Hunting by remote - killing wildlife with a click of your keyboard
Updated: Apr 3
By Staci-lee Sherwood
Not long ago hunters would give two reasons for hunting wildlife. One was always under the ‘management’ category, the other tried to appeal to sports fans by making it sound like a game of intellect, cunning and skill. Many hunters would weave a tail of how their life was often in imperil during the chase while trying to make it sound like the match was equal. For our ancestors that might have been true since all they had were rudimentary tools they could carve from trees or stones. Modern hunters use high tech rifles, assault weapons and night vision goggles, hardly an equal match for nature.
A shift in how animals were hunted began with the invention of guns. It all started in China circa 850 when gunpowder was accidentally discovered. It wasn’t long before they invented the first guns to be used in warfare that used the gunpowder. As trade expanded using the Silk Road routes, gunpowder quickly made its way to Europe in the 1200’s. At first it was used in canons but eventually rifles were invented. This forever changed warfare among humans, and warfare on wildlife.
Call it what it is animal abuse
The age old excuse of hunting being a form of management is designed to soften the brutal reality. Hunters like to use tails of starvation and lack of food as the reason for hunting, trying to make it sound like mercy killing. Much of the public laps up this lie. Many hunters never kill the animal out right, instead they leave a wounded animal to suffer because they failed at delivering a kill shot. Other hunters prefer to torture their target with many non lethal shots. The extra special cruel hunters like to use traps so the animal is already half dead and thereby non-threatening before being killed. This is not mercy or management just abuse.
We have long known the connection between animal abusers and human abusers. The connection, as defined by a likelihood of animal abusers graduating to ….gasp…human abuse, being over 90%. Most law enforcement agencies now consider animal abuse a big potential warning sign. Why is hunting given a free pass when it clearly demonstrates a level of sadistic brutality and pleasure from inflicting pain most serial killers would envy? Does anyone really believe people who spend all day chasing, torturing and killing an animal that did not threaten them come home to be loving partners and parents?
Cruelty and laziness make for a toxic soup
Internet hunting was originally sold as a way to include those who are disabled or sick and can’t get outdoors to actually shoot an animal. If this is what passes for inclusiveness, then clearly we have perverted the idea and stripped the positive down to raw barbarism. We are facing not the 6th mass extinction but the final extinction. Habitat loss, pollution and loss of genetic diversity have insured most species will not be able to survive as we have killed too many already.
If someone is disabled shouldn’t we be trying to improve their life instead of encouraging them to take another’s life? How does this improve their quality of life….it doesn’t. The internet can do many things, and many have a negative impact. Internet hunting is one of the most insane ideas yet.
With a few key strokes an animal dies without the person ever leaving home.
Not all states ban remote hunting
Hard to imagine how any state would not want a ban, even the big hunting states like Wyoming have banned internet hunting. “There were operations where you could sign up to shoot a deer in Texas while you were sitting at your computer in New York. The Wyoming Legislature banned that years ago.” said Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Brian Nesvik at a meeting of the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force. State officials wanted everyone to know that “Killing big game animals from a computer is not something Wyoming would accept” according to wildlife managers.
Computer-Assisted Remote Hunting Act (H.R. 1558) was introduced in the House in 2005 but died in committee. It was designed to make this a federal crime. Pro hunting groups like Safari Club and the NRA backed legislation to ban this but don’t be fooled. Internet hunting would mean a drop in gun sales, a drop in membership and a big drop in their bottom line. That is the only reason they would push to ban this. The Safari Club promotes killing as many animals as possible, they have contests for that and encourage killing endangered species, though only members tend to be privy to that information.
Some states still lag behind including Washington which usually prides itself on being more environmentally friendly.
Who would think of this?
It all started in Texas back in 2005. A rancher, John Lockwood, started using a remote-controlled .22-caliber rifle and camera set up on the Internet to give hunter’s access to animals on his ranch. They included wild pigs, sheep, blackbuck antelope and Barbary. Lockwood charged a fee for the remote hunting sessions, a DVD recording of the session, taxidermy and meat processing.
Like other canned hunts, where the animal is drugged or chained and denied ability to fight or flee, his animals were also kept penned and lured to food where a rifle was mounted. The animal would be shot at close range by the internet hunter using the remote control. If the person missed or failed to kill the animal then staff on the ranch would shoot the animal. Word of this new way of hunting soon spread but not every hunter was thrilled. A public outcry and backlash ensued. Texas soon became one of more than 30 states to ban the practice. His website has since been shut down.
Hunting is not management
We know all the excuses from those who are misguided in thinking killing is a sport. How did we ever get to where an act called murder of one species is called sport and management for another? The public needs to take a hard truthful look at the hypocrisy of our culture. As long as we condone violence in any form perpetrated on any species, we will have violence against our own species. While internet hunting is not widespread it’s an indication of what may come in the future. There is always the chance this will rear its ugly head again. Bad ideas rarely go away they usually are just rebranded and repackaged until the next group is ready to accept it.
In the cyber era everything is made easy once you tap ENTER
Do we want to live in and leave to our children a better world, a more humane and sustainable world ? Then we need to face the facts. As long as we protect and encourage violence on one species no species, including our own, will ever be free of it. The near daily mass shootings in the US might be that warning sign. Will we listen?
Also published on Animal Advocates wiki October 22, 2022
Also published on The Good Men Project April 3, 2023