How Safari Club Int’l Works To Weaken ESA Protections

A View To A Kill

By Michael Satchell
The Humane Society of the United States
11-25-3

What weighs 21 pounds, contains 2,560 pages, and lists thousands of names and numbers? It’s not the New York City telephone directory, but here’s a hint: Its listings run from Addax to Zebra.
The answer is Safari Club International’s three-volume compendium of trophy hunters who are immortalized in this record book for doing nothing more than killing animalsóan entire alphabet of animalsóto win SCI awards competitions. The catalog is a macabre scorecard detailing who shot what animal, where and when. Thousands and thousands of animals, covering more than 1,100 species, are figuratively buried between the covers here.
You can learn, for example, that in 1910 in the Sudan, Theodore Roosevelt killed a rhino whose horns measured 24 4/8 inches and 7 4/8 inches, scoring 67 1/8 points to make the former U.S. president the No.1 hunter of Northern white rhino. Or that one Marc Pechenart shot an elephant in the Central African Republic in June 1970, earning a score of 302 points for the biggest pachyderm. The animal’s left tusk weighed 154 pounds and the right 148 pounds.
With its photographs of grinning hunters posing with lifeless animals and its meticulous rankings for the biggest tusks, horns, antlers, skulls and bodies, the SCI record book perfectly encapsulates what trophy hunting is all about: killing for killing’s sake. The book lays bare the hunters’ obsessions: a craving to shoot the largest animal, a desire to kill the most animals and rack up SCI awards, or a fetish to bring home the animal’s head and hang it on the wall.
The mother of all these obsessions, though, is the awards competition. SCI members shoot prescribed lists of animals to win so-called Grand Slam and Inner Circle titles. Thereís the Africa Big Five, (leopard, elephant, lion, rhino, and buffalo); the North American Twenty Nine (all species of bear, bison, sheep, moose, caribou, and deer); and the Antlered Game of the Americas, among many other contests.
To complete all 29 award categories, a hunter must kill a minimum of 322 separate species and sub-speciesóenough to populate an entire zoo. This is an extremely expensive and lengthy task, and many SCI members take the quick and easy route. They shoot captive animals in canned hunts, both in the United States and overseas, and some engage in other unethical conduct like shooting animals over bait, from vehicles, with spotlights, or on the periphery of national parks.
Wayne Pacelle, HSUS senior vice president for communications and government affairs, captures the essence of SCI members and their motivation:
“It’s a perverse and destructive subculture,” he says. “Thousands of animals suffer and die for the amusement of wealthy elites who have the means to pursue any form of recreation, but choose to shoot the world’s rarest and most beautiful animals. There’s no societal value to the exercise, just a selfish all-consuming mentality of killing, collecting, and showing off trophies. They know the price of every animal, but the value of none.”
High-Powered Rifles
It’s easy to parody and criticize Safari Club International, but it’s a mistake to underestimate the club’s power and influence on shaping policies that are detrimental to wildlifeóand beneficial to those members who stand tall over freshly killed animals in the SCI record books.
Since it was founded in 1971, the Tucson-based non-profit has grown to some 40,000 trophy collectors. More than half boast an annual income of more than $100,000 (compared to 6% of hunters nationwide). The average member owns 11 rifles, six shotguns, five handguns and a bow. Two-thirds spend about one month hunting each year, and a quarter of the members more than 50 days.
The club contributes large sums to mostly Republican candidates and, not surprisingly, has been able to ingratiate itself with various administrations, most notably the Bush Administration, and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). With the help of friendly members of Congress and officials in USFWS, SCI has consistently attempted to navigate around the intent of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and import once-banned trophies of endangered and threatened wildlife. Sometimes, the club has succeeded, sometimes not.
The latest example of SCI’s growing influence in Washington is the Bush Administration’s initiative to “save” the world’s endangered species by killing or selling them, and then using the revenues as an incentive for poor countries to improve their conservation efforts. This scheme to protect rare wildlife is a formula for disaster. It will reverse 30 years of ESA protections for hundreds of exotic creatures who are heading for, or teetering on, the brink of extinction.
The proposal, which conveniently dovetails with SCI’s agenda, offers several examples of how wildlife can be exploited for profit. It suggests imports, such as wild-caught Asian elephants for circuses and zoos, Morelet’s crocodile skins for luxury leather items like shoes and handbags, and Asian bonytongue tropical fish to supply the aquarium trade. American trophy hunters could shoot and import trophies of straight-horned markhor, a rare goat found in Pakistan, and then head north on a quickie expedition to nail Canadian wood bison.
