Federal appeals court upholds California ban on killing mountain lions for trophies

By on November 21, 2017 with 0 Comments

Trophy hunting has been on the front page and the opinion page and on television in the past week, after news broke that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made regulatory moves to overturn restrictions on the import of African elephants and African lions. There was a jolt of additional news after President Trump signaled in two tweets that he didn’t like the decisions one bit. As I’ve said in the press, and on this blog, the president’s action is tremendously good news.

There’s also been some good news for America’s lions — mountain lions (also known as cougars) — in the state of California.

The U.S. Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit, in a unanimous decision, upheld the State of California’s ban on not only killing mountain lions for trophies, but also on importing mountain lions killed in other states. Voters approved Proposition 117 in 1990, to codify a long-standing moratorium on lion hunting that had first been imposed by then Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1972. Safari Club International (SCI) belatedly challenged Prop 117 in 2014, claiming that one part of the law violated interstate commerce and equal protection laws, after the California Fish and Game Commission ousted one of its own for going to Idaho and shooting a lion in order to import it to California, even though that practice was forbidden under Proposition 117.

The HSUS and the Fund for Animals submitted amicus curiae briefs both in the lower court and in the Ninth Circuit, arguing that all of the features of Prop 117, including the import ban, were constitutionally sound. The federal appeals court agreed.

The Ninth Circuit took particular issue with the way that SCI calculated the animal protection law’s supposed harm to the public. SCI alleged that, since a small percentage of its members would plan to engage in trophy hunting of mountain lions outside of California, this must mean that thousands of Californians would also be interested in doing so. But the court quickly shot down this claim, finding no reason to believe that this “small percentage of a specialty group” is representative of all hunters in California, let alone all Californians.

States that still allow trophy hunting of mountain lions frequently utilize cruel and unsporting hunting methods, such as trapping and hounding — practices that even many hunters oppose as antithetical to the principle of fair chase. And despite widespread public opposition to the inhumane and needless killing of majestic wildlife, these great cats are subject to extreme persecution; trophy hunters have killed 29,000 mountain lions in the United States in the last decade alone, and 78,000 in the last two decades.

Prop 117 is a model for other states to adopt. In fact, just a month ago The HSUS, along with a coalition of organizations now totaling over 80, launched a ballot initiative in Arizona to stop the cruel and unnecessary trophy hunting of mountain lions, as well as the trapping and killing of other native cats. As in other states, mountain lions in Arizona are frequently killed with the aid of high-tech telemetry equipment and packs of dogs, sometimes pitting the animals in violent combat, in order to shoot the lion at close range.

The affirmation of California’s mountain lion law builds on the momentum for animal protection and specifically for the movement against trophy hunting. With the president’s declaration that trophy hunting of elephants and other animals is a “horror show,” with provincial leaders in British Columbia pledging to bar the trophy hunting of grizzly bears, with New Jersey’s incoming governor saying he’ll place a moratorium on the black bear hunt there, and with the Arizona lion protection ballot measure on the horizon, we are seeing the makings of progress on many fronts and the long overdue recognition that killing animals just for their heads is an abomination worthy of our strongest disapproval and serious-minded legal reform.

President Trump stakes out a bold position on trophy hunting

By on November 20, 2017 with 2 Comments
President Trump stakes out a bold position on trophy hunting

President Trump’s declaration that the trophy hunting of elephants and other animals is “a horror show” is, to say the least, a bold and provocative statement from a U.S. leader. Never before has an American official taken such a forthright stand on the issue of trophy hunting, and it was as welcome as it was . . . 

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Trump intervenes on elephant trophy hunting issue

By on November 17, 2017 with 30 Comments
Trump intervenes on elephant trophy hunting issue

In a tweet to more than 40 million followers, President Trump announced this evening that he’s “put big game trophy decision on hold,” signaling discomfort with the trajectory of public discussion concerning the Interior Department’s enormously controversial announcement on Thursday to allow imports of elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia. The agency’s announcement, . . . 

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Burlington goes fur-free

By on November 17, 2017 with 92 Comments
Burlington goes fur-free

Today I’m pleased to announce that Burlington Stores (formerly Burlington Coat Factory), after discussions with The HSUS, has gone 100 percent fur-free – no full-length furs, no fur trim, no fur at all in the company’s vast offerings of coats and other garments. Burlington has nearly 600 stores and $6 billion in revenue, and its . . . 

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After targeting elephants, Interior Department puts African lions in the crosshairs

By on November 16, 2017 with 26 Comments
After targeting elephants, Interior Department puts African lions in the crosshairs

Yesterday, on this blog, I reacted in real time to the Safari Club International’s announcement that the U.S. Department of the Interior plans to lift a ban on the import of sport-hunted trophies of rare and beleaguered African elephants. In short, our government is essentially turning loose American trophy hunters in Zimbabwe, at a time . . . 

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Interior Department to allow imports of elephant and lion trophies from Africa, reversing Obama policies

By on November 15, 2017 with 336 Comments
Interior Department to allow imports of elephant and lion trophies from Africa, reversing Obama policies

With barely contained enthusiasm, Safari Club International (SCI) announced on its own initiative today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has reversed critical elephant protections established during the Obama administration, allowing imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia. For decades, Zimbabwe has been run by a dictator who has targeted and killed . . . 

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Japan deserves worldwide condemnation for new expedition to slaughter Antarctic whales

By on November 14, 2017 with 6 Comments
Japan deserves worldwide condemnation for new expedition to slaughter Antarctic whales

Since November 2016, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been one of President Trump’s strongest suitors, intent on persuading the United States to maintain its customary role as the guarantor of the post-war security alliance that has been one element of Japan’s economic success for decades. That puts the United States in a strong position . . . 

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Image of elephant set on fire in India spurs HSI plan of action

By on November 13, 2017 with 19 Comments
Image of elephant set on fire in India spurs HSI plan of action

Titled “Hell is Here,” the photo is as jarring as they come: two elephants, one a baby, fleeing a jeering mob with murderous intentions, the juvenile pachyderm partially engulfed in flames. The mother elephant is in the lead, her ears angled forward, visibly distressed as she tries to get her baby away from the danger. . . . 

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Lush steps up fight to end animal testing

By on November 10, 2017 with 2 Comments
Lush steps up fight to end animal testing

The HSUS and its affiliates have long worked to phase out cosmetic, chemical, and pesticide tests on animals. That work is grounded on a value system focused on preventing needless suffering of animals, but also on the principle that science and innovation can provide us with better, faster, and cheaper ways to do risk assessment . . . 

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Trump administration’s USDA again delays implementation of organic animal welfare standards for millions of farm animals

By on November 9, 2017 with 5 Comments
Trump administration’s USDA again delays implementation of organic animal welfare standards for millions of farm animals

After eight months of repeated delays, the USDA has kicked the can down the road even further on the Organic Livestock and Poultry practices rule (“organics rule”) and delayed its implementation for at least another six months. In doing so, the agency has again poked a thumb in the eye of thousands of family farmers . . . 

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