California Wildlife Win Protection from Federal Trapping, Gunning

Legal Victory Guarantees Analysis of
Wildlife Services’ Killings in Northern California 

Contacts:

Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, cfox@projectcoyote.org
Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821, cadkins@biologicaldiversity.org
Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910, emolvar@westernwatersheds.org
Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128, amey@awionline.org
Michelle Lute, WildEarth Guardians, (406) 848-4910, mlute@wildearthguardians.org
Natalia Lima, Animal Legal Defense Fund, (201) 679-7088, nlima@aldf.org

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— In response to a lawsuit filed by wildlife advocacy groups, a San Francisco federal court today approved a settlement requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to implement numerous protections for wildlife in Northern California, including a ban on traps and aerial gunning in designated “wilderness areas.”

Today’s settlement also requires Wildlife Services to analyze the environmental impacts of its killing of coyotes, bobcats and other wildlife in 16 counties in Northern California.

The ironically named Wildlife Services is a multimillion-dollar federal program that uses painful leghold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and aerial gunning to kill wolves, coyotes, cougars, birds and other wild animals — primarily to benefit the agriculture and livestock industries.

“This is a big victory for California wildlife targeted by this federal program’s horrifically destructive war on animals,” said Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney representing the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit. “We’ve saved hundreds of animals that would have suffered and died in traps set by Wildlife Services over the next several years. That feels really good.”

Under the court order approved today, Wildlife Services must provide, by the end of 2023, an “environmental impact statement” that analyzes the effects and risks of its wildlife-killing program in California’s North District. The North District includes Butte, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba counties.

Pending completion of that study, which will include robust public commenting opportunities, the court order imposes several measures to protect wildlife in the North District. It bans the use of M-44 cyanide devices, den fumigants and lead ammunition. It bans aerial gunning and any use of body-gripping traps, such as strangulation snares and steel-jaw leghold traps, in designated wilderness and wilderness study areas. The order also requires Wildlife Services to implement several measures to protect California’s endangered gray wolves from being accidentally killed in traps set for other carnivores. These measures include a ban on Conibear traps and non-breakaway snares in areas used by the wolves.

“Wolves are just starting to return to their native habitats in Northern California, and this settlement provides needed interim protections to protect wolves while a detailed environmental study examines whether lethal wildlife ‘management’ options should even be on the table,” said Kristin Ruether of Western Watersheds Project. “It is long past time that federal agencies stop the killing of native wildlife at the behest of the livestock industry, and ultimately we hope that the added public scrutiny will force a shift to nonlethal options.”

Last year Wildlife Services reported killing 1.6 million native animals nationwide. In California alone this total included 3,893 coyotes, 142 foxes, 83 black bears, 18 bobcats and thousands of other creatures. Nontarget animals — including protected wildlife such as wolves, Pacific fisher and eagles — are at risk from Wildlife Services’ indiscriminate methods.

“For over two decades, Wildlife Services has relied on cruel and outdated methods, such as steel-jaw leghold traps, in California — despite a statewide ban on private use of such devices,” said Tara Zuardo, Animal Welfare Institute wildlife attorney. “Today’s decision from the court ensures the environmental analysis of the program’s killing of wildlife will receive a much-needed update. California wildlife deserves this protection.”

“Wildlife Services’ lethal ‘control’ is ineffective, wasteful and cruel,” said Michelle Lute, wildlife coexistence campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. “We are changing this clandestine government program state-by-state until wildlife and people are safe on our public lands.”

“With this victory for wildlife we have demonstrated that Wildlife Services has failed to use the best available science and continues to rely on ecologically destructive and ethically indefensible management practices,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “It is past time that this rogue agency shifts to more effective, humane, and ecologically sound ways of reducing conflicts between wildlife and agricultural interests.”

“Thousands of California wildlife will now have a much needed reprieve from the federal killing agency,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “This settlement sends the powerful message that Wildlife Services’ indiscriminate killing programs will not go unchallenged.”

The victory announced today is the result of a lawsuit filed in June by the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Project Coyote, the Animal Welfare Institute and WildEarth Guardians.

READ THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT HERE.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.


The Animal Welfare Institute (awionline.org) is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people.  AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere — in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild.


