pigeon shoot Jim Inhofe
US senator Jim Inhofe took part in a live pigeon shoot event. Shark/YouTube

A US senator took part in a fundraising event in which a thousand pigeons were released into the air to be shot down by attendees, raising the ire of animal rights activists.

Republican Jim Inhofe, 79, was among a couple of dozen shotgun-wielding participants at the live pigeon shoot held in Lone Wolf in his home state of Oklahoma, earlier in September 2014.

The event was secretly recorded on camera by an undercover activist with the group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (Shark).

In the footage, Inhofe is seen aiming and firing at the birds from one of several shooting positions surrounding a gazebo from which a crew of volunteers flies pigeons into the sky one by one, while a live mariachi band plays in the background.

The event lasted almost three hours.

"Senator Inhofe's fundraiser was a disgusting and cowardly massacre wherein 1,000 innocent animals where abandoned, maimed, wounded and killed for causal entertainment," Shark's founder and president, Steve Hindi said.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said no laws were breached.

"Pigeons are one of the animals that are not really protected by federal law since they're non-migratory," captain Tony Woodruff said. "We're pretty liberal on our laws. We let people do quite a bit here."

The National Rifle Association (NRA), America's largest gun advocacy group, defended the event describing live pigeon shoots as a "traditional shooting sport".

A campaign spokesman for Inhofe confirmed the Senator took part in the event and said he shared NRA's view.

"Sen. Inhofe agrees with the [NRA] that this is a long-standing traditional shooting sport," Rusty Appleton told Fox News.