These are only examples. If approved, the proposal portends open season on many disappearing species, particularly large mammals, the so-called charismatic megafauna. It would also be a huge incentive for poaching and smuggling. Imagine how much rich trophy hunters would offer China to shoot giant pandasóarguably the world’s most beloved animalóif they were allowed to import their stuffed remains. Picture furriers importing the hides of endangered snow leopards to swathe the ethically challenged. And now that pet tigers have earned a bad rap, might cheetahs become the newest rage among exotic pet owners?
For three decades and under strict controls, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed only a few rare animals, such as pandas, to be brought in for scientific research and breeding. Until SCI began to push its agenda in Congress and at the Interior Department, USFWS very rarely approved the importation of endangered-species trophies. Now, the agency is proposing not only to ease those trophy import restrictions but also to allow the import of live animals for entertainment (or the pet trade) and the import of skins and hides for luxury apparel.
Such a plan goes against USFWS’s historic rationale, which quite correctly notes that fostering a commercial market for disappearing wildlife will inevitably hasten its demise.
No Trickle-Down Economics
Encouraging the sale and import of heads, hides, and live animals to enhance survival efforts in the wild may sound logicalóuntil you examine the sorry history of other purported “sustainable” wildlife-use programs. The record shows that few of the dollars trickle down to benefit either wildlife or local people in the impoverished range states because corrupt officials inevitably divert the money.
During the 1990s, in a well-intentioned-but-misguided conservation effort, the U.S. government spent more than $12 million to underwrite sustainable wildlife-use programs in Zimbabwe. The idea was to give local people the opportunity to raise money for community projects by selling hunting permits for African elephants. The program ended up subsidizing trophy hunting, and little of their trophy fees reached the villages.
USFWS’s new endangered species proposal doesn’t offer much hope to alter this historical course. Despite agency assurances, the plan isn’t the product of careful scientific assessment or innovative thinking. It’s driven, in large part, by the working relationship between the Bush Administration and SCI, and by the administration’s apparent hostility toward the Endangered Species Act.
SCI’s membership includes former President George Herbert Walker Bush, who has lobbied the government of Botswana on the group’s behalf to lift the ban on killing the nation’s dwindling lion population. What’s more, President George W. Bush appointed Matthew J. Hogan, SCI’s former Government Affairs Manager, as one of the two current deputy directors of USFWSóa classic example of the fox guarding the hen house. Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, in turn, has worked to weaken the ESA, from abandoning federal efforts to restore grizzlies in Idaho to undermining a key provision that allows citizens to sue the government to speed up protection of imperiled species.
Aiming High…Shooting Low
SCI got off to a shaky start during its early forays into Washington politics. In 1979, when the organization was not even a decade old, it sought government approval to circumvent the spirit of the law and import an astonishing 1,125 trophies of 40 animals on the endangered species list. They included gorillas, cheetahs, tigers, orangutans, and snow leopards.
With a straight face, SCI said its goal was “scientific researchÖincentive for propagationÖsurvival of the species.” There was one small problem. The trophies weren’t dead yet. The prospect of permitting the wholesale slaughter of more than 1,000 rare animals was a bit too much, even for USFWS, and the request was denied.
As its lobbying became more sophisticated, SCI began pouring money into national political campaigns. Since the 1998 election cycle, it has contributed $596,696 to Republican candidates and $92,500 to Democrats. Not coincidentally, Congressional Republicans have made repeated attempts to amend and weaken the ESA, while USFWS, turning its back on decades of precedents, has proposed to allow hunters to import trophies of endangered animals killed in the wild. These import easements are critical to one of SCI’s true aims.
All those pictures in the SCI record books, and in the club’s glossy magazines like Safari and Hunt Forever, are a form of pornography to the blood sports crowd. Would-be big-game hunters can pore over photos of triumphant and sated trophy collectors holding up the head of a dead ungulate by its horns or standing atop the hulk of a dead elephant or posing with a dead leopard draped around his neck. But like all pornography, the image is never enough. The hunter eventually wants a taste of the real thing. And, of course, he must have a trophy to savor the experience.
