Between now and the end of the year, I’ll be providing summaries of the great progress we’ve made for animals in 2013. A week or so ago, I wrote about our top 13 accomplishments for all animals. Today, I focus on wildlife, where The HSUS and its affiliates are taking on big battles against the National Rifle Association, wildlife traffickers, exotic animal dealers, the government of Canada, and so many others.
Wildlife issues have been an important priority for The HSUS since the 1970s, when it first formed a department dedicated to wildlife protection. Since then, it has become one of our biggest programs, and our victories – both in the United States and abroad – reflect how successful our efforts have been.
From prairie dogs to sharks to condors, wildlife inhabit all open spaces, and abuses are as vast as the range on which they live. We’re there, preventing cruelty and stopping abuses. Wildlife protection will continue to be a top priority in the years to come, with exciting new efforts we’ve launched to protect rhinos and other species from the adverse effects of trade in their parts, and ballot measures in 2014 to protect wolves in Michigan and bears in Maine.
Here are some of the big gains we made in 2013.
REQUIRING THE USE OF LEAD-FREE AMMUNITION IN CALIFORNIA
The HSUS and its partners secured the first statewide requirement for the use of non-lead ammunition when shooting wildlife. It’s our hope that this landmark California law will usher in similar policies in other states and at the federal level, which would prevent the poisoning of millions of wild animals every year.
BRINGING BEAR BAYING TO AN END IN THE UNITED STATES
The HSUS’ three-year campaign, built on a shocking undercover investigation, prompted South Carolina to end bear “baying” – a form of animal fighting in which packs of hounds attack a tethered bear for entertainment. This is the last state in the nation that permitted these spectacles – and the bears rescued from this cruelty have been retired to sanctuary.
CITES PROTECTIONS FOR A RANGE OF SPECIES
At the 16th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, held in March, Humane Society International pushed member nations to adopt protections for commercially valuable marine species such as oceanic whitetip, hammerhead, and porbeagle sharks, as well as manta rays and adopted increased protections for African manatees and freshwater sawfish. Rules governing “introduction from the sea” were also finally accepted, which means that animals taken from the high seas that are listed on Appendix I and II of the convention are now subject to CITES trade provisions. In addition, parties to the convention agreed to a raft of recommendations to strengthen rhino and elephant protection in range states, to encourage demand-reduction, and to prevent illegal commercial trade.
DOWN WITH DOLPHINARIA IN INDIA
India banned dolphinaria and India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests advised state governments to reject proposals to set up amusement parks or aquariums for housing other marine mammals in addition to cetaceans.
SHRINKING SHARK FINNING ON A GLOBAL SCALE
The HSUS and HSI, together with a host of cooperating organizations, secured bans on the trade in shark fins and shark fin products in three U.S. states; a ban on finning in India; a revamped anti-finning law in the European Union; and tangible gains in China, including an end to serving shark fin soup at government functions. The HSUS is working to fend off a proposed rule within the National Marine Fisheries Service that poses the threat of pre-emption of state laws prohibiting shark fins.
GIVING GRIEF TO THE FUR TRADE:
In response to an HSUS investigation, the Federal Trade Commission announced an enforcement action against Neiman Marcus and two other retailers for misrepresenting animal fur to consumers by advertising it as “faux fur” on their web sites. We also brought public attention to Kohl’s for selling real rabbit fur as “faux” and popular New York retailer, Century 21, for advertising raccoon dog fur as “faux fur” on a Marc Jacobs jacket. Sears Holdings Corporation, the parent company for Sears and Kmart, agreed to go fur-free on Marketplace at Sears.com, a program that opens the Sears platform to third party sellers. The company took this action after The HSUS agreed to withdraw a shareholder proposal calling for a no-fur policy. Finally, we educated more than 830 future fashion designers at 35+ schools nationwide on the cruel and unnecessary use of fur in fashion and launched a faux-fur design competition at the prestigious Parsons The New School for Design, the top fashion school in the US.
GREAT PROGRESS AND A LANDMARK RULING AFFECTING CANADA’S SEAL HUNT
Because of HSI’s work to close markets for seal products, prices for seal fur in Canada have declined dramatically. As a result, hunters fell shy of the allowable quota of seals by more than 300,000. Following a multi-year campaign by HSI, in collaboration with our Taiwanese partner, EAST, Taiwan became the first Asian nation to ban trade in marine mammal products (including seal products).
A World Trade Organization panel upheld the EU’s right to prohibit the trade in seal products for animal welfare reasons, a ban secured by HSI and our partners in 2009. This sets a crucial precedent not only for other countries considering seal product trade bans, but also for animal welfare in general as it pertains to global trade, in that it is the first time the WTO has ruled that animal welfare is an issue of public moral concern and is a legitimate reason to restrict trade. Humane Society International provided key evidence in support of the EU ban, submitted an Amicus Brief to the WTO panel, and our video evidence of cruelty in recent seal slaughters was broadcast during the WTO hearings.
The European Court of Justice (the highest court in Europe) also rejected an appeal by commercial sealing representatives of an earlier ruling by the European General Court. That decision left intact the right of the EU to ban seal product trade – a move that aligns with the views of the 86 percent of Canadians who oppose the commercial seal hunt.
PROTECTING WHALES – STOPPING THE IMPORT OF BELUGAS, HALTING SHIP STRIKES OF RIGHT WHALES
As part of a coalition effort, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association denied the Georgia Aquarium’s proposal to stop the import of 18 wild-caught belugas, which was backed by Sea World Entertainment, and would have taken eleven of the whales for its theme parks. The NOAA ruled that the proposal would further the decline of the wild beluga population from which the whales were captured. We also succeeded in convincing the Obama administration to make permanent regulations – issued in response to a petition The HSUS filed – to reduce ship speeds in the Atlantic corridor to prevent strikes of right whales.
TAKING NO PRISONERS ON THE CAPTIVE WILDLIFE FRONT
Our work to remake the landscape for captive animals has also seen major progress. The U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked the license of a Mississippi roadside zoo we investigated, and sought and published comments on our petition to ban direct public contact with dangerous wild animals. Arkansas enacted a law to ban the private possession of great apes, baboons and macaque monkeys, and Los Angeles became the first major city to ban the use of bullhooks and other implements designed to inflict pain on elephants.
WILDLIFE RESPONSE TEAM HAS A BANNER YEAR
The HSUS Wildlife Response Team provided hands-on rescue/transport/rehabilitation to more than 1,600 wild animals in 2013. This includes hundreds of prairie dogs and more than 400 gopher tortoises removed from imperiled situations, as well as the rescue and rehabilitation of dozens of turtles, ducks, snakes, ospreys, trumpeter swans and orphaned baby wildlife. In addition, Humane Wildlife Services rescued more than 2,700 animals encompassing the gamut of urban wildlife species. The Prairie Dog Coalition rescued 48 stranded prairie dogs who were flooded out of their burrows by the Colorado floods in September, and secured two non-lethal prairie dog management contracts with the City of Boulder and the Colorado Department of Transportation, sparing the lives of close to 1,000 animals. We assisted more than 250 communities nationwide on how to coexist with wild neighbors, including coyotes, geese, beavers, and deer. Finally, we treated white-tailed deer with the immunocontraceptive, PZP, in Michigan.