Project Coyote is a national nonprofit organization and a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visitwww.projectcoyote.org.


Western Watersheds Project is an environmental conservation group working to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife


WildEarth Guardians works to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.

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Dog killed by bow hunter inspires new bill to restrict hunting

http://newjersey.news12.com/story/36623273/dog-killed-by-bow-hunter-inspires-new-bill-to-restrict-hunting

TRENTON –A New Jersey lawmaker is set to propose a new bill Wednesday aimed at restricting hunting near residential property.

It’s called Tonka’s Law and is named for a dog killed by a bow hunter in September in Readington Township. The bow hunter was about 50 feet from the property line of the dog’s owners.

Officials said the hunter, Romeo Antonuccio, of Kenilworth, was charged with careless discharge and damage of property after he told police that while trying to shoot deer from a tree stand, he thought the dog was a coyote.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak plans to announce the new bill Wednesday night on Facebook Live.

Lawsuit Challenges California’s Mismanagement of Commercial Trapping Program

September 13, 2017

Contact:

Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 770-3187, jsu@biologicaldiversity.org
Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, cfox@projectcoyote.org

Lawsuit Challenges California’s Mismanagement of Wildlife Trapping Program

Public Agencies Illegally Subsidize Private Profiteering Off
Fox, Coyote, Badger Pelts
 

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Project Coyote sued the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife today for improperly managing and illegally subsidizing the state’s commercial trapping program.

Thousands of coyotes, foxes, badgers and other fur-bearing animals are trapped each year in California so their pelts can be sold overseas. Today’s lawsuit notes that the two state agencies have illegally diverted as much as half a million dollars since 2013 to subsidize commercial fur trapping in California.

“Commercial trapping is a cruel, destructive practice that shouldn’t be subsidized by California taxpayers,” said attorney Jean Su, the Center’s associate conservation director. “It’s wrong that a handful of trappers slaughter our wildlife for private profit while the state foots the bill. These animals are far more valuable as essential species in California’s web of life than as skinned pelts shipped to Russia and China.”

In 2015, conservationists celebrated the Fish and Game Commission’s decision to ban the commercial trapping of bobcats, whose pelts are some of the most lucrative on the international fur market. But more than a dozen other furbearing animals still experience cruel trapping under the state’s mismanaged trapping program.

California law requires that the states’s costs of managing a commercial trapping program must be fully recovered through trapping license fees. The state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on wardens, biologists and administrators to oversee and enforce trapping regulations, yet license fees cover only a tiny fraction of the program’s total costs. Taxpayers foot the bill for the shortfall.

Since the fee-recovery mandate became effective in2013, the commission and the fish and wildlife department have illegally diverted upwards of half a million dollars to subsidize commercial fur trapping in California.

“The illegal subsidization of the state’s commercial trapping program violates not just the letter of the law, but the will of the California people,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote. “An overwhelming majority of Californians do not support commercial trapping.”

In the 2015-2016 license year, approximately 200 trappers purchased commercial licenses. Of those, 50 reported killing the nearly 2,000 animals trapped for fur that year, according to a department report. To ensure undamaged pelts, trappers often kill animals through strangulation, gassing and anal electrocution.

If the illegal subsidy of trapping licenses is eliminated, trapping license fees would have to be set at a level that few if any trappers would likely be willing to pay, resulting in a de facto end to commercial fur trapping in California.

“It’s shocking that California still permits the inhumane slaughter of our wildlife for fur,” Su said. “It’s time the state is held accountable for its poor management of a program that benefits only a few.”

Today’s lawsuit targets the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife for failing to raise license fees to the levels adequate to recoup the entire commercial trapping program’s costs, as mandated under law. If the illegal subsidy of trapping licenses is eliminated, trapping license fees would have to be set at a level that few, if any, trappers would likely be willing to pay, resulting in a de facto end to commercial fur trapping in California.

Recognizing the ecological importance of carnivores, the Center and Project Coyote use science-based advocacy to defend these magnificent animals from persecution, exploitation and extinction. Find out more about the Center’s Carnivore Conservation campaign here and aboutProject Coyote’s Predator Protection Programs here.

Alberta: Coyote gets stuck in car’s grille after being hit on highway – released…

AIRDRIE, Alta. – An Alberta woman says she was shocked when she found a
coyote she thought she’d struck and killed on the highway stuck in the
grille of her car.

