U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) is taking aim at the controversial practice
of Internet-assisted hunting, garnering support from the Humane Society and the Safari Club International, odd bedfellows behind Davis.
Davis dropped a bill into the hopper earlier this week to ban guides from
operating sites where remote users can shoot mounted rifles at live game.
Supporters of the practice say it is designed to allow handicapped
individuals to enjoy the sport of hunting.
“Why should someone be able to point, click and kill? It’s not sporting,
it’s not ‘hunting’ in the true sense of the word and it’s not something we
have to tolerate,” Davis said in a statement.
The Davis bill makes Internet hunting punishable by up to five years in
The first known Internet-assisted hunt took place last weekend in Texas. A
quadriplegic in Ligonier, Ind., paid $1,300 to remotely pull the trigger of
a real high-powered hunting rifle mounted on a ranch outside of San Antonio.
The hunting was poor that day and no animals were shot.
Texas is attempting to stop the practice, but the Parks and Wildlife Department
has the authority to only block the shooting of native animals.
Live-shot.com, the promoters of last weekend’s shoot, offers exotic game
from Africa and India, in addition to deer and feral hogs.
A Live-shot.com spokesperson has not returned a request for comment.
Legislation barring the shoots is pending in the Texas Legislature. Another
dozen states have passed bans against online hunting or have pending
legislation against the practice.
But due to the interstate, and even international, nature of these hunts,
Davis believes federal legislation is needed to put an end to Internet
hunting in the United States.
“The role of the federal government in this case is to make sure the will of
the people, as represented by the growing number of state laws outlawing
remote hunts, is being upheld,” Davis said. “The states need our help.”
Davis again insisted Internet-assisted hunting is not a sport.
“As a number of hunting and gun-owner groups have pointed out, ‘fair chase’
is a basic element of hunting. You have to be there, in the field, not
sitting behind a computer screen,” he said.
In the Humane Society and the Safari Club, Davis has drawn together two
traditional political foes. Both groups, along with the National Rifle
Association, are foursquare on Davis’ side.
“It doesn’t take a very strict definition of ‘sportsmanship’ to see that
this practice, if allowed to proceed, would violate every ethical standard
that hunters profess,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane
Society, said in a statement.
Pacelle added that Internet-assisted hunting involves “no hunting skill
whatsoever and would distance the hunter entirely from the act of killing.”
In throwing his support behind the Davis legislation, Safari Club
International President John Monson simply said: “This is not hunting.”