July 2010 Blog Home September 2010

22 posts from August 2010

August 31, 2010

FDA Inspection of Egg Factory Farms Mirrors HSUS Findings

Just four months ago, I traveled to Des Moines for a press conference to announce the findings of The HSUS’s latest investigations into the living conditions of hens within industrial agribusiness. Undercover investigators from The HSUS looked at two egg factory farms—two of the three largest operations in the nation, both located in Iowa—and found rodents in hen houses, countless flies at the facilities, dead birds among the living in cages, and massive waste piles.

Filth below caged hens at an Iowa egg factory farm
Filth below the cages at an Iowa egg farm.

We found those conditions at Rose Acre Farms and Rembrandt Enterprises. But based on the FDA’s announcement yesterday, releasing information from its forensic investigations in the wake of the massive salmonella outbreak traced to two egg factories, it sure appears we could have found the same set of circumstances at Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, the two companies at the center of the largest egg recall in U.S. history.

While our investigation attracted press attention in Iowa, our announcement this spring did not prompt the FDA, the USDA, or state authorities to inspect any egg farms in the state. If they had done proper follow-up, then they might have discovered a situation not only dangerous for the animals but also for consumers. The assurances from the egg industry that its operators maintain safe and clean facilities, treat animals humanely, and do it all at low cost are a charade. The eggs may seem cheap at the cash register, but the costs are passed on to consumers in terms of health costs, despoiling of the environment, animal cruelty, and worker safety issues.

Excessive manure, maggots, and mice are problems inherent to cage confinement. Cramming literally hundreds of thousands of hens into a single shed leads to an immense volume of fecal matter. According to FDA scientists: “In the poultry industry, the greatest numbers of houseflies and other disease-carrying flies occur in caged-layer houses (poultry houses with laying hens in cages for commercial egg production), where the flies breed in accumulated manure beneath the cages.” Cage operations are also especially attractive to rodents because the animals can roam freely without interference from the birds, who unlike cage-free hens, can barely move an inch. The rows of cages may be stacked 12 tiers high, making cage operations intrinsically difficult to clean and disinfect between flocks. These are all factors inherent to commercial cage operations that explain why every one of the last ten published studies comparing cage to cage-free operations found higher Salmonella rates in cage systems.

We have documented the cruelty and reckless management practices time and again, and now FDA has finally gotten in these facilities and taken a deep breath inside the foul-smelling factories and gotten an unobstructed view of the terrible cruelty. New York Times editorial writer Verlyn Klinkenborg, who comes from the small town in Iowa where Wright County Egg operates, gave us his own take on the issue in Sunday’s newspaper.

Today, the Dalai Lama chimed in on the horrors of factory farming. He issued a statement to The HSUS urging egg consumers to shun battery cage eggs in favor of cage-free eggs instead. He’s just the latest major public figure to call upon consumers to make animal welfare a major consideration in their food choices.

August 30, 2010

150 Cats Rescued from Hoarding Case in Wyoming

For the past few weeks, Animal Planet has run a compelling series on the psychological disorder of animal hoarding, which is a cause of enormous suffering for dogs, cats, and other animals. There’s typically no malice here—just a distorted reality and an inability to recognize that the situation for the animals at home has skidded off the tracks.

See The HSUS's rescue of 150 cats from a hoarding situation in Wyoming and help us save other animals
Bradly J. Boner
See the rescue and help save other animals.

It seems we at The HSUS are responding to more hoarding cases than ever. Last Thursday, the Park County Prosecutor’s Office and the local sheriff’s department called The HSUS to help with a case involving 150 cats in a home.

Cats were everywhere—living in couches, above the ceiling, outside of the home, and in practically every other nook and cranny of the residence. Our team found several pregnant cats and litters of newborn kittens in deplorable conditions. Many had upper respiratory infections, ear mites, tumors, and emaciation. They’d obviously been languishing at this residence for some time.

The local volunteers who helped with this operation deserve special thanks, as does PetSmart Charities for donating much-needed sheltering supplies. Now safely removed, all of the cats have received thorough veterinary checks and medical treatment. Soon we’ll transport them to rescue groups, on their way to new, adoptive homes.

Our hands-on work is difficult and costly, but we are committed to it—whether it involves hoarding cases, puppy mills, dogfighting or cockfighting operations, or any other circumstance involving large numbers of animals in distress.

