We’ve known that HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle has had his eye on shutting down hunting since at least 1991 when the Associated Press reported him saying, “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.” In the Obama-themed “Change Agenda for Animals,” HSUS outlines their plans to stop hunting step-by-step in the first term in of the new administration.
First and foremost, Pacelle’s organization has called for an end to expansion of hunting activities on federal lands. However, his call goes one step further and asks the Obama administration to close down hunting on National Wildlife Refuges and, eventually, all other public lands. In Pennsylvania, we only have two Refuge properties, and only one currently allows hunting. However, shutting down this federal property will close the Erie National Wildlife Refuge’s 8,260 acres to hunters.
HSUS’s leaders are intelligent folks, and they know that shutting down access is one of the fastest ways to reduce the number of hunters nationwide. In Michigan, they figured out how to divide hunters and passed a dove hunting ban as a ballot initiative. The group has also been instrumental in hurting the hunting culture in New Jersey as one of the largest opponents of the state’s historic bear hunts.
In addition to closing down the National Wildlife Refuge System’s hunting opportunities, HSUS has set a goal of defeating all Congressional attempts to better equip National Park wildlife managers with hunting options. Specifically, the Rocky Mountain National Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park have severe elk population problems in need of control measures such as a restricted hunt.
For those hunters looking to go west, HSUS wants to make sure you have fewer species hunting options. After the wolf populations of western states recovered enough to be taken off the threatened or endangered species list, hunts were opened to keep the population balanced with other animals they prey upon. HSUS is actively fighting to shut down those hunts, going so far as to put the wolves back on the endangered species list regardless of recovery status.
If any Pennsylvania hunters hope to head overseas for a hunt, it might be time to book the trip before hunting is shut down. HSUS proposes ending aid to African countries that promote trophy hunts to American hunters. They hope to use dollars meant for economic development and assistance in order to shut down lawful industries abroad. These same hunts actually support the conservation programs for African species.
Finally, HSUS has already seen success with another agenda item. HSUS wants the government to end all permits for polar bear hunters headed to Canada. Similar to African species, these polar bear hunts support not only the conservation programs for the species, but also native populations and local environmental projects. HSUS asks the Obama administration to maintain the current ban on import of polar bear trophies, a success they won at the end of the Bush administration.
As just five of the 100 action items, this list should strike fear into the hearts of hunters across the Commonwealth. Even if a hunter never plans to head off across the ocean to hunt exotic species in Africa, HSUS has made clear that they want to shut down access to public lands right here in Pennsylvania. HSUS is a worthy foe with a sizable war chest. In 2007, the last year of available data, HSUS reported total revenue of $101,826,190 with net assets at the end of the year totaling $204,868,764. That far surpasses the assets of gun control advocates such as the Brady Campaign. With bigger budgets come more agility, slicker campaigns, and more resources to put staff on the ground during a legislative fight.