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South Africa is Banning Hunting?

In what is perhaps the most misleading headline of all time, "South Africa to Ban Hunting of Animals" (AP) tells us that South Africa has passed legislation that will make it illegal to hunt lions and other big cats who were bred in captivity and then released into a "controlled environment." In other words, they’re banning canned hunts, which should have been illegal already.

Canned hunting is when you kill an animal that has been set up to be there, on the other end of your gun. Sometimes they won’t even try to run from you and all you have to do is pull the trigger. Wow–that’s some workout, eh? And so sportsman-like. It takes a real man. Unfortunately, canned hunting operations are all over the US. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) there are 1,000+ places to kill animals in 28 states.

How does it all happen? Breeders create exotic mammals and sell them to animal dealers, game parks, zoos, circuses, and hunt operators who also trade them amongst themselves. Sometimes they get the animals from auctions (remember the Catskill Game Farm?). And sometimes, zoos sell their surplus animals to canned hunting preserves directly, or through middlemen (even the National Zoo in Washington, DC, which is part of the Smithsonian, has done this, according to the HSUS).

The incredibly athletic hunters then plunk down a huge wad of cash to go to a confined area where the animals are kept. Sometimes they are set up to be killed at the time of their feeding, when they’re walking toward a familiar human. Bang.

The folks at Wildlife Protection tell the story of a guide who drove a client-"hunter" to the path of a Black Hawaiian Ram, at which point the "hunter" shot the Ram with an arrow at point-blank range in the ass and wounded him. The "hunter" didn’t want to shoot the Ram in the head, because that would have spoiled his trophy. The "hunter" repeatedly shot the Ram with arrows, and the Ram took four, excruciatingly-painful minutes to die.

For those of you brave "hunter" types who don’t like traveling or getting out of your car, you can also kill animals by remote-controlled hunting, over the Internet. Yes, you can aim and fire a weapon from the warmth and safety of your own home (after you’ve signed up and paid a fee for the particular animal you’d like to kill. Basically, you look at a menu and place your order.) The trophy mount is prepared and shipped right to your door, so there’s no mess or hassle for you.

Naturally, Internet hunting is perfectly legal here in Florida, where we’ve yet to meet a creature we didn’t want to annihilate. Does your state have a law against it?

For more, including video clips of a Lioness and her cubs being shot (although I’m not sure why you’d want to see that), and ways you can help (that’s more like it), go to Big Cat Rescue.

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