To do this work, we need your help—on the investigations side and also the actual response. The needs are immense. Already this week we’re on our way to rescue more animals from another major case of cruelty and neglect. I hope to share those details in the coming days.

See The HSUS's rescue of 150 cats from a hoarding situation in Wyoming and help us save other animals

August 27, 2010

Remembering Katrina; Responding to Cruelty of Bear Baiting

It was five years ago Sunday that Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, with the waves and winds thrashing this vulnerable region. It was a calamity of monumental proportions for the people and animals of the region. And for those of us who deployed to the Gulf Coast, the images still flood into our minds—the abandonment and loss of untold tens of thousands of animals, the race against time to save thousands more, and the tremendous practical challenges of pulling a response together amidst all of the destruction and dislocation.

Dog rescued after Hurricane Katrina
Kathy Milani/The HSUS

Our response to the crisis for animals in the Gulf Coast has had a long arc—in fact, it continues today. The HSUS has had an enduring presence in Louisiana and Mississippi, and we have invested millions of dollars in recovery, relief, and ongoing initiatives to address the historical problems of animal homelessness and poor veterinary care, degraded infrastructure, gaps in the law, and insufficient planning and coordination among government agencies and private stakeholders. In marking the fifth anniversary of the Katrina emergency we’ve posted two updates on our commitment to companion animal and broader animal protection efforts in the Gulf region, which I encourage you to read.

Today I also want to share several developments following the release of our investigation exposing cruel bear baiting competitions in South Carolina. Our undercover investigations unit sniffed out these “bear baying” competitions, and then got footage at four separate events. For the entertainment of spectators and the chance at trophies or cash prizes, a pack of dogs rush at a tethered, captive bear who often has his or her teeth pulled and claws filed down. We broke the investigation on Monday of this week through the Associated Press, and the response has been enormous.

Bear baiting is effectively banned in every state but South Carolina and on Tuesday, appalled by our footage, State Sen. Joel Lourie announced that he would introduce legislation to outlaw the practice. Also in response, the American Kennel Club reports it has severed ties with the American Plott Association, the dog breed club that organizes one of the major bear baiting competitions.

A tethered bear cowers at a South Carolina bear baying event investigated by The Humane Society of the United States

On the other hand, the United Kennel Club, the nation's second-largest dog registry with affiliation to the other Plott hound breed group that organizes bear baiting competitions, has not spoken out against these spectacles.

Moreover, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, which grants permits to the individuals who maintain the captive bears used in these competitions, has indicated it won’t take action to stop this cruelty, even though the footage we made public shows illegal conduct. Please urge the agency to fulfill its responsibilities and to exhibit leadership on the issue.

Here is a sampling of what you had to say about the investigation:

I could not bring myself to watch the video, having seen similar ones taken in Pakistan. To think that such brutality is taking place in our country is unbelievable. How could we sink so low? You'd think that people who own dogs might care about other animals as well, but apparently not these dog owners. —Sharon
I am appalled that this poor bear had to endure hours and hours of this cruel treatment... and must do so every weekend. My blood is boiling while tears stream down my face. —Kimberly
This is outrageous! I still can't believe that I just witnessed something so barbaric being carried out on American soil with so-called civilized Americans watching and apparently enjoying it. … Shame on those people participating in this. —D. Allman
That bear baying exists so openly is evidence of tolerance, and disgraces the good name of the state of South Carolina. Perhaps more directly, it disgraces the very name of man himself… —Peter Hood
This absolutely sickens me. I am currently residing in South Carolina and had no idea this barbaric practice was taking place. It has been my observation, since moving to this state three years ago, that laws and education regarding animal welfare are almost non-existent. I try to always share educational information regarding animal welfare with others that I come in contact with. I will definitely contact the Department of Natural Resources regarding this issue. —Penny

Continue reading "Remembering Katrina; Responding to Cruelty of Bear Baiting" »

August 26, 2010

Speak Up for Wild Horses; Send a Letter via Pony Express

Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of you have contacted the federal Bureau of Land Management, encouraging the agency to impose an immediate moratorium on the senseless wild horse gathers being conducted on our public lands.

Madeleine Pickens and her adopted mustang Pony Express
Saving America’s Mustangs
Adopted mustang Pony Express and Madeleine.

