Leading animal welfare and conservation non-profit Born Free USA has recently launched Thrill Kill: Recreational Animal Slaughter in the US, a shocking new investigation into the dark and disturbing world of animal “thrill killing.”
The report Thrill Kill: Recreational Animal Slaughter in the US released on May 23, 2023, covers a series of troubling practices including killing contests, where hunters compete for huge cash prizes by killing as many animals as possible; trophy hunting, where individuals pay thousands of dollars to kill caged, critically endangered African wildlife on Texas ranches; rattlesnake roundups, where snakes are tormented, killed, and skinned in front of paying audiences; and helicopter hunting, where hunters use fully automatic weapons and crossbows to mass kill feral pigs and coyotes.
Showing a complete disregard for sentient lives, thousands of animals are killed by sport hunters in these ways each year. Texas’ laissez-faire regulations enable these egregious forms of hunting, making it the epicenter of thrill killing in the United States. The report focuses on the Lone Star State as a case study and reminds readers that many of these practices occur across the nation.
The investigation uncovered:
- Inexperienced hunters let loose with fully automatic weapons while hanging out of helicopters, saying: “I kinda [sic] blacked out and just started shooting… rounds off everywhere, I wasn’t aiming for anything, I got so excited…”
- Young children encouraged to cover their hands in the blood of rattlesnakes and put their bloody handprints on the wall, while other children were taught how to skin dead snakes as paying audience members watched.
- A hunting guide gasping for breath from laughing as he watched a deer injured with a crossbow bolt run into a pond and drown to death.
- Hunters playing target practice with slow moving animals such as porcupines as part of “unique” hunts. Failing to kill the animal cleanly, the hunters film on a cellphone as the injured animal lies writhing and bleeding on the ground.
- A single killing contest paying out more than $2.6 million dollars in prize money since 2014.
- Repeated instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia ingrained into the events, publications, and resources associated with these activities.
“This new investigation lays bare the abject and deliberate cruelty inherent in these pastimes and the joy taken in torturing and killing living beings,” said Born Free USA CEO Angela Grimes. “The animal suffering that we uncovered is on a scale that is difficult to comprehend and impossible to condone. This is not about population management or predator control, this is killing for the fun of it, plain and simple, and it must be stopped.”
As a result of the investigation’s findings, Born Free USA is calling for multiple reforms including statewide bans on killing contests across the country; a reconfiguring of rattlesnake roundups to promote kindness and respect for animals; removal of legal loopholes allowing helicopter hunting “experiences” to be sold to inexperienced hunters; and a re-listing on the Endangered Species Act of species most impacting by US-based trophy hunting.
You can read the full report here.
Featured image: Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup. Photo: Born Free USA.
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