Environmental and Animal Groups: Views on Hunting
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There are a number of local, state, national and international organizations that publicly concern themselves with caring for animals and protecting the environment. Some have their foundations a century ago or longer (such as Audubon Society in the late 1800s), while others are relatively new to the scene (such as Love Canada Geese in 2005). Among these groups are several that clearly state their opposition to any form of hunting (particularly the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting), while others publicly align themselves with hunters (including The Wilderness Society ). Some organizations have chosen to maintain a neutral or "apolitical" stance with regard to hunting, or take exception to particular types of hunting or targets of hunting (such as Defenders of Wildlife, which focuses much of its effort on ending aerial hunting of wolves) but typically do not address the broader ecological impact of hunting.
This wiki is designed primarily with the objective of providing information for anyone interested in learning more about the specific views on hunting held by numerous purportedly pro-animal and pro-environment organizations. As with any wiki, it is intended as a work in progress, with the goal of encouraging collaborative efforts to add more information and more groups as new knowledge is found or developed. The initial outline is focused on identifying organizations that belong to three main groups as described above:
- Organizations that publicly oppose hunting
- Organizations that ally themselves with hunters
- Organizations that are self-described as neutral, or oppose only limited types or targets of hunting
Within each group, organizations will be added as support for their group membership becomes available (whether as quoted on their websites, or confirmed by an official representative via documented communication), and anecdotes, examples, and other information related to each organization's views on hunting will be used to develop a clearer view of where these environmental and animal organizations stand on hunting.
- 1 Organizations Publicly Opposed to Hunting
- 1.1 AGRO -- A National Coalition to End Aerial Gunning of Wildlife
- 1.2 The Animals Voice
- 1.3 ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- 1.4 Animal Aid
- 1.5 Best Friends Animal Society
- 1.6 Big Wildlife
- 1.7 Born Free Foundation
- 1.8 Born Free USA (previously Animal Protection Institute)
- 1.9 Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese
- 1.10 Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT)
- 1.11 Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting (CASH)
- 1.12 Compassion Over Killing (COK)
- 1.13 Friends of Animals
- 1.14 The Fund for Animals
- 1.15 Global Anti Hunting Coalition
- 1.16 The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
- 1.17 In Defense of Animals (IDA)
- 1.18 International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
- 1.19 Last Chance for Animals (LCA)
- 1.20 Love Canada Geese
- 1.21 Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN)
- 1.22 Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
- 1.23 Royal Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) -- Australia
- 1.24 Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) -- United Kingdom
- 1.25 Vegan Outreach
- 1.26 Wildlife Watch, Inc.
- 1.27 World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
- 2 Organizations Allied with Hunters
- 2.1 Alaska Wildlife Alliance (AWA)
- 2.2 American Forests
- 2.3 American Humane Association
- 2.4 The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
- 2.5 Biodiversity Conservation Alliance
- 2.6 The Center for Biological Diversity
- 2.7 The Delta Waterfowl Foundation
- 2.8 Ducks Unlimited
- 2.9 Izaak Walton League of America
- 2.10 National Audubon Society (NAS)
- 2.11 National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF)
- 2.12 National Wildlife Federation (NWF)
- 2.13 National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA)
- 2.14 The Nature Conservancy
- 2.15 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF)
- 2.16 Sierra Club
- 2.17 Western Watersheds Project (WWP)
- 2.18 WildEarth Guardians
- 2.19 The Wilderness Society
- 2.20 Wildlife Forever
- 2.21 Wildlife Management Institute (WMI)
- 2.22 The Wildlife Society (TWS)
- 2.23 World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
- 3 Organizations Adopting an "Apolitical" Stance
Organizations Publicly Opposed to Hunting
All organizations in this group have adopted a public stance that is clearly anti-hunting. While in some instances the focus of the group is on a specific type of hunting, or a specific animal or geographical region, they support an end to hunting. In a few instances there are some organizations in this group that note that some cultures still rely on hunting for sustenance (most notably Inuit tribes), but they oppose hunting for any other reason, oppose hunting of any endangered species, oppose any "inhumane" forms of hunting, and are strongly concerned with the ecological impact of hunting.
AGRO focuses on ending the practice on aerial gunning of wildlife, but additionally opposes any other lethal means of preventing wild animals from harming domestic animals. Their stance is that the natural world is sacred and that we need to reconnect with the natural world, which includes respecting the lives of animals.
From their website: "It's time for agribusiness to take responsibility and use well-documented, non-lethal precautions to protect their livestock from native wildlife and not rely upon killing." "For centuries, we've been 'conquering' the natural world rather than honoring it for its sacredness. If we continue to hold onto this belief, we won't grasp that the real basic concern for this century is not simply divine-human or inter-human relations, but our relations with planet Earth as sacred community."
The Animals Voice is primarily a website and magazine-based publication launched in 1987, but its use as a tool by activists for networking and dissemination of information has given it a fair amount of heft in pro-animal communities. They support animal liberation, and are against recreational hunting, typically advocating a vegetarian lifestyle.
