Sportsmen’s Act Takes Aim at Wildlife and Wild Lands

By on February 9, 2015 with 36 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Last week, the National Rifle Association (NRA) cheered the reintroduction of a grab bag of measures related to guns and hunting, with the innocuous-sounding designation of a “Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015.” While a good number of the provisions are benign, and a few even beneficial, there are several loaded grenades in the package that are inimical to the interest of wildlife, conservation, and our public lands. It contains special provisions for trophy hunters and commercial trappers, and, plainly stated, it’s Congress at its worst, pandering to special interests and the one percent in order to gain some campaign cash and political support. It’s got nothing to do with good governance or the public good.

The NRA claims the bill will defend hunting, the implication being that it is somehow under siege. But, of course, traditional fair chase hunting is not under threat – it’s widely practiced and permitted in every state in the Union and already allowed on almost every inch of our national forests, Bureau of Land Management holdings, and even the vast majority of National Wildlife Refuges, not to mention all the state and private lands. This bill is really about the NRA’s extremist agenda: legalizing the import of threatened species shot abroad, stopping any regulation of toxic ammunition, and creating a presumption that federal lands specifically designated as wilderness areas must be open to trophy hunting and commercial trapping regardless of the impacts on the environment, wildlife, or other land users.

The bill reintroduced yesterday contains all the destructive provisions of last year’s bill – which was blocked in July — and some new ones. The bill’s most sweeping provision would give trophy hunters and trappers priority access to the more than 100 million acres of  pristine wilderness areas across the nation. This provision weakens the landmark Wilderness Act that Congress established a half century ago, to preserve wild areas “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

S. 405 means that public lands would be “open unless closed” to hunting and fur trapping, regardless of whether they’re compatible with other land uses or threatened or endangered species, and closing lands would require a burdensome bureaucratic process. On top of that, the bill would force land managers to prioritize hunting and trapping above other outdoor activities, effectively excluding a large proportion of the American public from enjoying our national spaces, including in designated “wilderness areas.” Rather than local control, it would be a federal fiat from Washington that the default is to allow sport hunting and the use of painful and indiscriminate steel-jawed leghold traps.

Another provision of the bill would roll back the Marine Mammal Protection Act and provide a sweetheart deal to help 41 wealthy polar bear trophy hunters import the heads of rare polar bears they shot in Canada. It’s one thing to shoot a deer and eat the meat, and it’s another to fly up to the Arctic Circle, drop $40,000 on a guided trophy hunt, and shoot a threatened species – all for the head and the hide and the bragging rights that go along with it. It’s just the latest in a series of these import allowances for polar bear hunters, and it encourages trophy hunters to kill rare species around the world and then wait for a congressional waiver to bring back their trophies.

There are other troubling provisions that relate to the use of lead ammunition, at a time when non-toxic ammunition is available to all hunters, and a murky provision that would make it more difficult to crack down on illegal baiting of waterfowl.

Rank and file hunters will gain almost nothing from this legislation. The NRA is counting on this group to not notice, or to not care, that their rights to enjoy nature are being eroded to help the one percent. Call your Senators today and urge them to oppose this dangerous bill. Congress needs to know that the majority of Americans want to keep critical protections for wildlife and wild lands in place.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Amy B. says:

    I signed up to help Haven Humane encourage the rescue and care of domestic and recuperating wild animals into the private sector from the government sector. I did not sign up for this PETA-ish junk. I will do my best to keep the language G-rated and the info/questions short.

    Yes, Lead is bad, fine, keep it away from wildlife and human water sources, okay *nod*. Did you know solid copper rounds are the “lead-free” bullet? Are you aware of what copper does to fish and other wildlife? Well, it isn’t exactly a vitamin and describing it as “non-toxic” is a mis-statement at best.

    I support the NRA and work in firearms and know many hunters of “things they eat”, glad you aren’t against that. However, don’t think that is going to get me to write the folks that I helped vote into office 🙂

    Polar Bears are in Canada’s territory/laws, not ours. It is their rules (period). If you read up on the whole issue, you’ll find out that around half of the “41 wealthy polar trophy hunters” don’t even kill one. From what I’ve read Canada allows 500 Polar Bear permits into the private sector per year, this means that the private sector takes around 250 per year, I’d guess 41 are from the USA. You should compare this to what the aboriginal people in Canada are allowed, are they in the wrong? Probably not. Shouldn’t you be lobbying in Canada, save another 209 bears each year and prevent all 500 permits from being issued?

