Bowhunting Groups Form Coalition in Response to HSUS/Fund for Animals Merger

A number of bowhunting organizations and advocates have joined to create a new organization — the Bowhunter Rights Coalition — to defend the rights of bowhunter in the wake of the recent merger of the two largest anti-hunting organizations, the Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals.

In a press release announcing the formation of the Bowhunter Rights Coalition, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance senior vice president Rick Story said,

Bowhunters have proven their resolve in the past and must again demonstrate their might to stave off promised attacks by anti-hunters. . . . The BRC will build a grassroots network capable of defending against attacks in the courts, in legislatures or on the ballot. These allies will help to distribute issue alerts, urge sportsmen to contact lawmakers regarding hunting-related legislation and dilute the burden of legal fees in defense of bowhunting.

To start with, along with the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the Bowhunters Rights Coalition includes Bowhunter Magazine, The Bowsite, The International Bowhunting Organization, and Pope & Young Club.


Sportsmen fortify defense against anti’s. Press Release, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, February 2, 2005.

Bowhunters pull together. Ken Moran, New York Post, February 6, 2005.

HSUS/Fund for Animals Merger Apparently A Done Deal

The rumored merger between the Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals appears to be a done deal.

The Associated Press reports that the new organization will be headquartered in Washington, DC, where HSUS is currently located, but will maintain an office in New York where the FUnd for Animals is located.

Along with the merger, the groups plan to launch a new 501c(4) group to increase the amount that they can spend on political lobbying. Both Fund for Animals and HSUS are organized as 501c(3) which strictly limits the amount of lobbying they can do. Animal rights magazine “Animal People” obtained a memo written by Fund for Animals president Mark Markarian in which Markarian wrote,

“A key component of the merger would be the launch of a new 501(c)(4) organization which could spend unlimited resources on lobbying. It would raise money specifically for lobbying.” The new entity might be named either, “The Humane Fund for Animals” or “The Humane Society Fund for Animals,” the memo indicated.

“As you know,” Markarian and the memo continued, “The Fund and HSUS are both [IRS classification] 501(c)(3) organizations, and both currently face lobbying limits that severely encumber their effectiveness. HSUS must limit its [political] spending to $1 million per year—just 1.3 percent of total spending. The Fund must limit its expenditures to $450,000—about 6% of total spending. These hard caps cannot be consistently exceeded without risking the loss of our charitable status.

“In short, as our organizations grow, our lobbying programs cannot grow commensurately because of the rigid formulas established by the IRS. The HSUS spending cap is frozen at $1 million, no matter how much HSUS grows. The spending limit is the same whether an organization’s annual budget is $20 million, $80 million, or $200 million. As wages, benefits, printing, postage, and other expenditures rise from inflationary pressures, we face shrinking ability to spend in the lobbying domain.”

Markarian and the memo pointed out that the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund “distributes in excess of $5 million per year, and its lobbying arm spends nearly $20 million. Other political opponents, including the American Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers Council, Safari Club International, and Feld Entertainment, spend millions more on political activity. We are at a distinct and often insurmountable disadvantage,” Markarian and the memo contended, “when we attempt to push sweeping and meaningful reforms.

“Our hope,” Markarian and the memo said, “is that a single 501(c)(4), viewed as the political lobbying arm of both organizations, would appeal to donors from both The HSUS and The Fund. Within a few years, it is not unreasonable to think that the 501(c)(4) may be able to spend upward of $10 to $15 million on political activities—representing an increase in spending in this domain by a factor of 10.”

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance issued a press release on Nov. 19 saying that it had talked to Scripps Howard News Service reporter Lance Gay and that,

Gay stated that sources within the groups confirmed that the new organization would seek to ban bowhunting as a priority.

Pacelle has also been making noise about removing the exemption for poultry under the Humane Slaughter Act.

According to an article by Lance Gay, Pacelle apparently is looking to possibly merging with other groups as well,

Pacelle said he would like to further unify the animal rights movement in the United States through other mergers, or by creating an umbrella organization that could carry more political clout in Washington.


Animal rights groups to merge. Associated Press, November 19, 2004.

