They Shoot Jackalopes, Don't They?


The Wall Street Journal is reporting on the move to ban the dread menace of "Internet hunting," a setup in which hunters use webcams and computer mouses to pull the trigger on unsuspecting prey. The call for a ban–spearheaded by a Humane Society direct-mail campaign–has been hugely successful. Over 30 states have banned the practice.

There's only one catch, but it's kind of important: Internet hunting doesn't, er, actually exist. Not even for jackalopes:

But nobody actually hunts animals over the Internet. Although the concept—first broached publicly by a Texas entrepreneur in 2004—is technically feasible, it hasn't caught on. How so many states have nonetheless come to ban the practice is a testament to public alarm over Internet threats and the gilded life of legislation that nobody opposes.

With no Internet hunters to defend the sport, the Humane Society's lobbying campaign has been hugely successful—a welcome change for an organization that has struggled to curtail actual boots-on-the-ground hunting. Michael Markarian, who has led the group's effort, calls it "one of the fastest paces of reform for any animal issue that we can remember seeing."

Here's an exchange that should make lawmakers (and voters) everywhere cringe:

[Melanie George] Marshall, the Delaware state representative, realizes that nobody is actually killing animals on the Internet, but thinks now is the time to act. "What if someone started one of these sites in the six months that we're not in session?" says Ms. Marshall. "We were able to proactively legislate for society."

That sentiment bothers a fellow representative, Gerald W. Hocker. Of 3,563 state legislators nationwide who have voted on Internet-hunting bans, Mr. Hocker is one of only 38 to oppose them. He co-sponsored an earlier version of Rep. Marshall's bill in 2005 but took his name off it after doing some research.

"Internet hunting would be wrong," he says. "But there's a lot that would be wrong, if it were happening."

More here (not sure if this is a non-subscriber link or not).