A new form of hunting which allows participants to shoot wild boar and antelope by a simple click of the mouse is stirring up great controversy in the United States.
Online hunting has outraged animal rights activists, gun advocates and politicians from 14 states, all trying to get the sport banned.
Participants control a video camera and a gun by remote control, carefully monitoring animals on a remote shooting range via the internet.
A click of the mouse from the comfort of your own armchair can discharge a round of bullets. For extra money, the meat or animal’s head can be shipped to your home.
Founders and members of Live-Shot.com insist the practice is ethical, and in particular allows the disabled to experience the thrill of the sport.
But the concept raises several ethical issues and critics have branded it “pay-per-view slaughter”.
The first paid-for live shoot is scheduled to take place on Saturday on a Texas ranch, the only online hunting facility in existence. But activists and politicians are racing to get it banned before it can begin.
The website warns participants this is not a video game. “This is real,” it says.
“What you see on your screen thru (sic) the camera is what is there. When you activate the fire control, you are sending a signal to the firing mechanism which discharges a round.”
The website’s founder, John Lockwood, admits the concept would not appeal to everyone.
“The idea of hunting this way doesn’t appeal to me,” he told the Christian Science Monitor (CSM).
“Most of us love getting into the field. But there are many that cannot.”
He said the idea was born from working with disabled hunters but he lists a soldier in Spain among supporters who wants to send meat to his family and a soldier in Iraq who simply misses the sport.
Mr Lockwood claims opponents simply do not understand how the system works and quite how many safety procedures are in place.
“I am in full agreement that there needs to be legislation and regulation controlling it,” he said. “But people are under the impression that this is a slaughtering machine and that’s not what it is.”
Groups joining forces to ban the practice are as diverse as the Humane Society of the United States, trophy hunting organisation Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association.
Michael Markarian from the Humane Society told the CSM: “Nobody ever said the wilderness had to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.
“That is no justification for this practice, and it doesn’t give (disabled) people a true hunting experience anyway. It’s pay-per-view slaughter.”
Virginia became the first state to ban internet hunting and Texas has proposed a ban for killing animals native to the state.
A Bill to outlaw online hunting for any species will be heard in the Texas House of Representatives next Tuesday.