HSUS Opposes Hunting at Federal Wildlife Refuges

The Humane Society of the United States is opposing plans by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand recreational hunting on wildlife refuges in Massachusetts and nine other states. The USFWS is taking public comments on the plan through September 3.

The HSUS is focusing on the Massachusetts because hunting is currently not allowed on the Great Meadows and Assabet River refuges in that state. Such hunting would be allowed as early as this October if the USFWS plan goes through.

The HSUS opposes all hunting in wildlife refuges. In a 2003 press release about the possibility of opening up hunting in the Great Meadows and Assabet River refuges, the HSUS said,

A wildlife refuge should be just that: a refuge for wildlife. It should be one place in which animals are safe from the hunting and trapping already allowed on both public and private lands in Massachusetts.

HSUS’ Heidi Prescott told the MetroWest Daily News,

We believe the Fish and Wildlife Service is compromising the biological and ecological integrity of our national wildlife refuges by providing hunters the opportunity to kill the animals that live on the wildlife refuges.

HSUS also has a pending lawsuit that goes to the heart of what sort of evaluation of the impact of hunting must be conducted prior to expanding hunting in wildlife refuges. HSUS maintains that the USFWS has to prepare an environmental impact statement. USFWS says that the environmental impact statements are unnecessary since the agency has conducted environmental assessments that found expanded hunting would not impact its mission of maintaining habitat in the refuges, and might even promote species diversity by lowering deer population levels.

Currently, according to HSUS, hunting is allowed on more than half of all federal wildlife refuges.


Animal rights group blasts hunting plan. Jfon Brodkin, MetroWest Daily News, August 12, 2005.

Reject Hunting and Trapping at Massachusetts Refuges. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, August 15, 2003.

Fund for Animals Wants Wildlife Watching Day

September 18 was National Hunting and Fishing Day and, in response, The Fund for Animals issued a press release asking for “a more humane way to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 18 — look at, but don’t touch, the wildlife.”

The odd thing is that The Fund for Animals continues to claim there is some sort of tension between viewing and shooting wildlife, when both activities clearly coexist today.

For example, Heidi Prescott said in the press release,

The benefits of watching wild animals outweigh any good that might come from killing them. Both from a compassionate and a monetary stance.

But then the Fund stupidly includes the following figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to buttress their non-argument,

. . . in 2001, 66 million wildlife watchers spent $38.4 billion on their hobby, while 13 million hunters spent only $21.6 billion.

Hmmm…so wildlife watchers spent $38.4 billion all the while hunters spent $21.6 billion — looks like the best of both worlds to this writer.

However if we accept the proposition that the USFWS should try to maximize money spent on either activity, it should clearly try to increase hunting since wildlife watchers spent only about $580 per person compared to hunters who spent about $1,660 per person — almost three times as much.

Adding another 5 million wildlife watchers, for example, would add about $2.9 billion to total spending. Adding another 5 million hunters would add an additional $8.3 billion. No wonder so much focus is put on luring hunters.


Look but don’t touch! Press Release, Fund for Animals, September 16, 2004.

Amendment to Protect Hunting and Fishing in Pennsylvania Passes State House

In January, the Pennsylvania House overwhelmingly approved a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to protect the right to fish and hunt in the state.

By a vote of 189-11, the state House approved the amendment and sent it on to the Pennsylvania Senate for consideration. Under Pennsylvania’s constitution, an amendment must be approved by both chambers during two successive legislative sessions, and then must be approved by voters as well. The earliest that this amendment could go to voters would be in November 2005.

Rep. Matthew Baker, who introduced the legislation, said the proposed amendment was important to forestall future efforts to limit hunting, fishing and trapping in Pennsylvania. He told Penn State’s Collegian,

There’s not an immediate threat, but what a lot of people are failing to recognize is it is a lot easier to address these issues before there is a crisis than when there is a crisis.

Animal rights groups, of course, oppose the proposed amendment.

Fund for Animals’ released press release quoting national director Heidi Prescott opposing the amendment (emphasis added),

The constitution is a sacred document which shouldn’t be used as a graffiti
wall for political rhetoric.

. . .

To establish constitutional protections for recreational pursuits such as
hunting is not only inappropriate, but redundant. Nearly a
million people already hunt in Pennsylvania without having that ‘right’
enshrined in the constitution.

. . .

Prescott said the bill may expose the Pennsylvania Game Commission to
lawsuits from hunters who do not think any restriction on hunting is
reasonable – wanting larger bag limits, longer season dates, and additional
species to shoot.

Who knew animal rights activists were so concerned about frivolous lawsuits over hunting?

The full text of the proposed amendment can be read here.


‘Right to hunt’ advances in Penn. Don Sapatkin, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 15, 2004.

Pa. law may protect hunting. Erin James, The Digital Collegian (Penn State), February 26, 2004.

No Constitutional ‘Right’ To Hunt, Say Animal Advocates. Fund for Animals, November 25, 2003.

Fund for Animals Sues Pennsylvania Game Commission Over Boar Hunt

In January the Fund for Animals filed suit against the Pennsylvania Game Commission in an effort to stop the hunting of boars at the Tioga Hunting Preserve in Pennsylvania.

