September 2011 Blog Home November 2011


21 posts from October 2011


October 31, 2011

Hitting 7 Billion

A baby, released into a sea of oxygen and out of the amniotic sac that’s been home for nearly nine months, has taken her first breath of air and will be symbolically known as the 7 billionth person on Earth.

White hen
iStockphoto

It’s a sign of the reproductive success of our species and a testament to our resourcefulness, ingenuity, and social skills. It’s also a little scary to think that quite so many people are drawing upon the finite resources of our planet. After all, 70 percent of the surface area of Earth is covered by water. Of the land area, much of it is rock, ice, or desert.

The habitable portion is a small world, after all. Very much so from a physical geography perspective. But also socially, politically, and economically. In the era of global trade and communications, this world is getting smaller all the time. And more crowded, as this population milestone reminds us.

With so many mouths to feed, it raises essential questions about the adequacy and wise use of our resources, especially if current rates of growth remain. Let’s remember, it took us from the beginning of time all the way to 1804 to hit the 1 billion mark. It wasn’t until 1927, a great year in Babe Ruth’s career, that we hit 2 billion. We’ve added 5 billion more people in less than a century, in progressively shorter time periods.

A recently produced HSUS video in support of the Meatless Monday campaign highlights what’s at stake. It’s worth watching and sharing.

 

If we are going to feed billions, we’ve got to think about how we grow food as well as what we eat. Clearly, feeding row crops to animals, whom we then eat, is not nearly as efficient as eating these plants directly. But meat-eating is here to stay throughout much of the world. The question is, can we control it? Americans eat more meat per capita–about 220 pounds–than the people of almost any other nation. That’s more than twice as much as the Chinese and 25 times what the Indians eat. We have to ask ourselves whether it is possible to feed a growing world population on such a meat-heavy diet, and whether it is sustainable from an environmental and resource perspective. 

We Westerners have got to reduce our consumption of meat. And we’ve got to hope that people in the developing world and the newly industrialized world do not start emulating our diet. The spread of intensive egg, meat, and milk production in the developing world is occurring at an alarming rate, and it's a phenomenon we're working to address through our international work.

Agriculture is fundamental to the health of our nation and to the entire planet. But it must be done right. Agriculture must be humane and sustainable, and that means we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’ve got 7 billion reasons to think about this important question.

October 28, 2011

Home Run: Rescued Florida Cats Adopted or on Their Way to New Homes

Mimi, a cat adopted from an HSUS rescue in Florida
Mimi, one of the rescued cats, in her new home.

This June, our Animal Rescue Team joined Alachua County Animal Services for one of the largest cat rescues in U.S. history. It took us two days to remove nearly 700 cats from appalling conditions in Florida, and The HSUS has spent nearly five months since then, caring for these animals at our emergency shelter and nursing them back to health with the help of many volunteers and other animal groups.

Today I’m happy to announce that every single treatable, adoptable cat from this rescue has either been adopted or placed with a shelter or rescue group for adoption.

Michelle Cascio, who works with our Emergency Placement Partners network of shelters and rescues that volunteer to take in animals from our deployments, sent this update about the Florida cats.

This August, our huge adopt-a-thon with the Alachua County Humane Society and other local groups found good homes for more than 250 of the rescued cats. After the amazing success of this three-day event, we started reaching out to our Emergency Placement Partners in the hopes of transferring more adoptable cats to them to find new homes. We quickly placed a total of 81 cats with the Alachua County Humane Society, Jacksonville Humane Society, and Helping Hands Rescue. Jacksonville Humane Society planned a special adoption event promoting the rescued cats, and after its success the shelter picked up an additional nine cats. A few more cats went home with HSUS staff members and volunteers.

Soon our volunteers and other staff started to help with placement, in addition to the exceptional care they were providing to the cats. Our goal was to find homes for all the animals by Oct. 31. HSUS staffer Heather Carpenter asked the Marion County Humane Society to take in several animals. Volunteers found well-supported Trap-Neuter-Return programs for the feral cats we rescued who would not do well in a home environment. Fancy Ferals, a TNR group in Gainesville, and Cedar Key TNR welcomed ferals into their existing programs. Soon after, Alachua County Animal Services found new homes for 18 cats, and the Alachua County Humane Society adopted out another eight.

