We’re fierce defenders of wildlife in the United States, and we made major strides on that front in 2018. We won major victories for grizzly bears and black bears, defeated attempts to remove federal protections for gray wolves, helped shine a spotlight on cruel wildlife killing contests, and protected marine wildlife, including dolphins and whales.
This month, we received word that New Jersey and Hawaii had adopted sweeping bans on wild animal acts in circuses, rewarding our efforts to secure such bans.
Here are some of our top wildlife gains for 2018:
Protecting native carnivores and ending inhumane wildlife practices:
Grizzly bears: After the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzly bears from the endangered species list, we won a historic victory in court to restore these federal protections, sparing these bears from planned trophy hunting seasons in Wyoming and Idaho.
Black bears: For the second year in a row, we defeated legislation in Connecticut that would have opened up a trophy hunting season on black bears. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy and state wildlife managers issued an order prohibiting the trophy hunting of black bears on state-owned lands.
Bobcats: We defeated a proposal in Indiana to open a bobcat hunting and trapping season, and another in Ohio to open a bobcat trapping season.
Gray wolves: We successfully defeated multiple attempts to remove federal protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes region, including the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, during the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations process. In Wisconsin, we successfully defeated bills that would have prevented state officials from enforcing laws protecting wolves, thereby encouraging wolf poaching, and prevented the state from future wolf-monitoring efforts. We also halted a similar bill in Michigan, which would have prevented enforcement of laws protecting wolves by state officials, and defunded state wolf-monitoring efforts and assistance for Michigan farmers.
Putting an end to wildlife killing contests:
We helped pass a law banning cruel coyote killing contests in Vermont, the second state in the country to restrict this practice. Our undercover investigations into wildlife killing contests in New York and New Jersey exposed the gruesome practice to a broader public.
Combating wildlife trafficking:
We pressed Illinois and New Hampshire to pass laws prohibiting the sale of ivory, rhino horn and parts of other wildlife species, joining seven other states that have already outlawed the trade in products from wild animals threatened by poaching and wildlife trafficking. An HSUS investigation found a thriving market for trophy hunted giraffe body parts in the United States.
Restricting cruel hunting methods:
In Michigan, we successfully stopped attempts to open a sandhill crane trophy hunting season and to overturn a 2006 landslide vote by citizens that protected mourning doves from hunting.
We assisted in the defeat of a variety of bills that would allow egregious hunting methods, including bills in New York that would have repealed the state’s longstanding ban on wire snares and an ordinance in Westport, Connecticut, that would have repealed a ban on the trapping of coyotes. We also defeated a bill in Rhode Island that would have legalized captive wildlife hunting in the state and we defeated a bill in California that would have delayed implementation of the state’s ban on lead ammunition used for taking wildlife.
A federal judge in Montana approved a settlement that compels the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service to evaluate the risks of M-44s and Compound 1080, which are used to poison predators. The decision came in response to an Endangered Species Act lawsuit filed by the HSUS and our coalition partners.
Protecting marine wildlife:
Whales: In the wake of the deaths of three percent of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale population — and following pressure from the HSUS and other groups — the Canadian government closed risky crab trap fisheries and slowed ship traffic in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This was done to protect right whales who feed and breed along the U.S. and Canadian east coasts.
Sea otters: The HSUS and its allies achieved a victory for sea otters in California when a federal appellate court upheld two lower court decisions to protect sea otters in southern California and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a further appeal of the case.
Dolphins: Our 30-year battle to protect dolphins from fishing fleets that target them, often injuring or killing them, to catch the tuna that swim below them is finally over, after the World Trade Organization upheld a panel ruling from October 2017 that found that the U.S. amendments to its dolphin-safe labeling regime brought it into compliance with WTO rules. Tuna sold in the United States will continue to get the “dolphin-safe” label if the fishing fleets do not set nets on dolphins.
Advancing protections for captive wildlife:
Shutting down wild animal acts: New Jersey and Hawaii became the first two states to adopt a sweeping prohibition on wild animals in circuses and other travelling shows. In New Jersey, the governor signed “Nosey’s Law”, a bill to ban the use of many wild animal species in traveling shows. And in Hawaii, the governor signed a regulation passed by the Board of Agriculture to ban dangerous wild animals, including tigers, lions, bears, primates, elephants and crocodiles, from being brought into the state to perform in circuses, carnivals and other public exhibitions. The regulation resulted from a legal petition filed by the HSUS in 2014. We worked closely with an activist in Multnomah County, Oregon, on an ordinance to prohibit traveling wild animal shows. Its passage not only bans circuses, but also a notorious tiger cub exhibitor who had been a yearly staple at the county’s largest festival.
Ending the exotic pet trade: We defeated a bill in Pennsylvania to legalize ownership of hedgehogs and sugar gliders. We assisted in passing an ordinance in Washington County, Oregon, to prohibit the keeping of exotic animals as pets.
Cracking down on roadside zoos: The HSUS is vigorously pushing back against disastrous USDA policies that, beginning in 2017, have led to a sharp decline in enforcement actions against roadside zoos and other problem exhibitors. In 2018, we succeeded in preventing the agency from implementing third-party inspections of these facilities.
Changing the world for animals used for fur:
In 2018, we made major strides against the fur trade. San Francisco and Los Angeles voted to ban the sale of fur within city limits, making them the largest U.S. cities to do so. Coach, Burberry, Donna Karan/DKNY, Versace, Furla, Bottega Veneta, Nicholas K., TJ Maxx/Marshalls and Farfetch.com all announced fur-free policies. Chanel banned not only fur but exotic skins as well, and Diane von Furstenberg and Columbia Sportswear went a step further and also banned angora and mohair. Gucci, which we helped ban fur in 2017, banned angora. London Fashion Week announced that it is fur-free. InStyle magazine announced a fur-free policy, including editorials, photos and advertisements. And Linden Staub became the first modeling agency to refuse to send its models to shoots or runway shows where they’re required to wear fur.
Protecting wild horses and burros:
In 2018 The Department of the Interior requested the authority to sell wild horses for slaughter coupled with the authority to destroy upwards of 90,000 healthy horses and burros on public lands. We worked to make sure that the 2018 omnibus spending bill included language to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from sending wild horses to be slaughtered and from killing excess healthy horses and burros. For Fiscal Year 2019, we worked to ensure that both the House and Senate versions of the Interior appropriations bills included protective language preventing the BLM from slaughtering or humanely killing wild horses and burros.
The year 2019 will see new threats to wildlife to which we’ll respond. At the federal level, we are fighting efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act. In Alaska, we are fighting to ward off a proposal from the National Park Service to allow egregious killing methods to resume on millions of acres of national preserves. The challenges before us are many, but in these and other fights, you’ll see the HSUS at its best, using every available channel to defend wild animals, to challenge attacks on their safety and well-being, and to celebrate their special place in the hearts and minds of all Americans.