BLM seems resolved to continue toward its goal of removing 12,000 horses from the range before next fall—roundup levels to match those of the Bush Administration. The round up of these horses—on top of the roundups that have left more than 30,000 horses in BLM short-term and long-term holding facilities—will produce suffering for horses, swamp the adoption program, and result in the stockpiling of more animals, digging a deeper financial hole for the agency and ultimately for American taxpayers. This sort of mismanagement is all the more glaring since BLM has the know-how to implement a far more aggressive contraception program, keeping horses on the range, but slowly bringing under control the reproduction of the already diminished herds.

To draw attention to the BLM’s stubborn refusal to turn around this program, Madeleine Pickens, the founder of Saving America’s Mustangs and a strong ally of The HSUS, has launched the Pony Express campaign. Between now and Sept. 1, Madeleine is asking advocates to sign a letter urging President Obama, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and BLM Director Robert Abbey to stop rounding up wild horses and warehousing them in costly federal holding facilities.

Then, with the help of her adopted wild mustang “Pony Express,” Madeleine will personally deliver these letters to Washington, D.C. She’s aiming to bring along 20,000 letters; please help her meet this goal by adding your voice.

Also, if you haven’t already done so, before Sept. 3 be sure to submit comments on the BLM’s new policy proposal for wild horse management, which the agency will use to develop a long-term plan. We’ve made it easy for you to tell the BLM to make good on the change it has promised in the past—to steer the program in a new, sustainable, more humane direction using effective, cost-beneficial methods such as fertility control to stabilize and manage wild horse populations.

August 25, 2010

Total Recall: Farm Animal Cruelty, Public Health Connected

The current recall of more than a half billion eggs is the largest U.S. food recall since our investigation of rampant cruelty at a California dairy cow slaughter plant triggered the recall of 143 million pounds of meat in 2008. Both events vividly illustrate how the mistreatment of animals can have serious public health implications.

Our 2008 investigation documented “downed” cattle, those too sick or disabled to stand or walk, being routinely beaten, dragged with chains, shocked with electric prods, and pushed by forklifts in efforts to move them to slaughter, prompting President Obama to impose a ban on allowing adult downer cattle into the human food supply.

Caged hen at an Iowa egg factory farm
A caged hen at an Iowa egg factory farm.

Our investigations into egg factory farms in Iowa earlier this year also revealed appalling animal abuse and cruel industry-wide practices that put consumers at risk. The lifelong extreme confinement of laying hens in tiny cages is not just inhumane, it’s been linked to human disease. Eggs from caged birds have been found to be significantly more likely to pose a Salmonella threat than cage-free eggs. You can see even more of the evidence at our site humanesociety.org/salmonella.

There used to be tobacco industry scientists who said the evidence about cigarettes and cancer was inconclusive, and now we have egg industry scientists trying to muddy waters about the industry’s mistreatment of birds increasing Salmonella risk.

But the evidence is clear: Each of the 16 studies published in the last five years comparing Salmonella rates in cage and cage-free egg operations found higher rates in the cage confinement facilities.* It stands to reason that keeping hens in severely overcrowded cages stresses the birds and creates conditions that allow for the rapid transfer of pathogens between the confined animals.

Every one of the hundreds of millions of eggs now being recalled for Salmonella came from hens confined in cages. Iowa is the nation’s top egg producing state, and The HSUS is calling on industry leaders to end the use of battery cages. It’s time for the egg industry to follow the lead of states like California and Michigan in phasing out cages that threaten animal welfare and human health.

*Editor's Note: The number of studies was updated to 16 to include recent work on this topic.

August 24, 2010

SeaWorld Citation More Evidence Against Captive Orcas

On Feb. 24, Tilikum, the largest orca ever held in captivity, killed his long-time trainer, Dawn Brancheau, at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla. Tilikum deliberately pulled Dawn into the water, prevented her from leaving the tank, shook her violently, and held her under. The official cause of death was determined to be drowning and blunt trauma.

On Monday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released the findings from its mandatory investigation of the incident. OSHA issued three safety violations to SeaWorld, including one willful citation—for exposing its employees to potentially injurious or fatal hazards by allowing them to interact with its captive orcas without sufficient protection. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with “plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.”

SeaWorld Orlando captive orca show
Photo taken at SeaWorld Orlando's captive orca show.

According to an OSHA statement, the investigation "revealed that SeaWorld trainers had an extensive history of unexpected and potentially dangerous incidents involving killer whales at its various facilities, including its location in Orlando. Despite this record, management failed to make meaningful changes to improve the safety of the work environment for its employees."

