By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
Amid our work to protect animals from trophy hunters around the world, our efforts to secure gray wolf protections in the United States have been a top priority. Imagebroker / Alamy Stock Photo
With each passing year, hundreds of thousands of wildlife in the United States and around the world are killed by trophy hunters, whose primary motivation is to display entire animals or parts of their bodies for bragging rights. Considering all the threats facing wildlife including habitat loss, environmental devastation and climate change, it is astonishing that such a practice still exists today, which is why the Protecting animals from trophy hunting in the United States and around the world is a top priority for us. .
The work of protecting wild animals takes many forms. Here are highlights from the past year in the US and around the world, as well as a look at the challenges ahead.
Overcoming the US Trophy Hunting Lobby
In many ways, in the United States, 2021 has been a difficult year for wildlife, which is why the victories have been particularly encouraging. We had no hesitation in celebrating when we heard the good news that after a vigorous campaign by us and our allies, the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission voted in November to end the hunting season. Spring 2022 Bear. We honestly didn’t know what outcome to expect, so we were delighted to learn that the lives of mother bears and their dependent cubs had been spared by this decision.
Such victories mean the world to us at a time when protections for wildlife in the United States continue to be eroded by state legislatures and commissions, federal and state wildlife agencies, and by the hunting lobby. to trophies. But despite such setbacks, we have helped achieve significant victories in protecting wild animals and raising awareness of the threats they face.
- One of wildlife’s biggest victories this year was when Maryland became the eighth state to ban wild animal slaughter contests, a cruel event where participants compete to bring down the biggest, the smaller or larger number of animals in order to win money and prizes.
- As part of a broader strategy to tackle trophy hunting, we have worked with advocates to press local governments to pass non-binding resolutions condemning the cruel practice of killing contests. In 2021, we helped pass 28 resolutions in several municipalities, including the county that is home to Ann Arbor, Michigan, calling for a statewide ban on wildlife slaughter competitions.
- We also conducted a secret investigation in the United States which revealed the excessive and unnecessary conclusion of the lives of the animals hunted for the trophy.
- Members of Congress, at our request, have recognized the close connection between public health and animal welfare by allocating tens of millions of dollars to properly regulate or restrict the businesses and trades that exploit the most susceptible animals. to contract and spread disease in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This included $ 95 million to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for activities to proactively prevent the spread of a pandemic by wildlife and to crack down on wildlife trafficking, including illegal trade in endangered and risky species.
Much of our work to protect wildlife is to defeat nefarious measures that would weaken animal welfare, and in 2021 we celebrated key victories on this front:
- We successfully defeated three bills in Oregon that would have allowed the hunting of mountain lions.
- We defeated a bill in Oklahoma to open a trophy hunting season for mountain lions.
- We defeated a bill that would have opened a trophy bear hunt in Connecticut.
- And, finally, 2021 saw no bear trophy hunts in New Jersey.
The fight of the wolves
Our work to end the gray wolf trophy hunt has persisted since the species lost federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Our campaign and litigation teams have worked tirelessly to restore wolf protection and have continued to fight on their behalf with our coalition partners at the federal and state levels.
- In January, we and our coalition partners filed a federal complaint challenging the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2020 rule delisting gray wolves from the continental United States list, which would expose wolf populations to seasons of extreme trophy hunting in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota and would devastate the capacity for recovery throughout the wolf’s historic range. In Minnesota, we defeated an amendment that would have made a wolf hunt mandatory; as a result, no wolves were legally hunted in this state in 2021.
- We fought in court to try to stop Wisconsin’s disastrous wolf hunt in February 2021, the second deadliest in state history that killed at least 218 wolves in less than three days, or nearly double the allocated quota. And when the recalcitrant chairman of the state’s Natural Resources Board later refused to step down after his term ended – so he could continue to aggressively impose his unscientific anti-wolf agenda – we joined in. other groups to file a lawsuit and then support the Wisconsin attorney general lawsuit to withdraw it.
- In May, we and our allies filed a petition calling on the US Fish and Wildlife Service to restore federal endangered species law’s permanent and emergency protections to wolves in the northern Rockies after Idaho and Montana passed numerous bills that included cruel trapping methods and extended seasons. whose damage would almost destroy wolf populations in these two states. In the meantime, we are asking the agency for immediate emergency protections; We collected over 60,000 signatures through an action alert and sent them to Secretary Haaland.
- We also filed a petition with the US Forest Service in June, asking the agency to pass new regulations using its authority under the Wilderness Act to ban the trapping and trapping of wolves in wilderness areas. designated.
- To end the year, we and our allies have filed a new federal lawsuit challenging the Idaho Wolf Trapping and Trapping Program, which not only allows the wolf trapping season to run throughout the year. year on private property, but also allows individual trappers to purchase an unlimited number of wolf tags and allows wolves to be hunted with packs of dogs. Idaho’s backward policy not only hurts wolves, but also threatens to injure or kill federally protected grizzly bears and lynxes in Idaho wolf traps.
Take a stand for wildlife around the world
Fighting to protect wild animals from the reach of a trophy hunter rifle is a multi-faceted job that aims to disrupt the import and export of trophies from cruel hunts that cost the animals their lives, to raise awareness and to act with the public and to fight for judicial decisions for the good. of animals. There was a lot to celebrate in 2021:
- Thanks to Humane Society International’s campaign, the UK recently announced one of the most comprehensive trophy hunting political pledges to ban imports of trophies of over 7,000 species, including lions, leopards, rhinos, African elephants, African buffaloes, giraffes, polar bears and zebras.
- South Africa has passed massive reforms to ban captive lion breeding and trade in lion parts and to end the wolf cub petting industry.
- In September, Humane Society International successfully launched the massive #NotInMyWorld campaign to raise awareness about trophy hunting in the European Union, which is the second largest importer of trophies in the world after the United States.
- In March, we received good news about a lawsuit we filed in 2016: a federal judge ruled that the US Fish and Wildlife Service could not withhold certain wildlife trade data, including data. importation of trophies.
Challenges ahead and how to help
As the year draws to a close, we are mobilizing for the battles to come. In the United States, we are working with a strong coalition in Colorado to introduce legislation that would end mountain lion, bobcat and lynx trophy hunting, and in California to end bear trophy hunting. potentially through regulatory and legislative processes. At the international level, we are moving forward to try to adopt legislation against the import and export of trophies in the main regions involved in this trade, including the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Argentina and South Africa.
You can help by continuing to share the stories of our work, keeping the pressure on your lawmakers to make animal-friendly decisions, and signing a pledge to take a stand against trophy hunting.
Sara Amundson is President of the Legislative Fund of The Humane Society.