Laws Related to Canned Hunting

Captive animalFor more on canned hunts and a federal bill that would ban them in every state…..

Canned hunts of mammals are illegal in the following states:

Wyoming. Wy. Stat. §23-1-103 ("There shall be no private ownership of live animals classified in this act as big or trophy game animals.") Also, under Wy. Stat. §23-3-301 the importation and sale of "any living antelope, bear, deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, wolf, wolf hybrid nor any living wildlife" is prohibited.

Arizona, §§A.R.S. § 17-238A; 17-333; A.A.C. § R12-4-401-430; Connecticut, §§26-27, 26-29c, 26-40, 40a, 48, 49, 55, 57 Conn. State Agencies §§ 26-48-1-12; Hawaii, HRS § 183D-34, 51; WCHR 13-122 -16; Maryland, MD. Nat. Resources Code §§10-101, 10-901-906; COMAR,,; Montana, Mt. Code §§87-4-408-433 thru 87-4-501-522; Nevada, Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 503.242, 504.295(1), 504.300; NAC §§504.451- 452, .458-.459; Oregon, O.R.S. §§497.228(1) 497.248(1), (2); O.A.R. §635-064-0010; Utah, Ut Code §§23-17-6(1), 23-13-2(19), 23-13-8, U.A.C. R657-22-1-22-19; Washington, RCW §§77.08.010, 77.12.570, 77.15.340, 77.15.600, 77.65.480, 77.65.490; WAC 232-12-027-037.

These states, however, do allow private commercial hunts of certain birds. Operators of these bird shooting operations must be licensed and there are some restrictions on hunts. Arizona, A.A.C. $12-4-414- 416, 419; Connecticut, §§26-48-1, 2, 4; Hawaii, WCHR 13-122-16; Maryland, MD. Nat. Resources Code §§10-101, 10-901-906; COMAR,,; Montana, §87-4-522M.R. §12.6.1202(1)-(2); Nevada, NAC §504.451- 452, .458-.459; Utah, Ut Code §§23-17-6(1),  U.A.C. R657-22-1-22-19; Washington, WAC 232-12-027-037; Wyoming, W.S.A. 23-5-102 (authorizes licenses for game bird farms, and for the propagation, breeding, possession, use, releasing, killing, hunting, and sale of licensed birds but no regulations for licensing have ever been issued.)

mooseHunting of mammals is restricted in these states but not banned entirely:

Alabama passed a law recently that purports to forbid canned hunts also of "native game" and also other animals that it is "legally permissible to hunt". The statute then states: "Hunting of native game animals or any other animal legally permissible to hunt within the confines of an enclosure does not in and of itself constitute a violation provided adequate space and escape cover for the species exist to provide the animals with a reasonable opportunity to evade the hunter." Code of Ala. §9-11-501.

Feral swine may still be subjected to canned hunts as well as "any nonindigenous animal lawfully brought into this state prior to May 1, 2006, or their offspring" and "nuisance animals. Code of Ala. § 9-11-503 A canned hunt of even native animals that takes place on several acres is probably still permissible in Alabama. It is not clear if feeding areas or bait can be used to draw animals out from their cover where they can then be slaughtered. Also, many of these animals are captive bred and while not tame, are usually not afraid of humans and not likely to run until it is too late. They will likely walk towards, not away from, familiar humans and can be herded fairly easily.     

Arkansas, 002 00 CARR 15.01, .04, .05, 15.11, .17, .18 allows commercial hunts pursuant to permits for deer, elk and other cervids in existence prior to June 30, 2006. Permitted commercial hunts of native game are also allowed in "high-fence enclosures [around at least] 500 contiguous acres of free range" except that red and gray fox and coyote are exempt from permitting requirements for commercial hunts unless other native game are hunted as well;

In Delaware, a statute makes clear that "[n]o person shall make use of any pitfall, deadfall, scaffold, cage, snare, trap, net, pen, baited hook, lure, urine or baited field or any other similar device for the purpose of injuring, capturing or killing birds or animals protected by the laws of this State, except red foxes, muskrats, raccoon, opossum, minks, otters, beavers and rabbits may be trapped and snapping turtles may be trapped or taken with a net in accordance with the regulations of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and except as otherwise expressly provided.  7 Del.C. §704.

Licenses are required to breed game animals or game birds for commercial use. 7 Del. C. §561(a). For hunting on commercial shooting preserves, licenses are required and only issued for rabbits and game birds. 7 Del.C. §§566-571; CDR 7-3000-3900

Minnesota, Minn. Stat. §§97A.025, .105, .115; Minn. R. 6242.0100- .1200 (Dept. of Natural Resources has allowed some commercial canned hunt operations to continue)

Mississippi, Miss. Code §49-7-78, explicitly banned canned hunts but only for native game animals.