Animal rights groups to announce plan to merge, ban bowhunting. Press release, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, November 19, 2004.

HSUS to merge with Fund for Animals. Lance Gay, Scripps Howard, November 22, 2004.

The Fund, HSUS, and merging packs. Animal People Online, September 2004.

Iams Ends Sponsorship of HSUS' Petfest

In April the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance announced that Iams had sent it a letter saying that the company had severed its relationship with the Humane Society of the United States.

The USSA quoted a letter from Kelly Vanasse, Associate Director, External Relations, that said,

We want to inform you and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance that the Iams Company is officially announcing that we are not funding the Petfest American events with the HSUS again next year. We appreciate the feedback we have received from the sporting dog community and apologize for the frustration that this sponsorship has caused.

USSA president Bud Pidgeon said in the press release that,

We are very pleased that Iams has seen the light about this situation. It was a very difficult situation for this company that has been a good supporter of sporting dog events and for those groups accepting the sponsorship dollars. These sporting dog groups were perplexed at the companies’ support of the largest anti-hunting group in the country.


Iams Pulls Sponsorship of Animal Rights Events. Press Release, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, April 27, 2004.

Supporters Deliver Signatures for Bear Baiting Ban Initiative

On January 1, Citizens United Against Bear Baiting delivered more than the 33,500 signatures required to put a ban on bear baiting on the November 2004 Alaska ballot.

The proposed initiative would read,

“An act prohibiting the baiting or intentional feeding of bears.”

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Alaska:

Alaska Statutes Title 16 is amended to add a new Section 16.05.781, as follows:

16.05.781. Baiting or intentional feeding of bears prohibited.

(a) A person may not bait or intentionally feed a bear for the purpose of hunting, photographing, or viewing.

(b) Under this section, to “bait” or “intentionally feed” means to intentionally give, deposit, distribute, discard, scatter or otherwise expose any attractant or edible material in order to attract or entice a bear to enter into, or to remain in, a location or area.

(c) A person who violates this section is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Currently Alaska permits the baiting of black bears but not of brown bears. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game argues that baiting of black bears is a legitimate wildlife management tools, especially in area where it is otherwise difficult to hunt bears due to thick vegetation. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game about 500 of the 2,500 bears killed annually by hunters in Alaska are baited.

Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming also allow bear baiting. Ballot initiatives have led to the banning of bear baiting in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state.

Opponents of bear baiting argue that it is unsportsmanlike, unsafe (since it might encourage bears to seek out food left behind by people), and inhumane. Proponents argue that baiting is a long standing tradition and is safer than other methods of hunting because hunters have a clear shot at the animals they are hunting.

Major national hunting and anti-hunting groups are likely to work to influence the outcome of the voting. The Humane Society of the United States’ Wayne Pacelle told the Anchorage Daily News,

We will certainly encourage our 13,000 Alaska members to become involved and vote yes on the initiative.

Pacelle added that HSUS would encourage “indigenous” fund raising to pass the initiative.

Meanwhile, Rob Sexton of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance told the Anchorage Daily News, “We’ll call on sportsmen everywhere to help support the vote-no effort” and added that the effort to fight the ballot initiative would likely cost several hundred thousands of dollars.

As far as the arguments go, I agree with the Sportsmen’s Alliance that whether or not bear baiting is allowed should depend on whether it is a sound wildlife management practice rather than on vague arguments about whether or not it is “unfair.” Craig Medred of the Anchorage Daily News did a nice job of pointing out the problems with the fairness argument in a column for that newspaper,

All of which brings us back to Alaska, where wildlife is nowhere near as bountiful as Outside, where fewer and fewer hunt for sport, and where the idea of fairness has been dragged a baffling distance from its origins and sensibilities.

Suddenly, people are arguing about what’s fair to individual wild animals — as if that somehow mattered.

Does someone out there truly believe a bear cares whether it gets shot at a bait station or splashing in a salmon stream or frolicking in a berry patch, or that a wolf cares that death comes in the form of a single bullet from a quiet marksman hidden 300 yards away or a hail of bullets from an airplane or the noose of a snare?