    Question for you, what does this limited and exclusive tourism give to the local people? These “41 people” at an estimated $40,000 per person likely support (just a guess) 200++ people with the tourism revenue. Would you want to take that from them?

    I get it, save the polar bears. Canada isn’t the only place with them. From what I know, some areas are plagued by them. Perhaps talk to someone in charge of greenhouse gasses (China). They need more space to roam and hunt seal and all that.

    As far as the whole land management issue… I ask YOU to do this research and get back to me… How many national parks are over-run with bear or cat of any type, creating a danger to hikers and campers? How many buffalo or bison are problems in the areas people go, creating unsafe environments? How many areas are deforested from overpopulation of deer or even rabbits? How do you want to deal with the coyote vs. farmer issue?

    Sure, there needs to be a balance, this won’t accomplish it. FYI, Polar Bears in Canada aren’t “threatened”, they are “vulnerable.” Some of the key distinctions in this decline are related to “global warming” and everything that encompasses.

    However, you really need to do a bit more research and stop with the eco-paranoia blog. Perhaps mining bentonite clay for “clumping kitty litter” should be an upcoming topic. Just my $.02

    • Theresa McLaughlin says:

      And global warming is caused by human interference of the environment. And these wild animals have a right to live in their home with less human interference. Hunting is not a sport, not when the object animal has no clue whats coming. When you have to kill or hunt from a scope this is not hunting it’s killing. And hunting is not a right for hunters to make money off of an animal that belongs to all of it’s country. The public needs to be able to have an input, not just hunter, and trappers and the ones starved for ego trips. Killing of wildlife should never be a massacre, and the ones that torture and solicit wildlife, it should be respected and honored, not a right. I am not against hunting, I am against the greed caused by the trophy thing, and the money they take for killing at an unfair advantage. All for human greed and their ego trips. This will NEVER make a man out of you, It just makes you look stupid and low life to the people that really care and cherish true nature.

    • Debbie Spear says:

      Amy B — Perhaps you should take up the matter with Haven Humane rather than post your rants on a site that will not appreciate your narrow point of view. The world is not yours for the hunting. Some of us want areas of nature left safe and untouched by hunting and trapping and all that that will bring. Why if there is overpopulation of animals in some areas do you need to open up new areas to hunt. Why not hunt in those plentiful areas? I have seen the deadly effects of lead in Tundra Swans — a whole flock dead and dying from ingesting lead pellets in a water logged field. Fish & Wildlife would only pick up the dead — so I called a friend and we rounded up 12 swans and took them to a rescue and rehab — who in turn rounded up the rest. Solution — no new areas open to hunters — no lead, no copper left in the environment. Amy B — it is a new day — most of us out here think killing animals for trophy is barbaric — and it is. So please write your editorials somewhere you will be appreciated — for all of our sakes.

      • Kelly Schueman says:

        I very much agree. Most of us enjoy the peace of our public lands. The idea of someones dog’s screams of agony.. when they were wanting a peaceful walk to get away from the ever more violent world, is unthinkable.. yet it is happening in ALEC controlled states like Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana..

    • Dorothy Rodgers says:

      You are delusional. We have lost over 50% of the wildlife in just the last 40 years. You need to do your research. Because you do not know what your talking about. You sound like either a livestock rancher……or a trophy hunter. Both would piss and moan about this attack on our remaining wildlife with this ‘sportsman act’ being shot down. The normal person who enjoys and spends a lot of their vacation money on the wilderness, would not.

    • Kelly Schueman says:

      Our public lands belong to all of us, and most of us go their for peace. We love the wildlife we see, and are not into killing. States like Wisconsin that have let trappers infect their state parks, have made those parks not safe for families, especially families who like to hike and camp with their dogs. I am disgusted with the Ted Nugent mentality being shoved down peaceful people’s throats by the likes of Dr Evil.. AKA Rick Berman.. He has rooms of fake posters.. I am probablymoving to Costa Rica when my house is paid off.. soon. I am becoming very ashamed of the US.

    • S DeGroff says:

      What are you even doing on this site, other than trolling?

    • Dorothy Rodgers says:

      Nice rant…..but you really need to check your facts. The tourist, sightseeing of wildlife pays out more money than the hunting community. A lot more. And considering we have killed over 50% of the wildlife in the last 40 years…….you do the math. We are heading for the 6th Extinction, and it will be man made. Also, the livestock industry is causing more damage to the world, than any other cause. Watch the movie cowspiracy and learn the truth.

