OKLAHOMA CITY — A yearslong battle between an animal rights group and a U.S. senator from Oklahoma about shooting pigeons has ended with Sen. Jim Inhofe agreeing not to hold the event again.
Inhofe’s re-election campaign had hosted annual pigeon shoot fundraisers, outraging Illinois-based nonprofit Showing Animals Respect and Kindness.
In a series of emails released under an open records request Tuesday, Inhofe’s team wrote in January and March to an Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation game warden saying Inhofe would stop hosting such events.
“I know this event has caused some tension in the past, so I hope this move will allow us to rebuild those relationships,” said Baxter Lewallen, Inhofe’s field representative.
The animal rights organization’s president, Steve Hindi, said the decision “is a very positive turn of events.”
“Many innocent birds will now be spared a horrific death at the hands of Inhofe and his donors,” Hindi said: “It took a very public campaign, but Senator Inhofe made the right decision.”
Inhofe’s shooting events had sparked outrage because captive birds would be tossed into the air and shot by hunters, often as part of a competition. Undercover activists filmed the events and rescued pigeons injured during the shoots. A drone the nonprofit attempting to record the fundraiser was hit by rifle fire.
Stuart Chaifetz, an investigator for the nonprofit, was pleased with the decision.
“We said then that we would never stop fighting as long as Inhofe held pigeon shoots, and we are proud to say that oath has been fulfilled,” Chaifetz said. “However, we will continue to watch Inhofe and hold him accountable for any other violations of law.”