A local veterinary practice, All Cats Health Care Clinic, not only provided medical care in our emergency shelter, but also took special-needs animals one by one and adopted them to its clients. The affectionate orange cat featured in several of our videos, Velcro, recently went to the clinic and is waiting to find his perfect match.

The number of cats looking for homes dropped, but we needed to expand our outreach. We communicated with our placement partners along the eastern seaboard, offering funding for a special adoption event if they could accept 10 of the rescued cats. Last week, dedicated volunteer Rick Hughes drove from Florida to North Carolina and delivered 30 cats to the SPCA of Wake County, Guilford County Animal Shelter, and the Colonial Capital Humane Society. Alachua County Animal Services helped transport 20 animals to Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, which will also receive an HSUS grant for a special adoption event.

Some of the rescued cats have feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus, two illnesses that make placement more challenging. One lucky feline-leukemia-positive kitty flew with NDART volunteer Lou Montgomery to Maryland’s Rude Ranch Animal Rescue. Another four survivors flew with Best Friends volunteers to Las Vegas and will live at Best Friends Animal Society.

Carson Springs Wildlife Foundation and Sanctuary stepped up to add the remaining ferals to their TNR program and to help find good homes for barn cats. But the most amazing outcome remained. Earlier this week, there were still 11 animals unspoken for because they were feline leukemia- or FIV-positive. Christine Janks, founder of Carson Springs, offered to house them and enlisted University of Florida veterinary school volunteers to provide their care. These 11 cats were the last to find placement, and they found was a perfect fit thanks to the generous spirit of Carson Springs.

The final outcome? Every healthy or treatable cat—whether they are feral, feline leukemia- or FIV-positive, or just a social sweetie-pie—found the right place. It was a miracle performed by one amazing village after almost 5 months of being in our care.

October 27, 2011

Former Chicago Students Give Back by Helping Pets

I wrote recently about successful HSUS pet wellness clinics in Atlanta and Philadelphia, just two of the cities where we’ve expanded our Pets for Life program to bring animal welfare services to underserved communities, to promote the human-animal bond, to encourage proper veterinary care, and to drive down euthanasia rates, preventing dogfighting and other neglect and abuse in the process.

Our first community outreach program of this type launched a few years ago in Chicago, and today I wanted to share a story with you about two local men who stand at the heart of our program. Sean Moore and Anthony Pickett first came to our attention as students in our free dog training classes. These classes help people to steer clear of dogfighting and encourage them to view dogs as friends instead of fighting instruments. Now, five years later, Sean and Anthony work as full-time community organizers for our Pets for Life Chicago program. They teach dog training classes for a new generation of students, and they were the driving force behind our recent successful clinic in their own neighborhood.  

The Oct. 15 clinic provided free vaccinations administered by Delta Animal Hospital to nearly 200 pets, signed up more than 60 animals for free spay/neuter surgeries to be performed by PAWS Chicago, enrolled several people in our dog training classes, and gave out free pet food. Through the Pets for Life program, Sean and Anthony are giving back to the people and pets in their community, and we’re proud to see what a positive difference we can make when we work together with local animal groups and community advocates.

So much work with companion animals is happening outside of shelter settings and consists of finding people where they conduct their lives, and our Pets for Life program is just one example of that trend at work. You can see a few snapshots from the event below.

Pfl chicago clinic oct 2011

Pfl chicago clinic oct 2011 - 5

Pfl chicago clinic oct 2011 - 2
Pfl chicago clinic oct 2011 - 3

Photos: Chris Kim Photography

October 26, 2011

Rescue Story: A Tiny Puppy Plucked from the Rubble

Every day there are dogs, cats, horses, and other animals who are suffering, and they need our help.

Laura Bevan of The HSUS with rescued puppy Bertie
Photo by Chuck Cook
Laura Bevan with Bertie in Tuscaloosa this spring.

Over the course of 51 deployments this year, our Animal Rescue Team has worked with law enforcement to rescue more than 5,100 animals from puppy mills, animal fighting spectacles, and hoarders. Partnering with local agencies and other animal organizations, we also assisted nearly 2,300 animals displaced because of natural disasters (including Hurricane Irene).

Throughout all these rescues, we’ve had a small army of selfless volunteers at our side: more than 600 NDART volunteers trained to assist on our rescues, our nationwide network of 130 Emergency Placement Partners, and the 55 dedicated members of our Dogfighting Rescue Coalition.