The citation entails a fine of $75,000 and a recommendation that SeaWorld trainers be prohibited from entering the water with the orcas unless the trainers are protected “through the use of physical barriers, or through the use of decking systems, oxygen supply systems or other engineering or administrative controls.”

I’ve asked Naomi Rose, Ph.D., The HSUS’s expert on marine mammal issues, to further explain the results.

SeaWorld would have had us believe that Dawn Brancheau’s death was an “accident,” or the result of trainer error, but the investigation undertaken by OSHA has determined otherwise.

The investigation involved six months of extensive interviews with trainers, witnesses, and orca experts within and outside of the public display industry. Investigators examined the many previous incidents of human injuries and fatalities when handling or interacting with orcas. They reviewed a recording of the February incident from one of SeaWorld’s own underwater video cameras. They also considered the circumstances of the two previous deaths in which Tilikum was implicated and the killing of a trainer in December 2009 by a former SeaWorld whale in a Canary Islands facility.

OSHA’s conclusion: It is unnecessarily dangerous to allow trainers into the water with the greatest predator in the world. According to Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator, "SeaWorld recognized the inherent risk of allowing trainers to interact with potentially dangerous animals. Nonetheless, it required its employees to work within the pool walls, on ledges and on shelves where they were subject to dangerous behavior by the animals."

For decades SeaWorld has allowed this and visitors have paid to see it. No human being has ever been seriously injured or killed by an orca in the wild, but four people have died and dozens have been injured, some very seriously, by captive orcas.

SeaWorld sells a false image of orcas. Whenever trainers “dance” with the orcas in the water, this magnificent species is reduced to a cartoon. Then, when a serious injury or a death occurs, the company is quick to blame bad luck or the trainer herself for making some kind of mistake. But the only mistake here was SeaWorld’s, for refusing to protect its employees from an obvious risk of injury and death.

OSHA saw through SeaWorld’s propaganda and placed the responsibility for this tragedy firmly where it belongs, and this week’s decision brought some common sense to the show. The best outcome of this tragedy would be if we all realized how grossly inappropriate it is to keep such a large, intelligent creature in small pools for our entertainment. We have to stop buying the false image—we have to stop making the orcas pay for our amusement, and stop putting them into positions where they can injure or kill their trainers.

Tilikum is still being held in a back tank at SeaWorld, no longer allowed to perform in the show. The HSUS has asked SeaWorld to consider retiring Tilikum to a sea pen, to allow him more room, more choices, more stimulation than he is getting in a barren concrete tank. His best friend Taima, an adult female, died in June while giving birth to his calf. He is more isolated than ever. His situation is grim and it will only improve if the public demands it.

August 23, 2010

Uncovered in South Carolina: Bear Abuse for Show

Through the years, The HSUS has exposed and challenged many new forms of cruelty perpetrated against animals—like the depravity of Internet hunting, the vicious pastime of hog dog fighting, or the murderous and macabre “animal crush” video phenomenon. Today, we are exposing anew one of the earliest forms of cruelty targeted by 18th- and 19th- century humane advocates and one that we had believed was no longer practiced in our nation: bear baiting, or as it’s known now in its modern form, “bear baying.”

Around 1800, the first animal welfare campaigners in England focused on halting bull baiting and bear baiting with dogs—where a tethered bull or bear was set upon by dogs who attacked the animal. With the bears, the victim often had his or her teeth pulled, and claws filed down, rendering the animal without his or her primary defenses. It was a vestige of ancient animal fighting as a spectator sport—not unlike the staged fights in the Roman Colosseum many centuries earlier. The practice was banned in the United Kingdom in 1835, and New York became the first state to outlaw it in 1856. And until recently, we believed that the practice was thriving only in a few remote areas of Pakistan.

A tethered bear cowers at a South Carolina bear baying event investigated by The Humane Society of the United States
A tethered bear cowers at a South Carolina bear baying event.

Today, the Associated Press broke the story that this infamous practice is alive and well in South Carolina. An HSUS undercover investigator documented bear baying at several locations in rural areas, and it appears that South Carolina is the only state in the nation to allow this cruelty.