As former SCI president John J. Jackson III once wrote: “A trophy of any species attests that its owner has been somewhere and done something, that he has exercised skilled persistence and discrimination in the agile feat of overcoming, outwitting, and reducing game to possession.”
Trophy collectors may rhapsodize about their spiritual love for the quarry, the hunter’s path to self-actualization, the thrill of the chase, the test of manhood, and other such philosophical jabberwocky. But at the end of the day, and after a $65,000 safari, the only thing that matters is hanging that head on the wallóand the rarer the animal, the better it feels.
An example: Kenneth E. Behring, who donated $100 million to have the Smithsonian memorialize him with the Behring Family Hall of Mammals on the Washington D.C. Mall, went to Kazakhstan in 1997 and paid the government enough to allow him to shoot a Kara Tau argali sheep.
The animal, even SCI acknowledges, is critically endangered; the species is listed on CITES Appendix I and can not be imported into the United States as a trophy without the help of a museum. Behring, who like all SCI members, regards himself as a conservationist, killed his Kara Tau argali when only 100 remained and shipped it to a Canadian taxidermist. The Smithsonian then petitioned USFWS for an import permit, but withdrew the request in the storm of negative publicity that followed.
But Behring isn’t the only SCI member with questionable ethics. Back when Teddy Roosevelt was laying waste to Africa’s wildlife, hunting may have embraced those mythic elements that SCI still loves to invoke: a Hemingway-esque mantra of danger, romance, bravery, and the thrill of slaying the beast.
On today’s safari, however, the customer is coddled in luxury tent camps, replete with flush toilets, hot showers and gourmet dining. All he (or she) has to do is shell out tens of thousands of dollars, pull the trigger when instructed, and pose for the money shot. He doesn’t even get blood on his hands. A professional guide stalks the target, lines up the shot, tells the client when to take it, acts as a backup shooter if the animal is wounded, and supervises the gutting, skinning and decapitation.
And that’s in the wild. From South Africa to New Zealand to Texas, many of these trophy collectors shoot captive animals in canned hunts staged in fenced paddocks on game ranches, a practice the Boone and Crockett Club calls “unfair and unsportsmanlike.” The animals are habituated to humans and are shot at feeding stations, salt licks and watering holes. The “spirit of fair chase,” supposedly enshrined in SCI’s code of ethics, is conveniently ignored.
SCI’s highly flexible “fair chase” code also urges members to “comply with all game laws and demonstrate abiding respect for game, habitat and property.” That admonition regularly falls on deaf ears.
In 1998, several top SCI leaders, including Behring and then-president Alfred Donau, reportedly went on a wildlife killing spree in Mozambique. According to a published report, they left animals wounded and dying and shot elephants in alleged violation of national law. Other SCI members have been convicted of killing endangered species and trying to smuggle them into the U.S.
Wealthy hunters, including SCI members, have also been caught in federal tax scams. In one celebrated case, a museum in Raleigh, North Carolina, gave trophy hunters the title of “associate curator,” which helped them persuade foreign officials to grant permits to shoot rare animals. Hunters went on to donate low-value trophies to the museum and receive wildly inflated appraisals, which were then deducted from their federal taxes. In some cases, the mounts were reacquired by the donors. Before authorities busted the ring, the museum took in 1,800 specimens and valued them at a whopping $8.4 million. At SCI’s 1999 annual convention, members were offered a document titled Secrets of Tax Deductible Hunting, advising them to declare their home trophy rooms as museums, call themselves curators, and “donate your record-book animal for the mouthwatering tax deduction.”
Incidents like these fuel the club’s negative image. Most Americans are largely ambivalent about hunting wild animals for food, but polls show strong public opposition to killing exotic animals for fun, competition, and bragging rights. To counter this perception and burnish its reputation, the club donates meat to food banks, stages “sensory safaris” where the vision-impaired can touch and feel stuffed animals, and arranges hunting for the disabled.
To Matthew Scully, author of the highly acclaimed book Dominion, such window dressing is humbug. “They practice a socially conscious sadism here,” Scully writes. “Ethics at the Safari Club is ordered libertinism, like teaching cannibals to use a table napkin and not take the last portion.”
– Michael Satchell is a senior consultant for The HSUS.
Copyright © 2003 The Humane Society of the United States. All rights reserved.
http://www.hsus.org/ace/20054