    • richard amerine says:

      Amy B.
      Do you realize you just contradicted yourself. You claimed that these parks and wilderness areas are being over run by big cats , wolves etc. and deer over grazing. Every single article I have read from hunters has stated that these apex predators are decimating the elk and deer herds in these areas . So if these places are being over run by apex predators than why do you claim that deer are decimating the landscape because there are too many— which is it ? Besides ,I’d rather have these predators running in these places instead of hiking in the forest and mountains than to be going along with my shepherd and either her or myself getting caught in a trap ,or worse some drunk hunter shooting my dog and saying —oops I thought it was a wolf. And before you reply, yes , we do hike in bear , wolf , and Big Cat habitat, we just make noise to let whatever know we are coming and gee , it must work because my shepherd and I are still breathing.

    • Sheryl Schroeder says:

      Amy, you are so blind. It’s clear what your agenda is if you support the NRA. I have nothing against hunters hunting for food, but this bill opens the door for those special breeds of selfish rich hunters who go abroad and kill threatened species just for the fun of it to bring their mutilated and stuffed bodies back home to hang on their walls. It’s cruel, disgusting and sadistic and it should be outlawed. These two acts cannot pass, it would be disasterous to those of us who wish to save animals and treat them humanely.

  2. James says:

    So, in short. You are aligning with the Republicans that have shot this bill down in 2012 and 2014? Good to know, thanks.

    • Kelly Schueman says:

      These are peaceful people.. our remaining wild places infected with Ted Nugents, is not a good thought.

    • Debra Taylor says:

      The last time it was shot down, it was not because of Republicans. They had secured enough votes (they thought), to mostly sit back and not take action. They thought they had put in enough ‘treats’ for the Dems to carry the votes through. This bill requires animals lovers on both sides to put an end to the predator killings!!!

  3. David Bernazani says:

    The biggest joke on the planet is the way trophy hunters and trappers call themselves “sportsmen”. There is nothing sporting at all about what they do. And this absurd proposed act is also a joke– but one that, if it passes, will not be funny in the least. I’m glad my 2 state senators are already against it.

    • Sheryl Schroeder says:

      THANK YOU, David Bernazani. I could not have said it better. It’s no sport. It’s murder, plain and simple and there is nothing courageous in it. Any fool can sit there and pull a trigger.

  4. Karen LaFountain says:

    This bill shows man at his worst! Should this bill pass it will create open season by any means possible on predatory animals especially. Without government protection on preditors like wolves, we can kiss that species goodbye, with many others. Sickening!

  5. Karen LaFountain says:

    Why does man have such an insatiable taste for killing animals?

  6. Cynthia Wallace says:

    Trophy hunting???? In this day and age when we are supposed to be a more caring man”kind”…we surely aren’t showing that side of ourselves. It is time for us as a species to be kind and to look after this planet and her inhabitants instead of killing off everything that shares a place here with us.

  7. Kelly Schueman says:

    Most of us are not Ted Nugent wannabes. I find wild places are where to go for peace and solitude. Trappers and hunters bring the violence most of us are trying to get away from to the mountains, forests, meadows, rivers,,, Please allow peaceful people a place to be.

  8. Jim fox says:

    Cruel evil people

  9. Bob Stevenson says:

    There is NOTHING sportsman-like about this act, just more of the gutless cowardice of the NRA and it’s members, who are a blight on our country with their CYA actions and fraud against our defenseless wildlife Calling themselves sportsmen is like calling ISSI a bunch of miss-understood children!

  10. Kathryn Karaba says:

    I thought one of the basic tenets of hunters/hunting is don’t kill what you don’t eat? I don’t understand killing for fun. Killing for meat that you can feed yourself and your family is one thing, but other than that, it’s just overkill. Hurting/injuring any animal for fun is wrong.

  11. Mike Collins says:

    personally i would like to say thank you to both Wayne Pacelle and the Humane Society of the United States for thier efforts and their success in stopping some of the bloodshed suffered by our beautiful apex predators
    the gray wolf.. i have not always been kind to the HSUS because i am a advocate for pit bulls too! but,i am seriously very grateful for this campaign andi will surely assist in any way possible from this point forward people can get off of the HSUS and Wayne Pacelle because”they are making a difference where it is desperately needed today” for our wildlife…

  12. Nanette Schieron says:

    Well, Amy B, I guess you got your comeuppance ! Sincerely though, I am a believer in Buddhist philosophy and therefore I pray for your enlightenment as well the for the enlightenment of all who think as you do, that all of creation was put here for us humans to do with as we please. The truth is we are all part of the web of life and are interdependent on each other. If we continue to intervene in nature for our own selfish and greedy purpose then we will pay the price. Might I direct you to watch the PBS series Earth A new Wild, which is a documentary about the enlightenment of people all over the world learning to work with nature rather than against it , forsaking the flawed and often thoughtless interventions to improve our lives in favor of creating a better more enriching choices benefiting humans, wildlife and the environment. Hopefully this idea and its implementation will spread to all societies on earth.

