British Columbia Bans Grizzly Bear Hunting

WASHINGTON, DC – Government officials, bowing to the bluster of anti-hunters, have closed the hunting of grizzly bears in British Columbia, Canada. This move ignores all sound science that supports a continuation of grizzly bear hunting in that Province.
Safari Club International (SCI) is actively pursuing a number of different avenues to address this pressing issue, including a call to base all wildlife management decisions on sound science that supports sustained use of those renewable resources.

In a letter to the Minister and Deputy Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, SCI stated, “We at Safari Club International are deeply troubled by the recent announcement of the closure of grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia. We feel this decision has been based on emotion and not science. Decisions of this magnitude must be made, using sound science-based conservation. There should have been stakeholder consultations before such drastic action was taken.” Read more

Court Ruling on Western Great Lakes Wolves

By Glen Wunderlich

On August 1, 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals handed both sides of the battle to manage Western Great Lakes (WGL) wolves a victory. Impossible? It all depends. The anti-hunting throng celebrates the fact that WGL wolves must remain on the endangered species list. Sportsmen, on the other hand, now have a way forward to delist wolves in areas where a distinct population segment (DPS) is undeniably recovered.

“Folks in the animal-rights community would like believe that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a one-way ratchet. In their world, you can only put species on to the Endangered Species List based upon a distinct population segment. However, we know that this is not how the ESA is written,” continued Heusinkveld. “This distorted view of the DPS policy is simply emblematic of their view of the ESA as a whole. They view this as a means to enshrine federal protections in perpetuity, as opposed to a tool to help those in need recover and be returned to state management.”

Although the court’s ruling did not change the current status of the WGL wolves, the opinion included some positive elements for sportsmen. For example, the court of appeals held that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has the authority to delist a recovered population segment of a species that the Service had previously listed as endangered or threatened throughout a larger area.

The court agreed with the FWS’s interpretation of the Endangered Species Act because “to alter the listing status of segments rewards those States that most actively encourage and promote species recovery within their jurisdictions.” This important element of the court’s determination has broad implications and will assist with the delisting of other recovered populations of more broadly listed species.

Folks at the Humane Society of the U.S. et al. cling to a vestige of a previous Washington D.C. court’s ruling to protect all wolves, even though specific areas of their range are more than recovered according to established goals. In true form and typical HSUS’ speak, it uses some of the following terms to describe ethical hunting with language meant to garner support from followers: reckless killing programs, fear-based killing programs on wolves, trophy hunters, and killing spree, to name a few.

In this latest case, Safari Club International (SCI) joined as a defendant-intervenor along with the NRA, Sportsmen’s Alliance, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association, Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

For the Western Great Lakes wolves, the fight is not over. The court’s ruling presents several options for an eventual WGL wolf delisting that include the following avenues:

a)  The FWS proposing a new rule that addresses the problems identified by the court.

b)  The Defendants and Defendant-Intervenors in the lawsuit (FWS, States of Michigan and Wisconsin, SCI, NRA and Sportsmen’s Alliance) petitioning for a review of this ruling “en banc” (i.e., by the full D.C. Circuit) and/or by the U.S. Supreme Court.

c)  Congress passing a law that would direct the FWS to delist the WGL wolves (as Congress has already done for the wolves of Montana and Idaho).

So, grab some more popcorn before the show resumes.

Court Sides With Sportsmen on Key Issue, But Leaves Wolves Protected for Now

On Tuesday, Aug. 1, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its ruling in the Western Great Lakes wolf lawsuit appeal. The ruling is a short-term setback, but very likely a win for sportsmen in the long run.

For the immediate future, the Appellate Court’s decision leaves Endangered Species Act listing in place, upholding the lower court’s 2014 ruling that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) erred in delisting wolves in 2011. Very importantly, however, the court laid out a road map for FWS to delist the Western Great Lakes wolves on remand and dismantled many of the dangerous and unsupported holdings in the lower court decision.

Additionally, the appellate court ruled in favor of sportsmen on the most important legal issue in the case regarding the distinct population segment (DPS) definition in the Endangered Species Act and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s DPS Policy. The appellate court sided with the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation and our partners that the FWS has the ability to list and, as in this case, delist a species at the distinct population segment level:

“The central dispute in this case is whether the Endangered Species Act permits the Service to carve out of an already-listed species a “distinct population segment” for the purpose of delisting that segment and withdrawing it from the Act’s aegis. We hold that the Act permits such a designation, but only when the Service first makes the proper findings.” (Op. at 15-16).

