Airplane-aided hunting, contest killing, ag-gag, tigers in the backyard, and dogs in hot cars flare up in legislative debates across the nation
Legislative activity is furious at the federal and state level. This week, lawmakers introduced three new animal protection bills (banning the sale of dog and cat meat in the United States, creating a federal anti-cruelty statute, and outlawing the sale of shark fins). Next week, the U.S. Senate may take up H.J. Res. 69, or its Senate companion, S.J. Res. 18, a resolution to rescind a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule to outlaw the most inhumane and unsporting hunting practices on over 76 million acres of federal public lands in Alaska. Today, we released a video from Alaskans who support the Fish and Wildlife Service rule and want the Senate to reject this resolution. Yesterday, Ellen DeGeneres tweeted on the topic and urged her 66 million followers to join our campaign to defeat H.J. Res. 69 and S.J. Res. 18.
There is activity in the states, too. Yesterday, we got a step closer to ending contest kills for rays, when a Maryland House committee voted in favor of a bill that would ban these twisted games. A similar bill has already passed the state Senate.
Every summer, people armed with bows and arrows descend on Maryland’s scenic Chesapeake Bay for these bloody events that target cownose rays, a species native to Maryland’s waterways and named for their unique facial features. Participants kill these gentle, intelligent creatures in contests that award cash and prizes to those catching the heaviest rays. Many of the rays killed are pregnant females that migrate to the bay in the summer to mate and give birth.
Footage taken of the events show rays bludgeoned to death, then dumped overboard after they have been weighed for the contest. No responsible sportsman would countenance that kind of waste of animal life.
Good news emerged yesterday from New Mexico for another long-persecuted species, when the state Senate passed a bill to prohibit cruel, unsporting, and ineffective coyote killing contests in the Land of Enchantment. As in Maryland, participants compete in these gruesome events for prizes—typically cash or weapons—for slaughtering the most or the largest animals within a specified time period. Predator killing contests remove any notion of fair chase, and participants often use high-tech equipment and even electronic calling devices to attract coyotes into rifle range with sounds that imitate the cry of a coyote in distress.
In Alabama, an HSUS-backed bill that would restrict the private possession of big cats and wolves passed the House by a vote of 93-2. A South Carolina bill that would prohibit big cats, bears, and great apes from being kept as pets also passed the House. Alabama and South Carolina are two of five states with no laws governing the keeping of dangerous wild animals as pets (other states with no laws include Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin).
Bills that would disallow leaving dogs in hot cars have passed the first chambers in Colorado, Indiana, and New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. passed a temporary law dealing with dogs left outside in inclement weather.
Besides pushing for legislation favorable to animals, The HSUS also fights bills that would hurt them. This year we are fighting an ag-gag bill in Arkansas. Agribusiness lobbyists are trying to rush through a dangerous bill that would not only cover up cruelty in puppy mills and factory farms, but in any workplace. Whistleblowers could be punished, for example, for documenting child abuse at a daycare. The HSUS is running television, newspaper, and online ads, conducting on-the-ground lobbying, and much more.
That’s just a taste of what we’re fighting for and against at the federal and state level. As I’ve written before, it’s never been more important to speak up for animals than today. Big issues hang in the balance, and we need you to weigh in wherever you can.