Monday night on Animal Planet Investigates, four undercover members of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) captured footage behind the scenes inside 3 canned hunting (sometimes called captive hunting) facilities, two in New York State and one in Texas. They also were able to go into an exotic animal auction, where the animals being auctioned off are destined to the life of confinement, thousands of miles away from their homeland (Africa, Australia, to name a few) and inevitably hand-picked and killed at point blank range for a very high price to end up as a trophy on someones wall.
In NYS there are at least a dozen canned hunt facilities, these animals are contained behind fences and fed by humans, they are not in the wild by any means (free to roam and act according to natural instincts) and have no fear of humans (they are damn near domesticated) and in one of the shots collected by the investigators, they do not even flinch the slightest bit when a high-powered gun in shot just feet away from them. They captured footage of water Buffalo, laying within 200 feet of a hunting blind (a big wooden box that hunters sit inside of to await their prey) and exotic goats from the mountains of Canada and other animals, not only not native to the ground they are standing on, but also some are on the endangered species list. The price of shooting these animals can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
There are no federal laws which prohibit canned hunting and, investigators learned at one of the NYS facilities that you do not need to possess a hunting license to hunt on the private land of a canned hunting facility. In fact, there is a law about setting up feeding stations for deer etc, by hunters, but that law also is exempt (it seems) from a canned hunting facility. The feeding stations were within 25 yards of the hunting blinds to make a clear “easy shot” a possibility for the hunters.
The animals there were docile, they approached the humans around them, some being hand fed by the workers and being pet by the undercover investigators. The owner of one facility pointed to a kangaroo in a small fenced in area and explained that there was already a “buyer” for it, he said “This one has a bounty on his head.”
One of the canned hunting facility owners talked about how many (hundreds) of animals he has sedated in the past month. He keeps syringes in his vehicle so that he can inject an animal with a drug to slow them down to make the hunt easier. Back in his office, the hidden camera panned over the walls filled with mounted and stuffed animal heads, as the man explained to the investigators that these are all “accidental overdoses”–they were all mistakes. He had given them too much of the sedating drug, thus causing their deaths.
I am hoping this will be replayed soon on animal planet and also on youtube so everyone who missed it can see for themselves. Near the end of the episode the members of the HSUS went to Washington, DC to show congressmen the footage they captured. One viewed the footage with a look of shock and sadness, actually flinching at some of the scenes. He wasn’t aware that these things were going on.
There are an estimated 2000 canned hunting facilities in the United States. There is really no exact count because they are not regulated. They can be quite large or smaller scaled. The trafficking trade is also astounding. The auction house was full of people trying to get their hands on these exotic animals that poachers have brought into this country to make thousands of dollars on.
Here is part of message from HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle:
“Congress is considering a bill, H.R. 2210, that cracks down on this cruel industry where exotic animals are shot for trophies, and we need your support.
Please make a brief, polite call today to Representative Paul D. Tonko (202) 225-5076 urging co-sponsorship of H.R. 2210. And don’t forget to send a follow-up message. Thank you for helping us put a stop to this cruel industry.”