This ruling means that, if the Fish and Wildlife Service takes the right steps, they are able to delist a recovered species in some places (a distinct population) without having to delist it everywhere. This flexibility will make the ESA more efficient and possibly subject to fewer legal challenges. HSUS and their partners had argued that FWS could never delist a smaller portion of a species unless the entire species had fully recovered and could be removed from the Endangered Species Act protections. HSUS has now lost that point.

“The court’s ruling that regional delisting is legally possible is a victory for sound scientific wildlife management and further upholds DPS policy of the Endangered Species Act as an important tool for conservation moving forward,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “While we clearly would have preferred that wolves be returned to state management today, this ruling provides a path forward for the Fish and Wildlife Service on how to successfully delist wolves once and for all.

“Folks in the animal-rights community would like believe that the Endangered Species Act is a one-way ratchet. In their world, you can only put species on to the Endangered Species List based upon a distinct population segment. However, we know that this is not how the ESA is written,” continued Heusinkveld. “This distorted view of the DPS policy is simply emblematic of their view of the ESA as a whole. They view this as a means to enshrine federal protections in perpetuity, as opposed to a tool to help those in need recover and be returned to state management.”

Additionally, the appellate court dismantled many of the main arguments provided by the HSUS-led coalition and holdings of the unfavorable lower court opinion:

1) The court upheld FWS’s interpretation that the ESA’s definition of “range” refers to “current range” at the time of the listing or delisting decision that is the subject of the case, not “historic range,” as HSUS argued. HSUS’ interpretation would mean that populations may never be delisted if they could not rebound throughout their historic range. However, the court said FWS must consider large losses in historical range in evaluating the continuing viability of the species in its current range. On remand, FWS must decide the “baseline” date from which historical range loss is measured. One likely date could be 1973 – the year Congress enacted the ESA.

2) HSUS argued that FWS failed to explain why the wolf population’s combined mortality from humans and disease is not a continuing threat to the species’ existence. The court found that FWS had thoroughly examined these factors, and that the wolf population had continued to grow despite any disease or human-caused mortality.

3) HSUS attempted to characterize Minnesota as an “unregulated killing zone.” While the lower court decision had agreed, the Circuit Court disagreed and found that Minnesota’s depredation plan did not amount to an “unregulated killing zone,” as it was indeed regulated and unlikely to threaten wolves’ survival.

4) HSUS argued the lack of state regulatory plans to monitor and protect the Western Great Lake wolves outside of their core recovery areas in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan did not support FWS’s decision to delist those wolves. The court found that the lack of separate state plans in six nearby states was not a concern because wolves are virtually non-existent in those states, and those animals that do occasionally appear there are protected by other measures or they do not significantly contribute to the WGL population.

5) HSUS challenged the 2011 rule on genetics issues concerning whether there are one or two wolf species. The court rejected the HSUS argument that there were two separate species of wolves, and thereby additional protections were warranted.

6) HSUS argued that FWS had inappropriately responded to political pressure from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D, Minnesota) in adopting its wolf-delisting order. The court rejected that argument, stating that HSUS could point to no science “ignored, misused, or manipulated” or to any material change in FWS’ position in response to a letter from Sen. Klobuchar. In particular, the court cites that FWS had acted favorably in response to several delisting petitions (including the Sportsmen’s Alliance petition) before Sen. Klobuchar’s letter.

How We Got Here:

The case stems from a late 2014 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell that ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had to return wolves found in the western Great Lakes area to the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act. At the crux of the case was the delisting of a “distinct population segment” of wolves from the Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit brought by Humane Society of the United States; Born Free, USA; Help Our Wolves Live; and Friends of Animals and Their Environment argued that despite a healthy population of wolves that had surpassed all recovery goals in the western Great Lakes region, since wolf populations haven’t recovered in all 50 states, the animals must remain under federal protection as an endangered species even where they have recovered.

“This 2014 ruling clearly ignored years of Fish and Wildlife Service policy, court rulings and plain common sense,” said Heusinkveld. “The idea that wolves can never be deemed ‘recovered’ in the Great Lakes states until they have recovered across the entire U.S. is a complete fantasy.”

Joining the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation in this case, was the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, the National Rifle Association, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association and Michigan Hunting Dog Federation.

A Genuine Conservationist Fights for Transparency in Government

By Glen Wunderlich

When I telephoned the Boone and Crockett Club with headquarters in Montana for information on the status of pending national wildlife legislation, my contact person, Keith Balfourd, was unavailable. Little did I know how fortuitous my call would be, when none other than its President Emeritus, Lowell E. Baier, returned my call. Mr. Baier is an attorney from Washington DC, who just happens to be the preeminent authority on an unresolved issue of great importance I’ve followed for many years: the Equal Access to Justice Act.