The means of death are irrelevant to these animals. They want only to survive, but they can’t.

Sooner or later, they’re destined to die, as are we, because the cycle of life is built on death. It’s inherently unfair and random. One calf gets picked to become a breeding bull and spend its life in pampered enjoyment. Another gets earmarked to be fattened up for shipment to the slaughterhouse.

That’s the way it has been since the days of the dinosaurs. The animals with fangs and claws and tools kill and consume the plant eaters.


Bear baiting ban signatures delivered. MARY PEMBERTON
Associated Press, January 9, 2004.

Bear baiting opponents deliver signatures aplenty. Joel Gay, Anchorage Daily News, January 9, 2004.

Who ever said hunting was supposed to be fair? Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, January 25, 2004.

Withdrawal of Bill to Reorganize NJ Fish and Game Council Angers Activist

The very brief life of New Jersey Senate Bill 2603 — which would have reorganized the New Jersey Fish and Game Council — had animal rights activist Stuart Chaifetz up in arms after animal rights activists apparently joined hunters groups in opposing the bill.

NJ Sen. Joseph Vitale (D) introduced the bill on May 29, and then withdrew it a couple weeks later on June 12. The bill would have expanded the size of the New Jersey Fish and Game Council from its current 11 members to 19 members.

Of the additional 8 members, one would have been filled by the state Commissioner of Environmental Protection, who the bill also would have granted authority that currently resides with the director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. The other seven seats were to be reserved for “individuals with experience in environmental protection or other fields relevant to animal welfare and with a background in the conservation of fish and game.” I.e., this was a pretty blatant effort to pack the council with activists and take other measures to shift the balance away from hunters and towards activists.

As the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance summed it up,

The bill essentially guts the authority of the Fish and Game Council, and gives it to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection. It specifically grants the Commissioner the authority to suspend hunting seasons without a public hearing or the consent of the Fish and Game Council. All changes and decisions made by the council will have to be approved by the Commissioner as well.

That hunters opposed this is not surprising, but according to animal rights activist Stuart Chaifetz, animal rights activists also expressed their opposition to the bill to Sen. Vitale. In a letter posted to an animal rights e-mail list, Chaifetz complained (emphasis added),

Earlier today I found out that Senator Vitale, Co-Prime sponsor of the legislation to radically change the Council, is pulling his name from the bill. Why? Because he has been getting opposition to the bill from hunters and animal rights people.

Yes, that is no mistake. Animal rights people (I will not grant them such a caring title anymore) joined with hunters to kill S2603.

Now why would these people do such a thing? Why would people who claim to care about wildlife try to destroy the greatest chance wild animals have?

In my opinion, seeing much of the opposition, I can relate the following theories: Some didn’t like the fact that there would only be seven additional seats on the Council (Only seven after six decades of none). Some said that they were afraid that the seats might not go to hardcore anti-hunters. Some claimed in sheer idiocy that this bill would hurt the bears when the truth is it would have saved them. How? By the nature of the bill it drew all of the focus of the hunters to it, leaving a clear path for the bear campaign. With it gone, hunters can now re-focus 100% on getting their bear hunt. The irony is sickening.

I know of one specific person who spread absolute lies about what this bill would do, and can imagine that they and a few choice others were upon the shoulders of many more, whispering these things into there ears. And there were other reasons as well, I am sure, for many are often locked into a box and refuse to see it. None of these people could see what we could do with this bill. And it is the animals that shall pay the price for this.

These people, and I believe they are not large in number, did not try to work to amend the bill or offer any ideas on how to make it better, but instead entered into a campaign of fierce harassment, not only against the sponsor of the bill but against any one from our side ho supported the bill.

A small handful of animal rights activists spreading lies and engaging in a campaign of harassment based on those lies? Imagine that!

The full text of NJ Senate Bill 2603 is available here.


New Jersey Bill Threatens Future of Outdoor Sports. Press Release, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, June 6, 2003.

The disgrace of a few ‘activists’ — sponsor pulls name from Council reform bill. E-mail communication, Stuart Chaifetz, June 13, 2003.