From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1999:

LONDON––Acknowledging that the
public no longer tolerates thrill-killing, even
thinly disguised, the Arizona Game and Fish
Commission on September 11 voted 3-2 for a
new state regulation stating, “A person or
group shall not participate in, promote, or
solicit participation in any organized hunting
contest for killing predatory animals, fur-bearing
animals, or nongame mammals.”
The newly adopted ban on mammalkilling
contests evolved from outrage erupting
in early 1998 over a “Predator Hunt Extreme”
promoted by two hunters who wanted to knock
down populations of pumas, coyotes, foxes,
and bobcats so as to have less competition in
killing deer and pronghorn.

Offering a $10,000 grand prize, the
“Predator Hunt Extreme” was cancelled after
Kirk Robinson of the Predator Education Fund
brought it to the attention of the Fund for
Animals, Animal Protection Institute, Animal
Defense League of Arizona, and other groups
who amplified awareness of it nationwide.
When the Arizona Game and Fish
Department said it had no authority to stop the
“Predator Hunt Extreme” under existing state
rules, the coalition demanded a rules change.
Alarmed, the Game and Fish Department finally
did get the “Predator Hunt Extreme” promoters
to back off, but by then public opinion had
already shifted in favor of halting a l l k i l l i n g
contests––also including so-called varmint
hunts and prairie dog shoots.
“This is the first time the Arizona
Game and Fish Commission has sided with the
non-hunting public against hunters,” commented
API wildlife programs director Camilla Fox.
“Of the 11,927 comments received by the
Commission, 10,702 were in support of the
complete ban as enacted.”
The Arizona killing contest ban was
the third hard rebuke of recreational thrillkillers
in as many months. Staunchly pro-hunting
New York governor George Pataki on July
12 signed a bill into law which forbids hunting
captive-raised wildlife within enclosures of less
than 10 acres. Then, on August 17, longtime
Hegins pigeon shoot chairperson Bob Tobash
cancelled the scheduled 66th annual Labor Day
bird massacre rather than risk prosecution for
cruelty, as was permitted by a July 22
Pennsylvania Supreme Court verdict which
held that the Pennsylvania SPCA could bring
charges against him and all shoot participants.
In each instance, both pro-hunting
and anti-hunting partisans emphasized the symbolic
importance of the actions.
Argued Arizona Game and Fish
Commission member Dennis Manning, who
was one of the two holdouts against the killing
contest ban, “This is far more important than
predator contests. This is an attack by antihunting
Agreed hunter Peter Cimellaro, from
the floor, “They want us off the land, they
want us out of business, and they won’t rest
until they do that.”
The issues, as described by either
side, were whether hunters or all Arizona citizens
are the Game and Fish Commission’s

proper constituency, and whether the interest of
hunters in having abundant targets should supersede
the public interest in maintaining biodiversity, predators
In New York, the issue seemed to be simply
whether hunters should give an inch to anyone on
anything. Pataki and state conservation council president
Howie Cushing warned more confrontational
hunting advocates that not opposing canned hunts and
other unethical practices would further erode the
already waning public support for hunting.
New York Department of Environmental
Conservation spokesperson Jennifer Post, on the
other hand, sought to portray the new law as essentially
meaningless. Post said she was unaware of any
facilities that would be affected.
Longtime New York City foe of so-called
canned hunts John Richard agreed. “It doesn’t protect
the animals it is intended to protect, and it’s basically
a smoke screen so that Albany can say, look,
we took care of the animal rights activists,” he told
Joel Stashenko of Associated Press.
But the New York state legislature and
Pataki have rarely before conceded any need to take
care of animal rights activists, and never before did
on a hunting bill.
In Hegins, Tobash fumed, “We will not
give one person from Philadelphia the opportunity to
enforce his private version of the Pennsylvania animal
cruelty laws, which for the past 100 years,” he
insisted, “have been interpreted to allow the shooting
of pigeons.”
Tobash didn’t mention, however, that
before July 22 the interpreting was always limited to
courts in Schuykill County.

