SHARK Octocopter drone allegedly shot down while documenting Pennsylvania pigeon shoot
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2011:
HAMBURG, Pennsylvania–An Octocopter drone video camera platform snagged in a tall tree guarantees that Showing Animals Respect & Kindness (SHARK) will continue to keep an eye on the Wing Pointe gun club near Hamburg, Pennsylvania for some time to come, while pursuing legal action to get the Octocopter back.
The case appears likely to ensure that SHARK and Wing Pointe will meet in court, but not necessarily in connection with the cruelty prosecution SHARK has tried to press against Wing Pointe since retrieving 21 wounded but living pigeons from a “dead pile” after a pigeon shoot on December 5, 2010.
“On January 2, 2011 SHARK was legally video documenting a Wing Pointe pigeon shoot using a remote controlled aircraft when it suddenly crashed into the trees,” explained SHARK spokesperson Stu Chaifetz. “SHARK personnel suspected that the aircraft had been shot down. Video transmitted from the aircraft, along with ground cameras, show that the aircraft was shot at least twice,” Chaifetz said.
“The first three suspected rifle shots occur at 8, 12, and 14 seconds,” narrated SHARK founder Steve Hindi, showing the video to ANIMAL PEOPLE shortly before posting it to YouTube. “The fourth shot occurs at 1 minute, 30 seconds. The second and fourth shots are the ones that hit.
“Our evidence proves that our aircraft was intentionally downed,” Hindi alleged. “Given the relatively close proximity of homes in the area, this was a reckless act. It should be noted that Wing Pointe’s own website states, ‘No rifle or pistol fire are allowed,’ and ‘Shotgun fire only’,” Hindi added.
The tree where the Octocopter fell is on Wing Pointe property–and tall enough that retrieving the Octocopter will require either use of a cherry-picker or a gust of wind sufficient to break substantial branches. Wing Pointe has denied SHARK access to the property, and attempted to require through counsel that any visual images taken by the Octocopter be erased.
“The aircraft will without question show evidence of having been shot,” Hindi said. “Withholding our aircraft is in itself a crime. Withholding our aircraft to hide the shooting is another crime.”
But SHARK will apparently have to pursue a civil case to try to establish those points, since the Pennsylvania State Police and Berks County district attorney John Adams have refused to accept charges against Wing Pointe owner Joseph Solana.
This was no surprise to Chaifetz and Hindi. “Since November the state police and district attorney Adams have ignored animal cruelty at Wing Pointe,” alleged Chaifetz. “Adams has received campaign donations from pigeon shooters,” Chaifetz noted.
Wing Pointe is among the last four locations in Pennsylvania that still host pigeon shoots. Hindi debuted in animal advocacy in 1990 by protesting against a pigeon shoot held annually in Hegins, Pennsylvania from 1935 to 1999. The Hegins pigeon shoot was stopped by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling which upheld the application of the state humane law against pigeon shoots–but charges have to be filed to be prosecuted.
Hindi formed SHARK in 1992. The first SHARK campaign action after incorporation ended pigeon shoots in Illinois.