HSUS Activists Reportedly Not Happy at Being Caught on Film

Pro-seal hunt filmmaker Raoul Jomphe claims that representatives with the Humane Society of the United States were displeased that the caught them on film ignoring the suffering of a seal that the animal rights activists were using as a prop for a fund raising video.

According to the Ottawa Citizen,

In the documentary . . . the animal rights activists pulled the dying seal out of the water as it tried to escape, and continued filming their promotional video. It is not known how the seal was wounded.

According to Jomphe and his documentary, the HSUS activists filmed for over an hour while the seal lay suffering.

Interviewed in Jomphe’s film, HSUS activist Rebecca Aldworth says she only had the seal’s well-being in mind,

I asked somebody to pull the seal out, because at that point I was thinking there might be a chance of getting the seal back to land. If this seal could still crawl, an hour later, could still swim, maybe there was a chance we could bring the seal back to the Atlantic Veterinary College and save the seal.

Jomphe said that based on the condition of the seal, he would have humanely killed it rather than allow it to continue to suffer.


Activists Angry at being caught on tape. The Ottawa Citizen, March 5, 2007.

Activists Complain about Mitt Romney’s Canned Hunt

Animal rights activists are up in arms after Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney bagged some quail on a hunting trip while on a trip to Georgia.

According to the Boston Herald,

. . . the political outing backfired when it was revealed the birds had been fenced in.

Humane Society of the United States’ Michael Markarian complained about Romney hunting at the Cabin Bluff animal preserve, telling the Boston Herald,

Many of these private hunting preserves are basically providing drive-through killing animal opportunities. These animals are often tamed and bred on the property, fed by people and accustomed to people. They have no chance of escape. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokeswoman Jennifer McClure told the Boston Herald,

Stalking and shooting animals is a cowardly, violent form of recreation, and if Romney wants to keep his political career alive, then he should stop supporting this dying blood sport.

Right, because hunting really killed the careers of politicians such as George W. Bush and John F. Kerry.

Anyway, opponents of such animal preserves like to call them canned hunts or refer, as the Boston Herald does, to the fact that the animals are fenced in. But this sort of criticism is silly in the case of preserves like Cabin Bluffs which sits on no less than 45,000 acres.

That’s one incredibly large can.


Mitt under fire for hunt: Romney catches flak after quail kill. Dave Wedge, Boston Herald, January 5, 2006.

HSUS Files Lawsuit to Force USDA to Oversee Poultry Slaughter

The Humane Society of the United States and East Bay Animal Advocates filed a lawsuit today seeking to force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate and oversee the slaughter of poultry. The USDA currently excludes poultry from its oversight of animals covered by the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

The lawsuit will turn largely on the definition of the word livestock.

The HMSA requires the USDA to ensure that “cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine and other livestock” are humanely slaughtered. The USDA does not define livestock to include poultry. Animal rights activists maintain that poultry indeed qualify as livestock.

According to an HSUS press release announcing the lawsuit

Jonathan R. Lovvorn, vice president of Animal Protection Litigation for The HSUS states, “When Congress enacted the HMSA, the dictionary definition of ‘livestock’ was ‘domestic animals used or raised on a farm.’ Yet today, nearly 50 years later, 95 percent of domestic animals raised on farms are still entirely unprotected during the slaughter process.”

Currently the USDA does inspect poultry slaughter facilities, but for safety reasons rather than for compliance with humane slaughter regulations.

According to a Washington Post story on the lawsuit, however,

Although there is no specific humane handling and slaughter law for poultry, he [USDA spokesman Steven Cohen] said, inspectors and veterinarians stationed in every poultry processing plant “monitor production so i a plant has evidence of excessive bruising or other conditions that would indicate handling in a manner inconsistent with humane handling, we would necessarily look into that operation.


The HSUS Files Lawsuit Challenging USDA’s Exclusion of Birds from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, November 21, 2005.

Humane Society to Sue Over Poultry Slaughtering. Elizabeth Williamson, Washington Post, November 21, 2005.

Animal Rights Groups Call for End to Primate Experimentation

At August’s Fifth World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, a number of animal rights groups signed on to a resolution calling for the worldwide end to all medical research involving primates.

Those agreeing to the resolution included the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and the German Animal Welfare Federation.

The full text of the resolution read,

Call to end the use of non-human primates in biomedical research
and testing from animal protection organisations worldwide
Berlin, August 2005

Non-human primates are highly intelligent, sentient animals. They form intricate social
relationships, interact with their environment in a dynamic and complex way, and
engage in imaginative problem solving. It is also widely accepted that primates
experience a range of negative emotions (e.g. anxiety, apprehension, fear,
frustration, boredom and mental stress) as well as a range of positive emotions (e.g.
interest, pleasure, happiness and excitement). In short, they are very close to humans
in their biology and capabilities, and the users of non-human primates argue that this
makes them ideal ‘models’ for research. However, this also means that primates have
the capacity to suffer like humans, so there can be no question that primates can
experience pain and distress.

