Update Nov. 10: On November 3, 2009, the Martin County, FloridaÂ Commission approvedÂ the plan to allow hunting camps, overnight accommodations, as a permitted useÂ J&R Outfitters, a notorious canned hunting operation.Â Â
A second hearing required by law is scheduled for Nov. 17.
The Florida Constitution, Section 9, commitsÂ virtually all regulatory authority of the state to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, and particularly for hunting and fishing. That means the Florida legislature and local governments have virtually no authority to regulate hunting or fishing despite what citizens may want.Â
J&R Outfitters has a license from FWC to operate its canned hunt. The Martin County Commission cannnot change that without appealing to the FWC. But the Commission could have denied J&R Outfitters a permit to have overnight accommodations and food services and also regulate any shooting range or construction of other buildings and dog kennels.Â The Commission could also have limited the overnight accommodations by placing safety zones or requiring berms to protect citizens especially children from hunters. The Commission couldÂ have limited this cruel canned hunting operation in this way. They have chosen not to do so and instead support animal cruelty even at the expense of their citizens’ safety, property values and agricultural way of life.Â Â Â
For more on this and what you can still do to help, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below. Â Â Â
Update October 30, 2009: On November 3, 2009 the Martin County Commission will hold the first of two public hearings to decide whether to allow hunting camps, overnight accommodations for hunters, on the property of J&R Outfitters.
The county attorney does not believe the commission, however, can regulate the canned hunting that takes place there.Â
The county issued a report, stating, "Members of the public have raised other concerns, such as â€˜canned hunting’, the use of dogs, the type of weapons and the importation of exotic animals….All of these issues appear to be outside of the scope of the board’s zoning and land use jurisdiction. … Whether or not the board adds hunting camps as a permitted use in the A-2 district, the hunting on these facilities currently licensed by (the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) as hunting preserves may continue."
Nonetheless, it would be important to limit J&R Outfitters canned hunts as much as possible. Read Animal Law Coalition’s original report below and attend the November 3 hearing or contact county commissioners and let them know they should denyÂ J&R Outfitters to have hunting camps or overnight accommodations for hunters as a permitted use.Â Â Â Â
Original report: J&R Outfitters offers canned hunts on property located in Martin County, Florida near Indiantown.
Recently, the county Land Planning Agency voted 4-1 to allow the operation to continue despite that it had been in business without proper zoning, a site plan, building permits, and a business license.
And, despite the cruelty of a business akin to shooting fish in a barrel.Â
The animals are often captive bred and raised for the "hunt". Â They may also have been pets abandoned by owners or animals dumped by breeders and dealers, exhibitions or zoos. Regardless, they are likely used to living in captivity.
These animals are then released into a fenced area where there is no chance of escape. To make the killing easier for the trophy "hunter", the animals may be gathered in an area ostensibly for feeding. Or they may be drawn to bait set out to bring them to a particular area. They are probably familiar with the humans herding them and also accustomed to walking through gates and into fenced areas.
The "hunters" then blast away at the trapped, frightened animals. Â The shooters avoid the head and upper torso, of course, the vital organs, because that would mess up the look of the trophy.
That means the shooters aim for non-vital organs, causing a slow death. After the animals die what is many times an agonizing death, the shooters then leave with their "trophies".
A sort of drive through, if not drive by, shooting. The shooters pay a fee based on how many animals they kill, a "no kill, no pay" operation.
J&R Outfitters offers "hunts" of native or exotic mammals. Â For a $2000 hunting fee, for example, a shooter can kill and take home as a trophy an exotic black buck antelope. J&R offers 19 exotic species at varying prices.Â Native whitetail deer, quail, dove, wild boar and turkeys can also be slaughtered at point blank range for a price. J&R says it will even arrange an "African game hunt" for the right price presumably with imported animals.
Many states do ban canned hunts or at least regulate them. Florida is not one of those states. The federal government has no problem with canned hunts. In fact, this past summer a federal judge had to order the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to stop allowing canned hunts of endangered species.
The Martin County Land Use Planning Agency has voted to amend the zoning restrictions to allow overnight accommodation in canned hunt operations in what has been an agricultural district. The canned hunting operations like J&R Outfitters can have overnight accommodations. J&R has also filed a site plan asking for a variance in order to continue to operate its canned hunt business.
Aside from the horrific cruelty that will be allowed in their own backyard, farmers and other residents wonder how safe they will be with a commercial canned hunt operation in their midst. They have asked about safety for children playing, the types of firearms and other weapons allowed, background checks on people allowed to have these weapons to kill animals in their county, Â health concerns from imported animals, and also how such a seedy business will affect the operation of their farms. Â Â
WHAT YOU CAN DOÂ
The Martin County, FloridaÂ Board of Commissioners must still approve the zoning changes and the site plan for J&R Outfitters. Write (faxes are best) or call and urge them to vote NO to overnight accommodations for the canned hunting operation in Martin County. Don’t wait. Do it now!