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The HSUS Applauds Federal Lawmakers for Combating Inhumane Trophy Hunting Practices

Bill Would Stop Shooting of Live Animals Over the Internet and at Captive Exotic Ranches

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States applauded U.S. Reps. Steven Cohen, D-Tenn., Brad Sherman, D-Calif., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., for introducing legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday to ban Internet and captive hunting, practices considered inhumane and unfair by animal welfare advocates and hunting advocates. The Sportsmanship in Hunting Act of 2009, H.R. 2308, would prohibit the shooting of live animals remotely via the Internet, and will halt the interstate shipment of captive, exotic mammals for the sole purpose of being shot in a fenced enclosure for entertainment or for trophy.

When a Texas entrepreneur set up a Web site that allowed Internet users from around the world to pay a fee and shoot captive animals from their home computers, the public was outraged and a number of states banned the practice. But due to the interstate nature of the Internet, a federal remedy is needed to prevent the practice from resuming. The legislation would also end so-called "canned hunts" of exotic mammals — such as zebras and gazelles — bred in captivity and shot within fenced pens. It would not have any impact on the hunting of native or wild mammals, nor would it affect the hunting of any birds. 

"Shooting an animal thousands of miles away with the click of a mouse or the stroke of a keyboard, or shooting a tame zebra trapped in the corner of a fence, isn't hunting," said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of The HSUS. "The Humane Society of the United States is very grateful to Representatives Cohen, Sherman and Whitfield for introducing this important legislation, and we urge responsible hunters who care about sportsmanship and fair chase to join us in working toward its passage."

"Canned hunts are a cruel and unsporting practice of killing tame, exotic animals within the confines of an enclosure where the animals have no chance of escape," said Rep. Cohen. "It's contrary to principles of fair chase, sportsmanship and common decency, and I am confident that this Congress will support my legislation."

A map of states that have banned or restricted captive hunting is available here. A map of state laws on Internet hunting is available here.


  • At more than 1,000 commercial captive hunt operations in the U.S., trophy hunters pay to shoot exotic mammals — from zebra to blackbuck antelope — confined in fenced enclosures. A facility in Texas even allowed clients to kill animals remotely via the Internet. The prospective Web "hunters" signed up through a Web site, paid a fee and shot a rifle remotely with a click of the mouse.
  • Captive hunting ranches offer guaranteed trophies and typically advertise "no kill, no pay." The animals on these ranches have often been fed by hand and have little or no fear of humans, making them easy targets.
  • Twenty-four states have passed either a full or partial ban on captive hunts, and 38 states have banned hunting via the Internet.
  • In 2000, Montana voters approved a ballot initiative to ban captive hunting. The leading supporters of this campaign were lifelong hunters, including members of the Montana Wildlife Federation, the Montana Bowhunters Association and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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