A practice which has caused much polemics in the last few years is pigeon shooting. In Spain, many championships take place year after year in every pigeon shooting club. This ‘’sport’’ consists in placing a shooting field with a trapdoor in its center, from which pigeons are literally thrown to the air using a shuttling machine. The hunter shoots then his gun and reaches the bird in the air, often without the pigeon having spread its wings.
It is noticeably in an advanced society like ours that these activities are still allowed (taking into account that pigeon shooting is forbidden in most countries except for 7, among which Spain is included). The problem? The different autonomic, national and international championships aren’t truly a sports practice, but instead they could be defined as social meetings. In them, many businessmen and sponsors meet together making new contacts and carrying out businesses. Therefore we can see that it is an activity which is supported by powerful people.
However, we are going to lay aside the reprehensible performances which are intrinsic to this activity and focus in a bad practice which has been taking place for many years in a club located in Alicante.
TIRO DE PICHON SOCIETY IN ELCHE
This sports club is located in an industrial área, next to the urban core of Elche city. Its location calls the attention (being an outdoor shooting club) because it is in an urban área with houses and factories around it. Nevertheless, the most striking thing is the orientation of its shooting fields. Due to its position, the shooter can only shoot in direction of a zone with houses and industrial naves, flying over the river. Now, what happens with all those stray bullets?
Vinalopo river is, because of its length, the most important autochthonous river in the province of Alicante. During its way through different cities from its source in ‘’Sierra de Mariola’’, and despite of its small flow volume, the river has in its bed many river ecosystems of great profit for both humans and animals. Some examples would be the natural parks of ‘’Sierra de Mariola’’, the ‘’Hondo de Elche’’, Elche’s dam or the ‘’Salinas de Santa Pola’’, on its mouth.
The problem is that many of those stray bullets end up inside the river. Shotguns’ ammunition may contain plumb pellets. When they fall into the water, they sink to the bottom, getting mixed with gravel. The danger with plumb for some birds, like ducks, is that they eat the pellets by mistake, as they eat that gravel so that it helps them to do the digestión. As a result, plumb salts are produced and they can poison the bird. Moreover, the plumb may poison the river water, affecting even fish and plant species.
On the other hand, we can appreciate in the picture how close the houses are, in the other side of the river (the distance is less tan 150 meters). Taking into account that the shots have a range of many hundred meters, it is pretty obvious that many of the stray bullets will end up in the houses and naves that can be seen in the picture
WHAT ABOUT THE AUTHORITIES?
Seen the problems and the imminent danger (not only for wildlife, but also for humans) of the described situation, it might be thought that the authorities will have already taken action into the matter.
Nevertheless, the reality is very different. This sports club has been professing this activity since the twenties of the past century and, since then, the authorities have been turning a blind eye. This is because, as we have seen, the activity is ‘’sponsored’’ by powerful people and in there, high executives, contacts and vast businesses are promoted. Thereby, nobody has ever questioned the legality of this practice.
For all these reasons, I’d like to invite you to make a consideration. Does all this seem normal to us? Are we allowing these activities? To turn a blind eye? Or are we going to be able to confront them and put in value the great heritage and medioambiental wealth that we have?
By Alejandro Ferrández Torres