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June 20, 2011

On Animal Planet Tonight: Pulling Back the Curtain on Captive Hunting

In The Bond, I point a few fingers at the folks who stand in the way of animal protection. Sure, sometimes it’s a few politicians, but generally they take their cue from special interest groups that make it their business to retard progress on animal welfare.

Of the groups I take aim at in the book, there is not one that is more of a hindrance to progress on its core set of issues than the National Rifle Association. That organization has an ideological commitment to the status quo, whether it’s defending the continued use of toxic lead shot ammunition, widespread predator killing, bear baiting, live pigeon shoots, hunting endangered species, and even captive hunts for mammals. It’s a long list.

Tonight, we’re firing back, and we’re pulling back the curtain on the captive hunting industry on Animal Planet. Imagine hand-raised, exotic animals such as antelopes or even endangered species living inside fenced enclosures, often fed at the same time and place each day so that they've come to trust people.

Now imagine a guide bringing customers to shoot these penned-in animals for hundreds or thousands of dollars, then mount their heads as trophies on their walls. Imagine that some of the animals are even drugged with tranquilizers to make them more tame. What would you call this barbaric business? Certainly anything but fair chase.

These are privately owned facilities that allow customers to pay top dollar to shoot exotic animals for guaranteed trophies. Many people have never heard of this cruel industry, even though it is shamefully flourishing at more than 1,000 ranches in more than two dozen states. Tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific, Animal Planet will reveal new footage from an HSUS undercover investigation into captive hunting, where everything from an endangered addax antelope to a kangaroo have prices on their heads.

In "Animal Planet Investigates: Captive Hunting Exposed," you’ll follow two HSUS undercover investigators as they pose as hunters to visit captive hunts in Texas and New York. This special will show never-before-seen footage of what's really going on behind the fence at these operations, and the steps we're taking to stop it. (Click here to see a preview.)

Captive hunting is an activity for people who don't want to get their boots scuffed. It may have the look of hunting, but it’s a façade – with people dressed up as sportsmen carrying big checkbooks. The odds are so stacked against the animals that several operations offer "no kill, no pay" or "100 percent success rate" guarantees on their websites.

The only reason these operations are not banned is because of the NRA, Safari Club International and groups like them. It's past time to put the lid on canned hunts once and for all, and tonight’s presentation will give us much-needed momentum on the issue. Please tune in or set your recording devices and ask your friends to watch "Animal Planet Investigates: Captive Hunting Exposed" at 9 p.m. tonight (June 20). You can also RSVP to our Facebook event, and make sure to check out HSUS' Wildlife Abuse Campaign to stay up-to-date on everything we're doing to battle captive hunts.

P.S. You can also take action on captive hunts here.

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