Many organizations and associations have a code of ethics or code of conduct. These are a set of rules by which members of those associations agree to abide.
Because of the diversity of opinions regarding hunting preserves, operators would be wise to adopt and follow a code of ethics. This code assures clients, and the general public, that the operation of the hunting preserve follows certain, acceptable standards.
You can make up your own code of ethics, but it is probably easier to use ones that have already been established. We particularly like the code of ethics created by the North American Elk Breeders Association because it addresses the major concerns regarding hunting behind high wire.
The NAEBA Code of Ethics for hunting preserves says:
- The operations should assure harvesting in any area by any method which, through a combination of size, terrain, and vegetative cover, provides an animal with a reasonable opportunity to avoid being found or, having been found, to evade the hunter.
- Harvesting operations should offer hunting opportunities for physically challenged hunters.
- Trophy operations should be enclosed in game fence that excludes wild animals from the enclosure and retains commercially raised animals within the enclosure. Within the trophy operation, only commercially raised animals will be harvested.
- Trophy animals placed in a harvest operation should exhibit their natural flight instinct.
- The animals should be self-sufficient for forage, water, and shelter. Supplemental feeding is permitted.
- Each hunt should include a guide to ensure humane harvesting.
- Harvest area should be a size to include recovery of trophy animals.
- Hunters should possess familiarity with weapon of choice.
- If the hunter does not want the meat from the harvested animal, it should be used by the harvest operation or donated to a charitable organization that will distribute it to families in need.
- Proper postmortem testing must be done to monitor herd health.
This Code of Ethics was developed to outline the elk industry’s definition of an acceptable private hunting operation. North American Elk Breeders Association is an agricultural breed association; members sell their commodity of trophy elk to hunting preserves. NAEBA strongly recommends that members of their association sell elk only to operations that meet the above guidelines.
We would encourage that all deer and elk hunting preserves adopt this Code (or a similar one). Once you do, post it in your lodge, and let clients and the public know that you subscribe and follow a code of ethics. If all preserves would do so, it would go a long way towards addressing concerns people may have about hunt farms and ranches.