Lawmaker seeks to ban ‘canned hunts’
DENVER (AP) ” To Rep. Debbie Stafford, hunting wildlife while they are penned in is unfair and unsporting and she wants it banned.
For some of the ranchers who raise wildlife livestock, it’s the only way in a struggling economy to feed their herds of elk and other trophy animals.
“She makes out like we hunt in little pens and they are shot at point-blank range and that’s not the case,” said Mike Crackel, owner of a 700-acre wildlife ranch near Craig.
Crackel said hunters are willing to pay up to $12,000 to hunt his trophy elk and they have to work for it, chasing the animals down canyons and over mountains. Last year, only 11 were killed out of a herd of 70.
By state law, the ranch is fenced in and inspected annually by the Department of Agriculture and regulated by the Division of Wildlife.
He said if the law passes, it could force 25 wildlife ranches out of business. However, state wildlife officials said there are only two big game parks and six wildlife producer parks that would be affected. Crackel said other ranches have deer, yak, goats, sheep and buffalo for hunting.
Stafford said so-called “canned hunts” are unfair and inhumane.
“I’m very much a supporter of hunting. I support hunting with a fair chase for the animal,” she said.
Her bill (House Bill 1096) would prohibit a person from offering another person the opportunity to hunt, wound, or take any mammal that is intentionally confined, tied, staked, caged, or otherwise restrained from engaging in normal movement.
It would allow exceptions for slaughtering a mammal for meat, leather, or fur production or humanely euthanizing a mammal for health, safety, or scientific purposes.
Violators would be subject to a fine of up to $25,000 and loss of their hunting privileges.
Ivan James, vice chairman of legislation for the Colorado Bowhunters Association, said he supports legislation that would limit canned hunts.
“We believe in a fair chase. In some cases, hunters pay $20,000 to hunt drugged animals. We think that’s very unsporting. It’s a very bad image for hunters,” he said.