What is Internet hunting?
Internet hunting—also called remote controlled hunting—utilizes Internet technology to allow a computer user to hunt large game and exotic animals from their own home. The controversial practice originated in San Antonio, Texas, with the launching of the website Live-Shot.com, which allowed hunters to shoot animals with the click of a mouse for a fee. Computer users aim and fire a weapon that is mounted on a mechanized tripod at a remote location—usually a game ranch where exotic animals are kept penned and shot at close range.
The customer signs up through the website and pays a user fee and deposit for the animal he or she wishes to kill. The animal is lured to a feeding station within range of the mounted rifle. At one facility, the animals are fed at the same time and place each day by people to whom they have become accustomed. When the animal approaches the appointed place at the appointed time, the desktop hunter uses the computer mouse to line up the crosshairs and fire the rifle. A single click of the mouse shoots the animal. Trophy mounts are prepared at the ranch and shipped to the customer.
How much does it cost?
An Internet hunting session usually costs more than $1,500. The final cost will depend on the species and size of the animal killed and the cost of mounting the trophy.
Do most hunters support Internet hunting?
This practice bears no resemblance to traditional hunting. Even pro-hunting groups denounce Internet hunting because it violates the ideals of a "fair chase." Kelly Hobbs of the National Rifle Association states, "The NRA has always maintained that fair chase, being in the field with your firearm or bow, is an important element of hunting tradition. Sitting at your desk in front of your computer, clicking at a mouse, has nothing to do with hunting." Even Safari Club International, a group dedicated to hunting large and exotic trophy animals, agrees that Internet hunting "...doesn't meet any fair chase criteria."
John Lockwood, the founder of Live-Shot.com, claimed the operation was intended to provide disabled individuals with the opportunity to hunt, but the Texas legislature did not buy it and promptly outlawed Internet hunting in state. The website has since been removed.
Is it legal?
The HSUS has been active in advocating for legislation to combat Internet hunting. So far it has been banned in 38 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Is it still happening?
Not at the moment. We were effective in putting a stop to the practice as soon as it appeared. It is possible that Internet hunting may yet take hold in other states or other countries.
The interstate and international nature of the worldwide Web necessitates federal legislation—as well as laws in the states where it is still permitted—to put a permanent end to the travesty of Internet hunting. The creator of the now-defunct Texas website has already indicated the desire to see Internet hunting move offshore.