Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, recently made some blatantly false accusations about the NRA. You can read the full text here, but among his claims are that NRA “defends terrible wildlife abuses,” “deviates from ethical standards of hunting,” and attempts to hide these practices from the public.
Pacelle also states, “What the HSUS attempts to do in the hunting arena is hold the hunting community to its own professed standards, and to put a stop to hunting practices at odds with the core notions of fairness and particularly inhumane or wasteful killing.”
Note to Pacelle: Hunters do not need you telling us how to meet our standards or what our notion of fairness is supposed to be.
To put Pacelle’s comments in perspective, let’s examine where HSUS truly stands on hunting.
Pacelle regularly says that HSUS opposes only “cruel and extreme” hunting practices. We’d like to know what form of hunting he does not consider cruel and extreme. Mr. Pacelle, tell us, what form of hunting do you support?
The truth is that HSUS is out to ban all hunting. They just can’t be honest about it because even they know their positions are too extreme for public acceptance. But their actions prove it.
For example: HSUS regularly lobbies against Sunday hunting. What is “cruel and extreme” about Sunday hunting?
HSUS lobbies against liberalizing youth hunting laws. What is “cruel and extreme” about kids spending quality time in the outdoors, with their parents, in an activity the National Safety Council says is one of the safest forms of recreation in America?
They helped ban dove hunting in Michigan and spent millions to do so. Doves are the most hunted game bird in America—does that make all dove hunters “cruel and extreme?”
HSUS often talks about “canned hunting,” then uses it as a springboard toward banning other hunting. Pacelle’s own legislation in Colorado this year would prohibit hunting if an animal’s movement is impaired by any fence. This includes cattle fences—in a state where virtually every mile of huntable land is fenced.
They oppose aerial predator control, which is not a method used by typical hunters at all. In fact, it is an essential management tool used by state wildlife agents. Without aerial control of wolves in Alaska, for instance, moose and caribou populations would be decimated. Professional wildlife managers know this.
Most recently, they have called for a nationwide ban on lead shot.
To address some of Pacelle’s specific attacks on NRA: He highlights the Bear Protection Act (H.R. 5534), which NRA opposed, as a shining example of how we “defend wildlife abuses.”
“On Capitol Hill,” Pacelle says, “NRA has lobbied against the Bear Protection Act but it has not called on its members to fight the bill. If it did, I am quite sure many of them would disagree with the idea that an anti-poaching bill is at odds with NRA principles.”
Let’s set a few things straight. First, we were very open about our position on this bill and we did “call on our members” to fight it. We posted an article about it on this site on April 25th, and we sent out an e-mail alert about it to our members on April 21st.
Second, Pacelle would have us believe that the Bear Protection Act was a groundbreaking bill designed to protect bears from poaching and to ban the interstate and international trade of bear gall bladders. Further, the group attempts to create the public perception that bear populations in America are somehow in jeopardy, when nothing could be further from the truth. Black bear populations are stable or growing virtually everywhere.
In the e-mail message we sent on April 21st, we explained the true intent of the bill. We said, “The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other radical anti-hunting/animal rights groups are lobbying Congress to pass H.R. 5534, the so-called Bear Protection Act, as an important step in their strategy to ultimately ban all bear hunting in America.”
And in our April 25th article we stated:
“In fact, bears in this country are already protected from poaching by state wildlife regulations, and interstate movement of viscera from or into a state where possession, use, or sale is illegal is already subject to prosecution under the Lacey Act. Congressional testimony from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that the demand for bear gall bladders is not a significant force for poaching American bears, and international import and export laws are working…Further, the law would jeopardize law-aiding hunters who may want to transport an intact bear from the state where it was taken to another state for processing. The bill could have made such an act a federal offense.”
For the record, no one opposes poaching more than NRA, and we made that clear in a letter to Congress urging defeat of the bill:
“The National Rifle Association supports managing our wildlife to healthy and sustainable levels, and we are just as concerned as anyone about the theft of those resources. As an organization that represents millions of sportsmen and wildlife conservationists, we oppose the illegal trade of bear viscera and fully support effective efforts to eliminate poaching of bears.”
Further, although Pacelle has not singled them out for attack yet, a number of groups joined NRA in opposition to the bill, including the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which represents state game management agencies and the conservation experts who work for them. Other groups included:
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses
National Shooting Sports Foundation
North American Bear Foundation
Safari Club International
Wildlife Management Institute
Yes, these are all pro-hunting groups—meaning pro-conservation and pro-scientific wildlife management. So I guess he thinks all those groups “defend terrible wildlife abuses,” too.
By the way, the bill was pulled off the calendar in April, although we expect it to resurface.
Still another claim Pacelle makes is, NRA “says that any attempt to restrict any form of hunting is part of a scheme to end all hunting.”
In the case of groups likes HSUS and PETA, we say that because it’s true. Again, Mr. Pacelle, if it’s not true, tell us what form of hunting HSUS supports.
Pacelle makes several other bogus accusations about NRA, but one is particularly laughable. He makes the claim that HSUS “is often more in line with hunters than either the NRA or the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, which claim to support the modern system of wildlife management, but in practice oppose the imposition of any new limits or restraints.”
In fact, NRA’s model language for state constitutional Right To Hunt amendments confirms that hunting is a right “subject to reasonable regulations.” If Pacelle were right, we’d never agree to this language.
The “limits and restraints” Pacelle is really talking about would put an end to hunting. Let’s stick with bears as an example. Two minutes on their Web site will unearth their opposition to badly-needed bear hunting in Maryland and their praise of Governor Jon Corzine for helping end bear hunting in New Jersey—where bears have become a dangerous nuisance because the state will not allow hunting to control and manage the bear population.
Then there is Pacelle’s famous quote he made to the Associated Press: “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.”
That’s what a “limit and restraint” is to Wayne Pacelle—total opposition to legal, regulated hunting justified by scientific wildlife management.
By the way, if you’re one of those hunters who is more “in line” with HSUS than NRA, I’d really appreciate it if you’d let me know. Just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to know how many of you are out there.