updated 1/26/2007 10:17:28 PM ET 2007-01-27T03:17:28

Dozens of domestic turkeys were staked to bales of straw and used as live targets in an archery contest, and a sportsman’s club was charged in what one investigator called “the most gutless act of cruelty,” authorities said.

The contest at Elstonville Sportsman’s Association featured the fowl secured at their feet, allowing them to flap their wings. Participants paid $12 for three attempts to hit one with an arrow, with those drawing blood winning the animal, prosecutor Christine Wilson said. About 40 turkeys were killed.

“It was unnecessary, unsportsmanlike and perhaps the most gutless act of cruelty I’ve seen,” said Keith Mohler, an officer authorized to enforce state animal cruelty laws.

Mohler worked undercover as the guest of a club member who called him to report the activity. He took photos and alerted state police. The Sept. 9 event involved people “seeking amusement from the senseless torture of animals,” Mohler said.

The club’s manager declined to discuss the case Friday.

The association faces fines of as much as $4,000 for eight summary violations of laws against the cruel treatment of animals and offering live animals as prizes in a contest, Mohler said. A judge issued a summons to the club Monday, Wilson said.

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