Topic:
WILDLIFE; MISDEMEANOR; COMPUTERS; LEGISLATION; GAME LAWS; INTERNET; HUNTING;
Location:
FISH AND GAME; INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND DATA PROCESSING;

OLR Research Report


February 19, 2008

 

2008-R-0129

INTERNET HUNTING

By: Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst

Gerald Barrett, Legislative Fellow

You asked for background information on Internet hunting.

SUMMARY

Internet hunting (also called cyber hunting or computer-assisted remote hunting) allows a person with an Internet connection to fire a rifle from virtually anywhere, killing real prey in “real time.”

Supporters of the practice say it is a way to allow people with disabilities to enjoy the thrill of hunting. Critics say it is not hunting; it is killing and it violates the rules of “fair chase.” Internet hunting has been strongly criticized by the Humane Society of the United States (which calls it pay-per-view slaughter); pro-hunting groups, including the National Rifle Association; and animal rights advocates, among others.

At least 35 states, including all the New England states, but not Connecticut, have banned Internet hunting. Opponents are seeking a federal ban. Two bills currently before Congress (HR 2711 and S. 2422) would prevent the operation of websites allowing Internet hunting (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s110-2422). A 2007 bill (HB 6570) to ban the practice in Connecticut died on the House Calendar.

INTERNET HUNTING AND LEGISLATION

Internet hunting emerged as an issue in 2005 when a Texas businessman launched the website www.live-shot.com promoting the practice as “a real time on-line shooting experience.”

For a $14.95 monthly fee and deposit towards the cost of the animal he or she wished to kill, a subscriber with a high speed Internet connection could log on to the website at a scheduled time and, using a remote controlled .22 caliber rifle with a webcam mounted on it, shoot animals at a private game farm in Texas. Employees at the farm would lure the animal the subscriber ordered to a feeding station within range of the rifle. When the animal approached, the subscriber used the computer mouse to line up the cross hairs and clicked the mouse to discharge the rifle. Employees at the farm finished the job if the hunter missed. (It appears, after visiting www.live-shot.com, that the remote hunting service is no longer offered.)

Table 1 shows 35 states that have banned Internet hunting. (Samples of legislation are attached.)

Table I: States that Ban Internet Hunting

State

Penalty

Alaska

Class A misdemeanor (up to $10,000 fine, up to one year imprisonment) (Alaska Stat. 16.05.797, 12.55.035, and 12.55.135)

Alabama

Misdemeanor ($2,000-$5,000 fine, up to 30 days prison term, or both for first offense; at least $5,000 fine and 10 to 30 days imprisonment for subsequent offense) (Ala. Code 9-11-501, 9-11-505)

Arkansas

Civil penalty of $500-2,000 (Ark. Game and Fish Commission Reg. 18.22)

California

No penalty specified (Cal. Fish and Game Code 3003)

Delaware

No penalty specified (Del. Code Ann. tit. 7 704(h))

Florida

Penalty not specified (Fish and Wildlife Commission rule 68A-4.001, effective July 1)

Georgia

High misdemeanor ($1,000 to $5,000 fine, up to 12 months imprisonment, or both) (GA. Code Ann. 27-3-12)

Idaho

Misdemeanor ($25 to $1,000 fine, up to six months imprisonment, or both) (Idaho Code 36-1101(b)(8) and 36-1402)

Illinois

Class B misdemeanor (up to six months imprisonment, up to $1,500 fine) to hunt on the Internet; class A misdemeanor (up to one year imprisonment, up to $2,500, or both) to provide software or services to help someone hunt on the Internet. Person who facilitates the practice (e.g., landowner or computer programmer) is guilty of class A misdemeanor (520 ILCS 5/2.33b and 5/3.5(c))

Iowa

Serious misdemeanor (first violation); D felony (subsequent violation); plus possible

civil penalty of up to $10,000 (Iowa Code 481A.125A)

Kentucky

No penalty specified (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 150.363)

Louisiana

Class 6 violation ($900 to $950 fine, imprisonment for up to 120 days, or both) (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 56:116.5 and 56:36)

Maine

Class E crime to own or operate commercial game shooting area for remote control hunting (up to $1,000, up to 6 months, or both) (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 12 12103 & 7 1344 & 1347)

Maryland

Misdemeanor (fine up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to one year or both) (MD. Code. Ann. Nat. Res. 10-426)

Massachusetts

Imprisonment for up to 21/2 years, fine up to $2,500, or both (Mass. Gen. Laws Chap. 131: 65A)

Michigan

Misdemeanor (up to 93 days prison term, fine up to $500, or both for first offense; up to one year prison term, up to $1,000, fine, or both for subsequent offense (Mich. Stat. Ann. 750.236a, 750.236b, and 750.236c)

Minnesota

Unclassified misdemeanor (up to 90 days imprisonment, up to $1,000 fine, or both) (Minn. Stat. 97B.115)

Mississippi

Class I offense ($2,000 to $5,000 fine and five days imprisonment) (Miss. Code Ann. 49-7-68 and 49-7-141)

Missouri

Penalty not specified (Missouri Wildlife Code 10-7.410(1)(R))

Nebraska

Class II misdemeanor (up to six months imprisonment, up to $1,000 fine, or both, plus civil fine of at least (1) $250 for a first offense and (2) $500 for subsequent offense) (Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. 37-572 and 28-106)

New Hampshire

Class A misdemeanor for natural person (up to one year imprisonment, up to $2,000 fine, or both); felony for other than natural person, plus possible civil penalty of at least $10,000 in either case (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 207:8-a and 651.2)

New Jersey

Up to $500 civil penalty per violation (N.J. Rev. Stat. 23:4-24.5 and 23:4-24.6)

New Mexico

Misdemeanor (up to six months imprisonment and fine (amount unclear) (N.M. Stat. Ann. 17-3-49, 17-2-10)

New York

Up to $2,500 civil fine (N.Y. ECL 11-1906 and 71-0923(10))

North Carolina

Class 1 misdemeanor (N.C. Gen. Stat. 113-294q and 113-291.1A)

Oregon

Requires State Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules (ORS 496.146(20))

Pennsylvania

3rd degree misdemeanor (up to one year imprisonment, fine up to $2,500 or both (18 PA. Code 7641 and 106)

Rhode Island

Misdemeanor (fine up to $1,000, imprisonment up to one year, or both) (R.I. Code 20-1-25 and 11-1-2)

South Carolina

At least $5,000 fine, up to one year prison term, or both for first offense;

up to $10,000 fine, up to five years imprisonment, or both, for subsequent offense (S.C. Code Ann. 50-11-95 and 16-1-20)

Tennessee

Class A misdemeanor (imprisonment for up to 11 months and 29 days, fine up to $2,500, or both (Tenn. Code Ann. 70-4-501 to 504 and 40-35-111(e))

Texas

Class B misdemeanor (up to $2,000, up to 180 days imprisonment, or both) for first violation;

Class A misdemeanor (up to $4,000, up to one year imprisonment, or both) for subsequent violation (Parks and Wildlife Code Ann. 62.002 and Penal Code 12.21 and 12:22)

Vermont

Civil fine up to $1,000 (VT. Stat. Ann. 10-4715 and 4515)

Virginia

Class 1 misdemeanor (up to $2,500 fine, up to 12 months imprisonment, or both (Va. Code Ann. 29.1-530.3 and 18.2-11)

West Virginia

No penalty specified (W. Va. Code Ann. 20-2-5(29))

Wisconsin

Ban applies only to farm raised deer; No penalty specified (2005 Wisconsin Act 35)

VR:dw