Maybe it was the phony penises.
After years of escalating tensions between the Philadelphia Gun Club and the animal-rights activists who object to the club's semiannual pigeon shoots, club members have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the activists of stalking, harassment, trespass, intimidation, defamation, libel and privacy invasion.
In a 21-page complaint filed last Friday, eight club members claim that activists from Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) harassed and blocked them as they drove in and out of the club's Bensalem grounds, spied on them both at the club and elsewhere, posted their pictures and other personal information online and even glued rubber penises along the club's fence.
Several club members, including one who works as an optometrist and another, a chiropractor, lost patients after the activists posted fake, disparaging reviews of them on Yelp, Facebook and similar sites, said Sean M. Corr, the club's attorney.
The lawsuit names five members of the Illinois-based SHARK as defendants, including its leader Steve Hindi of Illinois and Stuart Chaifetz, a SHARK investigator based in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Hindi couldn't be reached for comment.
Chaifetz noted that the fake-penis protest was satire, spoofing the idea that men use guns to compensate for being underendowed. "We wonder how they could be 'emotionally harmed' by something they see in the shower every morning," Chaifetz said.
He added: "They're claiming what they're doing (pigeon shoots) is legal; we're claiming it's absolutely illegal. Pigeon shoots absolutely violate the anticruelty law, and that's why we're fighting them."
Pennsylvania actually does allow live pigeon shooting, although it's the only state to do so. Bills that would prohibit them have been repeatedly introduced — and shot down — in the state legislature since 1989.
The lawsuit is just the latest jab in a bitter brawl between the club and its critics.
Animal-rights activists regularly protest outside the riverside club and paddle in the Delaware River during pigeon shoots to film the action and rescue wounded birds.