Georgie Knox was driving to work in Calgary from her home in Airdrie last
week when the animal darted in front of her vehicle.

She says she heard a “crunch” and thought she’d run the animal over and
killed it.

But when she stopped at a traffic light near Calgary’s Foothills Hospital, a
construction worker pointed out the young coyote was lodged in her grille
and alive.

Knox called provincial fish and wildlife officers to help.

They managed to remove the animal, found it had only suffered minor injuries
and released it in the foothills west of Calgary.

Knox told CTV she felt bad when she realized the coyote had been embedded in
her grille for almost 35 kilometres at highway speeds.

“I felt horrible when I realized I took him with me all the way from
Airdrie. I thought he must be suffering and was going to die, so I was very
upset.”

She was astounded at the outpouring of concern.

“It was amazing just to see all kinds of people come together to save this
pup’s life. The construction workers, 311 dispatchers, (Calgary Police
Service) and finally the Wildlife Enforcement Department.”

Her story has gone viral on Facebook. It’s been shared tens of thousands of
times.

Knox said her experience has sparked a discussion about whether people
should be stopping to check on a wild animal they have hit on a busy
highway.

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/09/12/coyote-gets-stuck-in-cars-grille-after
being-hit-on-highway

The ugly sides of coyote hunting

Another View — Christine Schadler: The ugly sides of coyote hunting

The recent article in the Union Leader about coyote baiting lifts the curtain on the world of coyote killing. In this recreational activity, a hunter can leave bait such as the dead pigs and chickens mentioned. Coyotes scavenge whatever they can, and unwittingly become target practice for the waiting shooter.

There is no hunt involved, no fair chase and no biological justification for this — just killing a useful predator, sorely needed to control rodent and deer populations. Why is this allowed? Ask the wildlife managers at New Hampshire Fish and Game and you will learn that since the coyotes will quickly replace any members removed, they are infinitely replaceable and therefore are in no danger of becoming extinct.

This is hardly justification.

Resilience characterizes the coyote, a trait for which it should be admired. Instead, it is the trait that causes coyotes so much trouble. The coyote is the predator we cannot control. Decades of extermination effort has yielded only hundreds of thousands more coyotes and a remarkable expansion in their range. Biologists understand the power of unleashing this responsive reproduction characteristic but at Fish and Game agencies, unlimited killing of coyotes is tolerated to appease the hunters who wish to kill for the sake of killing.

Ask one of these hunters why they kill coyotes and they will quickly respond, as did Mr. Toomey, the baiter, that coyotes have no predators and would get out of control if they weren’t constantly taken.

Of course, in nature, everything has predators and in the case of coyotes, it is disease. Mange, distemper, rabies, Parvo virus, tularemia, canine hepatitis and even porcupines all take their toll on coyotes. Meanwhile coyotes, a major predator of rodents (which make up 62 percent of their diet,) help to control the spread of Lyme disease.

As New Hampshire Fish and Game turns a blind eye to the reality of coyote killing, as discovered by the young man in Plaistow, they allow cruelty to pups, orphaned when their parents are killed, to a slow death by starvation. Yes, coyotes can be killed during their breeding and denning season, day and night in this state. Ask a wildlife manager at Fish and Game about this and you will be told that there aren’t that many taken to really make a dent in the population, but this is not the point.

First, no one is keeping track of the numbers of coyotes killed by hunting, baiting and denning (killing pups while in their den), and hunters are not required to report what they have killed. Secondly, the ethics of killing coyotes 365 days a year and at night from January through March are not part of the management decision-making.

The eastern coyote, like predators in general, regulates its own population naturally in several ways. When pack structure, crucial to self-regulation, is impacted by hunting, the young breed. Normally two thirds of all females never breed due to brief estrus cycles (just one week per year.) Also, vigilant parents do not tolerate their young breeding on their territory. Only the breeding pair breeds, period.

As long as no one asks too many questions, irresponsible hunters will continue to kill, kill, kill coyotes. Now that New Hampshire Fish and Game needs $1.5 million from the General Fund, our voice must be heard in defense of wildlife. The hunter, giving fair chase, holding ethical standards and using that animal for food, has every right to continue.