Animal rights activists upset over man killing bear with a spear

http://www.guns.com/2016/08/16/animal-rights-activists-upset-over-man-killing-bear-with-a-spear-video/

(VIDEO)

 

An American who carried out a hunt in Canada is facing the wrath of animal rights activists after he posted a video capturing the kill on YouTube.

Josh Bowmar, who lives in Ohio, used a spear to slay a black bear, which is legal in Canada. Bowmar was immediately met with criticism after posting the video, but he was also quick to fire right back.

Masha Kalinina, of Humane Society International, said the animal was “heartlessly slaughtered for fun.”

“No-one could argue there is any skill involved here, no exhibition of hunting prowess, and certainly this has nothing to do with conservation as trophy hunters often argue,” Kalinina added. “This is pure selfish blood lust, a desire for a thrill and a trophy at the expense of an innocent life.”

Bowmar, however, ensured that the bear, which he described as “extremely nutritious,” was not wasted in any way. Likewise, Bowmar said those scoffing at his hunt should be ashamed of themselves for “for trying to kill a heritage that has existed for over a million years.”

Not only that, Bowmar detailed the skill involved in such a hunt, despite Kalinina’s claim that there was none involved.

[ The Mirror ]

Calling all animal lovers: Trump’s sons are proud murderers of endangered species.

View image on Twitter

Horrible people doing horrible things,

More Daily Beast:

The Trump boys were hunting in Zimbabwe—the same country where Cecil was killed—and though Zimbabwean animal conservation groups looked into the incident, the hunt was deemed perfectly legal. Once the photos went viral online, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted (and then deleted

CnxlOqgW8AATJy5_1_.jpg

 

 http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/7/20/1550051/-Calling-all-animal-lovers-Trump-s-sons-are-proud-murderers-of-endangered-species

Tell your Senators to OPPOSE S.659 – ‘Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2016’

http://www.all-creatures.org/alert/alert-20160419.html
Action Alert from All-Creatures.org

FROM

WolfWatcher / Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic – Vote Our Wildlife
April 2016

ACTION

This bill, under the guise of “Sportsmen”, is loaded with many anti-environmental provisions and is a mirror image of the SHARE Act which has already passed in the House of Representatives. Polls indicate the majority of Americans oppose this.

Tell your Senators to OPPOSE this atrocious act that is pro-hunting, guts environmental protections, decreases endangered species listings.

See Tell U.S. Senators to OPPOSE NRA-Backed ‘Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE)’:

We call this the ‘Sportsmen Destruction of the Wilderness Act of 1964.’

It has passed in the House. THIS HAS TO BE STOPPED IN THE SENATE!!

PLEASE find and contact your U.S. Senators here.

