Animal Writes
From 15 February 2004 Issue

VP Uses Air Force Two to go Hunting!
By John Goodwin, HSUS, Humane Activist Network
Submitted by Michelle Rivera and Reprinted with permission--
(first appeared in Memphis Animal Times, January 2004)

Vice President Dick Cheney went pheasant shooting recently but unlike most of his fellow hunters across America, he didn't have to spend hours or even days tramping the fields and hedgerows in hopes of bagging a brace for the dinner table. Shortly before he and his hunting party arrived at the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township, gamekeepers released 500 pen-raised pheasants and Cheney brought down more than 70 birds. During the morning shooting spree, his group killed 417 of the exotic Asian ringnecks with their beautiful iridescent feathers and 20-inch tails. After lunch, they spent the afternoon shooting mallard ducks, also produced as a crop to be "harvested" like so many live skeet.

Rolling Rock is an exclusive private club for the wealthy with a world class golf course and a closed membership list. It is also a "canned hunt" operation, a place where you can blast away to your heart's content at confined birds and animals with kills guaranteed or your money back.

As the fall hunting seasons draw to a close, many hunters dedicated to traditional outdoor field craft and shooting skill will get their deer, elk, pheasant or turkey. Some will go home empty handed. Others will patronize canned hunts to kill half-tame, human-habituated native game or exotic animals as they stroll up to a feeder. Like Vice President Cheney, some will shoot farm-raised pheasants that are about as wary as urban pigeons. It's essentially live target practice, as sporting as shooting birds in Pittsburgh's National Aviary.

Outdoor writer Ted Williams estimates that some 500,000 individual patronize canned-hunts at the nation's more than 4,000 shooting preserves. At many bird operations, flocks of pheasant, quail and other feathered game are tossed from towers toward shotguns arrayed below, or dizzied and disoriented before being placed in front of the hunters. Time Magazine reports that perhaps 2,000 are game ranches stocked with both exotic mammals and native wildlife. Some are surplus animals purchased from zoos, circuses, roadside menageries, safari parks, and wildlife dealers. Others are bred as raw material for this particularly repugnant form of trophy acquisition, to be shot and stuffed by would-be nimrods with the effrontery to call themselves "hunters." A total of 13 states have banned canned hunts as inhumane and unsporting.

For centuries, European blue-bloods have shot captive game in private hunting parks. The practice began in the United States some 30 years ago, driven by a variety of factors: habitat shrinking as sprawl proliferates; landowners posting their property against hunting; public lands becoming more crowded, not only with hunters but with campers, hikers, birders, photographers, and off-road-vehicle enthusiasts.

Canned hunting is an affront to human decency. There is a general public consensus against canned hunting, and in fact even most hunters oppose canned hunts according to a survey conducted by Field and Stream magazine.

Animal advocates can end canned hunting. It is time that we demand our elected officials take action to end this despicable behavior. Please write to Senator Bill Frist and ask him to take action to end canned hunting. Remind him that both animal advocates, and responsible hunters alike, object to killing penned animals.

Senator Bill Frist
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

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