Christine Schadler is the Vermont and New Hampshire representative for Project Coyote.

Coyote hunting ban would end under NC Senate bill, but some fear for endangered red wolves

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article132861439.html

Greenfield man accidentally shot while returning from evening of coyote hunting/HUNTING ACCIDENT CLAIMS LIFE

Greenfield man accidentally shot while returning from evening of coyote hunting
PUBLISHED: 11/27/16 12:12 AM EST.
UPDATED: 11/27/16 08:10 AM EST.

GREEFIELD, Ind. (WTHR) – A Greenfield man was accidentally shot while hunting Saturday evening.

Indiana Conservation officers say 31-year-old Dustin Fischer and 26-year-old Johnathan Armstrong, both of Greenfield, were coyote hunting on private property near Wilkinson in Hancock County.

Both men returned to Armstrong’s truck after hunting. Armstrong placed his .223 caliber rifle on th rear floorboard of the pickup prior to Fischer returning to the truck.

When Fischer put his rifle on the floorboard, Armstrong’s rifle fired, striking Fischer in the left arm.

Armstrong and the landowner applied a tourniquet to Fischer’s arm to stop the bleeding.

He was transported to Hancock Regional Hospital and then airlifted to St. Francis Hospital where he will undergo surgery.

The investigation is ongoing.

___________________

http://wcluradio.com/hunting-accident-claims-life/

112816-hunting-accident-500x261
Edmonton, Ky. (November 28, 2016) – KSP Post 15 received a call on Sunday, November 27, 2016 at approximately 8:14 AM CST in reference to a shooting incident on Cedar Flat Rd. in Metcalfe County. Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Officers and Kentucky State Troopers responded to the scene along with the Metcalfe County Coroner.

35-year-old Herbert N. Lattin, of Edmonton, was located approximately 1/2 mile off the roadway, in a wooded area, with a single gunshot wound to the head. No foul play is suspected. Mr. Lattin was apparently deer hunting from an elevated stand when the accident occurred. Fish & Wildlife officer Jared Ervin is investigating.

Why coyotes and badgers hunt together

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/coyote-and-badger-hunt-together

The two predators were recently photographed collaborating in Colorado, a fascinating example of interspecies teamwork.

November 25, 2016,
coyote and badger hunting together

A coyote and badger stalk prey together on the prairie surrounding the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in northern Colorado. (Photo: Kimberly Fraser/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Competition and cooperation aren’t mutually exclusive. Just ask a coyote or a badger.

Both are crafty carnivores, and since they often hunt the same prey in the same prairies, it would make sense for them to be enemies, or at least to avoid each other. But while they don’t always get along, coyotes and badgers also have an ancient arrangement that illustrates why it can be smart for rivals to work together.

An example of that partnership recently unfolded on a prairie in northern Colorado, near the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. And it was captured in photos, both by a wildlife camera trap and by sharp-eyed photographers:

coyote and badger hunting togetherA field camera caught this amazing shot, which shows the coyote and badger trotting across the landscape with a prairie dog looking on in the foreground. (Photo: National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center/Facebook)

coyote and badger hunting togetherThe duo takes a break from pursuing prairie dogs. (Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS)

coyote and badger hunting together(Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS)

coyote and badger hunting togetherThe coyote and badger survey a black-tailed prairie dog colony near Wellington, Colorado. (Photo: Ryan Moehring/USFWS)

While it’s relatively rare to capture such good photos of a hunt like this, the phenomenon is well-documented. It was familiar to many Native Americans long before Europeans reached the continent, and scientists have studied it for decades. It has been reported across much of Canada, the United States and Mexico, according to Ecology Online, typically with one badger hunting alongside one coyote.

(In one study at the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, 90 percent of all coyote-badger hunts featured one of each animal, while about 9 percent involved one badger with two coyotes. Just 1 percent saw a lone badger join a coyote trio.)

But why would these predators work together at all? When one of them finally catches something, they aren’t known to share the spoils. So what’s the point?

coyote and badger hunting togetherWorking together helps each species pursue prey more effectively. (Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS)

The point, apparently, is to improve the likelihood that at least one of the hunters will snag some prey. Even if that means the other one ends up empty-handed, the partnership seems to pay off for both species in the long run.

