The depth and breadth of programs at The HSUS is pretty extraordinary. To know all that goes on, you’d have to make a regular study of humanesociety.org. And even then, it’s tough to keep up with all of the work.
You may have heard about the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the political arm of the organization. Or Humane Society Youth, our youth humane education program. Or Humane Society International, our international operation.
You may have also heard of our Wildlife Land Trust®, established in 1993 specifically to protect wild areas and the creatures who live in them. From its inception, the Trust recognizes that in order to protect wild animals, they have to have a place to live. Any debate over hunting or trapping is irrelevant if animals have no place to live.
The Wildlife Land Trust embodies the ethic of concern for ecosystems and their health, but also concern for individual creatures. It works to protect habitat for all species of wildlife, not just condors, or wolves or polar bears, or other so-called charismatic megafauna; and not just those endangered or threatened, or—as we need to acknowledge—not those who are already endangered or threatened. The Trust recognizes that animals live in all sorts of habitats, whether they are wetlands and desert, coastal and interior, or urban, suburban and rural properties, and our sanctuaries include them all.
Habitat for all wild animals is being lost every day, everywhere, to such things as the increasingly commonplace development that marks urban sprawl. In the United States alone, more than 5,000 acres a day are being developed. The impact on our familiar wild neighbors is unyielding. The breadth of the Trust’s work to protect habitat for all wildlife often brings to mind a quote from ecologist Robert Michael Pyle: “What is the extinction of the condor to the child who has never known the wren?” This serves as a reminder that animals commonplace to some of us may not be to others, and those common today may be rare—or gone—tomorrow. They all deserve a place on this earth, and they deserve protection from exploitation.
On our sanctuaries, we do not allow recreational and commercial hunting and trapping of wildlife. They are true sanctuaries, and even a hunter like Teddy Roosevelt, who helped establish the National Wildlife Refuge system, recognized that animals deserve some places where they are free from any harm.
Our Trust staff works with land owners across the country who share our vision to provide permanent protection for their property and the wildlife who also call it home. Sometimes that involves transferring the land to the Trust for protection. Other times, it involves permanent conservation agreements, known as conservation easements, which establish restrictions on how the land can be used to ensure it will always be a safe home for wildlife.
While there can be tax benefits for protecting land in this way, my colleagues at the Trust report that donors’ motivations are usually their abiding love for wildlife and their desire to ensure that land they already protect for wild animals will remain that way forever. We’re proud to have these unique and very special supporters of the Trust and The HSUS, each of whom certainly shares both the Trust’s goal of Saving Lives by Saving Land and The HSUS’ mission of celebrating animals and confronting cruelty.
Particularly if you own property that is already a safe place for wildlife and you’d like to see it stay that way forever, please visit wildlifelandtrust.org or call 1-800-729-SAVE. Be part of our efforts to protect wildlife habitat for all wild animals.