|Fred looked like this feral pig, but he was trusting and friendly. He suffered a three-hour death at a canned hunt.
Fred was raised as a family pet. He grew up in the Alabama hill country on the farm of Phil and Rhonda Blissitt. Phil had given Fred to his wife for a Christmas present, and he was fed and pampered as a dog or cat would be.
But Fred wasn't a dog or cat. He was a domestic pig, and when he grew up, the Blissitts, whom Fred had learned to think of as his family, sold him to the Lost Creek Plantation, a nearby "hunting preserve."
Fred was longer than nine feet long and weighed half a ton. Since Lost Creek charges $1.25 a pound for what they call (inaccurately, in Fred's case) "feral meat hogs," the operators figured to make more than a thousand dollars on Fred.
They turned him loose in a 150-acre fenced enclosure, from which Fred had no chance of escape. On May 3, they sent paying customers Mike Stone and his 11-year-old son, Jamison, into the enclosure to hunt him down.
A Slow Death
Fred had never been wild, and he had never been hunted. People had always been his friends. They had fed him, rubbed his snout, and brought him treats. When he saw Jamison approaching with a pistol, he may have been curious, but nothing more. Then Jamison shot him.
People had always been his friends. They had fed him, rubbed his snout, and brought him treats. When he saw Jamison approaching with a pistol, he may have been curious, but nothing more. Then Jamison shot him.
During the pursuit, Jamison shot Fred a total of eight times. Jamison's father and two guides had high-powered rifles and could apparently have dispatched Fred a number of times during the chase. But they held their fire and let Fred suffer pain and fear for three long hours before Jamison finally succeeded in ending his misery.
Violating Ethics, If Not The Law
This is the true face of canned hunts. A tame animal, trapped inside a fenced pen, is shot multiple times over several hours. The publicity generated by the size of the pig—which might have been a world record had Fred actually been the wild boar he was advertised to be—and some outstanding investigative reporting by Bran Strickland, sports editor of the Anniston Star, lifted the curtain of secrecy in which canned hunts are shrouded and revealed what they really are: cruelty for cash, death for dollars. In Fred's death, as with all the victims of canned hunts, there was neither sport nor sportsmanship.
Last year, Alabama enacted legislation that bans the hunting of tame animals when victim does not have a reasonable chance to escape. Fred was tame, and he had no chance to escape at all. The HSUS asked the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Conservation to investigate what, based on the press reports, appears to be a clear violation of state law. It is certainly a violation of the hunters' code of ethics, fair chase and simple human decency.
Unfortunately, the agency would not act, because Fred was not a game animal—he was a pet.