Spending bills move up in Congress, with progress for wild horses and burros, wolves and other wildlife

By on May 22, 2019 with 0 Comments

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

As the U.S. Congress takes up the business of funding federal programs, some good news for animals has emerged. Today, the House Appropriations Committee approved two Fiscal Year 2020 bills that cover funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Commerce — all federal agencies whose activities and programs have enormous consequences for animals. The proposed measures include groundbreaking new protections for wild horses and burros, support for gray wolves, and increased funding to implement the Endangered Species Act.

The 2020 bills also repudiate years of cuts to the budgets of key agency programs responsible for implementing these and other animal protection commitments.

Among the highlights of the bills that passed the committee today:

New milestones for wild horses and burros: The bill that covers the Interior Department provides $6 million for a pilot project to move the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program away from calls to use lethal management methods like slaughter. The language for increased funding for a non-lethal pilot program included in the FY 2020 report is for scientifically based fertility control tools, which do not include sterilization. Consistent with a strategy proposed by the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Humane Society of the United States and several other organizations, this initiative directs the BLM to work with key stakeholders to implement a non-lethal, science-based approach to wild horse and burro management on two to three herd management areas. This will involve vigorous application of fertility control alongside strategic removals, the relocation of removed horses and burros to pasture facilities, and increased focus on adoptions. This is the first time that lawmakers have championed such a multifaceted, non-lethal wild horse and burro management concept, an historic achievement. We will continue to work with appropriators to ensure that scientifically-proven, safe and humane reversible fertility control tools, which do not include surgical sterilization, become the heart of the BLM’s wild horse and burro management. Notably, this legislation includes first-time language to close a loophole that could have allowed the U.S. Forest Service to kill healthy wild horses and burros and/or to send them to slaughter; the bill also reinstates a similar prohibition with respect to the BLM.

Maintaining ESA protections for gray wolves: Time and time again, when federal protections are removed for wolves, states allow their resident wolves to be trophy hunted and trapped, causing their populations to plummet. This is one of the main concerns with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed rule to remove ESA protections for gray wolves. The bill that covers the Interior Department directs the agency to carefully analyze state management plans to ensure adequate protections will be in place before it removes a species from the ESA list, and then establish a stringent monitoring system with rigorous enforcement provisions. The bill also rejects cuts in the administration’s proposed FY 2020 budget to the Wolf Livestock Demonstration Program, which provides grants for livestock producers willing to undertake non-lethal activities to reduce the miniscule risk of livestock losses from wolves.

Conservation of marine mammals: The bill covering the Commerce Department funds vital research and monitoring for the endangered North Atlantic right whale and southern resident killer whale. It proposes at least $4 million for the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance grant program, which funds the country’s marine mammal stranding response network. The legislation maintains funding of the Marine Mammal Commission, rejecting the administration’s bid to close this key independent federal agency tasked with addressing human impacts on marine mammals and their ecosystems.

Funding for wildlife protection programs: For years, Congress has cut funding for programs vital to wildlife protection, to the point where there is insufficient capital to ensure their effective functioning. The bill covering the Interior Department increases monies for the FWS’s Ecological Services program, which is central to on-the-ground activities to protect and recover ESA-listed species. The bill proposes $37 million more than Ecological Services received for FY 2019, and $49 million above the administration’s FY 2020 budget request. It also boosts funding for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, designed to protect iconic global species such as elephants and great apes, by almost $4 million from its FY 2019 level and by $9 million from the administration’s FY 2020 proposal.

Animal testing alternatives: The bill covering the Interior Department proposes $40 million more in funding above the president’s request for the EPA’s Computational Toxicology Program and Endocrine Disruptor Program, which develop replacements for traditional animal tests, as required in the 2016 reauthorization of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

We are excited about shepherding these proposals forward in Congress, and we look forward to your continued support for these and other animal protection measures in weeks to come.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Breaking news: Prada Group goes fur-free

By on May 22, 2019 with 52 Comments
Breaking news: Prada Group goes fur-free

Prada, one of the world’s biggest and most iconic fashion houses, has gone fur-free. The Prada Group, which is also the parent company of brands including Miu Miu, Church’s and Car Shoe, today announced it will ban all animal fur products starting with its Spring . . . 

