Tame Animals Killed in ‘Canned Hunts’

| 11/30/2010 12:04:25 PM

Tags: hunting, animals, animal rights, ethics, Audubon, Change.org, environment, Keith Goetzman,

If hunting is largely about the thrill of the chase, “canned hunts” don’t offer much opportunity for thrill: In these increasingly popular pay-to-shoot events, hunters kill tame or semi-tame animals that have been put in enclosures. Audubon columnist Ted Williams describes the phenomenon in “Real Hunters Don’t Shoot Pets” in the magazine’s November-December issue:

Canned hunts are great for folks on tight schedules or who lack energy or outdoor skills. Microchip transponder implants for game not immediately visible are available for the [game farm] proprietor whose clients are on really tight schedules. And because trophies are plied with drugs, minerals, vitamins, specially processed feeds, and sometimes growth hormones, they are way bigger than anything available in the wild. Often the animals have names, and you pay in advance for the one you’d like to kill, selecting your trophy from a photo or directly from its cage.

Canned hunts are hardly new. Williams first wrote about them for Audubon in 1992, but he notes that they have grown more popular, and their critics increasingly include not just animal-rights advocates but also ethical hunters who consider fair chase essential to the sport and its reputation.

Because the general public has scant understanding of canned hunting, it frequently doesn’t differentiate it from real hunting. “If we don’t protect our image, we may not have a heritage,” says the Colorado Wildlife Federation’s treasurer and board member, Kent Ingram, a leader in the recent well-fought but failed battle to ban canned hunts in the state.

Other states have banned them, namely Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. In 2009, Vermont and Tennessee banned new canned mammal hunts but allowed existing ones to keep operating. In November, North Dakotans voted down a proposed law to ban canned mammal hunts.

Of course, bans without firm enforcement and prosecution don’t mean much, as one Minnesota incident demonstrates. Troy Gentry of the country duo Montgomery Gentry shot a docile captive bear named Cubby at the Minnesota Wildlife Connection game farm in 2004, and as the online activist platform Change.org reports:

Gentry was charged with a felony but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of falsely registering the tag from the hunt. He was fined $15,000 and not allowed to hunt in Minnesota for five years. The taxidermied body of Cubby and the bow used to kill Cubby were taken from Gentry.

This isn’t the first time Minnesota Wildlife Connection’s owner Lee Greenly has been in trouble with the law. He has several previous felony charges for wildlife-related crimes under his belt, but avoided convictions. For his role in Cubby’s death, Greenly pleaded guilty to two felony charges—yet somehow walked away with only probation.

To see what canned hunting looks like, check out the following two-part video of Gentry’s bear kill. It was posted on YouTube last month after being obtained by the animal-rights group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness in a three-year lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The narrator’s snide tone is understandable but unnecessary, since the images pretty clearly speak for themselves:

Source: Audubon 

Rex Tyler
9/18/2012 3:26:24 PM


Max Pando
12/16/2011 10:01:17 AM

I wish non-hunters realized how often hunting results in this type of cruelty and prolonged suffering, whether on a high-fence hunt or other. Not only is archery is notorious for long "bleed out" times (read any archery magazine to understand these standard practices) but it's also responsible for a high injury/loss rate of animals. Waterfowl hunting is estimate to injure at least 1 bird for every four killed and retrieved. That means, millions of ducks and geese are injured and crippled by hunters each year, never collected, and left to die of their injuries. Hunters and hunting groups have a powerful and effective PR machine in place to convince non-hunters of the nobility of the sport. I spend a lot of time in hunting areas and will tell you that the reality matches nothing close to what you are led to believe. The sad part is, most of the practices take place in the field, far from view from the average person, and witnessed only by fellow hunters who rarely if ever tell (truthfully) what happens among their friends.

Linda Mahoney
4/11/2011 1:34:48 PM

Are these really men of human beings that can do this? How do they sleep at night. It's like calling your dog over for a treat and blowing it away. You should all be disgusted. And there should be laws against this criminal behavior! SHAME ON YOU!!!

1/3/2011 2:44:24 PM

I knew Cubby. He took marshmallows from my mouth and I always felt safe with him. I remember when this happened and it broke my heart. I understand why Lee chose to sell the right to kill Cubby to Gentry, but it feels like the ultimate betrayal considering how good that bear was to Lee and his family...his business.

Alexandra Dodd
12/3/2010 2:02:35 AM

My mind boggles and stomach turns when I read about this sick sport. It turns me off my fellow human beings and reduces my lust for life on this planet when I read about such unimaginable trickery and cruelty. What part of themselves have these hunters shut down on? How have they managed to suppress their consciences with such appalling success? What world do we live in where people use their completely unfair advantage on creatures that cannot speak or fight back to mercilessly slaughter them and get a kick out of the action? Why do these people even believe that they are so separate and above and distinct from animals that they are able to perform such heartless acts? Would they do the same to other human beings, who are also just living, breathing beings trying to make a way on this planet? Why do people get a thrill from killing other living beings? It twists my mind to even think of it. Why even poison a snail? What is the point of the pleasure these people derive from this cruelty -- watching a creature suffer and die as a result of their 'fun', their 'sport'? It makes my blood pressure drop, sucks the vitality from my body when I read about this. The image of that dying bear will remain in my head -- a haunting. And it will make me less happy to be human because I share the same genetic code as these mind-warped war mongers who shoot and kill our animal kin and lessen the profound diversity of our blessed planet earth. Namaste, namaste, namaste...

12/2/2010 9:18:25 AM

Like Occum, I also grew up in a hunting culture and family. Gave me a fantastic appreciation of wild space and I love having hunting breed dogs as pets (coonhounds). I also find this kind of hunting repellent. It has little or nothing to do with the real hunting experience and risks a hunter should face. I call this environment "shooting for city folks" and I do think it is an outgrowth of our urbanization, lack of exposure to wildlife and the wilds. however, it's doing the issue a great disservice to characterize these animals as "tame". A wild animal can never be tamed, it can only be acclimated to the presence of humans. Our anthropomorphizing of cute animals leads us to drastically underestimate their destructive power. Raccoons, the cute little bandits in your trash can could shred your face in short order and put you in intensive care. they're smart, powerful, and vicious not to mention a great rabies carrier. Other bigger animals are even more destructive. These farms should be shut down if for no other reason than they give city people significantly misleading understanding of animals and what hunting is.

11/30/2010 5:39:36 PM

I grew up in a gun/hunting family and culture. Although I don't hunt anymore I appreciate the sport and attachment to millions of years of a craft that provided food for families and tribes. That said, I can not understand the need or excitement in taking an animal in such a manner. We have a friend who was enchanted by a deer who came to feed in his backyard all summer (he supplied the food) only to delight the day hunting season opened to take a twenty foot kill shot at what was practically a pet. Not to be sarcastic but under those conditions I DO support the right to arm bears.