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State canned-hunting ban supported by 2 boro pols

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John Richard was flipping the channels on his television one night in 1997 when he saw something that changed his life.

The footage of a long-horned ram being chased around a small fenced in area in upstate New York by two men with bows and arrows made the Bayside native stop in his tracks.

But it was when Richard saw the men shooting the ram repeatedly with arrows until it bled to death that he felt angry.

“I looked at it and thought this has to be illegal,” said Richard in a recent interview. “It was killing for amusement.”

Since then Richard has led a movement to make canned hunting, the practice of killing animals in confined areas from which they cannot escape, illegal in New York state. Often the hunting areas are 10 acres or less, he said.

“When you go out into the woods, the animal is free,” Richard said. “With canned hunting it’s a guaranteed kill.”

In 1999 Gov. George Pataki signed a bill restricting canned hunting and eliminating certain aspects of the activity, like hunting animals that have been sedated. But a loophole in the bill allows canned hunting in areas that are 10 acres or more.

“Most of the ‘ranches’ that allow canned hunting are well over 10 acres,” Richard said.

Now Richard is helping lead the way for a new bill, introduced by state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) to ban canned hunting outright in the state.

“My hat goes off to the them because they were brave enough to tackle an issue like this,” Richard said of Carrozza and Padavan.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, canned hunting is often accompanied by menus that advertise how much it would cost to kill exotic animals like gazelles, antelopes, buffaloes and wild boars. Some hunts can cost between $3,000 to $8,000.

Often, Richard said, the animals used in canned hunting are not wild beasts, but unwanted circus, zoo or farm animals.

“I’m not here to say all hunting should be banned,” Richard said, “just this ugly aspect of it.”

Using domestic animals for canned hunting is especially cruel, he said, because tame animals trust humans.

“Wild animals have an instinct toward protecting themselves” that domestic animals lack, said Richard.

Padavan, who described canned hunting as “slaughter,” said “these operations exist primarily to allow for the execution of animals. This is all about bagging a trophy. To call it a sport, or even to call it hunting for that matter, is a real exaggeration.”

Richard, who was honored with a state resolution in February by Carrozza, said public awareness about canned hunting would help eradicate the practice and he urged people to contact their state legislators to support the bill.

“One person can make a difference,” he said of his efforts.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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