But sometimes the most important number is one—the one grateful face of an animal who has made his or her way from unspeakable suffering to the sanctuary of a loving home. Their journeys tell the story the numbers can’t. Here’s the first in an occasional series of stories from HSUS staff members who’ve adopted pets we rescued from cruelty or natural disasters.

Laura Bevan, the director of our eastern regional office, writes:

Bertie is short for Alberta, which is the area of Tuscaloosa, Ala., where this puppy was found in the rubble with her four brothers and sisters when an F-4 tornado tore through on April 27, 2011. Bertie and her siblings were taken to the local shelter, but they were only five weeks old and with the shelter population swelling, the staff and volunteers were not able to give them the attention they needed. They brought the puppies to the HSUS rescue compound at the Alberta Baptist Church, where HSUS NDART volunteers and vet techs were caring for lost animals.

Then Bertie got sick and was diagnosed with parvovirus. She rallied, but needed to stay away from her siblings to prevent the spread of the illness. The HSUS had rented a small RV to serve as an office and sleeping quarters for the teams rescuing animals, and Bertie stayed in the RV’s shower with her IVs. Soon, she started commuting with me to my hotel so that the shower would be free for our volunteers when they finished their shifts. It wasn't long before her fuzzy face, quirky personality, and intelligent mind had me hooked. I wasn't looking for a puppy, but she was looking for me I guess!

Bertie is now seven months old, about 15 pounds, and a little spitfire. She travels with me quite a bit. She loves to play with her toys—anything that can be thrown down the hallway or out in the yard so she can fetch it. None of her doggy brothers and sisters want to do much with her, but she has found a new best friend in Marcus, the cat I adopted as a feral kitten.

One day Bertie was trying to play with Marcus when the cat grabbed her around the neck and appeared to be biting her. Then I realized his claws weren't out and he wasn't really biting. Now they have huge play marathons in which it looks like they are killing one another, but when they get tired they collapse and sleep side by side. It is so cute that it has become my favorite thing to watch.

P.S. We also transported Bertie's littermates to Florida from Alabama. Two were adopted by NDART volunteers that responded to the Alabama tornadoes, and the other two were adopted in the same vet clinic. Happy stories all around!

October 25, 2011

The HSUS: A Voice for All Animals

Rick Berman thinks smoking isn’t bad for you. He thinks there’s no obesity epidemic in America. He thinks Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other groups that try to stop drunk drivers from killing people are too extreme. He thinks the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention engages in pseudo-science.

Adopted calico cat
Liz Bergstrom/The HSUS

That just scratches the surface of his belief system—or, more accurately, the public relations work he does for corporations that pay him.

One thing you can say about Berman is that he doesn’t come cheap. After all, he’s got a lot of landscaping to pay for at his mansion in McLean, Va., and it’s not cheap to service his Bentley at the local luxury service center. As such, he demands good pay when he works for tobacco companies, junk-food sellers, the alcohol industry, and other corporations that hire him to attack some of the most respected charities and science-based organizations and agencies in America.

Berman also attacks The HSUS—which, of course, puts us in good company. After all, if someone is going to attack you, better that it be a real scoundrel. CBS’s 60 Minutes called him "Dr. Evil," and we thought the network was being polite for prime time.

Berman has been campaigning for years now to eliminate The HSUS. But he typically doesn’t say it outright, just like he doesn’t hand out cigarettes or shots of Wild Turkey to kids in schoolyards. He’s more clever than that, camouflaging his efforts behind innocuous-sounding names (e.g., the Center for Consumer Freedom, HumaneWatch, and the American Beverage Institute) and making arguments that convince some people who are inclined to believe the worst or don’t know any better.

Berman, a multi-millionaire thanks to the big pay-outs he gets for his attacks on the nonprofit sector, leads with the argument that The HSUS should take donor money and give it to animal shelters.

Animal shelters can sure use the money. We know that because The HSUS is an unflinching advocate for animal shelters, just as we are for other hands-on protectors of animals, such as accredited chimp sanctuaries, wildlife rehabilitation centers, big-cat sanctuaries, and all kinds of other organizations that do life-saving work for animals. We want to see them all swimming in support.