INFORMATION

This bill, under the guise of “Sportsmen”, is loaded with many anti-environmental provisions and is a mirror image of the SHARE Act which has passed in the House of Representatives. Polls indicate the majority of Americans (and Michigan voters) oppose these bills. If passed, the Bipartisan Sportsman’s Act would:

  • Prevent the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service from restricting the illegal ivory trade and send the message to the armed criminals who are decimating Africa’s last herds that the American market is still open for business.
  • Require Dept of Interior to issue permits to allow a hunter to import polar bear parts (other than internal organs) if the bear was legally harvested in Canada from an approved population before the May 15, 2008, listing of the polar bear as threatened.
  • Exempt components of firearms and ammunition and sport fishing equipment and its components (such as lead sinkers) from regulations of chemical substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act posing significant health risks to humans and wildlife. Lead bullets represent a problem for anything that ingests them because they fragment into hundreds of tiny pieces when they strike an animal being shot. As a result, many scavengers and raptors, including eagles, die annually from toxic lead poisoning. Studies also suggest that lead fragments can be found in wild game meat processed for human consumption, even though best attempts are made in the field to remove sections that are within the bullet wound channel.
  • Guts existing Clean Water Act safeguards that protect our streams, rivers, and lakes from excessive pesticide pollution. It would allow the discharge of pesticides into water bodies without meaningful oversight, since the federal pesticide registration law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)) does not require tracking of such applications.
  • Prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from finalizing a rule that would prohibit certain unethical practices on Alaskan refuge lands, such as the use of traps or bait in bear hunting, hunting wolves and coyotes during denning season, and hunting bear cubs or bear sows with cubs.
  • Directs the Secretary of the Interior to reissue two wolf delisting rules that federal courts held were illegal under the Endangered Species Act. In addition, the amendment blocks judicial review of the faulty federal rules, thus preventing citizens from challenging the delisting of wolves in Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Despite the exaggerated claims made, depredation by wolves remains low, especially when compared to other losses.

Thank you for everything you do for animals!

U.S. hunters import 126,000 wildlife ‘trophies’ annually

U.S. hunters import about 126,000 “wildlife trophies” annually and killed about 1.26 million animals between 2005 and 2014, according to the Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States.

Trophy hunting is the killing of animals for body parts, such as the head and hide, for display or decor rather than for food and sustenance. A recent study examining the motivation for such hunts found that U.S. hunters glamorize the killing of an animal to demonstrate virility, prowess and dominance.

A report from Humane Society International/Humane Society of the United States titled Trophy Hunting by the Numbers: the United States’ Role in Global Trophy Hunting, uses an analysis of hunting trophy import data obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Some findings:

<!–/*
* The backup image section of this tag has been generated for use on a
* non-SSL page. If this tag is to be placed on an SSL page, change the
* 'http://ads.wisconsingazette.com/www/delivery/…&#039;
* to
* 'https://ads.wisconsingazette.com/www/delivery/…&#039;
*
* This noscript section of this tag only shows image banners. There
* is no width or height in these banners, so if you want these tags to
* allocate space for the ad before it shows, you will need to add this
* information to the tag.
*
* If you do not want to deal with the intricities of the noscript
* section, delete the tag (from … to ). On
* average, the noscript tag is called from less than 1% of internet
* users.
*/–>

&amp;amp;lt;a href=’http://ads.wisconsingazette.com/www/delivery/ck.php?n=aab34001&amp;amp;amp;amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&#8217; target=’_blank’&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;img src=’http://ads.wisconsingazette.com/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=6&amp;amp;amp;amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;amp;amp;amp;n=aab34001&#8242; border=’0′ alt=” /&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt;

• Trophies are primarily imported from Canada and South Africa, followed by Namibia, Mexico, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Tanzania, Argentina, Zambia and Botswana.

• Trophy hunters most want to kill American black bears, impalas, common wildebeests, greater kudus, gemsboks, springboks and bonteboks.

• Trophy hunters highly covet the so-called “African big five” — lions, elephants, leopards, white rhinos and buffalo. All of these species, except the African buffalo, are classified as near threatened or vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

• The U.S. ports of entry that received the most wildlife trophies in the past decade were New York City; Pembina, North Dakota; Chicago; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; and Portal, North Dakota.

