Environmentalists vs. Animal Rights Activists

A federal appeals court this week heard a case that pits the National Audubon Society against animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and the Doris Day Animal League over a 1998 California referendum that banned leg-hold traps.

In November 1998, California voters approved Proposition 4 which banned body-gripping and padded leg-hold traps. The Audubon Society sued soon afterward arguing that the state of California had no authority to prevent federal wildlife managers from using the traps on federal land.

In 2000, a district court agreed, and the animal rights groups appealed.

The Audubon Society points out that without the ability to trap, protecting endangered species from predators becomes next to impossible.

TheHuman Society of the United States’ Wayne Pacelle said his organization offered a settlement but the Audubon Society was unreasonable. “We basically agreed that state law does not trump the Endangered Species Act,” Pacelle told The Mercury News.

But the Audubon Society says that the HSUS settlement did not go far enough, noting that there is also a need to protecting species that are not necessarily endangered.

The appeals court is expected to return its decision sometime in 2003.


Lawsuit tests conflicting animal rights. Paul Rogers, Mercury News, April 8, 2002.

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