Kitty, one of the chimpanzees at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch
Kathy Milani/The HSUS

When it comes to shelters, we do a lot: We host the nation’s biggest educational and training conference for shelters, publish Animal Sheltering magazine, provide grants to shelters, promote and operate spay-neuter activities, celebrate National Animal Sheltering Appreciation Week, and conduct a national advertising campaign in partnership with Maddie’s Fund and The Ad Council that promotes the adoption of shelter pets ($32 million in advertising and counting in the last 18 months). Of course, we also challenge the puppy mills and the dogfighting rings that create inflow to shelters and complicate their work. We work closely with the shelters who accept these cruelty cases to ensure that the animals’ needs are met.

But there’s more to be done in the field of animal protection. And that’s the part that Berman really doesn’t like. Why? Because Berman appears to be on the take from agribusiness, the fur trade, the sealing industry, the puppy millers and the pet trade, circus industry, and other groups that don’t like The HSUS’s efforts to stop animal abuse or exploitation within their industries.

Sorry, Rick, we won’t stop fighting cruelty to all animals, and we won’t restrict our efforts to one arena of activity conveniently removed from the business enterprises that pay you millions.

You see, there are 8 million dogs and cats in animal shelters. Every one of them deserves to have a home. And that’s why we work so hard to see that happen.

But there are so many other animals that need our attention, too. There are 10 billion animals used in the food production system. Tens of millions used in research and testing. Tens of millions used by the fur trade. Millions denied love and veterinary care in puppy mills. Hundreds of thousands of horses globally killed for the meat trade. And perhaps billions of wild animals killed for bush meat, trinkets, trophies, other forms of commerce, or just for convenience.

Continue reading "The HSUS: A Voice for All Animals" »

October 24, 2011

Talk Back: Ohio Travesty and Next Steps

Tiger closeup

The death of dozens of tigers, lions, bears, and other animals released last week by an Ohio man who then took his own life was just the latest tragic incident in this state with some of the weakest rules on keeping exotic animals. The HSUS has been working for years to strengthen these regulations to protect animal welfare and public safety. In 2009, we named Ohio one of the worst states in the nation for its lax policies on exotics, and our 2010 animal welfare agreement with state officials and agricultural groups included a provision to ban private ownership of dangerous wild animals. We will continue to work to make this a reality in Ohio, as well as in other states.

So many of you wrote in to the blog and on Facebook calling for stronger rules and expressing anger and sadness over the deaths of these animals:

I live in Ohio and am disgusted that Gov. Kasich let the regulation expire. These animals were solely killed because of human selfishness. I believe the police did what they could in the situation they were in and it wasn't an easy decision. This just proves that regulation needs to be stronger FEDERALLY. Wild animals are not pets and this is the most horrible example of what can go wrong when selfish people do what they want at the expense of the animal and their fellow human beings. —Andrea Ferguson Williams

I'm not in favor of big government but a national law regulating or banning the keeping of exotics is needed for the protection of the animals. —Stephen Schroeder

Very sad that they killed all these animals. Private ownership should be not be allowed at all. —Nancy Weise

Indeed, how long will it take before the state and federal governments finally put an end to the nonsensical allowing of anyone with a few square feet of room to keep a dangerous wild animal? …I love all animals, and the thought of having a beautiful and magnificent large one as my personal pet might be pretty intriguing if I didn't know any better. But I do know better: I know that it's cruel and unethical to keep ANY animal in a cage, especially a large wild one. I know that when they escape (which happens all the time) they can injure or kill humans, which inevitably means death for the animal as well. And I know that my own personal desires don't outweigh public safety for my neighbors, nor the basic wrongness of keeping wildlife captive. I just wish everyone else also knew better. —David Bernazani

Continue reading "Talk Back: Ohio Travesty and Next Steps" »

October 21, 2011

Ohio’s Response Lacks Teeth: More Work Ahead on Exotic Animals

Ohio Gov. John Kasich transmitted disappointing news to the animal protection community today, in the wake of the tragedy this week in Zanesville. He announced an emergency order on the exotics issue at a press conference at his office, but its provisions are inadequate. The executive order largely restates current authority for the state’s executive agencies and sidesteps the central problems created by the exotic animal trade in Ohio.

Samson, a rescued African lion
Christine Jensen
Rescued from the exotic pet trade, Samson the
lion lives at our Fund for Animals Wildlife Center.

The Humane Society of the United States agrees with him that the legislature should enact a statute that addresses the problem, but in the interim, we need an executive order that bans the sale and acquisition of dangerous wild animals as pets or roadside attractions. Our legal analysis demonstrates it’s clearly within his authority to take more comprehensive action as a bridge to protect people and animals until the legislature acts.

