Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules against “cruel and moronic” Hegins pigeon shoot
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1999:
Bob Tobash, chief organizer of the Fred Coleman
Memorial Pigeon Shoot held each Labor Day since 1935 in
Hegins, Pennsylvania, on August 1 told James E. Wilkerson
of Harrisburg Morning Call that the 1999 shoot will go on as
scheduled––but if it does, the Pennsyvlania Supreme Court
unanimously ruled on July 22, Pennsylvania SPCA anti-cruelty
officers can stop it and arrest the participants.
The court did not rule on the legality of the shoot
itself, but affirmed the authority of the PSPCA to act against
cruelty anywhere in Pennsylvania, as authorized by the state
legislature in 1868. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court thus
overturned Schuykill County Common Pleas Court and state
Superior Court verdicts which held that PSPCA officer
Clayton Hulsizer was outside his jurisdiction when he sought
an injunction to stop the 1997 shoot.
Wrote Chief Justice John Flaherty, “Opponents
of the shoot view it as a cruel and moronic exercise in marksmanship.
Proponents view it as entertainment, exemplifying
the state of sportsmanship in this Commonwealth.”
If the shoot ends, it will be a long-sought signal victory
for animal protection. Mobilization For Animals a n d
Trans-Species Unlimited, later renamed Animal Rights
Mobilization, tried to stop the Hegins shoot via protests and
unsuccessful legislation between 1985 and 1988. As their
efforts flagged, then-trophy fisher and hunter Steve Hindi
stopped to watch the 1989 shoot en route to kill sharks off
Long Island, and was so appalled by the close-range massacre
of more than 10,000 birds that he challenged Tobash to a prize
fight in lieu of the 1990 shoot. Tobash declined the challenge.
Hindi initially appealed to fellow “sportsmen” to join
him in protest. When only his brother Greg did, Hindi quit
sport hunting and fishing, became a strict vegan, organized
major protests at Hegins in 1991 and 1992, formed the militant
animal rights activist group SHARK in September 1992,
and subsequently shut down all captive bird shoots in the state
of Illinois, as well as several others in Pennsylvania.
The Hegins shoot continued, however, as a rallying
event for pigeon shooters and wise-users, and as a recruiting
venue for robed members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Protests in recent years have been coordinated by
Fund for Animals national director Heidi Prescott,
who––with many others––has often been arrested for running
in front of the shooters to rescue wounded birds.
Suicide Race goes down
Another high-profile abusive use of animals for
sport, the Omak Suicide Race, held since 1936 in Omak,
Washington, was cancelled at least for 1999 on August 3,
after the Colville Confederated Tribes withdrew from participation
in the annual Omak Stampede Rodeo and other associated
events due to business-related disputes with the O m a k
City Council. The loss of Colville participation left the
Suicide Race with only three riders.
The race down a 200-foot cliff and across the
Okanogan River was to have been conducted in nightly heats,
August 12-15. Omak Stampede president F r e d
Winningham indicated that the cancellation could cost Omak
as much as $480,000. The Stampede, centering around the
Suicide Race, annually attracts about 35,000 people to Omak,
a village near the British Columbia border.
“During the 16 years that the Progressive Animal
W e l f a r e society has campaigned against the Suicide Race,”
said PAWS ‘horse guy’ Mike Jones, “it has resulted in the
deaths of at least 13 horses, one each year since 1996.”
Now focused on anti-bullfighting and anti-rodeo
protest, including an international boycott of Pepsi-Cola
for prominently advertising in Mexican and Spanish bullrings,
Steve Hindi won assurance from C o c a – C o l a on July 28 that
Coke has no advertising or signage in any bullfighting arenas.
Stated Coca-Cola consumer affairs specialist C r i s t i
Fernandes, “Our group president for Latin America issued a
policy several years ago stating that operations within Latin
America should no longer sponsor or promote events where
there is a risk of physical harm to animals. This includes bullfighting.
Be assured, our Mexican division recently confirmed
that there are no exceptions.”
Pepsi has defended bullring advertising by claiming
that Coke does it too––but a year after Hindi asked for proof
that Coke does, Pepsi has yet to produce any.
A recent high for Hindi and SHARK was assisting
Wendi Rhodes, president of the California group Education
and Action for Animals, in accomplishing the July 21 return
to Florida Keys waters of two five-foot nurse sharks who had
outgrown a tank at the Sea Shell Pet Shop in Skokie, Illinois.
Rhodes raised the cost of flying the sharks to Florida, Hindi
loaned a truck, and the release was completed by Rick Trout
of the Marine Mammal Conservancy.
A low point, Hindi admitted, was a July 6 U . S .
District Court verdict by Judge James B. Moran that even
though the rough treatment of anti-rodeo protesters T e r r i
Campbell, Suzanne Piszczek, and Christine Grushas at the
1997 Wauconda Rodeo in Illinois was “by no means a glorious
few minutes in the history of law enforcement in Lake
County,” police officers John Van Dien and Frank Winans
did not violate the women’s civil rights.
That frustration was followed by Hindi’s July 24
arrest for alleged “felony eavesdropping,” because he taped
his conversation with two St. Charles police officers as they
refused to take a cruelty complaint against the Big Hat Rodeo
Company, stock contractor for the Kane County Fair, for
electroshocking bulls and yanking calves’ tails, as documented
in photographs by Donna Hertel.
Reviewing legal handbooks and files on decades of
activism, ANIMAL PEOPLE could find no instance in
which anyone was convicted of any similar charge for documenting
the performance of a public official in a public place.
Furriers file RICO suits
Furriers John Guarino, Nick Sistasis, and others in
early August jointly used the federal Racketeering Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations statute to sue the Animal Defense
League of New Jersey for allegedly illegally conspiring with
the Animal Liberation Front to put them out of business. The
suit followed the June filing of a RICO case against anti-fur
activists in Philadelphia.