June 22, 2011
At ranch in Scott —
Humane Society takes aim at captive hunting
Owner of Cold Brook Hunts says undercover investigation only out to malign the sport
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Deer look out from a fenced-in pasture at Cold Brook Hunts game farm Tuesday. The exotic game farm at 7217 Cold Brook Road in Scott was part of a U.S. Humane Society undercover investigation into inhumane practices.
SCOTT — The U.S. Humane Society is renewing a push to ban hunting animals on small game preserves, alleging unethical hunting practices on ranches in the states of Texas and New York — including Cold Brook Hunts on Cold Brook Road.
Humane Society officials went undercover at four ranches, accusing them of mistreating the animals hunted on those grounds. A special program detailing their investigation aired Monday evening on the cable television network Animal Planet.
But Jerry Contento, who owns Cold Brook Hunts, said Tuesday the Humane Society’s allegations are presented out of context. He said animal cruelty and hunting are two different subjects and he could only rebut the society’s claims.
The Humane Society made no specific animal cruelty allegations against the ranches they visited, only taking issue with the hunting practices. Contento said he had not seen the whole Animal Planet program.
“The bottom line is, they don’t like hunting period — they’re after the whole industry,” Contento said. “You won’t win an argument with that side and I truly believe if you don’t want to hunt, it’s your choice.”
Undercover Humane Society representatives spent five hours in a hunting blind earlier this year on the grounds at Cold Brook Hunts and never took an animal, Contento recalled.
Officials said their undercover investigation documented wildlife and exotic mammals at private hunting ranches in New York at Valley Falls, Forestville, and one in Hondo, Texas. The animals were held behind high fences so shooters could take semitame, captive animals, the humane investigators said.
Cold Brook Hunts’ website lists some of its game as fallow deer, wild boar, elk, big horn sheep and bison. The ranch has operated for 12 years on an approximately 250-acre site.
Humane Society officials said their documentary showed video of one captive hunt operator in Texas admitting he drugged animals at the ranch with tranquilizers.
Contento said his facility’s animals are “treated very well.” He said his ranch is licensed and regularly inspected by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
He could not speak for other facilities, but said tranquilizing animals for hunting makes little sense because it would render their meat inedible.
“I’ve never known anyone to tranquilize an animal to hunt it,” Contento said.
The wild animals are typically sedated when being examined by veterinarians because they are not domesticated like dairy cattle, he added.
Humane Society officials are renewing legislation posed in 2009, which prohibits interstate trade of exotic mammals for purposes of killing them for trophies or entertainment in fenced-in areas smaller than 1,000 acres.
That legislation is pending action before the U.S. Congress.
A similar bill in New York state was vetoed in 2003 by then-Gov. George Pataki.
There are 110 game farms in New York state.
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