New Hampshire’s Fish & Game Dept. no longer issues new licenses for canned hunts of  mammals on regulated shooting areas. N.H. Rev. Stat. 207:2, 207:14 208:1  212:25, 214:1; N.H. Admin. Rules, FIS 801.22, 802.01, 803.13, 804.12, 805.2, 808.1, et seq.

New York Canned hunts of mammals are legal except that "big game non-native animals" cannot be tied, hobbled, staked or attached to a stationary object or "confined in a box, pen, cage or similar container of 10 or less contiguous acres from which there is no means for such mammal to escape".

The animal also cannot be released in front of the person who will be shooting or spearing it. N.Y. Envt. Con. Laws §11-1904(1)(A)(1)-(3).

A bill that would have banned canned hunts in New York was passed by the state legislature but was vetoed by then Gov. George Pataki in 2003. 4 subsequent attempts to ban canned hunts in New York have also failed including a bill this past session, Assembly Bill 6788 This bill would have amended the current law and make it illegal to hunt big game non-native animals that are "in a fenced or other area" from where there is no means of escape. It would eliminate canned hunts of big game non-native mammals in New York state.

Vermont  allows certain deer, buffalo, wild boar, sheep, goats and elk to be killed in canned hunts. 10 V.S.A. § 4081, 4082, 4714; CVR 12-010-076 Some birds can also be hunted on regulated shooting grounds. 10 V.S.A. § 5217-5221, 10A VSA §§13, 23; CVR 12-010-024   

Virginia has banned canned hunts of mammals but grandfathered in operations in existence prior to January 1, 1995. Va. Code §3.2-6035-6039,-6042; 2 VAC 5-205-20-11; 04 VAC 15-30-10.  But only certain sheep, goats and hogs can be killed in these operations. Va. Code §3.2-6040   Certain birds can be hunted on licensed shooting preserves which must have between 100- 3,000 acres consisting of a single tract of land or adjacent tracts of land. Animals must be kept in sanitary conditions.  Va. Code §29.1-600 et seq.

tigerThe other states that restrict canned hunts of mammals with a few exceptions:

California, Cal. Fish & Game Code § 2118, 2118.2, 2124(a)(big-horned sheep);

Georgia, Ga. Code §G.C.A. §27-1-2, 21-2-11, 27-3-110, 113; 27-5-12, 27-2-22.1; Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 391-4-2-.16 (allows licenses for commercial hunts of wild or penned fox or coyotes on at least 4 acres and 100 acres if more than 1 dog is used);

Massachusetts, ALM GL ch. 131, §§19A, 23, 25, 31, 37; 321 CMR 2.05, 2.15 (deer);

North Carolina, N.C. Gen. Stat. §§113-270.2 (c)(4), 113-273(g); 15A N.C.A.C. 10H.1205 (foxes and coyotes for training dogs on at least 500 acres and as approved by Wildlife Resources Commn.);  

Wisconsin, Wis. Stat. §951.09, 95.001(1)(farm-raised deer but they must be on a contiguous area of 80 acres or more);

These states also allow some birds to be killed in regulated commercial shooting areas. Arkansas, 002 00 CARR 15.06, California, Cal Fish & G Code §§3240.5, 3270 3300-3303, 3305-3311; Georgia, OCGA §§27-1-2 thru 27-3-114 (100-1000 acres); Massachusetts, 321 CMR 2.05.01-.02; Minnesota, MN Stat. §§97A.115, .121, 97B.005; North Carolina 15A N.C.A.C. 10H.0101-.0110 (not less than 100 acres nor more than 1,000 acres and shall be in one block of land); Wisconsin, Wi. Stat. §§951.09, 169.19

A South Carolina law makes it illegal to build new enclosures that "prevent[] or materially impede[] the free range of the deer being hunted." This means it is illegal to "erect[] a fence in excess of six feet in height from ground level for the express purpose of corralling wild game for hunting purposes". All existing enclosures must be registered and cannot be made smaller. It is also unlawful to construct any mound, platform, or other device designed to allow animals into an enclosed area. Dogs cannot be used to hunt deer in these enclosures. S.C. Code §50-11-100 Violators face fines up to $2,500 and jail time up to 3  years as well as suspension or revocation of hunting privileges.