Each member of the hunting party has a distinct set of skills. Coyotes are nimble and quick, so they excel at chasing prey across an open prairie. Badgers are slow and awkward runners by comparison, but they’re better diggers than coyotes are, having evolved to pursue small animals in underground burrow systems. So when they hunt prairie dogs or ground squirrels on their own, badgers usually dig them up, while coyotes chase and pounce. The rodents therefore use different strategies depending which predator is after them: They often escape a digging badger by leaving their burrows to flee aboveground, and evade coyotes by running to their burrows.

When badgers and coyotes work together, however, they combine these skills to hunt more effectively than either could alone. Coyotes chase prey on the surface, while badgers take the baton for subterranean pursuits. Only one may end up with a meal, but overall, research suggests the collaboration benefits both hunters.

“Coyotes with badgers consumed prey at higher rates and had an expanded habitat base and lower locomotion costs,” according to the authors of the National Elk Refuge study. “Badgers with coyotes spent more time below ground and active, and probably had decreased locomotion and excavation costs. Overall, prey vulnerability appeared to increase when both carnivores hunted in partnership.”

Badgers and coyotes aren’t always friendly, though. While the majority of their interactions “appear to be mutually beneficial or neutral,” Ecology Online notes they do sometimes prey on each other. The two species have developed “a sort of open relationship,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), since they tend to collaborate in warmer months, then often drift apart as winter sets in.

“In the winter, the badger can dig up hibernating prey as it sleeps in its burrow,” the FWS explains. “It has no need for the fleet-footed coyote.”

Not at the time, anyway. But winter eventually turns to spring, and these two hunters may start to need each other again. And just as they have for thousands of years, they’ll make peace, embrace their differences and get back to work.

Your Next Hamburger May Come With a Side of Endangered Wolf

http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/05/29/food-production-impacts-wildlife-extinction-labels?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2016-05-30

A group argues for adding wildlife conservation facts to nutrition labels.


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The remnants of uneaten hamburgers at a 2014 burger-eating contest in Washington. (Photo: Gary Cameron/Reuters)

May 29, 2016
Emily J. Gertz is an associate editor for environment and wildlife

When it comes to valuable real estate, the square inches that comprise the official food nutrition label may be a hotter commodity than the most impressive street address in Manhattan. How consumers react to the label’s black-and-white facts about calories, fats, sugars, and vitamins is worth billions of dollars to the food industry.

An environmental group would like to factor in one more thing: how food production affects wildlife. Piggybacking on the government’s overhauled nutrition label—which, despite industry opposition, now distinguishes added from naturally occurring sugars—the Center for Biological Diversity has released “extinction labels” that suggest how much impact a hamburger, a chicken breast, or a serving of bacon has on water supplies, forests, the climate, and the survival of endangered species.

“People probably don’t think that when they’re eating a hamburger they’re harming a wolf, but there’s a direct correlation,” said Jennifer Molidor, senior food campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “A wolf, for example, will be targeted by predator control programs in their natural environment, at the behest of the livestock industry, to protect the cattle.”


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The “extinction facts” label. (Image: Center for Biological Diversity)

The Center for Biological Diversity and other animal welfare groups have charged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program, which kills millions of wild coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, bears, and other animals annually, lacks transparency as well as scientific justification for its practices. States also run such programs.

RELATED:  This State’s Population of Wolves Is Recovering, So Now Ranchers Can Shoot Them

There are other impacts as well. Increasing amounts of livestock manure are the leading driver of growing methane emissions from agriculture. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and can also degrade air quality. Raising alfalfa for cow feed uses up 2.7 trillion gallons of water a year in California alone.

The Center for Biological Diversity would like the government to advise the public on how to make eating choices that have less impact on wildlife and natural resources. “We’re in the sixth major extinction crisis, the first human-caused extinction crisis, and it’s highly related to our diet,” said Molidor. “Americans eat about three times the global average of meat consumption. If the rest of the world ate like Americans ate in terms of meat and dairy, we would need four more Earths.”

Author and futurist Jamais Cascio has experience using the nutrition label format to make an environmental point. His “cheeseburger footprint” graphic, which was based on his research into the carbon emissions created by a quarter-pound cheeseburger, went viral in the mid-2000s, landing him an appearance in a National Geographic documentary about climate change.

