Model Laws

Canned Hunts


Read Commentary


Sec. 1. Purpose

To make it unlawful to shoot, wound or kill animals on a canned hunting preserve. Canned hunts are particularly inhumane and unsporting, as animals do not have the opportunity to evade the hunter, thus nullifying the concept of "fair chase."


Sec. 2. Definitions

  • Animal: Any bird or mammal including exotic and native species, excluding native cervidae.
  • Canned Hunt: Any form of hunting where a native or exotic animal is kept in an area of confinement for the purpose of being stalked, chased or targeted for a kill by a hunter or hunters
  • Deadly Weapon: Any weapon that can kill. This includes not only weapons which are intended to do harm like a gun or knife, or bow and arrow but also blunt instruments like clubs, baseball bats, monkey wrenches, an automobile or any object which actually causes death.
  • Firearm: A weapon capable of firing a projectile and using an explosive charge as a propellant.


Sec. 3. Regulation

No person may instigate, promote, aid or abet as a principal, agent, employee, participant or spectator, or participate in the earnings from, or intentionally maintain or allow any place to be used for the shooting, killing or wounding with a firearm or any deadly weapon, any animal, that is confined within artificial boundaries or tied, staked out, caged or otherwise intentionally restrained, regardless of size. Animals intended to be hunted may not be tranquilized, artificially lured by sound, scent, visual stimuli, feeding, bait, other animals of its own species, or another species or any other method, within an enclosed area.



Sec. 4. Exemption

This provision does not prohibit the hunting of native cervidae.



Additional Commentary

Canned hunts operate under a variety of names including, hunting preserves, game ranches, and canned shoots. It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 canned hunting preserves in at least 28 states. Clients are charged a fee to hunt an animal under circumstances that practically guarantee a kill.


Canned hunts fix the odds against the animal and nullify the concept of a "fair chase." Many of the animals hunted in a canned hunt are tame and have little fear of humans. Sometimes the animals are shot in cages or within fenced enclosures with no way to escape. Others may be shot over feeding stations, or drugged before they are shot.


Canned hunting preserves acquire their animals from sources including zoos, circuses, animal dealers and breeders. Many zoos sell their older of surplus animals either directly to the hunting preserves or to middlemen and dealers. Some hunting preserves specialize in the killing of non-native, or exotic animals, including African Lions, Giraffes, Antelope and Elephants. There is concern that the transportation of exotic animals to the canned hunt facilities can exacerbate the spread of disease across great distances. Moreover, clustered in a captive setting at unusually high densities, confined animals attract disease more readily than free-roaming native species. Some states have introduced legislation that targets only canned hunts involving exotic species. Many states have allowed an exception for native cervidae (deer), as over-population and safety concerns justify controlled hunting of these animals.


Hunters themselves are divided on the issue of canned hunts due to the unsporting nature of the activity. Despite criticism from hunters and animal advocates alike, canned hunts have not been eliminated because powerful hunting lobbyists including the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International oppose any measure that restricts any type of hunting.


Several states, including Alabama, California, Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and New York, have passed legislation banning canned hunts to varying degrees. Federal legislation has also been introduced several times, but has never been passed. This Act would have no impact on the hunting of native species and protects exotic mammals that have been confined.



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