We also had a concern about tone struck by the governor and the other speakers. Neither the governor nor any other speaker at the press conference made a definitive statement that no private citizen should keep big cats, bears, or primates as pets or as roadside attractions. No one said it’s too dangerous for the community, it’s inhumane for the animals, or it’s too costly for the state to regulate.

So not only is the emergency order too weak, but the prospects for a sound recommendation from the governor’s task force on the issue are not bright. Of the seven non-governmental organizations represented on the task force, two are exotic animal industry groups. One member, Polly Britton of the Ohio Association of Animal Owners (OAAO), is a notorious mouthpiece for the exotics industry and also has opposed just about every bit of animal welfare legislation in the state, including stronger anti-cockfighting and anti-puppy mill bills. The OAAO represents the exotic animal owners in the state, including one of the largest animal auctions in the nation, in Mount Hope, Ohio. There is also a representative from the deceptively named Zoological Association of America (not to be confused with the respected Association of Zoos and Aquariums), which accredits poorly run roadside zoos, sanctions public contact with dangerous animals, and was created “ to protect and defend the right to own animals.”

The public is outraged by the deficiencies in Ohio law and the deaths of so many innocent animals. They want political leaders to step up and turn this situation around. Sadly, the action announced today will barely move the needle. More work for us lies ahead. You can help by taking action here.

October 20, 2011

Urgent Calls for Stronger Rules on Exotic Animals

Grizzly bear
iStockphoto
Take action here for stronger rules in Ohio.

There was international coverage of the shooting and killing of about 50 dangerous exotic animals after their owner, a convicted felon, released them into the communities around Zanesville, Ohio, and then killed himself.

There were no other human casualties, but all but a handful of the animals are dead. The images of dead bears, lions, tigers, and wolves strewn out in an open field were deeply disturbing. The ultimate responsibility for their deaths rests mainly with the man who released them, but also with the Ohio political leaders through the years who haven’t had the foresight or fortitude to adopt policies to prevent this sort of calamity. Time and again, they’ve bowed to the strident voices within the exotic animal community who have demanded deregulation and argued that it’s their right to have any animal they want.

As it has in the past, the Columbus Dispatch weighed in on the controversy and, like The HSUS, demanded immediate action:

“Ohio has among the most-lax regulations in the country governing the ownership of exotic animals, and that must change—and soon…Owners of primates, large snakes and big cats might argue that this is a matter of personal freedom, but freedom doesn’t extend to putting others in harm’s way. In this case, owning such animals, many of which are out of their natural climate and habitat, is cruel to the creatures and dangerous to the owners and their neighbors.”

Gov. Kasich must write and implement an emergency rule right away. You can take action here in support of stronger rules.

But it’s not just Ohio that has failed to handle this problem. Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and West Virginia also have essentially no restrictions on owning animals such as lions and tigers, primates, wolves, and dangerous reptiles. Thirteen other states are barely better, with some minor permit requirements for possessing these animals. There are only 18 states plus the District of Columbia that have pretty comprehensive rules against private individuals keeping these exotic animals, while 12 other states ban keeping some of the dangerous species. We’ve compiled a map of state regulations so you can see whether your state might allow your neighbor to keep a tiger in his backyard or a chimpanzee in her home. It’s time to demand that state lawmakers and executive agencies take action to crack down on these problems.

And it’s time for the federal government to handle the problem, too. The Obama administration is delaying action on a rule to ban the import and interstate trade of large constricting snakes. It’s obvious that people in the administration are getting cold feet because of the complaints of the reptile owners lobby and their allies in the pet trade. In addition to the suffering endured by the animals who are unable to express natural behaviors, it’s the sort of governmental hedging and weakness that results in more dead animals and perhaps more human casualties.

St_exotics_laws_map

October 19, 2011

Dangerous, Exotic Animals Let Loose in Ohio

Terry Thompson is dead. Speculation is that he took his life last night near Zanesville, Ohio, just after opening the cages for the 50 or so large carnivores and primates he kept on his property.

Today, local and state authorities hunted down and shot and killed just about all of the animals, including 18 Bengal tigers and 17 lions as well as wolves, grizzly bears, and other animals he acquired.

He had no state license for keeping the vast majority of these animals. And he had no federal license.

