An animal rights group is calling an Oklahoma senator an animal serial killer.
The group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK, said Senator Jim Inhofe is breaking the law by holding his annual pigeon-shooting fundraiser.
Thursday, SHARK met outside of Inhofe's Tulsa office and called for an end to the event.
The senator’s office confirmed the fundraiser is being held this weekend, now in its eleventh year, even though there was a strong backlash against leaked video of last year's event where pigeons were thrown into the air then shot with shotguns.
SHARK got wind of the event last summer and sent one of their members to sign up, posing as an Inhofe sponsor, which is where the cell phone video came from.
"Disgust, disgust. Pity for the birds and, to some degree, pity and disgust for the people involved," said SHARK president, Steve Hindi.
Hindi said Inhofe and others broke state and federal laws by killing pigeons for sport.
But the state Department of Wildlife said pigeons are not considered migratory game birds, and, therefore, they're not protected and shooting them is not illegal.
Hindi said he's referring to the state's animal cruelty law, which says, "Any person who shall willfully or maliciously torture, destroy or kill any animal...shall be guilty of a felony."
He claims wounded birds were either left to die or thrown into the air again to be shot.
"It's very, very inhumane, very cruel. These birds are not being eaten; these birds are being dumped as garbage afterwards," Hindi said.
Inhofe's office sent a statement about the fundraiser, which has traditionally been a dove hunt. The statement says:
“This organization complained about our event last year to the Federal Election Commission and wrote local law enforcement, raising the very same issues outlined in its recent complaints. This organization tried holding a press conference last year at the state capitol complaining about our event. I answered any inquiries from the Federal Election Commission months ago.
“In fact, upon receiving a copy of their letter to local law enforcement last year, I contacted the district attorney and county sheriffs to invite them to view the event or to answer any questions. Local law enforcement had no questions concerning our event. In fact, this organization's most recent press release questioned the integrity of the local county sheriff simply, which I believe is another demonstration of how ridiculous this organization is.
“This complaint is simply an opportunity to issue a new press release and likely try to raise money for themselves.
“Last week, they wrote the Senate Ethics Committee. However, the Ethics Committee investigates violations of the Senate's rules, and this organization will also soon learn we have not violated Senate rules either. This week they are writing state law enforcement, making more ridiculous allegations.
“Weather permitting, as always, we are holding our dove hunt this weekend. It's our 11th year. We would not hold an event that breaks the law.”
SHARK said it plans to be at the fundraiser as well, but does not plan to disrupt it.