For decades, environmental settlement awards have been intentionally clouded in secrecy and Mr. Baier’s attempts to blow the lid off have been thwarted. It’s understandable that certain animal rights groups would want to hide their revenue sources – especially when they come at the expense of American sportsmen and women, who thought their hard-earned tax dollars would fund wildlife conservation.

I was all ears when Lowell Baier called to explain that he was the person I should talk to. After all, he wrote the award-winning book on the subject: Inside the Equal Access to Justice Act several years ago. The book delves into the crippling effects of current legislation relative to endangered species and their critical habitats. And, when a man spends years investigating, reporting, and proposing resolutions, there’s no doubt about the seriousness of his intent on behalf of wildlife and genuine conservation.

To date, the U.S. Senate has yet to take up the matter, but recent developments indicate some traction is afoot. What once was a stand-alone bill to regain transparency, is now part of a package of bills having been introduced.

While a formal bill has yet to be filed, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), with support from the House Natural Resources Committee, is assembling a package expected to be the latest version of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, or SHARE Act. Similar packages passed with bipartisan support in the 112th, 113th, and 114th Congresses. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), introduced the SHARE Act last Congress, which included many of the same provisions as the current proposed law. That bill passed the House in February 2016 by a bipartisan vote of 242 to 161 but did not receive Senate action.

A committee hearing to discuss the emerging legislation was cancelled on June 14, the morning of the tragic shooting attack on Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, and three others of the GOP baseball team as they practiced.

This new SHARE Act draft includes 18 provisions, including most items from the previous bill. Titles of specific relevance would codify the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee; enhance opportunities and access to hunting on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands; authorize the transportation of bows across National Park Service lands; provide more public access to information about awards and settlements under the Equal Access to Justice Act; authorize importation of polar bears legally hunted in Canada prior to the listing of the species; delist gray wolf populations; and authorize hearing protection and suppressors on firearms.

So, there among myriad related issues lies five years of a dedicated man’s life in a single phrase – a phrase worthy of consideration for the future of wildlife we all cherish. Will this be the long-awaited lifting of the political smoke screen? We’ll have to wait and see.

Conservation Money to be Wasted in Court

By Glen Wunderlich

With the Yellowstone population of grizzly bears having grown from a threatening low number of 136 bears in 1975 to a present estimate of 700, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, has announced that federal protections are to be removed. Accordingly, management of the magnificent beasts is to return to the affected states and tribes. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) consists of portions of northwestern Wyoming, southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho. Grizzly bear populations outside of this DPS in the lower 48 states will be treated separately under the ESA and will continue to be protected.

Success? Not so fast, says the largest anti-hunting organization in the world, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Its lawyers have lined up in advance of the next round of nonsensical court battles between scientific game management and its emotionally charged rhetoric. It matters not that grizzly bears have more than doubled their range since the mid-1970s, now occupying more than 22,500 square miles. Once again, the fight is over hunting.

One thing we’ve learned over the years is that sustainability of any species of game animal is guaranteed, if hunting is permitted. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, it works every time it is employed. Just like so many other North American success stories including whitetail deer, wild turkeys, elk, antelope – you name it. They are all thriving under management plans that use hunting as a primary tool to manage the balance between a growing human population and habitat resources.

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear population was determined to be recovered because multiple factors indicate it is healthy and will be sustained into the future. These factors include not only the number and distribution of bears throughout the ecosystem, but also the quantity and quality of the habitat available and the states’ commitments to manage the population from now on in a manner that maintains its healthy and secure status.

The GYE population of grizzly bears has surpassed recovery goals in both population benchmarks and duration of time meeting those goals, proving that the population is not just recovered, but stable and growing. Moreover, more than 100 grizzly bears have been killed for depredation of livestock or attacks on humans in the last two years – a significant number indicative of the population having reached social tolerance levels within the available habitat.

However, Wayne Pacelle of HSUS states in his blog, “ Specifically, the delisting rule ignores the ongoing existential threat posed to these bears by habitat loss, disappearance of staple foods like whitebark pine and cutthroat trout…”

What is ironic about this statement is that if these essential elements of the bears’ existence actually remain in jeopardy, then why would any group supporting the animals’ welfare take taxpayer dollars for lawsuit expenses earmarked for the very habitat improvements it says are lacking?