  13. Steve says:


    As a conservationist, hunter, and overall outdoor enthusiast, I want to make a few comments as I feel there is opportunity here for discussion. I think there are misconceptions of hunters due to a few bad apples and I would like to give everyone here some insight into a hunters mind and thoughts. I want to touch on three points: conservation, connecting with nature and the basics of life and “trophy” hunting.

    Conservation: Humans, as the ultimate predator and keeper of the earth, are a part of nature and have the intelligence to try assist in keeping the ecosystem in equilibrium. Disease, predation, and habitat changes can cause large swings in specie populations and I feel our goal is to minimize those swings. If a population of animals outgrows its’ habitat it will struggle to survive and will have large die offs from either disease or starvation. One tactic, and not the only tactic, is hunting to help populations stay at a level that biologists determine as a healthy mark. If a population is diminishing and the biologists advise no hunting then there should be no hunting and efforts should be made to increase or stabilize that population. Every hunter should be most concerned with conservation and hunting should just be one of the many tools to use to support conservation efforts.

    Connecting with Nature/Understanding the Basics of Life: How many of you go to a store and buy your groveries or go to lunch at a restaurant? I am going to assume most of you do. One of the most important benefits of hunting is it allows an individual to connect with nature and source organic food for one’s family. If you buy that burger or those vegetables from a restaurant, you have no idea where they came from. By going hunting for meat or growing your own garden you have a better understanding of where your food comes from. Most people who live in an urban setting, myself included, have busy lives where we commute to jobs and rarely get time to sit out in nature and enjoy the setting, unwind, and soak in the peacfulness. Hunting provides that as well. Many of you will say it is not peaceful because you have to kill an animal and I agree but that is a very short moment. Hunters use very lethal methods that make it a quick process. Campare it to a pack of wolves tearing an elk apart for hours. Which one is more peaceful and humane? Sometimes I feel we think nature is just birds chirping and animals grazing but forget that animals in nature can be very cruel to each other. That moment when a hunter takes an animals life is full of sadness and a rush of many emotions, including respect for the animal. That being said we understand that this is our duty and opportunity as conservationists to harvest natural food and provide for our families.

    “Trophy” Animals: I will be the first to admit that there are sour grapes out there that get lost in how big an animal is and forget about the conservation part. That being said sometimes they go hand in hand. We live in a competitive society. We have Largest Pumpkin Contests! Do we call them trophy gardeners because they are excited about size and not the enjoyment of growing your own food? It is always exciting to see the largest or rarest of something. It’s in our human nature. There are two benefits of “trophy” hunting which is hard to see because of the bad taste the word Trophy leaves in our mouth. The first benefit is that waiting for animals to age before hunting them allows them to grow older and enjoy their time in nature and secondly large amounts of money can be raised for conservation efforts to help populations. One example is Desert Bighorn Sheep in Utah. The population was down to around 1,500 and not looking good. They auctioned off tags for that animal for over $50,000 each. That is not tax payer money that goes towards improving habitat and the population health. Today the population is over 5,000.

    In closing, I know that there are a few bad hunters out there that can give people a bad impression but I would challenge you to meet a hunter and discuss your concerns and get a feel for their intentions. I know you will be surprised about the respect and care for nature that a hunter has. Please feel free to ask me questions as well.

    Thanks for listening,


    • Katie t says:

      To Steve,

      I just wanted to say how nice it was to have you respond in such a thoughtful, respectful way. Although our individual ideas may differ, it is encouraging that there can be some common ground between hunters and vegetarians. I myself am a vegetarian but got much of my respect for animals from my father who is also a hunter.

    • Sheryl Schroeder says:

      Steve, Although your comment was calm and thought out, I do not buy the hunting supports ‘conservation’ argument. It’s the number ONE thing hunters use to justify their blood lust. You may be a fine example of a human being who only hunts for food and grows your own veggies and respects nature, but there are far too many gun toting idiots out there who have NO respect for nature or anyone else, for that matter. Trophy hunting is the epitome of evil. I cannot fathom the depravity of the mind of a person who wishes to travel to another country, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to hunt down and KILL a threatened or rare species. It’s just a sickness I cannot stand. I read your comment, but I cannot agree with you.