The Tioga Hunting Preserve is a 1,500 acre canned hunt operation that allows people to hunt boar, deer and elk at $500-$2,000 per animal. The web site for the preserve guarantees hunters that they will kill the animal of their choice in no more than two days.

In its lawsuit, the Fund for Animals argues that exotic boar, such as Russian and European boars, are “protected mammals” under Pennsylvania’s Game and Wildlife Code and so cannot legally be hunted.

In a press release announcing the lawsuit, Fund for Animals national director Heidi Prescott said,

Neither the Game and Wildlife Code nor the regulations of the PGC permit the canned shooting of wild boars. Although we have brought this to the attention of the PGC on several occasions and asked the agency to order the Tioga Preserve to stop offering canned hunts of protected mammals, the PGC has failed to take enforcement action.

In response to the lawsuit, Tioga Hunting Preserve spokesman Jerry Feaser told the Associated Press that the Pennsylvania Game Commission lacks jurisdiction over swine. Feaser told the Associated Press,

Let’s put it to you this way, for comparison. If I’m a farmer and I have some dairy cows, and I decide for some reason to allow some people to come in and shoot them, there’s nothing the Game Commission can do.

This is not the first time that the issue of whether or not the PGC has jurisdiction over boars has come up. The PGC blames another canned hunt operation, Big Mike’s Hunting and Fishing Preserve, for allowing wild boards to escape from its grounds where they have caused numerous problems for wildlife and residents.

The PGC wants all the boars at Big Mike’s killed, but maintains that under existing law it only has jurisdiction over native species. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture maintains jurisdiction over non-native species, but its jurisdiction extends only to certifying wild boars as healthy and free of disease. What happens to wild boar after they are brought to Pennsylvania currently falls through the gaps of both group’s jurisdiction.


Fund for Animals goes to Pennsylvania court to put the lid on “canned hunt.” Press release, Fund for Animals, January 14, 2004.

Game officials say wild boar problems continue in western Pa.. Associated Press, November 2, 2003.

Game Commission sued over regulation of boar hunts. Associated Press, January 15, 2004.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Turns Back Challenge to Pigeon Shoot

On January 2, 2004, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a one-sentence ruling denying efforts by a Pennsylvania human officer who had sought a preliminary injunction against a planned pigeon shoot at the Pike Township Sportsmen’s Association.

Humane officer Johnna Seeton argued in court that the pigeon shoots violated Pennsylvania animal cruelty laws, but the Superior Court of Berks County had previously ruled that the pigeon shoots did not violate the animal cruelty statute. Seeton is the chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Animal Network, which over the years has worked for a wide range of animal rights causes and projects.

Animal rights activists succeed in shutting down the large Hegins pigeon shoot in 1999, but a number of smaller pigeon shoots continue in Pennsylvania.

The Fund for Animals, which crusaded for years against the Hegins shoot, issued a press release following the Supreme Court decisions saying,

The Fund argues that pigeon shoots violate Pennsylvania’s anti-cruelty statute because thousands of birds are intentionally injured and left to suffer with their wounds, sometimes for days, without any medical treatment. “We are able to stop this barbaric and inhumane practice in Hegins and it should be stopped throughout Pennsylvania,” said [Fund President Heidi] Prescott. “Unfortunately, although hundreds of violations of Pennsylvania’s cruelty statute take place at these live pigeon shoots throughout the year, several pigeon shoot cases have been languishing in the courts for over a decade. If the courts are not going to take action to stop this cruel and illegal practice, the legislature must step up and bring the Commonwealth in line with the vast majority of states that already [sic] bans such barbaric practices.”


Pennsylvania State Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Appeal to Stop Cruel and Inhumane Pigeon Shoots. Press Release, Fund for Animals, January 8, 2004.

Appeal To Halt Cruel Pigeon Shoots Rejected. Animal News Center, January 17, 2004.

Heidi Prescott Speaks for Hunters Now?

In August, the Fund for Animals unsuccessfully campaigned for New York Governor George Pataki to sign a bill that would have outlawed canned hunts in that state.

Now the last time I checked, the Fund for Animal was opposed to all hunting and, in fact, publishes delusional materials claiming things like “the end of hunting is in sight” (interesting, then, that the Fund spends so much time trying to stop the creation of new hunting seasons). So it was a bit odd, then, to see the Fund’s Heidi Prescott attempting to speak for hunters in urging Pataki to sign the canned hunt bill. In a Fund press release, Prescott said,

The hunter’s concept of ‘fair chase’ includes free-ranging animals who live in the wild without enclosures. New York’s state legislators, by a two-to-one margin, understood this and wisely voted to pass the bill. We hope that Governor Pataki will also represent New Yorkers around the state and sign the bill into law.

Prescott’s been pushing this “we’re really most concerned about those unethical hunters over there” line with not a whole lot of success — it certainly didn’t seem to sway Pataki.


Undercover Investigator Steps Forward In Favor Of Law To Ban Unsporting “Canned Shoots”. Press Release, Fund for Animals, August 6, 2003.