New York Gov. Pataki Vetoes Canned Hunt Legislation

Despite lobbying efforts by a number of animal rights groups, New York Gov. George Pataki (R) vetoed legislation designed to outlaw so-called canned hunts.

In 1999, Pataki signed a bill that made it illegal to hold canned hunts on areas of ten acres or less. Not surprisingly, this had led to no less than 110 canned hunt operations in New York located on 11 or more acres.

The legislation vetoed by Pataki would have banned (emphasis added),

. . . the shooting or spearing of a non-native big game mammal that is confined in a box, pen, cage or similar container [of ten or less contiguous acres] or in a fenced or other area from which there is no means for such mammal to escape;

Animal rights activists denounced the veto.

In a press release, Humane Society of the United States senior vice president Wayne Pacell said,

Governor Pataki has embarrassed himself with this appalling veto of a bill to stop the repugnant practice of shooting animals for a fee in fenced enclosures. The animal protection community in New York will long remember his pardon of animal abusers and his rebuke of humane advocates.

Michael Markarian, The Fund for Animals president, added,

Governor Pataki has thumbed his nose at New Yorkers, including animal advocates, hunters, and upstate newspapers that called for passage of this humane bill. He has aligned himself with the handful of unscrupulous individuals who would pay big bucks to shoot a zebra ambling up to a feed truck or a Corsican ram trapped in the corner of a fence.

Pataki, meanwhile, said that the bill would not only have applied to the 110 canned hunt operations operating on more than 10 acres, but also would have banned 340 deer and elk farms throughout the state.

Supporters of the bill said that last part was nonsense, which puts the activists in a very odd position. For example, here’s a paragraph from a press release put out by The Fund for Animals addressing the issue of whether or not deer and elk farms would have been impacted,

Governor Pataki mistakenly believes that a ban on canned hunts would devastate white-tailed deer farms. The legislation is consistent with the current law which only deals with non-native mammals, and does not change the current exemption for domestic game breeders who raise white-tailed deer and have shoots on their properties. The bill would not apply to bird shooting preserves — only to operations offering the shooting of non-native big game mammals. Moreover, the bill memo indicated that it had no fiscal implications for state or local governments.

Hmmm . . . so The Fund for Animals’ position is that shooting a zebra at close range in enclosed space is inhumane, but screw the native deer and elk species? I’m just not following the logic there. Shouldn’t The Fund for Animals response to Pataki be that hunting deer and elk in enclosed spaces is cruel and that Pataki should want to outlaw the practice? The “don’t worry, we don’t care if you kill deer or elk” line is a bit strange coming from an animal rights group. Especially so since The Fund for Animals’ Dora Schomberg issued a brief press release about the veto that among other things claimed,

Governor Pataki may attempt to masquerade as an animal advocate by occasionally signing some non-controversial legislation to protect dogs or cats, but his decision to veto this much-needed legislation will result in untold suffering for wild animals and it reveals that he is not a genuine advocate of humane treatment.

So Pataki is not a genuine advocate because he only favors cats and dogs, while we’re supposed to believe The Fund is even though it hangs out deer and elk to dry? Could we see just a little consistency from these groups on occasion?

The full text of the vetoed legislation can be read here.


Pataki Endorses Cruel Treatment of Wildlife–Governor Vetoes Popular Canned Hunt Bill. Press Release, The Fund for Animals, August 27, 2003.

Activists out to can hunt. Amy Sacks, New York Daily News, September 13, 2003.

New York Governor Pataki Betrays the Animals. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, August 28, 2003.

New York Governor Pataki Endorses Cruel Treatment of Wildlife. Press Release, Dora Schomberg, The Fund for Animals, August 27, 2003.

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