“This report clearly shows the dire impact American trophy hunters are having on wildlife in other countries,” said Teresa M. Telecky, director of the wildlife department at HSI.

She continued, “It’s outrageous that every year hunters take the lives of thousands of animals, many threatened with extinction, just to win a prize and show off. These animals need protection, not to be mounted on a wall. The fact that rare, majestic species are entering the U.S. in large and small ports of entry should alarm lawmakers and the public concerned about trophy hunting.”

Hunting groups promote the hunts, offering accolades and awards to club members. The largest of these groups, Safari Club International, recently concluded its convention in Las Vegas, where more than 300 mammal hunts for more than 600 animals were auctioned off, and other hunts were arranged privately on the exhibit floor. An African lion trophy hunt can cost $13,500–$49,000. An African elephant hunt can cost $11,000–$70,000.

SCI often uses the revenue from hunt sales to lobby against wildlife protection measures.

U.S. “trophy hunters” highly covet the African big five. The import numbers for 2005–14 are 17,200 African buffalo, 5,600 African lions, 4,600 African elephants, 4,500 African leopards and 330 southern white rhinos. Photo: GraphicStock

U.S. “trophy hunters” highly covet the African big five. The import numbers for 2005–14 are 17,200 African buffalo, 5,600 African lions, 4,600 African elephants, 4,500 African leopards and 330 southern white rhinos. Photo: GraphicStock

For certain species, including lions, elephants, leopards and rhinos, the U.S. is the largest trophy-importing country.

HSI and The HSUS, in a statement on the report, pledged to continue to seek new protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act for species that meet the criteria for listing.

The African lion is the latest species to receive ESA protection, after a multi-year effort by animal protection organizations, including HSI and The HSUS.

The groups are seeking increased ESA protections for species currently listed in a lower category of protection, as was recently done for the African elephant. HSI and The HSUS are also urging corporations — such as Swarovski Optik  — to end sponsorship of trophy-hunting advocacy organizations.

Today’s hunting accidents

da vinci

Man seriously injured after shooting self in hunting accident

Daily Republic  – ‎3 hours ago‎
Larry Maxwell and his son, Cody, of Mitchell, were goose hunting southwest of Miner County in Beaver Township around 3:30 p.m.
The Southland Times

man killed in Central Otago hunting accident

The Southland Times  – ‎Mar 3, 2016‎
A 61-year-old man killed in a hunting accident near Cromwell will be remembered as a hardworking family man, who loved to have a good laugh.

Southside man continues to recover from hunting accident

Gadsden Times  – ‎Feb 27, 2016‎
It took about an hour for help to arrive and be driven by four-wheelers to where the accident occurred. It was a long time for Grogan and his worried friends.
Otago Daily Times

At a loss over hunter’s death

Otago Daily Times  – ‎Mar 4, 2016‎

WE MUST STOP H.R. 2406!!!

http://www.bvconservation.org/h.r.-2406.html#top

The Most Destructive Federal Legislation

in the Past Century for Wildlife and Nature Lovers!

READ FULL TEXT OF H.R. 2406 HERE

One of the worst Bills in the past century for people and wildlife!

CLICK TO SIGN OUR PETITION!

HEY SENATOR MURKOWSKI!

Please sign the petition and write your Senators and Senator Lisa Murkowski and tell them: Federal Public Lands are for everyone, not just hunters! Tell them the quiet sounds of nature are a very important part of your outdoor experience! Tell them you want their NO vote on H.R. 2406!

Click here to Contact Your

Congressional Delegation Today!

STOP KILLING WOLVES!

Watch our new video about  Shooting Ranges on Public Lands! -> -> ->

Nearly every state suffers from

the same, non-scientific wildlife mismanagement issues from their

State Game Commissions as the shenanigans seen in H.R. 2406!

See Game Commission Reform

H.R. 2406 BLOG: CHECK BACK HERE FOR UPDATES, INFORMATION AND ACTION ITEMS!

Feel free to add any information  comments or updates you have on this Draconian Bill below!

