Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” If this is true, the proliferation of canned hunting facilities is a glaring example of our nation’s moral regress.
Canned hunting facilities, also known as hunting ranches or trophy ranches, are acreages enclosed by high, game-proof fences. For a fee, “hunters” can kill the animals held captive there. The facilities range in size from ten acres to several hundred acres. It is estimated that there are currently over 4,000 hunting ranches in the United States.
Many of these facilities offer a “no-kill, no-fee” policy. Animals in these facilities range from domestic species of game birds, deer and elk, to exotic species such as Russian boar, wildebeest, and zebra. Hunters of all skill levels are welcome and offered a choice of weapons; guns, bow and arrow, and in some cases, spears.
Some facilities offer guides who will go out on ATVs, find the quarry, and drive the animals into the line-of-sight of the hunters. In other cases, tree stands or blinds are set up near feeding stations-you simply wait for the species of your choice to walk by. In some facilities, the animals are drugged.
Undercover video shot on an exotic game ranch in Oklahoma illustrates this practice in all of its gory detail. The video shows a hunter surrounded by a group of friends with leashed dogs. A truck comes into view pulling a trailer. A cage sits on the bed of the trailer and in the cage, a black leopard.
The truck stops about 15 feet in front of the hunter and the driver releases the black leopard. It is obviously sedated and has to be poked and prodded out of the cage. As soon as it hits the ground, the hunting party releases the dogs and the leopard takes refuge under the trailer. The hunter, who paid thousands of dollars for the opportunity to kill this “ferocious” beast, actually lies on his belly and shoots the trembling leopard as it tries to hide.
Canned hunting facilities have rightly outraged the animal protection community. How can this possibly be called hunting when there is no chance for the animal to escape? How can the phases “fair chase” and “guaranteed kill” be used in the same brochure? It is the reward of the hunt without doing the work. It is decadence brought to a new and grisly height.