Activists Complain about Mitt Romney’s Canned Hunt

Animal rights activists are up in arms after Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney bagged some quail on a hunting trip while on a trip to Georgia.

According to the Boston Herald,

. . . the political outing backfired when it was revealed the birds had been fenced in.

Humane Society of the United States’ Michael Markarian complained about Romney hunting at the Cabin Bluff animal preserve, telling the Boston Herald,

Many of these private hunting preserves are basically providing drive-through killing animal opportunities. These animals are often tamed and bred on the property, fed by people and accustomed to people. They have no chance of escape. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokeswoman Jennifer McClure told the Boston Herald,

Stalking and shooting animals is a cowardly, violent form of recreation, and if Romney wants to keep his political career alive, then he should stop supporting this dying blood sport.

Right, because hunting really killed the careers of politicians such as George W. Bush and John F. Kerry.

Anyway, opponents of such animal preserves like to call them canned hunts or refer, as the Boston Herald does, to the fact that the animals are fenced in. But this sort of criticism is silly in the case of preserves like Cabin Bluffs which sits on no less than 45,000 acres.

That’s one incredibly large can.


Mitt under fire for hunt: Romney catches flak after quail kill. Dave Wedge, Boston Herald, January 5, 2006.

Hunting Over the Internet? I Say Go for It

Apparently the next big outrage after “canned” hunting are proposals to allow hunting over the Internet.

One John Underwood gained his 15 minutes of fame by claiming he was going to allow point-and-click hunting on his Texas ranch. Interested parties would pay a fee, log on, and presumably begin firing away remotely.

Frankly, the whole thing sounds like a bit of a hoax, but many people were outraged nonetheless. Lets assume it wasn’t a hoax — what is the big deal?

Assuming all Texas wildlife laws as far as permits, etc., are being followed how is it any more objectionable to log in to a website to kill an animal than it is to log on to a site like Fairbury Steaks and have parts of an animal carcass delivered to you overnight?

Its fascinating that most people seem to have no problem with either a) people taking guns and heading off into the woods and killing animals or, alternately, raising animals on farms to be slaughtered, or b) people buying carefully packaged animal flesh in pleasantly decorated supermarkets, but if you somehow start to blend the two, by combining hunting with the amenities and convenience of supermarkets, suddenly people cry to the heavens about the unjustness of it all.

And there’s inconsistency there as well. If its so horrible to hunt an animal in a confined space or do it remotely over the Internet, why aren’t most people regularly horrified at being able to simply select a lobster at a store or restaurant? Shouldn’t they demand that shoppers and diners give the lobster a “sporting” chance?


Point click and shoot. Lynda Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, March 10, 2005.

Fund for Animals Sues Pennsylvania Game Commission Over Boar Hunt

In January the Fund for Animals filed suit against the Pennsylvania Game Commission in an effort to stop the hunting of boars at the Tioga Hunting Preserve in Pennsylvania.

The Tioga Hunting Preserve is a 1,500 acre canned hunt operation that allows people to hunt boar, deer and elk at $500-$2,000 per animal. The web site for the preserve guarantees hunters that they will kill the animal of their choice in no more than two days.

In its lawsuit, the Fund for Animals argues that exotic boar, such as Russian and European boars, are “protected mammals” under Pennsylvania’s Game and Wildlife Code and so cannot legally be hunted.

In a press release announcing the lawsuit, Fund for Animals national director Heidi Prescott said,

Neither the Game and Wildlife Code nor the regulations of the PGC permit the canned shooting of wild boars. Although we have brought this to the attention of the PGC on several occasions and asked the agency to order the Tioga Preserve to stop offering canned hunts of protected mammals, the PGC has failed to take enforcement action.

In response to the lawsuit, Tioga Hunting Preserve spokesman Jerry Feaser told the Associated Press that the Pennsylvania Game Commission lacks jurisdiction over swine. Feaser told the Associated Press,

Let’s put it to you this way, for comparison. If I’m a farmer and I have some dairy cows, and I decide for some reason to allow some people to come in and shoot them, there’s nothing the Game Commission can do.

This is not the first time that the issue of whether or not the PGC has jurisdiction over boars has come up. The PGC blames another canned hunt operation, Big Mike’s Hunting and Fishing Preserve, for allowing wild boards to escape from its grounds where they have caused numerous problems for wildlife and residents.

The PGC wants all the boars at Big Mike’s killed, but maintains that under existing law it only has jurisdiction over native species. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture maintains jurisdiction over non-native species, but its jurisdiction extends only to certifying wild boars as healthy and free of disease. What happens to wild boar after they are brought to Pennsylvania currently falls through the gaps of both group’s jurisdiction.


Fund for Animals goes to Pennsylvania court to put the lid on “canned hunt.” Press release, Fund for Animals, January 14, 2004.

Game officials say wild boar problems continue in western Pa.. Associated Press, November 2, 2003.

Game Commission sued over regulation of boar hunts. Associated Press, January 15, 2004.

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.

New York State Senate S2375-A Canned Hunt Bill




2003-2004 Regular Sessions


March 4, 2003

Introduced by Sens. PADAVAN, MALTESE, TRUNZO -- read twice and ordered
printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Environ-
mental Conservation -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered
reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee

AN ACT to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to the
prohibition on canned shoots

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
bly, do enact as follows:

1 Section 1. Subparagraphs 3 and 4 of paragraph a of subdivision 1 of
2 section 11-1904 of the environmental conservation law, as added by chap-
3 ter 208 of the laws of 1999, are amended to read as follows:
4 (3) the shooting or spearing of a non-native big game mammal that is
5 confined in a box, pen, cage or similar container [of ten or less
6 contiguous acres] or in a fenced or other area from which there is no
7 means for such mammal to escape;
8 (4) the deliberate release of a non-native big game mammal that is
9 confined in a box, pen, cage or similar container [of ten or less
10 contiguous acres] or in a fenced or other area from which there is no
11 means for such mammal to escape in the presence of any person who is, or
12 will be, shooting or spearing such non-native big game mammal.
13 § 2. This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeed-
14 ing the date on which it shall have become a law.

Heidi Prescott Speaks for Hunters Now?

In August, the Fund for Animals unsuccessfully campaigned for New York Governor George Pataki to sign a bill that would have outlawed canned hunts in that state.

Now the last time I checked, the Fund for Animal was opposed to all hunting and, in fact, publishes delusional materials claiming things like “the end of hunting is in sight” (interesting, then, that the Fund spends so much time trying to stop the creation of new hunting seasons). So it was a bit odd, then, to see the Fund’s Heidi Prescott attempting to speak for hunters in urging Pataki to sign the canned hunt bill. In a Fund press release, Prescott said,

The hunter’s concept of ‘fair chase’ includes free-ranging animals who live in the wild without enclosures. New York’s state legislators, by a two-to-one margin, understood this and wisely voted to pass the bill. We hope that Governor Pataki will also represent New Yorkers around the state and sign the bill into law.

Prescott’s been pushing this “we’re really most concerned about those unethical hunters over there” line with not a whole lot of success — it certainly didn’t seem to sway Pataki.


Undercover Investigator Steps Forward In Favor Of Law To Ban Unsporting “Canned Shoots”. Press Release, Fund for Animals, August 6, 2003.