Why Sportsmen Must Be Stopped

 WATCH OUR VIDEO ABOUT SHOOTING RANGES ON PUBLIC LAND 

by Stephen Capra   Since our country’s inception, we have waged a war on wildlife. From the blood-soaked Great Plains that laid waste to bison and passenger pigeons, to the slaughter of bears, wolves, prairie dogs and coyotes. Killing it seems, is part of America’s DNA.   Despite stories of conservation and heritage, much of the bloodletting and ignorance in our nation related to wildlife has been at the hands of these groups and industries: hunters, the livestock industry, State Game and Fish Departments, with the solid support of groups that incessantly lobby Congress; the Safari Club, Wildlife Federation, (a long list of sportsmen’s groups), the livestock industry, outfitters and most importantly the NRA. Some simply want to hunt; others are dedicated to undermining federal control of public lands.   Despite all we have learned about wildlife and their value to a healthy, sustainable environment and that fact that they can feel pain, suffer loss, and have an emotional connection to their young, we continue to allow common sense protection and wildlife measures to be tossed aside by bullying tactics and mindless political giveaways. Ones that ignore how pressing conservation of our natural resources are today. By legislators, many of whom still deny climate change and have strong negative feelings towards true conservation.   Understanding that, Congress has just passed perhaps the most destructive wildlife legislation in generations and the losers are the very wildlife that we are morally entrusted with protecting.   The so-called “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015 passed the House last week and is poised to move to the Senate. This bill in its current form resembles legislation that many would have thought logical in the 1850’s, but is completely out of step with modern conservation.   The bill includes provisions to delist protections for wolves in the Great lakes region and Wyoming. It allows, despite recent international outcries, blockage to US Fish and Wildlife’s ability to crack down on the illegal ivory trade which has had devastating impacts on African Elephants. Further, once passed in the Senate, it will allow more ivory smuggling into the US. It condones the shooting of grizzly bears and wolves from airplanes, and the hunting of bears, cubs, wolves and coyotes while they are denning. It supports known poacher practices like baiting. The question remains: why?   As though this is not enough, it will open more public lands to trapping, decimate management of our National Wildlife Refuge System, and blocks federal agencies like the EPA from regulating toxic lead from ammunition and fishing tackle. The bill threatens the sanctity of the Wilderness Act by making hunting, fishing and recreational shooting the primary management mandate on public lands and replaces the Act’s main provision that lands be managed “for wilderness character.” It undermines the Marine Mammal Act and the Endangered Species Act by allowing the imports of Polar bears shot in Canada, so hunters will have access to their trophies. It sets up the creation of an array of gun ranges on our public lands and in all National Monuments across the West, to destroy the safety and solitude that so many seek when hiking or camping.   Perhaps more disturbing are the creation of special councils that speak directly to the Secretary of Interior and Agriculture, all to promote more hunting, trapping and access to guns and shooting…to kill more wildlife. They are to be comprised of Big Game hunting organizations, hunting and shooting manufacturers groups, firearms and ammunition manufacturers, agriculture, ranching, outfitter and guide industries, with a nod to minority sportsman, woman and wildlife conservation groups. This is nothing more an insider lobbying committee that taxpayers will be on the hook for.   Sportsmen’s groups from across the country are demanding passage of this arcane and dangerous legislation which will in time kill more wildlife and sadly people. It’s worth remembering that as a nation, the numbers of people who choose to go hunting are tiny and diminishing, despite massive investments in television and lobbying zeal.   Sportsmen represent a tiny fraction of Public Land users. This legislative push is designed to give just 6% of our people control of all of America’s outdoors and the chance to kill even more. Sportsmen, as it has been pointed out by recent studies, contribute far less to conservation than do environmental groups or that all Americans contribute through their taxes; this very small special interest group, that defies the desires of the vast majority of Americans, who prefer to hike, camp, go birding, take pictures…but not kill. We go there for the beauty and magic that wildlife that public lands represent.   The bill now heads to the Senate, where sponsors Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska and Martin Heinrich (D) of New Mexico will push for its passage.   In 2016, we should be doing all we can to respect, not kill, predator species. We should be looking for methods to strengthen the Wilderness Act, not gut it. Our federal agencies need to be doing all they can to stop ivory imports and preventing toxic lead in our waterways. Polar bears are in real trouble, but we just made senseless killing more likely.   This bill is not about wildlife or protection of our lands, it is about perpetuating ignorance, suffering and granting select power over our federal lands.   Legislation created for wildlife, water or lands should reflect our new realities: climate change, habitat loss and endangered species. Our policies, now more than ever, should be based on modern science, decreeing more protection not less, while working toward the goal of true biodiversity. This legislation is designed to keep hunters in charge of wildlife, which alone is reason enough to block it.   Aldo Leopold could well have spoken about this legislation when he saidA thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

