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May 21, 2008

Shot in the Foot

Cat's face
© iStockphoto

It's been a bad fortnight for the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance. First, their petty-minded plan to subvert a collaborative effort by The HSUS and Meijer superstores to help pets by adding $5,000 to our Foreclosure Pets Grant Fund backfired. After Meijer inexplicably caved to this shell of an organization (USSA has very few members, and is a front group for arms and ammunition makers, archery manufacturers, and hunting supply stores) and ended its pet photo contest to contribute up to $5,000 to our foreclosure fund, I announced on my blog that we should try to raise twice that amount to teach USSA a lesson—with half the money to go to the foreclosure fund and half to go to combating captive shoots, aerial wolf gunning, and other unsporting and particularly inhumane hunting practices.

You and other blog readers and other HSUS members responded in an extraordinary way. We raised more than $50,000 total in 48 hours—more than $40,000 for the foreclosure fund and more than $10,000 for the wildlife abuses campaign.

USSA was apparently so agitated by our success that they formed a specific new fund to fight The HSUS. No matter. This is a new arrow in our quiver, and we'll be ready to use it the next time USSA pulls a similar stunt to bollix up a charitable effort with a company. We'll continue to use the group's misguided activism to drive our goals at The HSUS.

Polar bear and two cubs
© USFWS

And the folks at USSA got a second little surprise last week when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the polar bear as a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act. One immediate effect of this listing is to bar the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada. American trophy hunters trek to Canada to kill these magnificent carnivores, and Americans have killed more than 900 bears since the trophy hunting lobby punched a loophole in the Marine Mammal Protection Act for this specific purpose 14 years ago. Last year, in Congress, we successfully pushed an amendment in the Senate to halt the trophy imports, but a similar amendment failed on the floor of the House. But now with the Fish and Wildlife Service's action, we have achieved our aim with the listing decision, and the extremist wing of the hunting lobby is none too happy.

We had some great reader feedback on the USSA and its efforts to undermine protections for pets.

Thank you for doing this! I know that The HSUS is always working to protect animals, but I just wanted to give an extra thank you. I love your organization. I honestly cried when I read the reports of what was raised in such a small amount of time. Even though my donation was small, it's nice to feel appreciated. Thanks again. —Kim

Way to go Wayne! My check is on the way. I have already donated to the foreclosure fund, now thanks to the USSA, the wildlife abuse campaign will receive a donation also. I checked out the USSA website. How sad! —Barbara

What good news to hear about the "bull's-eye", and that there are wonderful people ready to help abused animals, even if USSA doesn't care! I am proud to be a member of the Humane Society. They are always ready to jump in and help animals anytime—anywhere. —Lana McClure

This is shocking! As someone who's been volunteering for a year to find homes for 60 cats who were victims of a foreclosure lock-in, I am sickened at the thought that ANY organization would prevent another from donating funds to help animals in need. Is there any pressure that can be brought to bear on Meijer to follow through with their original pledge? Can this really be the final word on the matter? $5K can go a good distance to helping shelters support an unexpected influx of animals. I am an animal shelter volunteer, too, and I know how we struggle to cope when presented with a larger than average group of animal newcomers. Thanks for spearheading an effort to counterbalance this truly evil and discouraging action on the part of the gun association. —HLHarkins

I am SO VERY HAPPY about the $53,000 dollars you raised to counteract the "Sportmen's" group. The days when everyone just sits back and allows uneducated individuals free rein is over. Networking to solve problems and advance animal friendly goals is highly successful and a laudable goal! —Deb Conner

I had a picture to enter in this contest and was surprised when the link was no longer live and there was no mention of the contest any longer. Thank you for advising me of the reason. I just sent a strongly worded letter to Meijer and suggested that this may end my patronage of their store. I also suggested that they probably sell more dog and cat products than hunting products... so they might want to keep that in mind when deciding which special interest groups they listen to. —Olivia

I grew up in Northern Michigan in the '40s and '50s; everyone was a sportsman, and almost everyone hunted and fished by the season. So I do not consider real sportsmen or hunting a crime; I also eat hamburgers. However, that said; what I see in videos and read today about many of today's so called sportsmen and their penned or canned killing agendas for the biggest antlers/pelts, it is a CRIME—and completely erroneous to call them "sportsmen." It besmirches true sportsmen who love the environment, including God's creatures that inhabit it. USSA claims that they are not against helping out family pets that are the victims of foreclosure; however, they oppose the "freeing up" of any HSUS funds for pets, as they conclude that it would allow HSUS to spend their money on "anti-hunting" programs. Go figure! Approximately how many members does USSA claim, or not claim to have? I see by their webpage that they have approximately a million dollar per year operating budget. That tells me they have very few contributing members. —Peg

That Ted Williams article is good. And his long statement in the comment section (May 8, 2008, 3:23 pm) is even better. —Jan

Thank you, thank you!!! For making it possible for me to help the animals that I love so much. For those of us who often feel helpless in the face of what is sometimes seemingly unacknowledged cruelty to animals, it is so heartening to imagine that our small efforts somehow lead to the alleviation of some suffering. I am a longtime supporter of the Humane Society (all birthday gifts to me from my friends and family are donations to HSUS!) and I plan on staying that way. Wishing you all possible success! —Juli

Take that! U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, and all other animal abusers throughout the world. You push us, we will push you back. It is a great example of supply side economics, the school of thought that argues that economic growth can be most effectively created using incentives for people to produce (supply) goods and services. Wayne, if you supply us with a target, we will deliver the economic goods and services to shut them down. It is as simple as that. It's funny how that works. Not funny ha-ha, but funny in a rich, sardonic way. Here's to our next $50,000. —Kathlene Henry-Gorman

I do not support baiting the U.S. Sportsman Alliance with a "thank you" letter. I would like them to know that future actions like the one they employed against the foreclosure fund will result in increased support for animals. But we will not win any hearts to our very just cause with sarcasm. —Susan Rappoport

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