Tiger face
Learn more and take action here.

He did, however, have a conviction for animal cruelty from 2005. And he was just three weeks out of prison for a separate offense–firearms violations that landed him in the brig for a year.

He’s not the sort of guy who should have any animal, no mind a dangerous exotic.

If an Ohio emergency rule promulgated in January by the former governor had been extended in April by the current governor, this man probably would not have been legally permitted to have any of these dangerous exotic mammals. But Gov. Kasich, apparently concerned about the legal authority of the state to adopt and implement this rule, let it expire. Ohio law authorizes the DNR to regulate the ownership of wild animals, and the governor has broad constitutional authority to issue emergency orders to protect public health and safety.

For the past six months, there have been no rules relating to private ownership of dangerous exotic animals in Ohio, and that was a perfect free-for-all circumstance for a criminal like Terry Thompson.

His case, tragic and appalling in the extreme, is just the latest exotic animal incident in Ohio. Last year, 24-year-old Brent Kandra was killed by a bear owned by Sam Mazzola, another convict who maintained an animal menagerie for no good purpose.

In our nation, we have an epidemic of people acquiring and housing lions, tigers, bears, pythons, alligators, chimpanzees, and other potentially dangerous animals. Buying an exotic animal through a breeder or over the Internet is as easy as ordering a book online. People do it for selfish reasons, ignoring the needs of the animals and sometimes putting other people at risk. While the human deaths get most of the attention, the animals almost always end up dead or in miserable circumstances. They don’t belong in our backyards or basements, and the law must speak to prevent this sort of cruelty and public menace.

Ohio isn’t the only place where political leaders have failed to do the right thing. So have leaders in two dozen other states. Key Congressional committees have indicated they have no interest in pending federal legislation to ban the interstate transport of primates for the pet trade. And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hasn’t issued a final rule to stop the trade in nine species of large constricting snakes, even though a Burmese python killed a little girl recently in Florida and the animals have wreaked ecological havoc in the Everglades.

How many incidents of mayhem and death do we need to get a sane policy on private ownership of dangerous wild animals?

October 18, 2011

Putting Trophy Hunters’ Bogus Claims Out to Sea

The polar bear has emerged as the iconic species for the effects of climate change, which is being felt acutely in the Arctic.

Just two weeks after the polar bear was listed by the Bush administration in 2008 as a species threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act, Safari Club International and other trophy hunting groups filed a federal lawsuit aiming to reopen American borders to the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies. The basis for the lawsuit was the bizarre claim that killing polar bears is somehow good for polar bears.

Two polar bears on snow
iStockphoto

In a ruling issued yesterday, a federal court soundly rejected this argument and refused to allow U.S.-based sport hunters to import dead bears they killed in Canada as trophies. The court upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination that money paid by U.S. hunters to native communities in Canada for the right to kill polar bears “would not achieve the significant conservation benefits required” by law.

Polar bears are also protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which generally prohibits the killing or import of polar bears and all other marine mammals, such as seals, whales, and dolphins. However, in 1994, Safari Club and other trophy hunting groups convinced Congress to punch a loophole in the law that specifically allowed American hunters to import polar bear trophies from certain parts of Canada. They’ve gone back to Congress time and again, requesting permission to import trophies of polar bears they legally killed in Canada because they just want to enjoy the trophies at home. 

In all, more than 900 polar bear heads and hides have been imported into the United States since 1994—with many of the trophy hunters competing for Safari Club’s “Bears of the World” award. But in its ruling yesterday, the court rejected Safari Club’s arguments that import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies should still be allowed under the 1994 loophole, and held that no more imports of polar bear heads and hides may be allowed now that polar bears are recognized as a threatened species.

A decline in polar bear numbers in recent years has been linked to the retreat of sea ice and its formation later in the year. Ice is also breaking up earlier, and this trend is likely to continue. Bears have been forced ashore before they have time to build sufficient fat stores, resulting in thinner, stressed bears, fewer cubs, and lower survival rates. Faced with habitat loss and population decline, polar bears should not fall victim to trophy hunters. A recent analysis by the United States Geological Survey predicted that two of the six populations from which U.S. hunters have imported polar bear trophies would be gone by the year 2050, with the remaining four disappearing by the end of this century, absent intervention to protect the species.

Continue reading "Putting Trophy Hunters’ Bogus Claims Out to Sea" »