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The HSUS Applauds Introduction of Federal Bill to Combat Captive Hunts

New undercover investigation to be shown on Animal Planet next week, highlighting need for federal law

The Humane Society of the United States commends U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and Brad Sherman, D-Calif., for introducing legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that cracks down on the inhumane and unsportsmanlike practice of shooting exotic animals penned inside fences. The Sportsmanship in Hunting Act of 2011, H.R. 2210, would prohibit the interstate transport of exotic (non-native) mammals for the purpose of killing them for trophies or entertainment in fenced areas smaller than 1,000 acres, and would also ban remote-controlled hunting offered via the Internet. Original cosponsors of the bill also include Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., George Miller, D-Calif., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I.

“There’s absolutely nothing sporting about hand-raising tame animals, trucking them across the country, drugging them, and shooting them inside fenced pens or from the comfort of your keyboard,” said Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund and chief operating officer of The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to Representatives Cohen and Sherman for introducing this important bill, and we urge responsible hunters and animal advocates alike to help put the lid on canned hunts.”

Captive hunts, which are also known as canned hunts, are held at private trophy hunting facilities where hunters pay to kill semi-tame, captive, exotic animals—even endangered species—as guaranteed trophies. Because the animals are fenced in, they have no chance of escape. Animals at captive shooting facilities often come from private breeders, animal dealers and even zoos and circuses. Many hunting groups are critical of captive hunts because sportsmanship and fair chase are absent, and because transporting these animals across state lines can spread diseases to native wildlife populations.

“Canned hunts are cruel and unsportsmanlike,” said Rep. Cohen, who has led the fight to stop captive hunts in previous sessions of Congress. “The practice of killing tame, exotic animals within the confines of an enclosure where the animals have no chance of escape is contrary to the principles of fair chase, sportsmanship and common decency. Captive hunts are out of step with common principles governing responsible hunting and should be banned.”

While many states have banned or restricted captive hunts, only Congress can deal with the interstate trade in exotic mammals, and help dry up the supply of captive exotic wildlife being funneled around the country for this purpose. The Sportsmanship in Hunting Act has no impact on the hunting of native wildlife or any birds. It only deals with the interstate commerce in exotic mammals for the purpose of captive hunts, and the use of the Internet for remote hunts.

A map of states that have banned or restricted captive hunting is available here.


  • On June 20, the series “Animal Planet Investigates” will air never-before-seen footage taken by undercover HSUS investigators at several captive hunt facilities, showing evidence of cruel and unsportsmanlike practices, including tranquilizing captive animals to make them more tame.
  • At more than 1,000 commercial captive hunt operations in the United States, trophy hunters pay to shoot exotic mammals — from zebra to endangered scimitar-horned Oryx — confined in fenced enclosures.
  • Captive hunting ranches offer guaranteed trophies and often advertise "no kill, no pay" policies.  
  • The animals on these ranches have frequently been bottle fed and have little or no fear of humans, making them easy targets for shooters.
  • Twenty-six states prohibit or restrict captive hunts.
  • 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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