Sunday, November 13, 2011

Arizona Hunting Organization in Big Trouble for Defending Captive Hunting

A typical captive hunting scene. In this case, the victim is a rhinoceros.

The state of Arizona is known for being one of the most harshest places in the United States, yet it boasts some fascinating sights and history. From the Grand Canyon to the Painted and Sonoran Deserts, this is the Wild West. It is a rugged oasis that was first settled by a local Native American tribe called the Apaches for thousands of years. One of the most well-renowned members of this tribe was Geronimo, whose bravery and courage against both the American and Mexican forces earned him status in pages of several history books. During the days of the Wild West, Arizona witnessed a rise in discovery of mineral deposits which led to establishments of several boomtowns across its harsh and unforgiving land. Among the most well-known was Tombstone, where the famed Gunfight at the O.K. Corral continues to remain one of the most fascinating historical events in the American history. But under the blazing hot desert sun, a dark shadow looms over the rugged landscape. Arizona, like the lower half of the American Southwest, is prone to present-day issues such as illegal immigration and drug trafficking from south of the border. However, there is also another hidden danger that recently came into spotlight: captive hunting.
Animals that are victims of captive hunting include those that are extinct in the wild like this scimitar-horned oryx.

Captive hunting, also known as canned hunting, is a very controversial form of hunting practice that involves pursuing wild animals trapped inside a fenced-in area rather than wide open spaces. Many wild animals that end up on these so-called "ranches" are zoo animals that had always been in contact with humans, which makes them less fearful. This makes it a lot easier for inexperienced clients to claim their trophy. This unethical practice has been highly criticized by several animal rights and hunting groups across the nation. And one particular organization has always been the prime target of such controversy. It is the Safari Club International (SCI). Based in Tucson, Arizona, this hunting organization has gained notoriety for lobbying the Congress and spoke out against bills that would make captive hunting illegal. It is also said to allow trophies from such operations in its record books.
Powerful and dangerous predators like tigers also end up on such facilities specializing in captive hunting.

Despite these allegations, officials of the organization deny having protected captive hunting. According to Dr. Larry Rudolph, the organization's chief communications officer, many officials supports preserve or estate hunting. He further added that the types of operations the organization supports guarantee animals a fair chance of escape from hunters. But his statement is disagreed by several groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Andrew Page, the senior director for the society's wildlife abuse campaign, argued that animals are in fact "trapped within a fenced enclosure from which they cannot escape." Thus, allowing people to go inside, pay their fee, and kill them. The society's investigation showed that many animals used on such facilities come from private breeders and zoos. He also added that many animals that end up on these facilities include non-native, as well as native species bred in the U.S.
Animals that end up on captive hunting facilities come from either private zoos or breeders that specialize in breeding exotic wildlife. This blackbuck is a perfect example of a creature that is indigenous (and endangered) outside the U.S.

This article gives a clear idea about the hidden secrets behind hunting and zoological facilities in the U.S. The purpose of many zoos in the nation is to allow visitors a chance to see wild animals from all around the world, and even promote conservation for endangered species. But this is normally the case of public zoos. Private zoos, on the other hand, are different. These private institutions are said to breed exotic wild animals mainly for the thrill of hunting. And nowhere else does this occur than on a fenced-in area. Wild animals, of all shapes and sizes, are released on these facilities with nowhere to escape. This allows clients, particularly the most inexperienced ones, to make their kill from within a point-blank range. This gives an idea of how captive hunting is perceived as a form of animal cruelty by both animal rights and hunting groups. Hunting groups, like the Boone and Crockett Club, label the practice as "eliminating the concept of fair chase" which refers to the ethical form of pursuit where an animal is roaming free in the wild and not confined in an enclosed area. The practice is so cruel, that a total of 25 states, including Arizona, have either banned or severely restricted it. And out of an estimated 1,000 facilities in the nation, approximately half are located in the state of Texas.
Native North American species like bison are also subject to captive hunting.

I personally believe that this issue of captive hunting should be looked upon by the federal government. It is an unethical and horrendous form of hunting that is as lethal as poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Some of the animals targeted are the ones that are already extinct in the wild like the scimitar-horned oryx. Instead of being reintroduced back into the former homeland, these magnificent antelopes are a subject of hunting in an enclosed area. Thus, their populations are being decimated rather than revived. In addition to being just cruelty, captive hunting is also a threat to North America's native ecosystems. This occurs when animals somehow escape from an enclosure, and end up roaming the wild lands that appear unknown to them. This process leads to the animals spreading diseases amongst the native species. One of them is the chronic wasting disease (CWD), which is known to affect the native deer population. This is why it is extremely crucial to ban the practice of captive hunting in the United States. By doing this, it would be a first step in allowing the populations of endangered exotic animals to be reintroduced back to their native homelands and saving the native North American wildlife from being taken over by these non-native species. This way, both native and non-native species will benefit separately.

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