BOOKS: Canned Hunts: Unfair at Any Price
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2001:
Canned Hunts: Unfair At Any Price
by Diana Norris, Norm Phelps, & D.J. Schubert
(with other Fund for Animals staff)
Fund for Animals (200 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019), 2001.
64 pages, paperback. $5.00. [May also be downloaded, for free,
“Canned hunts,” in which animals are raised and shot witbin
fenced bounds, present an ethical paradox.
Amounting almost literally to shooting fish in a barrel,
they belie the pretense of the participants to being “sportsmen.” At
larger facilities, the animals may be able to run and
hide–briefly–but they can’t run far, and the “guide” knows the
hiding places. Even the biggest canned hunt is much like an Easter
egg hunt, except that the object is dead animals instead of dyed
Yet canned hunts are less cruel than ordinary meat
production. Pheasants and other so-called game birds are
semi-factory-farmed, but fly free for at least a few seconds, while
the deer, boars, and other mammals most often killed at canned
hunts may enjoy almost natural lives.
Unlike most other meat-eaters, canned hunt participants
dispatch their own–if they do in fact eat the meat of the animals,
bagged either as trophies or for the sheer imagined thrill of killing
At this writing, canned hunts have just become controversial
in Britain, during an interlude in the long effort to ban fox
hunting, because the nationwide effort to find a safe means of
burying the corpses of cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs killed to
eradicate hoof-and-mouth disease has brought growing public awareness
that most of the 36 million pheasants raised for shooting each year
are routinely buried after dispatch, not eaten.
This year as many as 20,000 of the red deer who will be shot
in Scotland will also be buried uneaten, because deer too may carry
“It is more than a little embarrassing that many shooters
don’t eat the game they shoot,” commented Shooting Times editor
Soon after, the inveterate captive bird shooters of the
Royal Family began offering their dead pheasants and partridge for
sale in the Queen’s souvenir shop at Windsor Castle, along with
beef, pork, and lamb from the Royal herds.
If the meat is not eaten, canned hunts are just killing for
kicks. The difference between canned hunting and serial murder
becomes no more than the choice of victims–and the matter of
This is not the image that hunters want. More worrisome to
fish-and-wildlife agencies and wilderness hunting guides, canned
hunts stealing patronage from the more traditional forms of hunting
that underwrite the agencies and pay the guides. Therefore, much of
the hunting establishment has lately mobilized aganst canned hunts,
often using facts and arguments borrowed from the animal rights
In Montana, for instance, hunting guides in 2000 won
passage of Initiative 143, to ban “game farms.” The Montana
Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks is now prosecuting Big
Velvet Ranch owners Leonard Wallace, 60, and Pamela Wallace 58,
for “allowing the illegal shooting of alternative livestock…for a
fee.” The Wallaces pleaded innocent in late September 2001.
Kim and Cindy Kafka of the Diamond K Ranch and Pat and Connie
Corbett of the Yellowstone Game Ranch have meanwhile sued the state
of Montana, claiming that I-143 is unconstitutional.
In Arkansas, Circle S Farms owner Rick Short is pursuing a
similar effort, seeking to overturn an Arkansas Game and Fish
Commission ruling against allowing hunts for a fee within areas of
less than 500 acres.
At request of the Oregon Hunters Association, the Oregon
Fish and Wildlife Commission banned canned hunts of exotic species in
1999. In August 2001, the district attorney of Jefferson County,
Oregon, brought 51 misdemeanor counts against Clover Creek Ranch
owner Clark Crouch, of Ashwood, for allegedly continuing to sell
hunters the chance to shoot exotic species.
The North Carolina general assembly banned canned hunts back
in 1983. Now the state Wildlife Resources Commission is trying to
halt canned hunts that have been promoted despite the 1983 law by the
Chest-nut Hunting Lodge, of Taylorsville, and the Goldmine Hunting
Preserve, of Stansfield. A bill to legalize these two facilities,
introduced by state representative and admitted canned hunt patron
Toby Fitch (D-Wilson), cleared the North Carolina house in April
2001, and is now before the state senate.
Legislative attempts to expand canned hunting in New
Hampshire and Maine remain stalled.
In Canada, the Manitoba government in August 2001 reaffirmed
intent to ban canned hunts, but has yet to act; polls commisioned
by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in July 2001 showed that
more than 75% of Albertans oppose efforts to lift a canned hunt ban
in place since 1987; and Eastern Boar owners Wayne and Donna
Durning, of Great Village, Nova Scotia, are suing the Nova Scotia
Natural Resources Department for trying to enforce against them a
1996 anti-canned hunt regulation.
These developments are not included in Canned Hunts: Unfair
At Any Price, copyrighted in February 2001. More than half of the
volume, however, summarizes the relevant laws in each U.S. state.
An extensive introduction explains canned hunting practices and
arguments. Canned hunt foes, including anxious traditional hunters,
will wear out the paper covers.