Tally ho!
British prime minister Tony Blair on July 8
rekindled hope that his Labour Party government will
honor a 1996 pledge to abolish fox hunting by telling
a live BBC-1 audience that it would be done before
the next election. Polls consistently find that twothirds
to three-fourths of the British public disapproves
of fox hunting, while even surveys done for
the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance show no less
than 47% would make fox hunting a criminal offense.
Within two weeks, however, Blair backed
off, as he also did in 1997, keeping fox hunting off
the official Labour agenda and failing to support a
private member’s anti-fox hunting bill. No official
Labour bill to stop fox hunting was on the calendar
when Parliament reconvened after a summer recess.
Wrote London Sunday Times political analyst
Maurice Chittenden, “Blair has said there will be
a free vote on hunting,” if and when a bill is introduced,
“but the large majority of Labour members is
likely to mean a ‘yes’ vote in the House of Commons
for a ban. There will be far more opposition in the
House of Lords,” where Conservatives dominate.
Blair may be hoping a long pending proposed
reduction of the voting peerage by as much as
90% will strengthen the anti-fox hunting position.
But the issue crosses party lines. “Lord
Winston, the leading expert on infertility, has joined
[other Labour peers]” in fighting a fox hunting ban,
Chittenden noted. Commons Conservative leader
William Hague meanwhile removed shadow home
secretary Ann Widdecombe from the debate after she
called hunting “morally indefensible in a modern,
humane society.”
The newly formed Scottish Parliament
meanwhile could ban fox hunting in Scotland as early
as two years before a ban could take effect in
England. “Feeling in the Scottish Parliament is so
strong on the subject that I’m certain our bill will sail
through,” said Mike Watson, Labour member for
Glasgow Cathcart, who introduced a bill to ban not
only fox hunting but also hare coursing and lurching
(hunting with dogs on foot) on September 1. His bill
was immediately seconded by Tricia Marwick, member
for Mid Scotland and Fife.
Berwickshire huntmaster Jeremy Whaley
predicted that as many as 1,000 riders at a time would
defy a hunting ban. Australian and South African
hunt clubs indicated tha they might set up tours to
lucratively attract visits by British and Scots hunters.

The commonality among the symbolic
issues, from Arizona to England, is that they involve
“the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable,” as
Oscar Wilde described fox hunting in 1893, and as
might be said of killing contests, canned hunts, and
pigeon shoots too.
There is no pretense even by the hunters
that these activities are undertaken to get meat:
scarcely anyone eats predators, prairie dogs, or the
pigeons shot at events like the one at Hegins, and the
price of killing even a small deer or boar at a canned
hunt may exceed the typical American family’s meat
budget for several months.
The predator killing is usually rationalized
as predator control, to help keep “meat” species
abundant. But killing prairie dogs and other “small
game” only obliges predators to prey more heavily on
livestock, deer, and “big game.”
Circular reasoning invoked in support of an
obsession is a distinguishing trait of vice. Where
there is vice, there are purveyors.
Confirming that point, wrote London Daily
T e l e g r a p h correspondent Bruce Johnston in a recent
dispatch from Rome, “The Naples Mafia has
branched out into a new business: the organized
shoot. Along the Littorale Domiziano, the flat
coastal plain north of Naples, any day of the year is
open season and virtually any bird is fair game. The
guns supplied are likely to have been stolen and previously
used on people. The gamekeepers are likely
to have criminal records [not unlike British game –
keepers, who are the persons most often prosecuted
lately for poisoning and shooting protected wild raptors.

The ‘guardians of the system,’ as the
Camorra’s gamekeepers are called, may even procure
for shooting parties the services of Third World prostitutes,
for a slight increase in the package price.”
The hunters’ accommodations are
arranged, Johnston confirmed, so that they can
excite themselves by shooting tame or baited waterfowl
out their bedroom windows.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.