By Barbara Baird, Women’s Outdoor News
I stopped dead in my tracks from the mailbox to the house as I flipped through mail I had retrieved. There it lay, on a birthday card from my sister.
What in the world? She had stuck a little return address sticker in the left-hand corner of the envelope, with one of the worst four-letter words in the world on it: PETA. I flipped the envelope over. It got worse. Another PETA puppy sticker seared me right between the eyes.
I called my sis and asked what the Sam blazes did she mean, signing up for PETA? Her answer? “Oh, I got those free in the mail and I thought they were cute!”
Time for a little education, Sis.
If you’re a hunter, and you get any free items to display from the following organizations, it will behoove you to check the sources out first. Learn these names, and when you see them attached to a lawsuit, or behind advertising in your state for legislative action, be aware. Unless they’ve changed drastically in the past few minutes, their mission is to stop hunting.
1. The Humane Society of the United States, Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
Calling itself “the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization,” the HSUS describes its mission in regard to hunting as conducting campaigns to stop “inhumane and unsporting hunting practices such as ‘canned hunts’ of captive exotic animals.” We know, though, that the HSUS participates in raising money for a variety of anti-hunting and anti-trapping campaigns nationally. You might be surprised to learn that, according to Humane Watch, the HSUS gives less than 1% to local pet shelters.
2. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Headquarters: Norfolk, Va.
With its “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” and anti-flesh eating campaign, this anti-hunting organization of 12 million worldwide members believes we’ve evolved past the need to hunt. At its website, PETA proclaims,“Quick kills are rare, and many animals suffer prolonged, painful deaths when hunters severely injure but fail to kill them.” The organization prefers to leave nature alone and of course, nature will balance itself. What PETA does well is educate its members on how to combat hunting. In particular, PETA encourages its members to defy hunter harassment laws in this country.
3. Born Free USA, Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
Focusing on “animals used in entertainment, captive exotic animals, trapping and fur, and the international wildlife trade,” this group spun off the movie “Born Free,” in 1984, from founders Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna (who starred in the movie). The organization opened a headquarters in the U.S. in 2002, and prides itself on “compassionate conservation.”
The organization targets trapping, and encourages members to start anti-trapping campaigns, providing tools and resources at its website.
4. Center for Biological Diversity, Headquarters: Tucson, Ariz.
With a stated mission to “work through science, law and creative media to secure a future for all species, great or small, hovering on the brink of extinction,” the Center for Biological Diversity is pouring efforts into a campaign to stop wolf hunting, or as they say, “the slaughter of wolves,” and urges its membership to take action against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department’s recent delisting of gray wolves. Since it also is concerned about the world’s human population explosion, it also offered “endangered species condoms” on Earth Day.
You’ll see this group petitioning the EPA to prohibit lead ammo, too.
5. Defenders of Wildlife, Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
Calling itself a “major national conservation organization focused solely on wildlife and habitat conservation and the safeguarding of biodiversity,” the Defenders of Wildlife can be found in courtrooms across the country, filing injunctions to stop hunting. According to the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, “Defenders of Wildlife … often seeks to recoup its legal costs for the suits from taxpayers.” It currently is battling wolf hunting.
6. International Fund for Animal Welfare, Headquarters: Yarmouth Port, Mass.
This organization has a presence in more than 40 countries, and has campaigned to end commercial whaling, fox hunts and seal hunts, to name a few. It is vehemently opposed to hunting with dogs.
7. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Headquarters: New York City
As the first established humane organization in the Western Hemisphere, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) rescues animals from abuse and works to pass “humane” laws. Its website states, “The ASPCA is opposed to hunting animals for sport, even if the animals killed in this way are subsequently consumed. The ASPCA does recognize that wildlife management may be necessary in situations where animal and human interests collide, but urges that management strategies be nonlethal wherever possible and never include avoidable suffering or distress.”
8. Western Environmental Law Center, Headquarters: Eugene, Ore.
As its name implies, this organization focuses on the Western states, and currently leads the fight to ban wolverine trapping in Montana. It is against all trapping, though. Just like most anti-gun groups, it seeks to fight small battles until the war is won.
9. In Defense of Animals, Headquarters: San Rafael, Ca.
A look at the “About” page for Defense of Animals sums its philosophy: “The rights of animals are birthrights, similar to those we claim for ourselves—the right to live our lives free of subjugation and institutionalized violence, where the random and special joys of being alive can be experienced.” Prohibiting hunting in national wildlife refuges is one of its key campaigns.
10. Sierra Club, Headquarters: San Francisco, Ca.
This is a shocker to several outdoor writers, I know. The Sierra Club snuck into this lineup because of its stance against using hounds to hunt bears and bobcats in California – which the state legislature banned. The Sierra Club joined the aforementioned ASPCA in the anti-hound-hunting law that went into effect in January 2013. According to Sportsmenvote.com, the Sierra Club is opposed to all forms of trapping.
How you can fight back
“While hunters are preparing for hunting, someone else is preparing to stop them from hunting, and we have to work diligently to protect our hunting traditions,” said Nick Pinizzotto, President and CEO of U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA). A 501(c) 4 organization, the USSA provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support for the purposes of protecting and advancing the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers and scientific wildlife management professionals. It bills itself as the “only organization exclusively devoted to combating the attacks made on America’s sportsman traditions by anti-hunting and animal rights extremists.”
“We have someone poring over legislation daily regarding hunting, fishing and trapping. Also, we encourage hunters to sign up for our free newsletter that will alert them to legislative changes affecting hunting,” added Pinizzotto.
Knowledge is key to combating attacks on hunting heritage. Here are a few ways you can keep yourself informed and also, help join the battle to save hunting.
- Bookmark Humanewatch.org. This non-profit organization is keeping an eye on HSUS. In fact, it revealed in a poll in early October 2013, that most donors to the HSUS have a false impression about how the HSUS spends its money. Almost 37 percent of those people polled gave money because they thought the organization donated money to local shelters, when in truth, it only gives about 1 percent. Almost 88 percent didn’t know this fact.
- Sign up for Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s free newsletter. Sign up for “Tracking the Capitols,” a list of state legislation affecting hunting, recreational fishing shooting, trapping and other conservation issues.
- Check in with Sportsmenvote.com website, dedicated to keeping current topics regarding hunting, shooting, fishing and conservation in sportsmen’s sights. Find out what’s trending with topics such as “public lands access” and “gun control.”