Animal rights activists disrupted this town’s annual Labor Day pigeon shoot, locking themselves in a human chain across shooting fields and trying to free the birds before they could be killed.
About 5,000 pigeons, specially raised for the 67th shoot, were brought to the site to be shot by hunters who pay for the opportunity.
Twelve protesters who stormed two shooting fields were arrested after fire officials spent three hours delicately cutting the U-shaped locks from around their necks.
Three other activists were arrested later in the day for running onto a shooting field and trying to free the pigeons from their traps.
The Labor Day event drew an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 spectators to this farming community 35 miles northeast of Harrisburg. Organizers say it raises about $40,000 for local charities. Protesters turn out almost every year.
The Fund For Animals initially said its protesters would not show up this year. But they ran onto the fields shortly before the event was scheduled to begin.
An hour later, organizers surrounded them with makeshift barricades and allowed some 250 registered participants to begin shooting away from the center of the fields.
Heidi Prescott, national director for The Fund For Animals, said the locks were a new idea. “We’ll keep trying new tactics until this thing is stopped.”
The protesters were booked on trespass and disorderly conduct charges and released on bail.