  14. drgoodie says:

    This is senate bill S 405. At a site – popvox – you can support or oppose this bill. The site will forward your comments to your senators if you choose. You can then share that comment if you want and also see what others are saying. You can search for similar bills. There are many bills threatening the protection of our wildlife and the conservation and preservation of our wilderness and public land. So far, the people voting at this site shows 225 against, 129 opposing, nationwide. 13 to 3 in Texas (yay) and 2 to 0 in my district. I hope to see the votes increase rapidly in opposition.

    Another useful site is where you can read the bills, see who sponsors them, track them through to the vote, ask for email notifications on status, and see the final voting record. You can also see all the info on the bills from previous congresses.. This is also a good site to search for similar bills. So much is being threatened for so few.

    • drgoodie says:

      correction: 225 opposing, 129 supporting (Now 260 to 134 – we are gaining 8o)

    • Sheryl Schroeder says:

      THANK YOU, drogue! Great information! I checked it out. Never had heard of that site before. I was able to state my opinion opposing these two companion bills.

  15. Scott Slocum says:

    This blog entry is about S. 405, introduced on 2/9/2015/

    See also S. 659, introduced on 3/4/2015 with the same title.

    I haven’t looked into the differences, except that S. 659 seems to have had a committee hearing, but S. 405 hasn’t.

    • Joe Stewart says:

      See also S. 556, introduced on 2/25/2015 with the same title.

      I wonder why there are 3 Bills with the same name?

      And why are we bothering in the first place? I’d just as soon leave the existing Laws and policies as they are. I’d much rather spend our precious Congressional time on other topics – perhaps actually making it possible for all of our children to not go hungry?

      • Anne Garcia says:

        Joe Stuart
        Extremely good point. I wouldn’t mind adding a few more issues that deserve our Congressional attention. How about banning GMO’S completely? How about using all the empty houses sitting empty for the homeless and creating a program for them specifically to reintroduce them into society as contributing human beings? How about drug testing on a randomized basis of all on public aid and those who keep having children just to get a bigger monthly payment? How about making any form of Animal.Abuse a Violent Crime? Maybe these few issues just might spark the attn of our Congress? I highly doubt it though but I had to give it a try.

  16. Randy McNicol says:

    The majority of you believe all hunters are cold blooded, right wing nut jobs that support the NRA to the bitter end but I hate to blow that stereotype by explaining what hunting is to me and the small group that I choose to hunt with.
    I rarely kill an animal unless I am duck hunting. This is the reality of fair chase hunting and what the majority of sportsmen and women experience when big game hunting. Animals are smart, any real hunter will admit that, those that do not have zero respect for their prospective quarry and should not be considered a hunter.
    I also spend weeks at a time in wilderness areas and access areas that your average wilderness backpacker will not go. We do this for two reasons; I don’t want to offend anyone by gutting a deer in areas that may contain people who do not share the same ideas of foraging in the wild as my group does and it keeps us as far from civilization and animals that tend to be older in age. Not necessarily trophy animals but animals who have had a chance to fight for the right to have their genes passed on and live a free life with little interference from civilization and its impacts on wildlife.
    I nor anyone I hunt with just walks into a wilderness area, finds an animal, and just shoots the first thing they see. It isn’t that simple. Months are spent scouting and watching the species you are targeting. You learn about how they live, where they eat, sleep, and interact with the rest of their and temporarily, your ecosystem. I would be willing to bet I know more about the fauna and flora in my local wilderness area than the hiker or backpacker that makes a quick weekend trip to a single overpopulated and used location. When the majority of weekend hikers wonder why there are rumors bears overpopulating these areas but can’t seem to see one while I spot as many as ten a day. Makes me think that maybe I’m not the one who is disconnected from nature because I hunt. Instead, it makes me a part of the ecosystem that I chose to become so very familiar with.
    And the biggest zinger, my entire group of like minded hunting companions are absolutely disgusted by the NRA and the tactics they use to keep assault rifles in the hands of the general public and use sporting uses as an excuse.
    By the way; sportsmen and women do contribute more money to conservation and the environment than any other group. Every state’s fish and wildlife department/system and the federal refuge system is 100% supported by hunting and fishing. Sorry but this is the reality. Some of us even voted for Obama if you can believe that!

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