By Phil DeLone, Safari Club International
Last week Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) published an op-ed attacking international hunters. This attack is a departure from the Humane Society’s public image as protectors of abused pets and shows just how much the Humane Society has transformed. They have moved on from the laudable goal of protecting pets to become a multimillion dollar lobbying force to end America’s hunting heritage and take economic opportunities away from developing nations.
This change is not accidental. Years ago the animal rights movement decided that one of their long-term goals is to end hunting worldwide. They see this as a way to move society toward their ultimate goal of making society meat-free. The most recent front in this war is a coordinated attack on the legal, sustainable hunting in Africa.
Recently, the HSUS has made a media sensation of attempts to close hunting opportunities in Africa. They disregard the public opinion that shows that over 80% of the American public supports hunting. They don’t care that over 750,000 families in Zimbabwe rely on revenues from regulated hunting. They want the public not to notice that hunting preserves protect more square miles of wilderness in Africa than all of their national parks.
HSUS and others want you to put blinders on and not see that Fish and Wildlife Service has endorsed regulated hunting as a vital tool to protect wildlife abroad. Most disturbingly, they callously would rather have poachers slaughter the African elephant than have legal regulated hunting be used as a tool to protect them.
For the HSUS, the actual science-based facts, and the true wildlife conservation statistics are a truth and inconvenience to be avoided and ignored at all cost. Legal regulated hunting is a benefit to wildlife populations and future sustainability and growth of game species in Africa and elsewhere.
The reason that 80% of Americans support hunting is because they know that hunting is what funds conservation efforts. Hunters pay for the lion’s share of conservation in the United States and have for many decades. Similarly, in Africa revenues from regulated hunting are used on anti-poaching patrols to protect wildlife and much needed water projects to maintain wildlife populations through drought. International hunting is one of the best conservation tools available and, most importantly, it comes at zero cost to the U.S. taxpayer.
What is really alarming and disappointing about these efforts by the HSUS and other animal rights extremists is that if these groups instead dedicated the tens of millions of dollars that they now spend on anti-hunting propaganda, repetitive fund-raising and media plus the lavish salaries paid to many of their leaders – on actual on the ground conservation, then Africa would enjoy even more resources to fight poaching and promote beneficial wildlife conservation.
Further, if they used this vast bounty of money raised from the public on actually funding pet shelters it would be better spent (HSUS gives only 1% of its revenue to local shelters).
Donors to HSUS should take time to study the true facts and perhaps re-evaluate their position and beliefs. Hunters are true conservationists. None wish to see wildlife populations put in peril, lost or destroyed. To the contrary, sportsmen are typically the ones doing the good work of helping pets, working on the ground to conserve wildlife, or re-introduce wildlife to previously abandoned or depleted areas.
All Americans should support legal international hunting programs that are the first line of defense for wildlife overseas. You can do this by joining or supporting the community of hunters, or perhaps, just thanking a hunter for their vital conservation work.
Phil DeLone is the Chief Executive Office of Safari Club International, an organization that is dedicated to protecting the freedom to hunt worldwide.