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.

You Can’t Follow Your Money

By Glen Wunderlich

It may be a difficult concept for some individuals to understand, but hunters’ dollars have been the driving force behind wildlife conservation long before animals had lawyers. Through license fees, plus hidden excise taxes on firearms and hunting and fishing gear, ample funds have been generated for wildlife management. This year alone, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed $1.1 billion in revenues generated by the hunting and angling industry to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies throughout the nation. The funds support critical fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects that benefit all Americans.

Enter into the equation the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), which was passed by Congress in 1980. Since then, it has been a cost-recovery resource for veterans, Social Security beneficiaries, and small businesses who find themselves in litigation against the federal government.  Any payouts – and, there have been many in the millions of dollars – are taken from funds meant for wildlife conservation generated by outdoors people. As a result, wildlife habitat improvements and management continue to suffer.

When the law was first enacted, federal agencies were required to report annually on EAJA applications and the amount of attorney fees each agency awarded to groups and individuals. However, that reporting requirement ended in 1995 due to the Federal Reports Elimination and Sunset Act. As a result, since 1998 there has been no uniform method of reviewing EAJA and there is no public accountability or transparency in the program.

Over the past 15 years, several thousand cases have been filed by animal-rights groups against the federal government. The result is that millions, if not billions, have been paid out, which in effect, makes us all contributors to radical causes we may not support.

Their strategy is simple: Overwhelm the system and bilk the public in the name of environmentalism or animal protection. As an example, in one petition the Center for Biological Diversity requested that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) review 404 species in the Southeast alone for Endangered Species Act (ESA) consideration. Additionally, WildEarth Guardians filed two petitions listing 1,156 species for protection. Victories are often obtained because of technicalities such as missed deadlines and hardly ever for substantive matters.

And, remember, those of us, who have paid our hard-earned dollars into the system, have had no legal right to know how much of our money has been squandered. However, there remains hope.

This past week, the U.S. House approved unanimously by voice vote the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act (H.R. 3279), a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA) and cosponsored by Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).  The bill reinstates requirements that federal agencies track and report the attorney fees they award under the Equal Access to Justice Act.

H.R. 3279 requires the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) to track and report payments made by the federal government under EAJA in order to increase transparency and inform Congress of the impact and effectiveness of the law. The bill requires ACUS to submit an annual report to Congress and establish an online searchable database available to the public.  This will allow the public to access information on the amount of attorneys’ fees being paid under EAJA, to whom the taxpayers’ money is being paid, and from which agencies.

In the past, similar efforts to create this semblance of transparency promised by the current administration have stalled, because past U.S. Senate leader, Harry Reid (D-Nevada) blocked its advance by never allowing it to be brought forth for consideration. We can draw our own conclusions as to his rationale, but the results fly in the face of honesty, not to mention the best interests of our wildlife resources.

With Mr. Reid’s departure from the top of the chain of command, the American people now have a chance to follow the money. And, it’s about time!

Michigan Fires Back at HSUS over its Wolf Management

By Glen Wunderlich

Long before animals had lawyers representing a small segment of society that values the lives of animals above humans, man existed by hunting.  In fact, there are millions of traditional rural Americans that, in essence, hunt to subsidize their existence today.  As a sportsman, I am among them. 

Predictably, the leading anti-hunting organization in the world, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), based in Washington, DC and not connected to our local shelters, has ridden its gravy train into our small town with a plea to now save Michigan’s wolves from extinction by aid of petition – even though in the history of regulated hunting, no animal species has ever been in peril, as a result.   

Their leaders, Wayne Pacelle and Mike Markarian have a plan for Michigan, and it doesn’t involve our wildlife biologists and scientists; it does involve suing us, however. 

These extremists have a dream inconspicuously absent in a recent Argus-Press editorial:  Wolf delisting isn’t based on best available science, by Mke Markarian, of The Humane Society Legislative Fund.  So, sharing their vision for America is my pleasure.  Read more

The Humane Society of the United States Gets Low Marks

For two years, the independent nonprofit watchdog CharityWatch (formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy) has given the Humane Society of the United States a “D” grade. This spring, for example, CharityWatch reported that HSUS spent as little as 50 percent of its budget on programs and spent up to 48 cents to raise every dollar.

That’s now changed—but not by much. HSUS now earns a “C-minus” grade. CharityWatch finds that HSUS spends as little as 55 percent of its budget on programs, and spends up to 42 cents to raise a dollar.

Congressman Renews Push for IRS Investigation of HSUS

This from…

CongressLetterheadIn April 2010, Congressman Blaine Leutkemeyer of Missouri wrote Lois G. Lerner, director of the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations division, to inform her that the Humane Society of the United States—unaffiliated with local humane societies—may have been engaging in excessive attempts to influence public policy in violation of the rules for nonprofits.

Over the past week in the growing IRS scandal, Lerner has emerged as an IRS official who reportedly had knowledge that the agency was politically targeting groups in 2010, and at least one Congressman has accused her of lying to him. And yesterday, it emerged that Lerner is an “active member” of HSUS—or at least was around the time of Rep. Leutkemeyer’s letter, according to her biography in advance of an Oct. 2010 speech. Read more

Is Giving to HSUS an Efficient Use of Money?

This from Humane Watch…

Donors want their dollars used effectively. There’s only so much money that each person has budgeted for charity. So is the Humane Society of the United States deserving of animal lovers’ donations? We certainly don’t think so.

For starters, the American Institute of Philanthropy gives HSUS a “D” grade for high spending on fundraising and overhead and low spending on programs. This is similar to a finding from the animal rights newspaper Animal People.

But in terms of actual animal care, we looked a little closer. Read more

Wolves, Science and Emotion

By Glen Wunderlich

When it comes to wildlife management, common sense dictates that such matters are best left to states’ control as opposed to that of federal agencies.  But, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) doesn’t agree and will stop at nothing to further its agenda against hunting and has filed a federal lawsuit to drag us all into the mud, once again.  This time around, its focus is on Michigan’s wolves. Read more

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