Victories for wildlife in 2019 include wins against wildlife killing contests, trophy hunting and marine mammal captivity
In 2019, the Humane Society of the United States and our affiliates delivered many victories for wildlife, here in the United States and globally. We made great strides in protecting giraffes, native carnivores like bobcats and cougars, and marine mammals, including whales and dolphins in captivity and sharks.
The year closed with good news from Washington, D.C. for animals: the omnibus funding package signed into law by President Trump includes wins for wildlife, including wild horses and burros, marine mammals and animals held in zoos and research facilities.
Here are some of our top wildlife gains for 2019:
- In October, thanks partly to our efforts, California passed a law banning the trophy hunting of bobcats in the state, with a narrow exception permitting the lethal removal of any individual animal posing a danger to humans, endangered and threatened species, or livestock.
- We fought hard to keep federal protections for gray wolves intact, including defeating efforts in Congress to delist gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act. Working with a coalition of like-minded organizations, we garnered more than 1.8 million comments in response to the delisting proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- We defeated legislation in Montana that would have allowed wolf hunting at night and allowed wolf trappers to be reimbursed for related expenses – essentially bringing back bounty payments.
- We beat back multiple efforts to expand the trophy hunting of black bears, including the opening of a hunt in Connecticut, a hounding bill in New Hampshire, a spring hunt in Maine, and a bill that would have allowed extreme bear killing methods, including baiting, trapping, bombing and deadfalls in West Virginia.
- We helped pass humane coyote management plans in Atlantic Beach, Florida, and Downey, California.
- We spearheaded the opposition against multiple bills in the Oregon legislature to allow the use of hounds to hunt cougars.
- In November, New Mexico’s Game Commission voted to pass a proposal to end all recreational trapping of cougars with leghold snares and traps, as well as limit trophy hunters to no more than two cougars each hunting season. The decision followed four years of a legal and grassroots battle to end the persecution of cougars.
Wildlife killing contests:
- In September, Arizona banned cruel wildlife killing contests, followed by Massachusetts in December. Five states, including Vermont, California and New Mexico, now take a firm stance against these contests, in which participants compete to win cash and prizes for killing the most or heaviest animals. The HSUS turned a strong spotlight on contest kills with our investigations into these gruesome events, including one in Oregon in January.
Wildlife trafficking and trophy hunting:
- In December, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a bill making his state the first in the nation—and the world—to designate giraffes as a vulnerable species and banning the trade in their body parts. The law offers similar protections to other animal species threatened with extinction, including the hippopotamus, seven species of pangolins and the star tortoise.
- Delegates at the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted overwhelmingly to protect giraffes from overexploitation in international trade. Countries also took action at CITES to limit the capture of wild African elephants from Botswana and Zimbabwe for export to zoos and rejected multiple dangerous proposals to open up the trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn.
- We successfully pressed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to announce that giraffes may qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, by suing when the agency failed to respond to a legal petition we submitted.
- Japanese companies agreed to stop selling elephant ivory products on e-commerce platforms.
- Humane Society International and the HSUS released findings of undercover investigations into the ivory trade in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Legislation has been introduced in both jurisdictions to crack down on such sales.
- A federal court rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to dismiss our legal challenge to the International Wildlife Conservation Council—a deceptively named advisory panel stacked with members of the trophy hunting industry.
- The U.S House of Representatives passed H.R. 737, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act by a wide margin of 310-107. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee passed the bill as well and we continue to urge leadership to bring the bill to the Senate floor. The bill would end shark fins sales in the United States, including their import and export.
- The New Jersey Assembly passed a bill to end the sale of shark fins, making this the 14th state to crack down on the trade.
- In June, Canada, the largest importer of shark fins outside Asia, passed a landmark bill that includes measures to prohibit the trade in shark fins nationally as well as finning in Canadian waters.
- Also in June, Canadian lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act or the “Free Willy Bill.” It bans the trade, possession, capture and breeding of all cetaceans for entertainment.
- The SAVE Right Whales Act passed the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. The bill would provide needed funding to protect this critically endangered species.
- In May, the Cincinnati city council voted to prohibit the use of many wild animal species in circuses and other traveling shows.
- Also in May, our Humane Society International rescuers assisted with a massive seizure of more than 200 wild animals, including lions, tigers, zebras, bears, camels and kangaroos, from an unaccredited roadside zoo in Quebec.
- In August, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums announced it will phase out the use of bullhooks on elephants at its member zoos.
Wild horses and burros:
- Our legal team secured a long-term injunction against the Forest Service’s attempt to sell wild horses gathered from national forest land to kill buyers for commercial slaughter.
- California became the first U.S. state to ban the sale and production of fur. We helped lead the battle for this historic vote.
- We worked with Macy’s Inc., the parent company of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores, to announce that it will stop selling all fur and permanently close its 56 fur salons and vaults.
- Following a global effort spearheaded by the HSUS, Humane Society International and the Fur-Free Alliance, Prada, one of the world’s biggest fashion houses, announced it will go fur-free—including for its Miu Miu, Church’s and Car Shoe brands.
- Fashion labels 3.1 Phillip Lim and St. John announced bans on both fur and leather made from the skins of exotic animals after consultation with us.
- The British luxury department store Selfridges announced a policy banning leather made from the skin of exotic animals, becoming one of the first department stores to do so.
Wildlife conflict resolution:
- More than 200 animal care and control / urban wildlife agencies signed our Wild Neighbors Pledge committing to eliminating trap/loan programs, changing policies that call for the automatic euthanasia of rabies vector species (such as bats), and advising the public with humane solutions for conflicts with wildlife.
- We assisted more than 175 communities across the country in resolving conflicts with wildlife species humanely and effectively.
- We reached more than 1,200 professionals and community members through training and outreach on techniques and approaches to wildlife conflict resolution.
In 2020, our challenges include fighting off efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act and to roll back an Obama-era regulation prohibiting cruel and controversial trophy hunting and predator control methods on 20 million acres of national preserve lands in Alaska. But we’ve also got an ambitious agenda tied to our core wildlife priorities to pursue. We’re strongly committed to protecting wildlife in the United States and throughout the world, and with your support and engagement, we can win still more protections for wildlife in the year to come.