A canned hunt is a trophy hunt which is not "fair chase", typically by having game animals kept in a confined area such as in a fenced ranch (i.e., "canned") to prevent the animals' escape and make tracking easier for the hunter, in order to increase the likelihood of the hunter obtaining a kill.
Canned hunting has been banned or restricted in 26 states of the United States, but at least 24 states still allow the horrific practice. Texas has the most game ranches, followed by Arizona, West Virgina, Tennessee and Ohio.
Exotic animals are kept on “hunting preserves” or “game ranches”, fenced in, usually tame and used to human contact, which makes the killing easier than in the wild.
These animals are acquired at exotic auctions all across the US, such as the Mt. Hope Auction in Ohio. When our investigators visited the sale, the parking lot was crowded with transport trucks from Texas, Missouri, West Virginia and Indiana. In the pen area, there were Zebras, Camels, Exotic Deer, Water Buffalos, Oryx, Gazelles, Impalas, Zebu, Watusi and Elk waiting for the highest bidder. Inside the barns were foxes, porcupines and all kind of exotic birds. Conditions at the sale are notoriously poor, with limited or no access to water.
While some of these animals end up at petting zoos and safari parks, some a snatched up by game ranches and offered to blood thirsty trophy hunters. The canned hunt is a very lucrative business, hunters pay between $3000 and $6000 for a water buffalo, $15,000 for a large size elk, $4000$6000 for an Oryx, $11,000 for an antelope and $20,000 for a Watusi. Our investigation showed that animals from Ohio mainly end up at hunting preserves in Texas and West Virgina. Our research also showed that several game farms do not even require a hunting license and allow bows, cross bows, pistols, rifles and shotguns to kill the animal. There is also no skill test – which can result in poor shots only wounding the animal resulting in increased suffering.
Once the animal has succumbed, the organizers offer convenient onsite butchering and taxidermy. Many of these hunters are regulars and amass a staggering number of trophies and proudly display them.
Where do these animals come from? Our investigations found that there are many farms in remote areas of Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania that specialize in raising exotic animals for the sole purpose of being hunted. These animals are often completely tame and used to human contact and feeding. Once they enter the game farm, they make for an unsuspecting and easy target. At a farm in Millersburg, OH, our investigators found Zebras grazing next to llamas and antelopes. A peaceful scenario, if there would not have been a camouflaged deer stand in the same pasture. The farm’s driveway advertised the availability of Camels, Zebras, Elk and Bison.
Canned hunting should no longer exist-for animal welfare and ethical reasons. Canned hunt operations cater to a few wealthy trophy hunters who exploit hand-raised game, zoo, and circus animals. Even many traditional hunters shun the practices of canned hunting facilities.
Unfortunately, there is currently no federal legislation pending aiming to ban canned hunts. We encourage you to contact your representatives, especially if you live in a state that allows canned hunts and urge them to take action. AA will continue to investigate this hidden industry and expose those that make a profit from this unethical trade.