By Carla Bennett
Giving the term couch potato a whole new meaning, a Texas-based Web site is offering hunters worldwide the chance to shoot animals from their living rooms. For $5.95, the virtual hunters may use their computer and mouse to aim a camera with a .22-calibre rifle mounted on it and click off ten shots in 20 minutes. If Mr. Rotten Potato kills, say, a blackbuck antelope online, it will cost him about $1,500. Then, if he so desires, he can have the animal stuffed by a taxidermist and sent to him, a testament to his prowess.
Greg Stevens and John Lockwood plan to fence their approximately 338 Texas acres and stock it with exotic animals, including fallow deer, blackbuck antelopes, wild pigs and aoudad sheep, for their online customers' enjoyment.
This point and click hunting is another shameful aspect of the disgraceful canned hunt industry, in which the "big game" are usually tame, scared zoo castoffs hunting ranch operators purchase at wretched "wild animal" auctions. The ugliness behind these operations has been exposed again and again in the last decade One ancient black panther, no more wild than my cat Liza, made national news a few years ago when a bystander at a Texas shooting preserve videotaped gunners poking sticks through the cage into the terrified old guy. He was cowering there, trembling, and they were trying to get him to come out so they could shoot him. Finally, he stumbled out and these mighty sportsmen executed him.
Such activities are business as usual on exotic game ranches. And with no one around to oversee Stevens and Lockwood, who's to know how often they drive animals with $1,500 price tags into camera range? One of their excuses for this site is that it will appeal to disabled hunters. But isn't anyone who uses this site disabled-mentally?
For that matter, isn't anyone who finds pleasure in taking an animal's life sick in the head, so to speak? Humanitarian Albert Schweitzer thought so. He said, "When will we reach the point that hunting, the pleasure of killing animals for sport, will be regarded as a mental aberration?"
In earlier years, many boys were indoctrinated into hunting by the men in their family who had been taught by their forefathers that hunting was the manly thing to do. This feeling has now largely died out, and these days most people shun guns in favor of rock climbing, biking, hiking, snorkeling and other bloodless sports. Today, hunters make up less than 5 percent of our population and their numbers continue to drop. The point and click web site, with its cowardly killing method, may just help that process along.
In that spirit, here's hoping Stevens and Lockwood lose their shirts.
Carla Bennett is a Senior Writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the author of Living in Harmony with Animals.
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