Simply stated, it’s to pad its annual $130 million budget and fund its hefty retirement accounts, to stop all hunting, and to put us all on strict diets of vegan shoots and sprouts.

Western Governors Split on Legislating the Endangered Species Act

Contact: Jared Saylor (202) 772-3255; jsaylor@defenders.org

GW:  Opening the law to legislative changes in this Congress will not result in good conservation policy says the animal rights extremists.  No doubt, it’s time for a change.

WASHINGTON – The Western Governors’ Association today issued recommendations to change the Endangered Species Act(ESA) at their annual meeting in Whitefish, Montana. Two governors – Gov. Jerry Brown (CA) and Gov. Jay Inslee (WA) – refused to join the resolution.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:

“The Western Governors’ Association’s call for legislative changes to the Endangered Species Act opens a Pandora’s box in this hostile Congress. Since 2015, Congress has introduced more than 150 bills, amendments and riders that would undermine the ESA and weaken conservation measures for imperiled species. We cannot risk opening the Act to the avalanche of destructive amendments that would gut our nation’s most effective law for protecting endangered and threatened wildlife.

“In the current highly partisan political climate, any bill to rewrite the ESA will significantly damage the Act and undermine imperiled species conservation. The Endangered Species Act is fundamentally sound. It does not need to be ‘fixed,’ it needs to be fully funded.

The ESA already allows for flexibility in protecting wildlife and their habitat. There is always room for creative, pragmatic solutions in implementing the Act. Science, not Congress, should determine how to save species.

“We commend California Gov. Jerry Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who opposed the WGA’s resolution. Gov. Brown summed up the dangers of legislating on the ESA best when he wrote in a letter to Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, former chair of the WGA, that ‘The current climate in Congress is marked by chaos and partisanship. This climate will not result in good conservation policy.'”

Background
In 2015, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, who chaired the WGA at the time, launched the Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative intended to “take a hard look at the ESA—how it is working and how it is not working.” WGA held stakeholder workshops and webinars to hear from energy and mining interests, agriculture and forestry industries, government agencies, sportsmen and recreation groups and environmental organizations.

Defenders of Wildlife is one of the few environmental organizations to have participated in nearly every one of the workshops and webinars, lending our expertise on the Endangered Species Act and offering constructive proposals for improving the administration of the Act without the need for legislative changes.

AGFD Considers Potential Impacts of Appellate Court Ruling on Mexican Gray Wolf

 

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is assessing potential impacts to Arizona’s endangered and threatened wildlife recovery program, following a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that lifts a preliminary injunction on releasing Mexican wolves in New Mexico.

The court decision issued Tuesday held that the State of New Mexico had not met the legal standard for a preliminary injunction because it did not demonstrate that releasing Mexican wolves without state permits will cause irreparable injury to the state. The ruling reverses a U.S. District Court decision last summer that prohibited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from importing or releasing any Mexican wolves in New Mexico without first obtaining permits from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.

“The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department are evaluating the potential ramifications of the Appellate Court’s decision for Arizona’s wolf recovery program,” said Jim deVos, AZGFD assistant director for Wildlife Management. “Our agency remains committed to working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and our other partners to ensure Arizona has a voice in providing direction for the program, based on sound science and boots-on-the-ground research.”

The case now returns to U.S. District Court for a decision on whether New Mexico can require the USFWS to obtain state permits before releasing wolves. Read more

Sportsmen’s Alliance Spring Protect Your Passion Promotion

Protect Your Passion and Win with Sportsmen’s Alliance!

 

A fully guided Wyoming antelope hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters, a Savage Arms 16/116 Bear Hunter in .338 Federal, a Camp Chef Smoke Pro Pellet Grill and a complete set of NOMAD apparel are just a few of the items available in the Sportsmen’s Alliance spring Protect Your Passion promotion.

 

For just $10 per donation entry, sportsmen have the chance to win great prizes from iconic leaders in the outdoors – and each entry is valid for every prize drawing. As a bonus, those donating $50 or more will also receive a Sportsmen’s Alliance membership (a $35 value).

 

To enter, visit: http://www.sportsmensalliance.org/springpromotion/

 

“Every dollar raised will promote and protect the passions of sportsmen nationwide,” said Brian Lynn, Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president of marketing and communications. “We’ve assembled some great prizes from our business partners who understand the battles the Sportsmen’s Alliance engages in on a daily basis to protect the entire outdoors industry from the animal-rights movement, and because of their support we can offer these great prizes to sportsmen while continuing to protect everyone’s interests.”

