Topic:
COMPUTER CRIME; ANIMALS; HUNTING; INTERNET; CRIME; LEGISLATION;
Location:
FISH AND GAME; INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY - INTERNET;

OLR Research Report


September 14, 2005

 

2005-R-0694

TEXAS' REMOTE HUNTING BAN

By: Joseph Holstead, Research Analyst

You asked about Texas' law banning internet- or computer-assisted remote hunting (allowing a person to remotely hunt and kill an animal in “real-time,” for a fee, from a computer) and if Connecticut could enact a similar ban.

The Texas legislature passed a bill prohibiting computer-assisted hunting in late May 2005 (the House on May 29 and Senate on May 30). The governor signed it into law on June 18, 2005. The law prohibits anyone from engaging in, providing, or operating facilities for computer-assisted remote hunting, if the animal being hunted is in Texas. It defines “computer assisted remote hunting” as the use of a computer or any other device, equipment, or software to remotely control the aiming and discharge of archery equipment, a crossbow, or a firearm to hunt an animal, including a bird.

Anyone who violates the law commits a Class B misdemeanor, unless they have been convicted of the offense previously, in which case it is a Class A misdemeanor. The law specifies that computer-assisted remote hunting facilities include real property and improvements to such property for hunting, and specifically, hunting blinds, offices, and rooms equipped to facilitate remote hunting. However, it creates an exception when a person provides only:

1. general purpose equipment, including a computer, camera, fencing, and building materials;

2. general purpose computer software, including an operating system and communications programs; or

3. general telecommunications hardware or networking services for computers, including adapters, modems, servers, routers, and other facilities associated with Internet access (HB 2026 - Texas Parks and Wildlife Code 62.002).

We have attached a copy of the act for you reference (attachment 1).

As background, a Texas based website, www.live-shot.com, that allowed computer users from remote locations to hunt animals, for a fee, on land in Bulverde, Texas, was the impetus for the law. The website also inspired proposed legislation to ban computer-assisted remote hunting in 13 other states and at the federal level, according to a May 8, 2005 Washington Post article entitled, “Mouse Click Brings Home Thrill of the Hunt.” We have attached (attachment 2) a copy of the article, which further explains the positive (assisting people with disabilities) and negative (cruelty to animals, among others) positions on the issue of internet hunting, for your reference.

It appears, after visiting www.live-shot.com, that the remote hunting service is no longer offered. It does offer services on-site for people with disabilities.

The aforementioned federal legislation, HR 1588, introduced by Representative Tom Davis of Virginia, prohibits anyone from making available a computer-assisted remote hunt, with violators subject to a fine and up to five years imprisonment. HR 1588 was referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on May 10, 2005, the last major action to date.

Connecticut could adopt similar legislation prohibiting anyone from engaging in, providing, or operating facilities for computer-assisted remote hunting in the state.

JH:ro