birds are shot at to win prizes. A typical 3-day shoot contest can kill and injure up to 15,000 birds. The pigeons are captured and collected for weeks ahead of time, then released from trap boxes only yards away. The birds are generally dazed and suffering from dehydration or starvation as they are sprung out of the boxes. Rather than mercifully being given a quick death, 70% of the birds are injured when shot and either left to suffer slow deaths or collected and killed by pigeon shoot "trapper boys" or "wringers", traditionally children, who break their necks, step on them, tear off wings, suffocate them, or cut off their heads with garden shears, among other abuses. Illegal in other countries and in all but a couple of American states. Most people no longer participate in these bird-killing contests, realizing the despicable nature of these acts which can be interpreted as a free license to harm and kill in a society which claims to be compassionate and just.

New York State banned captive live pigeon shoots in 1874. However, media reports have highlighted the link between illegal pigeon capture in NYC ("pigeons may be hunted and taken by gun or bow at any time, but they may not be taken by trapping, netting, etc unless a person has been authorized to relieve a nuisance problem by a local municipality or DEC") and the trafficking of birds across state lines into Pennsylvania. New York State Senator Liz Kreuger "urges the Pennsylvania State Legislature to ban the cruel practice of live pigeon shoots. If the demand for live birds to kill during Pennsylvania pigeon shoots were ended through legislation, these pigeon nettings would undoubtedly dramatically decline and most likely cease."

Pigeons have made contributions of considerable importance to humanity in times of war where the homing ability of pigeons have been used by mankind to carry vital messages, thus saving many human lives. Pigeons have been decorated with medals for their service, such as the Croix de Guerre, awarded to pigeon Cher Ami, and the Dickin Medal to the pigeons G.I. Joe and Paddy, amongst 32 other pigeons. Cher Ami, a brave American pigeon saved the lives of 194 men at the Battle of the Argonne in 1918 despite losing a leg, taking a shot to the breast and being blinded in one eye and has been declared a decorated war veteran.

Pigeons possess high intelligence as they have been the subject in numerous experiments in comparative psychology concerned with animal cognition. Still many in the United States consider pigeons objects of ridicule and disrespect, and an undesirable species. In some religious cultures, however, pigeons are regarded as symbols of peace. In India huge flocks of thousands of birds are fed daily at Hindu temples in town and city centres throughout the country.

The eradication of pigeons:

With declining pigeon populations in metropolitan cities, there exists the possibility that pigeons may meet the same fate as the once prolific passenger pigeons, extinction due to loss of habitat and destruction by mankind. Pigeons today are captured for pigeon shoots, exterminated by property owners and used for racing and ceremonies...discarded when they are no longer needed. They are targeted by the dim witted and ignorant with few laws to protect them.

In addition OvoControl P, a legalized form of birth control contraceptive for pigeons, and fully supported by all of the leading animal welfare organizations such as the Humane Society of the US, ASPCA, and PETA will ensure the significant reduction of pigeon offspring.

On Saturday, June 19th, the New York Bird Club will honor its forgotten heroes at a National Pigeon Day event in Central Park, New York where the following people, among others, will present:

Stuart Chaifetz, an investigator for SHARK, an organization led by Steve Hindi that concentrates on anti-cruelty investigations and animal advocacy, will discuss their undercover investigations with regard to the Pennsylvania pigeon shoots legislation currently pending in the state of Pennsylvania. Philanthrophist and television icon Bob Barker, recently donated $1,000,000 to SHARK to aid them in the fight to halt pigeon shoots in that state.

Anne Muller, president of Wildlife Watch, a sanctuary and wildlife organization, will speak about "racing" pigeons and their attempts to rescue and rehabilitate them after they drop down exhausted from the skies. Wildlife Watch will also expose mismanagement of wildlife by government wildlife agencies.

Lori Barrett, Esq, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, attorney, and member of the New York City Bar Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals, will explain the laws that protect pigeons from cruelty in New York State and will discuss how animal advocates can use laws to correct the popular misconception that pigeons are unprotected.

Lori Barrett, Esq. and Wildlife Watch will both address government wildlife agencies and wildlife laws in New York State and what the public needs to do to give pigeons more protection from the acts of mankind.

Peter Muller, chair of the League of Humane Voters-NY and chief lobbyist for LOHV in New York State, will talk about political involvement, and about current bills pending in the New York State Legislature that is meant to aid pigeons and other wildlife.

Steven Bennett of Cambridge, Ohio wil discuss the legendary history of the passenger pigeon. He will give a presentation that covers the bird’s routines in migration, diet, nesting, territory, habitat, and the amazing size of the flocks. Once numbering in the billions, man’s destruction of the passenger pigeons brought down this army of feathers to a single bird ~ Martha ~ and in 1914, ultimate extinction. Mr. Bennett reveals how even today, we all share a connection with the passenger pigeon.

Scott Massarsky, composer of the National Pigeon Day Anthem, and the band Supercute will entertain.

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Anna Dove
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