 

The incredible prizes will be given out over the course of five weeks, starting May 5 and ending June 9, 2017. A complete list of rules and drawing dates can be found here. Prizes include:

 

Wyoming Antelope Hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters

Complete Set of Nomad Clothing

Savage Arms 16/116 Bear Hunter in .338 Federal

Bushnell Elite 3500 3-9x 40mm

1 Case of .338 Federal Vital Shok Ammunition from Federal Premium

Camp Chef Smoke Pro Pellet Grill

Camelbak Talon 100 oz/3.oL MG Omega ABU Backpack

RCBS Explorer Reloading Kit

Hoppes Boresnake Soft Sided Kit Read more

Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train (2017 Edition)

This from HumaneWatch.org

When it comes to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), we have never had high hopes that it would live up to its heart-wrenching advertisements and actually help shelter animals. Historically, HSUS would rather spend money on lawyers and lobbyists. But after analyzing its financials from the most recent IRS Form 990 tax return, even we were stunned at the paltry 0.68% of the total budget that was spent on grants for pet care in 2015.

More takeaways include:

  • HSUS has stashed away over $58 million in Caribbean hedge funds, showing how it prioritizes Caribbean tax shelters over American animal shelters.
  • Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, received a nearly $24,000 raise, increasing his compensation to $448,980, or about half of what HSUS spent on pet-care grants. No wonder he could buy a $1.1 million house in cash.
  • HSUS spent $5.8 million of donor money on hiring Quadriga Art—a fundraising group that was exposed in national media and paid over $20 million to the New York Attorney General to settle a deceptive-fundraising investigation the previous year.
  • HSUS spent over $40 million on fundraising costs, or over 29% of its total expenses. Including management and general expenses that total increases to 31%. That’s not an overhead percentage to write home about.
  • HSUS spent $4.1 million on lobbying, with $1.1 million going to Massachusetts Question 3, a referendum that dramatically increases the cost of pork and eggs by banning the sale of commonly produced eggs and pork products. This will ultimately hit the poorest residents of Massachusetts the hardest.
  • HSUS spent over $3 million on its pension plan—more than three times its grants for pet care.

As “charities” go, HSUS is a bad investment. With so much money spent on superfluous legal and lobbying staff and fees, it’s no wonder that the organization’s impact on helping shelter pets is so limited. If you want to help pets, then please donate to a local shelter where your dollars will go the furthest, and spread the word about the deceitful advertising by HSUS.

HSUS Helps PETA-Linked Group Lobby on Capitol Hill

If you watch any of the ads from the Humane Society of the United States you likely think it’s related to all the local humane societies that care for pets—name confusion is how it raises millions of dollars a year. HSUS also likes to imply that it’s a mainstream animal welfare group that doesn’t work together with radical animal rights groups. Given how many staff members at HSUS come from PETA and other extremist elements, we know that’s not true. And emails from an ethics investigation is one more bit of evidence that HSUS works with fringe elements.

The emails come from a Congressional ethics investigation involving former Congressman Ed Whitfield and his wife, who is an HSUS lobbyist. Whitfield resigned last year after the investigation reprimanded Rep. Whitfield for giving his wife special privileges by allowing her to use his office’s resources to further HSUS’s lobbying.

The emails show that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) asked HSUS for help in getting sponsors on a bill to ban the military from using animals to practice battlefield medical procedures, and received it:

“I’d be more than happy to help hook you up with our friends in [Sen.] Blumenthal’s office,” replied Jessica Feingold-Lieberson, then with HSUS. (She’s the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, who lost last fall despite HSUS’s political arm spending a pretty penny on ads in his favor.)

What is the “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”? It’s a PETA-linked group that advocates for veganism while wearing white coats. PCRM has received funding from The PETA Foundation, and PCRM president Neal Barnard reportedly lived with PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. Barnard also “co-signed letters, on PCRM letterhead, with the leader of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an animal-rights group the Department of Justice calls a ‘domestic terrorist threat,’” according to Newsweek, and has uttered such ridiculous proclamations as, “To give a child animal products is a form of child abuse.” (Kids who enjoy chocolate milk would disagree.)

The American Medical Association has previously called PCRM a “fringe organization” that uses “unethical tactics” and is “interested in perverting medical science.”

Last we heard, only around 10% of PCRM’s members were actually physicians. No surprise why: PCRM is notorious for campaigns comparing hot dogs to cigarettes. Its advocacy is as silly as PETA’s; even The Daily Show couldn’t resist making fun of PCRM a few years ago.

That’s probably why HSUS doesn’t publicly work with PCRM. But when it comes to fringe animal liberation groups, HSUS is all too happy to assist under the radar.

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