Also, new shooting preserves after July 1, 1994, may not be licensed by the department without the approval of the majority of the legislative delegation of the county in which such preserve is to be located." S.C. Code §50-11-1200, 1205, 1250, 1340. Shooting preserves must be at least 100 continuous acres. Id. at 1220. There are requirements for the care of the animals and record-keeping. Id. at 1290, 1320-1330

mule deerTo give you an idea of the difficulty advocates have had in banning canned hunts

The effort to ban canned hunts has been difficult enough in New York. New York is not alone, however.  

In Indiana, in 2006 the Dept. of Natural Resources issued an emergency rule banning canned hunting. The ban was immediately challenged in a circuit court by canned hunt operator who claimed the agency had approved his operation of a canned hunt in 1999 and told him he would need only a game breeder’s license.  

Harrison Circuit Judge H. Lloyd Whitis issued a preliminary injunction that stopped the state from enforcing the ban pending the outcome of the lawsuit.  A settlement was eventually reached that basically left canned hunting legal.  

Today, canned hunting is big business in Indiana. There are some regulations. Ind. Code §§14-22-31-1 thru 14-22-31-14 and 312 IAC 9-10-16. No carnivores can be subjected to a canned hunt. The operation must occupy at least 100 acres and is subject to inspection and recordkeeping requirements.  

In Kentucky in 2006, the state banned the importation of cervids (deer, elk, moose) which at least limited some canned hunting. KRS § 150.740 The importation of these animals was declared a Class D felony and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources was given authority to confiscate and destroy without compensation to the owner any cervids imported in violation of this law.

The reason for the ban had to do with stopping chronic wasting disease, a contagious disease that can spread rapidly in captive wild animals that are bred, raised and housed together and used, for example, in canned hunts. CWD is a neurological disease that causes degeneration of the brain, resulting in "emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death". It is akin to mad cow disease.

A state court, however, found the statute banning the importation of these animals was unconstitutionally vague and unenforceable. It was not clear to some whether "importation" included those animals that were transported through the state en route to some other state. Indeed, the owner of a commercial elk, bison, and cattle farm in Tennessee was driving cervids through Kentucky to a processing plant in Kansas when he was stopped, arrested and his animals confiscated. He was later indicted on 6 felony counts of violating the importation ban. The charges were later dismissed.

Then 2 organizations that purport to advocate for commercial uses of deer and other such animals filed suit in Kentucky federal district court, seeking a declaration and injunction that the law was unenforceable as to cervids transported through the state.

The federal district court declined to hear the case, pointing out that a Kentucky court had already declared the law unconstitutionally vague and unenforceable. The federal court found it was not clear the law would be enforced and thus there was no issue. N. Am. Deer Farmers Ass’n v. Gassett, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66946  (E.D. Ky. 2008)

Now, in the 2009 session, the Kentucky legislature amended the statute in S.B. 81 to allow importation into the state those cervids "have been subject to a program of surveillance and identification for cervid chronic wasting disease (CWD) that meets or exceeds" the requirements of Kentucky’s program and other statutory requirements and regulations.  

Kentucky has few regulations of commercial canned hunts. KRS §§150.175, 150.240(2); 301 KAR 2:041, 2:083, 3:022, 20:066


5 thoughts on “Laws Related to Canned Hunting”

  1. how lazy can a hunter be? sick of all you cowards finding entertaiment in the misery of animals.

  2. i have been to high fenced hunting ranches and open hunting ranches , i saw more animals on the open ranch and found it a much more easy hunt then the high fence hunt.canned hunts as you call them give a regular guy a chance to harvest a game animal that they would never be able to afford normally. even though it is in a fence some people would rather harvest there own animal that will feed there family for months , then go to burger king and have there food mass slaughtered processed, frozen , and shipped. think about all the pollution and trash that is produced from the fast food markets. at least the hunted animal lived a life in the wilderness not a box , and the hunted animal will be honored and remembered.not to mention all the jobs that would be lost.

  3. Excuse me but please dont talk about saving the environment Joe, when hunters like you are killing it. How lazy can a hunter be that they have to first pen an animal before killing it. hunting is completely unethical and should be banned.

  4. I agree with banning canned hunting but i must say to you that hunting is not unethical, it is a way of life that has ben around for literally thousands of years, and should not and will not ever be banned, I am a hunter that extremely supports ethical hunting and practicing fair chase, hunting is the same as gardening to me, somrthing that is essential to life.

  5. I don’t understand how it is possible for someone to think that hunting is eithical. How is killing an innocent animal for fun ethical? Hunting is cruel and it should be banned.

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