(Full disclosure: Casio and I were colleagues on a blog-and-book project called Worldchanging during the mid-2000s.)

Ten years later, Cascio said, he continues to get requests to use the image, and he features it in his consulting on sustainability and future planning.



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The “cheeseburger footprint” label. (Image: Courtesy of Jamais Cascio)

“I can say from my experience that adding that carbon facts image dramatically increased the amount of conversation around carbon footprints,” he said. “I started to see, in some places, the cheeseburger as the symbol of unintended climate consequences.”

Cascio called the extinction label “a good first draft,” but noted that “it doesn’t pretend to be objective.”

“This looks like they’re combining the nutrition label with a cigarette warning,” he said. “If you want to blame the elimination of sage grouse and wolves on beef production, I can understand that. I’m not sure how it factors into polar bears.”

But images can evoke interest and reactions in ways that pages full of text can’t match, he added.

“Greenhouse gases, water, manure, all have links to beef production,” Cascio said. “If they can draw a more direct link to the consequences, I could see this being applied across a wide array of products—or even a political candidate.”

Sportsmen’s Act, or Poachers’ Act?

Sportsmen’s Act, or Poachers’ Act?

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By on May 20, 2015 with 33 Comments

If you thought the Senate version of the Sportsmen’s Act – which was the subject of a recent hearing – was awful, the House version that was examined in committee today is even worse.

The House version is called the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act” (SHARE Act), H.R. 2406. Yet it includes language to prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from adopting a rule to restrict the illegal ivory trade in the United States. What does that have to do with sportsmen who hunt deer, ducks, and other traditional prey? The answer: it has zero to do with sportsmen, and everything to do with AK-47-wielding poachers slaughtering elephants and sawing off their faces, destroying the economies of Africa in the process, and financing terrorists who are a threat to African and western nations.

That’s a good starting point for a bill that’s careened off course and has almost nothing to do with its title.  H.R. 2406 helps no rank-and-file hunters. It’s a grab bag of items largely unrelated to, and disconnected from, hunting.

In addition to the elephant poaching provision, the bill provides an opportunity for a handful of ultra-wealthy trophy hunters to import sport-hunted polar bears killed in northern Canada. This is a special-interest provision, which carves out an exemption in the Marine Mammal Protection Act, that has no bearing on regular hunters who fill their freezers with venison. None of these millionaire trophy hunters, who paid as much as $50,000 to shoot a polar bear, ate the meat. They just went on a head-hunting exercise, and paid a fortune to do so.

The bill is also a boon to the small fraction of the U.S. population that engages in trapping live animals. The SHARE Act adds “trapping” to the definition of hunting. This provision would open up millions of acres of land to trapping: an inherently cruel and inhumane means of ensnaring animals like beavers, bobcats, and foxes. Each year, millions of animals, including pets, are killed in painful traps, and they try desperately to free themselves for hours or days before they succumb to dehydration, predators, or the trapper’s bludgeon. Recreational trapping with the worst body-gripping traps is banned or severely restricted in nine U.S. states and over 80 countries, and Congress should be working to end this cruel practice, rather than expanding it.

The House bill also goes a step further than its Senate companion bill on the issue of toxic lead ammunition. It takes away the regulatory authority of the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect wildlife – and the public – from toxic lead ammunition. These agencies have already taken positive steps in requiring the use of non-lead alternatives for hunting certain species. In 1991, they put in place a nationwide measure requiring non-toxic shot for migratory waterfowl, after biologists estimated that millions of ducks were dying from lead poisoning. That federal rule has saved millions of birds annually from death by exposure to toxic lead, and it’s not put a dent in duck hunting. Now members of Congress want to take away the opportunity to build on this success  – handcuffing federal agencies that have a duty to address ammunition that poisons millions of wild animals.

The SHARE Act, just like its Senate companion , will not benefit rank-and-file hunters, and will destroy years of work done by animal protection advocates, environmentalists, and conservationists to protect endangered species and other wildlife. It is a special interest bill masquerading as a measure for sportsmen. Rank-and-file sportsmen, and the lawmakers who care about them, should not be deceived. Please call your members of Congress to ask them not to support these cruel bills.