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What Would Rudolph Say

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Message Lawrence Velvel

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            Diane Sullivan, a professor at the Massachusetts School of Law, discusses the heinous practice of “hunting” animals penned in corrals or “hunting” them by clicking a computer mouse which fires a rifle thousands of miles away in order to kill them.

What Would Rudolph Say? By Diane Sullivan 

What can one say about a man who is willing to pay thousands of dollars to shoot a buck for its huge antlers when that animal is raised in a pen, fed by hand like a domestic pet, and therefore has no basic instinct to avoid people? What if that buck is hunted on enclosed private game preserves or, still worse, over the Internet? Who is that person sitting in his home or cubicle who, with a click of the computer mouse, can fire a rifle many miles away in order to coldly kill an animal confined in a pen on a hunting preserve in some other backwater state that allows such barbaric practices to exist? At the minimum, shouldn’t citizens of enlightened states (like Massachusetts, where I live) ban such purported technological advances?  We haven’t yet, and neither have some other New England states.


Even most hunters and hunting organizations agree that these practices are unfair, deplorable, indefensible, and unconscionable.  Now what does that tell you?  When the National Rifle Association and the Humane Society of the United States agree on pay-per-view slaughter, then the remedy should be clear to any thinking person. Even those with blood on their “mice” know shooting captive animals is no more a sport than if one chose to shoot the family dog or cat.


As one who teaches animal law at a law school, I abhor hunting, but acknowledge the desire for some people to eat meat or clothe themselves with animal skins. There are ways to ensure that hunting is conducted as reasonably as possible in order to protect the animal population. Many hunters concede that killing deer that have been bred and raised on a farm, is not hunting, and giant antlers don’t obscure the issue.  These are not wild animals running to escape. There are no dangers to the hunters in this setting, unless Vice President Cheney is present.  This is simply the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel. Shame on those that do it and shame on those of us that do not stop them from doing so.


There are approximately 7,500 deer and elk breeders in the United States competing to breed the biggest rack of antlers possible. This industry is growing by leaps and bounds—no pun intended.  Many of these animals are shot and killed on private hunting ranches enclosed by high fences, not in the wild.  Others are, believe it or not, drugged,staked or simply tame, which makes it easy for “hunt” organizers, who obviously can guarantee a kill.  A farm-raised deer or elk is not a wild animal and a fenced-in ranch in Texas is not the Serengeti Plain. Big money and bigger egos have never been sufficient justification for immoral behavior.


Farm-raised deer, elk, and boar are not the only victims.  Hunting ranch animals include such big prize catches as castaway zoo animals like zebras and tigers.  After being offloaded from trailers, these exotic creatures are shot while imprisoned in corrals where they are held captive for killing by urban trophy hunters who pay up to $20,000.


George Bush’s state of Texas alone generates more than one billion dollars annually on hunting ranches and business is booming.  This sickening form of animal cruelty is growing across our nation.             


It is encouraging news that a few states have outlawed deer/elk farming, and bills banning Internet hunting have been passed or introduced in twenty-three states.  Federal legislation has also been introduced to oppose this practice. 


Generations of children have seen the Disney animated movie, Bambi, and, like my Dad and I, were moved to tears by the death of Bambi’s mother.  However, these farm-raised deer and elk are not cartoon images. These trusting real-life creatures are lured to a feeding station to be shot to death by some urban cowboy who covets bragging rights for mounting and displaying BIG antlers on his wall. Dad would never believe that real men could kill a defenseless deer in a pen in some godforsaken spot.  Shouldn’t we all tell our elected representatives to end these practices?


Diane Sullivan is Professor of Law at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover. She can be contacted at



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Lawrence R. Velvel is a cofounder and the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, and is the founder of the American College of History and Legal Studies.
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