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HSI/Canada rescues more than 100 wild animals, including lions, tigers and bears, from roadside zoo

By on May 21, 2019 with 3 Comments
HSI/Canada rescues more than 100 wild animals, including lions, tigers and bears, from roadside zoo

Humane Society International rescuers are on the ground in Quebec today, assisting with a massive seizure of more than 100 wild animals, including lions, tigers, zebras, bears, camels and kangaroos, from an unaccredited roadside zoo. Earlier today, the zoo operator was arrested by the Montreal . . . 

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Horse deaths underscore urgent need for racing reform

By on May 20, 2019 with 1 Comment
Horse deaths underscore urgent need for racing reform

At the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico racetrack in Maryland this past Saturday, all eyes were on Bodexpress, a horse who unseated his jockey just out of the starting gate. Bodexpress went on to gallop riderless down the homestretch – and got . . . 

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Tiger left in deserted Houston house is now at home at Black Beauty Ranch; Owner arrested and charged with animal cruelty

By on May 17, 2019 with 4 Comments
Tiger left in deserted Houston house is now at home at Black Beauty Ranch; Owner arrested and charged with animal cruelty

The strange saga of a neglected tiger discovered last February in the garage of a deserted Houston home reached a happily-ever-after conclusion this week. Our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, the tiger’s home since his rescue, has been given full legal custody . . . 

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South Dakota’s grisly predator bounty program has already claimed 15,000 animal lives this spring, and counting

By on May 16, 2019 with 9 Comments
South Dakota’s grisly predator bounty program has already claimed 15,000 animal lives this spring, and counting

In the last month, South Dakota residents have trapped and killed more than 15,000 raccoons, skunks, opossums, foxes and badgers, cut off their tails, and submitted them to the state’s wildlife management agency for a $10-per-tail reward, all as part of South Dakota’s new Nest . . . 

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An American trophy hunter wants to bring home an endangered cheetah he killed in Namibia

By on May 15, 2019 with 19 Comments
An American trophy hunter wants to bring home an endangered cheetah he killed in Namibia

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson The cheetah, an animal capable of top speeds of 75 miles per hour, is racing toward extinction, with just 7,100 animals left in the wild. Recently, in another expression of the callous disregard trophy hunters show for the world’s . . . 

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Annual Horrible Hundred report identifies problem puppy mills in U.S.; Reveals USDA is failing to crack down on violators

By on May 14, 2019 with 19 Comments
Annual Horrible Hundred report identifies problem puppy mills in U.S.; Reveals USDA is failing to crack down on violators

Our seventh annual Horrible Hundred report, which we are releasing today, reveals shocking instances of neglect and mistreatment of dogs in puppy mills, including severely underweight dogs and large numbers of puppies dying mysteriously. What it also reveals is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture . . . 

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Doris Day was a force for animal protection

By on May 13, 2019 with 4 Comments
Doris Day was a force for animal protection

With the passing of legendary actress, singer and animal advocate Doris Day, the world has lost a generous and kind soul. Even as we mourn the loss of a woman whose grace, talent and versatility left so many of us charmed, I want to celebrate . . . 

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New York’s pioneering bill to end giraffe trafficking now heads to governor’s desk

By on May 9, 2019 with 3 Comments
New York’s pioneering bill to end giraffe trafficking now heads to governor’s desk

New York State is standing tall for giraffes. The state’s lawmakers recently passed a bill that would designate giraffes as a vulnerable species and ban trafficking in their body parts, thus leading the way toward saving this beleaguered species that is fast heading toward extinction. . . . 

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New York City pet store faces lawsuit following HSUS undercover investigation that exposed sick, mistreated puppies

By on May 8, 2019 with 1 Comment
New York City pet store faces lawsuit following HSUS undercover investigation that exposed sick, mistreated puppies

A New York pet store that sold numerous sick puppy mill dogs to unsuspecting consumers now faces a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court for allegedly failing to give proper medical care to sick puppies and deceiving buyers about their health. The store’s former owner may . . . 

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Urgent alert! Act now to prevent trophy hunting of gray wolves

By on May 8, 2019 with 11 Comments
Urgent alert! Act now to prevent trophy hunting of gray wolves

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson Time is running out for America’s gray wolves. The opportunity to weigh in on a proposed federal rule that would prematurely strip Endangered Species Act protections for the wolves in the lower 48 states ends soon, and it is . . . 

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