Confining animals who would normally live in a very large and complex home range in
the laboratory, must have a significant adverse effect on their welfare. At its best
laboratory primate housing represents only a small fraction of their home range. The
worst, still commonly used in many countries, is a small, barren metal box in which the
animals can only take a few steps in any direction. Other aspects of the lifetime
experience of laboratory primates also cause stress and suffering, particularly where
they cannot control their environment, social grouping, or what is done to them. Any
pain or distress associated with experimental procedures is therefore compounded by
additional adverse effects resulting from capture of wild primates, breeding practices,
transport, housing, husbandry, identification, restraint, and finally, euthanasia.

For these reasons alone, the use of primates in research and testing is a matter of
extreme concern to the animal protection community worldwide and to the significant
sector of the public who they represent. This concern has been recognised at a
regulatory level with some countries making special provisions for primates in their
legislation, and emphasising the need to reduce and replace primate experiments.


The animal protection organisations attending the Fifth World Congress on
Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Berlin in 2005 have united to
call for an end to the use of non-human primates in biomedical research and
testing. We urge governments, regulators, industry, scientists and research
funders worldwide to accept the need to end primate use as a legitimate and
essential goal; to make achieving this goal a high priority; and to work together
to facilitate this. In particular, we believe there must be an immediate,
internationally co-ordinated effort to define a strategy to bring all non-human
primate experiments to an end.

In a press release announcing the resolution, the Humane Society of the United States noted its objections to the continued use of non-primate species in medical research as well,

At the occasion of the World Congress, the Vice-President of the German Animal Welfare Federation (Deutscher Tierschutzbund), Dr Brigitte Rusche, the Director of Eurogroup, Sonja van Tichelen, and the Vice President for Animal Research Issues of the Humane Society of the United States, Dr Martin Stephens, also expressed concern about the continuous use of other animals in research and the slow progress in the development, validation and acceptance of non-animal alternatives. As a result in the EU alone, over 10 million animals continue to be used in experiments every year including mice and rats but also fish, pigs, goats, cats, dogs and primates.

Of course this is the same Martin Stephens who in 1999 conceded that we owe much of our advanced understanding of human biomedical knowledge to animal research.


Worldwide call for primate testing ban. UKPets.Co.UK, August 22, 2005.

Animal Protection Organisations from Around the World Call for an End to the use of Primate Testing. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, August 22, 2005.

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.

Judge Tosses Cockfighting Charges; Says Kentucky Law Is Too Ambiguous

Montgomery District Judge William Lane recently threw out charges against more than 500 people who were issued citations after a raid of a cockfighting operation in April. Lane said that the state statute cited by prosecutors which bans attendance at cockfights was ambiguous and could not sustain the charges against those cited.

The problem appears to be with a practice that is quite common and usually drives animal rights activists through the roof. The statute cited as banning cockfighting is quite clear that it is illegal for spectators and vendors to appear,

. . . at an event where a four (4) legged animal is caused to fight for pleasure or profit.

As the judge noted in throwing out the charges, chickens have only two legs. Typically, though, state and federal agencies have a habit of classifying animals for the purposes of law enforcement in ways that defy common sense, such as the USDA’s habit of defining non-bird species as poultry and thereby exempt from certain parts of the Animal Welfare Act. It usually has very good reasons for doing so — namely that Congress hasn’t appropriated it enough funds to actually oversee the care of the redefined animals — but it also goes against common sense. In Kentucky, prosecutors and police seem to be treating chickens as four-legged animals for the purpose of this statute.

The law also contains a highly ambiguous section that exempts “sporting activities,” but does not define that term. Lane noted that common definitions of “sporting activities” could easily encompass cockfighting, and that it is unclear what the legislature meant in that instance.

Michael Endicott, a lawyer representing some of those charged with attending the cockfight, told the Lexington Herald-Leader,

It’s not a very well-written statute. The judge is right. If the legislature wants to make cockfighting illegal, they should spit it out.

Police and prosecutors disagree. A police spokeswoman told the Lexington Herald-Leader,

We respectfully disagree that cockfighting is exempt as a sporting activity according to the statute.

The newspaper reported that prosecutors and police were still deciding whether or not to appeal the decision.

John Goodwin of the Human Society of the United States wants prosecutors to appeal. He told the Lexington Herald-Leader,

This ruling could have huge repercussions across the state. We believe it must be reviewed by a higher court.

Of course the risk there is that a higher court could agree with Lane and instead of having one district judge throwing out charges, the entire statute could be invalidated as far as cockfighting is concerned.


Judge tosses out cruelty charges from cockfight. Peter Mathews, Lexington Herald-Leader, August 16, 2005.