Dead PigeonThough I try to avoid making broad generalizations about entire categories of people, I do wonder what type of person is into shooting pigeons. They don’t usually eat the pigeons, so they aren’t doing it for food. The poor birds are usually too maimed and torn apart by shotgun pellets anyway. This also precludes stuffing and mounting the corpses, so pigeon shooters are even in a different class than trophy hunters. Of course, pigeon shooters aren’t really hunters, either. Letting a bunch of birds out of a box and then blasting them as if they were living, breathing skeet isn’t hunting. It’s wholesale slaughter.

So what kind of person is into this sort of thing? If Richard Shackleton is even slightly representative of pigeon shooters, the answer is not good. Shackleton is the Township Solicitor of Long Island Township, New Jersey.  He is also a pigeon shooter. A prickly, obscene, hate-filled pigeon shooter.

This past February, according to the Press of Atlantic City, Shackleton was participating in a pigeon shoot at a Pennsylvania gun club. Two women, both members of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), videotaped him gunning down defenseless pigeons. Classy guy that Shackleton is, he responded with obscenities, specifically the F-word and the even more offensive (especially to women) C-word. The whole thing is on video.

This isn’t exactly stellar behavior from a lawyer employed by local government. Yet at an April 9th meeting of the Long Beach Township Board of Commissioners, Richard Shackleton defended his words. “I’m happy to say that what I said, I meant every word of it,” said Shackleton. When asked if he wanted to apologize to the women, his response was “absolutely not.”

Of course, Shackleton is just one man. However, activists for SHARK have had trouble with other pigeon shooters as well. For example, in December, 2009, attorney Sean M. Corr assaulted Steve Hindi, who was videotaping a pigeon shoot at the elite Philadelphia Gun Club. Corr pleaded guilty to “Harassment–subject other to physical contact” and was fined $187.44. While it could be that pigeon-killing lawyers are just a particularly hateful bunch, based on their videos, SHARK has had some pretty ugly encounters with other pigeon shooters who didn’t necessarily go to law school.

The good folks at SHARK clearly are dealing with some scary people in their valiant attempt to end pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania, the only state where these mass bird killings are openly held. But there is hope. For one, advances in video camera technology have made it not only easier to expose the general public to these brutal slaughters, but have made it possible to document the crass behavior of some of the participants. And SHARK is gaining supporters. Recently, former game-show host and tireless animal advocate Bob Barker donated $1 million to the organization.

That could buy quite a few video cameras.

Photo Credit: Rama