U.S. House of Representatives Approves Bill Slashing Wildlife Protections

copyrighted wolf in water

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2016/sportsmens-act-02-26-2016.html

 ‘Sportsmen’s Heritage Act’ Threatens Wolves, Elephants, Polar Bears, Birds, People

WASHINGTON— In a partisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed the so-called “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act” that would end federal protection for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes. The bill includes a grab bag of additional special-interest provisions that primarily benefit the livestock industry, National Rifle Association and those who peddle elephant ivory. More than 60 conservation organizations signed an open letter opposing the Sportsmen’s Act.

“There’s nothing sporting about wolf slaughter, elephant poaching or lead poisoning,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “In the Sportsmen’s Bill, House Republicans have once again ignored science and protected special interests instead of wildlife.”

One of the many bad provisions of the bill not only strips protection from wolves but forbids court challenges. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illegally stripped federal protections from gray wolves in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota in 2011 and in Wyoming in 2012. Federal judges overturned both decisions for failing to follow the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, failing to follow the best available science and for prematurely turning management over to state fish and game agencies that are openly hostile to wolves. A provision in today’s bill would preempt those court decisions, stop the current appeal process, and permanently end federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes.

A separate provision of the Sportsmen’s Act would stop a proposed regulation from the Fish and Wildlife Service designed to curtail the ivory trade inside the United States, which is the second-largest market in the world for ivory, after China. Elephant populations across Africa have plummeted due to the ongoing poaching epidemic, with forest elephants declining by 60 percent over the last decade. The illegal trade in elephant ivory funnels millions of dollars to the black market, fueling corruption and funding conflict in African nations.

“If this misguided legislation is enacted into law, elephants are likely to go extinct in our lifetime,” said Hartl. “Republicans are sacrificing one of the most magnificent animals ever to walk the Earth to protect the ability of a few rich collectors to keep their ivory trinkets.”

Similarly, the bill creates a dangerous loophole that allows trophy-hunted polar bears to be imported. Two-thirds of polar bears are expected to be wiped out by 2050 due to climate change, and the species is predicted to near extinction by the end of the century.

Another provision of the Sportsmen’s Bill would permanently exempt lead fishing tackle from any regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Lead is an extremely toxic substance that is dangerous to people and wildlife at almost all levels. Animals are poisoned when they eat lost fishing weights, mistaking them for food or grit; some die a painful, rapid death from lead poisoning, while others suffer for years from its slowly debilitating effects.

“There is no safe level of lead in the environment. This provision will result in more poisoned wildlife — hardly what any real sportsmen would want,” said Hartl. “We phased lead out of waterfowl ammunition, paint, gasoline and toys. It’s time for Congress to stop catering to industry and start looking out for the health of the American people and our wildlife.”

Since the Republicans took control of the House in 2011 there have been hundreds of legislative attacks on the environment, including more than 177 on endangered species and the Endangered Species Act. In 2015 more than 70 bills targeted endangered species. Republicans also introduced legislation designed to limit the ability of citizens to go to court in defense of species. Earlier this year the Center released a report documenting a 600 percent increase in these legislative attacks since the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling allowing special interests to make virtually unlimited campaign contributions.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.