U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., today introduced the Sportsmanship in Hunting Act of 2008, which would crack down on the inhumane and unsportsmanlike practice of shooting tame, exotic animals trapped behind fences. The bill would prohibit the interstate commerce in exotic (non-native) mammals for the purpose of killing them for trophies or entertainment in fenced areas smaller than 1,000 acres.
“Shooting a tame animal trapped behind a fence is like shooting fish in a barrel,” said Michael Markarian, executive vice president for The Humane Society of The United States. “Animal advocates, hunters, and wildlife managers agree that these captive shoots are cruel, unsporting, and biologically reckless. We are grateful to Senator Lautenberg for working to put the lid on canned hunts.”
Captive shoots, which are also known as canned hunts, are held at private trophy hunting facilities where hunters pay to kill tame, captive, exotic animals — even endangered species — as guaranteed trophies, since the animals have no chance of escape. Animals on captive shooting facilities often come from private breeders, animal dealers and even zoos and circuses. Frequently, the animals have been hand-raised and bottle-fed, so they have lost their fear of people. Many hunting groups are critical of captive shoots because sportsmanship and fair chase are absent, and because transporting these animals across state lines can spread diseases to native wildlife populations.
“There is nothing sportsmanlike or skillful about shooting an animal that cannot escape. The idea of a defenseless animal meeting a violent end as the target of a canned hunt is, at the very least, distasteful to many Americans,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “Canned hunting is a form of brutality that has no place in our society.”
Senator Lautenberg has led the fight to stop canned hunts in previous sessions of Congress. A House version of the bill, H.R. 3829, was introduced in October by U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn, and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.
- Captive shoots are illegal or restricted in 23 states. The HSUS tracks individual state statutes and regulations, which are viewable at humanesociety.org/cannedhuntsmap.
- Although advertised under a variety of names — most frequently “game ranches” or “shooting preserves” — captive shoots violate the hunting community’s standard of “fair chase” by confining animals to cages or fenced enclosures.
- The animals in captive shooting facilities are bred in captivity, purchased from animal dealers, or, in some cases, retired from roadside zoos and circuses, so they do not fear contact with humans and make easy targets.