In this disturbing video, you’ll see a pack of three dogs rush the bear, barking, biting and lunging at her. Frightened, the bear rears up on her hind legs, and has to use her strength to fend off the dogs, swinging at them. She suffers bites and gashes, but the real trauma is the psychological trauma of a ceaseless set of attacks that last for hours. In fact, one bear was subjected to attacks for four hours as nearly 100 teams of dogs were set upon her in rapid succession. The bear—likely named Mandy, according to records—may endure this treatment every weekend throughout much of the year.

She is surrounded by throngs of onlookers, many who traveled hundreds of miles to take part in the spectacle.

The bear baying events investigated by The HSUS were organized by the American Plott Association and the National Plott Hound Association, groups affiliated with the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club. The HSUS has called on the AKC and UKC to intervene and stop these animal competitions.

The intent of bear baying is for dogs to compete at keeping a bear in place—or at bay—with the owners of the dogs who are rated highest on their ability to “bay” the bear receiving trophies or cash prizes. The result, however, resembles nothing more than a staged animal fight.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources issued permits for 26 bears to be kept confined in the state, many used for this purpose, restricted to small cages when they are not being beset with barking dogs.

The state should investigate and, if warranted, prosecute the people involved. And the DNR needs to immediately revoke the possession permit for Mandy and all other bears used for this cruel practice, and see that they are sent to a sanctuary.

If this practice is so repulsive and so obviously cruel that it was outlawed nearly two centuries ago in the United Kingdom, it certainly cannot withstand scrutiny today—where our nation works to adhere to the value that cruelty is wrong and humans are called to behave responsibly in their dealings with animals. There can be no excuse for this torment and cruelty, and not a single event like this should be staged anywhere again in our nation or in any civilized part of the world.

August 20, 2010

Talk Back: Attacking Animal Cruelty from All Angles

The HSUS works to reduce suffering and create meaningful social change for animals by advocating for sensible public policies, investigating cruelty and working to enforce existing laws, educating the public, joining with corporations on behalf of animal-friendly policies, and conducting hands-on programs that make ours a more humane world. Today I share some of your recent comments on HSUS efforts in all of these areas.

First, your thoughts on a guest blog from Ashley Mauceri, our deputy manager of animal cruelty issues, who works with concerned community members and law enforcement to respond to acts of cruelty and help animals in need:

I want to thank you for what you do. Thank God there are people like you for the animals. It is surprising how many people don't know what to do when faced with the issue of animal abuse. Sometimes it just takes a little leadership to show others how to help. Also, not giving up on law enforcement. —Barbara
Thank you for all that you do. It sickens me to hear about the horrible things that people do to animals, but I also know that there are more people out there that love them and are willing to fight for them. God bless you! —Heather Jeffcoat
Dozens of lives have been saved by your diligence and hard work. We're all animals, so let's treat one another with respect and care. —Danielle

Celebrating two recent victories in our efforts to combat factory farming—news that a federal legal case against a polluting egg factory farm in California will proceed to trial, and that major cruise lines Carnival and Royal Caribbean will each switch millions of eggs from caged hens to eggs from cage-free hens:

Many thanks to everyone at HSUS who are bringing these amazing changes to industries that abuse and exploit animals. For a long time, I read about these awful practices but there didn't seem to be much happening to change them—now there does. It gives me and I'm sure many others hope and inspires me to do more to be involved and help. Keep up the great work and know that we are behind you! —Jenny Saccenti

About another step forward for the YES! on Prop B campaign in Missouri to advance commonsense and long overdue reforms against puppy mill cruelty in the state:

Excellent! Such exciting news. I know puppy mill reform will sweep the country. —Sara N.
These puppies and their mothers are living beings who hurt just like we do. They hope, and feel depression and anxiety, just like we do. … All this for money, with no feelings for these little guys. Sad. Please put an end to this. —Nancy Coppola

And, finally, in response to a video documenting the recent rescue of more than 100 dogs from the filth and squalor of a Mississippi puppy mill:

Watching these videos of your team rescuing these dogs is both heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time. It makes me angry that people can treat animals this way and have no regard for their well being. Seeing the horribly matted dog reminded me of a little rescue who is living in my home. His hair was much longer, but matted to the extreme that his skin was torn. Please keep up the great work! One day maybe people buying puppies from these greedy people will wake up and see they are contributing to the suffering. I know I am grateful to have access to the Internet to be able to share this information. —Nancy

Continue reading "Talk Back: Attacking Animal Cruelty from All Angles" »

August 19, 2010

A Home Where the Buffalo Roam

At the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, which is run by The HSUS and The Fund for Animals, the front gate reads “I have nothing to fear, and here my story ends. My troubles are all over, and I am at home.” Drawn from the last lines of Anna Sewell’s novel “Black Beauty,” this inscription was the late Cleveland Amory’s inspiration for the ranch he founded three decades ago. His vision: A secure, secluded haven where animals are not to be looked at, but looked after.

