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Legislation Introduced to Crack Down on Captive Hunting

New statewide poll reveals strong opposition to captive hunting among Illinois voters

The Humane Society of the United States praised Illinois Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, for introducing House Bill 3118, legislation to crack down on captive hunting facilities – fenced enclosures where animals are trapped and shot for guaranteed trophies. HB 3118 would place a moratorium on any new captive hunt facilities for native mammals from opening in the state.

“The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to Rep. Burke for introducing this important legislation to crack down on these appalling pay-to-play shooting operations,” said Kristen Strawbridge, Illinois state director for The HSUS. “Illinois hunters and non-hunters alike agree that there is nothing sporting about shooting an animal trapped behind a fence. The HSUS urges the House to quickly pass this bill and protect our native wildlife from disease by preventing any more of these operations from opening in our state.”

A recent statewide survey, conducted Feb. 21-23 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., shows that a strong majority of Illinois voters are opposed to captive hunting. Statewide, 68 percent believe that captive hunts of native mammals, such as white-tailed deer, are unsporting and give the shooter an unfair advantage over the animals. Additionally, a solid majority, 56 percent, support a complete prohibition on captive hunts in the state.  


  • Captive hunts are generally reviled by the hunting community nationwide for violating the principle of fair chase. Hunting groups such as the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club, which maintain trophy records for big game hunting, will not consider animals shot at captive hunts for inclusion on their record lists.
  • At more than 1,000 commercial captive hunt operations in the United States, trophy hunters pay to shoot native and exotic mammals – from zebra to endangered scimitar-horned Oryx – confined in fenced enclosures. 
  • Many of the animals on these ranches have become accustomed to humans, making them easy targets for shooters.
  • The high densities that characterize captive hunts can greatly increase the risk of diseases, such as tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal, incurable disease that infects deer and other cervids, has been found in 22 states, including Illinois. In 13 of the states the disease has been found in captive populations.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease can cost taxpayers millions of dollars in response efforts – the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has spent more than $35 million since 2002 fighting the disease.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson, 301-721-6463, ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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