Nearly 1,300 animals have found permanent refuge at the 1,250-acre sanctuary in East Texas, refugees and rescues from the agriculture industry, research facilities, zoos and other entertainment enterprises, captive shooting operations, government culling programs, and individual acts of abuse.

The animals are free to live on their own terms and a photo recently sent to me by Diane Miller, the ranch director, is a perfect example of this—showing some of the bison on their way to Kickapoo Creek, which runs through the property. Diane reports that in the recent Texas heat wave the bison have been traveling from the woods to the creek every morning, submerging themselves in the water or loafing on the cool banks. I’m posting the photo of their daily migration below, followed by a few more of the bison on the open range.

You can read more about the sanctuary in this story from The HSUS’s member magazine All Animals and, if you’d like, help provide care for the animals with a special donation. Also, if you’re on Facebook, be sure to “Like” Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch to get their latest updates.

Bison at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch

Bison at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch 

Bison at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch 

Bison at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch

Top photo credit Diane Miller/Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. Other photos credit Michelle Riley/The HSUS.

August 18, 2010

Poaching Doesn't Rock: Ted Nugent Caught In Illegal Hunt

Poachers are enemies of wildlife. They are “game hogs”—shooting animals out of season or shooting animals beyond legally established limits. They are “wildlife butchers”—shooting protected species and often using illegal methods of killing. They are motivated by greed and often a lust for slaughter.

Their victims are helpless wild animals, who just want to live free of molestation from humans. But wildlife watchers and lawful hunters are cheated by the actions of these people, too, since the poacher kills and depletes wildlife and denies opportunities for others.

The politically oriented hunting rights groups, such as the NRA, the Safari Club International, and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, offer mild protest of poaching. They offer anti-poaching bromides, but no real action to halt the slaughter of millions of animals by poachers. In contrast, The HSUS has an anti-poaching rewards program, offering more than $250,000 in rewards since 2008, and we are working with more and more state fish and wildlife agencies on the problem. We are also working with lawmakers to strengthen penalties to lock up poachers wherever they do their killing.

Ted Nugent
chascar/Creative Commons

Some of the biggest hunting rights advocates have had their brushes with the law when it comes to illegal wildlife killing. This week, law enforcement nabbed a big buck within the hunting rights field: Rocker Ted Nugent pled no contest in a California court to poaching activities—baiting a deer and not having a properly signed hunting tag.

If Nugent were just some rank-and-file loudmouth, the court proceedings wouldn’t have stirred much attention. But Nugent is not only a long-serving board member of the NRA (15 years), he’s a self-styled voice for hunters across America. We’ve always thought he’s an embarrassment to the hunting lobby, providing an unceasing bilge of callous and crude beliefs and behaving in ways that are directly at odds with the self-portrait offered by hunters.

Nugent says one thing and does another. He says that sport hunters are great conservationists, and then he goes on to defend the most unsporting, reckless, and irresponsible forms of hunting, such as canned hunts, bear baiting, or pigeon shoots.

Earlier this month, his poaching came to light when state authorities, acting on an investigation by wardens from the California Department of Fish and Game, brought 11 charges against Nugent, including killing a deer too young to be legally hunted. In a deal with Yuba County prosecutors, Nugent's attorney last Friday entered no contest pleas to two misdemeanor charges.

On its website, the NRA says that “All sportsmen and women have a responsibility to other hunters and landowners, the public, wildlife, and above all, to themselves. It is essential that all hunters abide by a code of ethics.”

If the NRA truly had hunting ethics as a paramount concern—rather than as a placeholder on the website—it would oust Nugent from its board. If The HSUS had a board member who pled guilty to animal cruelty, he or she would be gone in a flash. But tolerating Nugent and his behavior is just par for the course for the NRA.

The NRA gives lip service to combating poaching, but really does nothing meaningful on the front. In this case, we’ve got unmistakable evidence that one of its leaders got in on the action himself.