"The Animals Voice Statement of Purpose:
The purpose of The Animals Voice is to effect the liberation of animals. Through our online database of hard-hitting editorial and photography, resources and networking, as well as through our award-winning, international animal rights magazine, we have already proven our potential among activists and adversaries as being a powerful force in the changes necessary for the betterment in the living and dying conditions for animals around the planet. We promise to continue our work in globally networking activists and organizations, and in educating and enlightening everyone who visits or reads our material about the desperate plight of animals and what part they can do to cause animal liberation."
The ASPCA was founded by Henry Bergh in 1866 and works to rescue abused animals and to support animal shelters nationwide. It was the first humane society to be established in North America, and is one of the largest in the world today. Henry Bergh believed that animals should be protected by the law, and the ASPCA has the legal authority to investigate and make arrests for crimes against animals. While its primary focus has been on maintaining shelters and preventing the abuse of domestic pets, the ASPCA also has a strong policy against sport hunting.
From their website: "Because there is no guarantee that wildlife taken in sport hunting will be killed outright or spared the distress of pursuit and possible wounding and escape, the ASPCA is opposed to hunting animals for sport, even if the animals killed in this way are subsequently consumed. The ASPCA does recognize that wildlife management may be necessary in situations where animal and human interests collide, but urges that management strategies be nonlethal wherever possible and never include avoidable suffering or distress."
Founded in 1977, Animal Aid is a British organization that is against animal abuse and promotes a "cruelty-free lifestyle." Their campaigns range from promoting vegetarianism and veganism to ending activities such as the "game" bird industry, fox hunting, factory farming, and animal experimentation.
From their website: "Animal Aid are opposed to all forms of animal cruelty - and we therefore strongly oppose hunting. Hunting with hounds has no place in modern Britain. It should have ended years ago along with cock-fighting, bear-baiting and dog-fighting. When animal cruelty is portrayed by some as a 'sport' to get pleasure from it debases society and promotes even more animal cruelty. It is not just foxes and other wildlife who suffer. Horses and dogs are also victims of hunting - viewed simply as 'sporting accessories' many sustain fatal injuries during the gruelling chase."
Best Friends was started in Arizona in the 1970s as a no-kill shelter that eventually grew into a large animal sanctuary, currently situated in Angel Canyon, Utah. They gained non-profit charity status in 1991 and provide a home to over 1,500 animals, and their primary goal is No More Homeless Pets, a community that is part of the larger Best Friends Network. They have a significant internet presence through this network, which provides news and information as well as a way for animal activists to connect both online and off. Their Animal Help staff responds to over 20,000 requests for assistance each year, and while their focus is on domestic/companion animals, they also have a strong anti-hunting stance, which was shared by Member Liaison Dori Jeurink:
"Best Friends is a no-kill organization, and we are dedicated to kindness towards all creatures. Therefore, we do not support activities that objectify animals, reduce their quality of life, or harm them in any way." 
Founded in 2006 as a voice for carnivores such as bears, cougars, coyotes and wolves, Big Wildlife operates essentially as a public relations firm for wildlife, providing training for activists, supporting grassroots movements and animal campaigns, and educating the public about wildlife. According to Communications Director Brian Vincent (who is personally against all hunting), "We oppose all hunting of top and mid-level predators, such as bears, cougars, wolves, wolverine, coyotes, and others"
Big Wildlife additionally supports a vegan lifestyle, is against the fur trade, and discourages "using words like 'manage,' 'cull,' 'harvest,' 'game species,' and 'resource' in reference to wildlife. Such words are often used by government officials, trophy hunters, the fur industry, agribusiness, and other interests to desensitize the public to the brutal reality of lethal control programs, trapping, snaring, and trophy hunting".
Started in England in 1984 by the stars of the film Born Free, Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, Born Free is "devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare." Their goals include protecting endangered species, preventing animal suffering, establishing wildlife sanctuaries, and enabling people to live side by side with wildlife in their local communities without conflict. They are opposed to captive breeding, canned hunting, and trophy hunting.
From their website: "Whether its fighting the ivory trade and ‘sport’ hunting, opposing killing wild animals for ‘bushmeat’, or challenging the exploitation of wild animals in zoos and circuses, Born Free takes action on the front line for animals."
API was co-founded in 1968 by Belton Mouras and Ken Guerrero, and Born Free USA was established in the United States in 2002 as a companion organization to the Born Free Foundation. Their mission statement is "to alleviate animal suffering, protect threatened and endangered species in the wild, and encourage everyone to treat wildlife everywhere with respect and compassion."
Born Free USA has been involved in causes aimed to prevent funds earmarked for conservation from supporting hunting, opposing a Senate bill aimed at hunting conservation. Born Free USA “objects to this bill because it would fund projects related to hunting and habitat improvements for that purpose.”
Founded in 1993 to put a halt to the needless killing of Canada geese in Rockland County, New York, the Coalition is focused on nonlethal conflict resolution between humans and Canada geese, but publicly condemns hunting of other animals for sport as well. They also list other anti-hunting sites on their website.
The Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese is also actively involved in exposing the role wildlife agencies play in promoting hunting. Since wildlife agencies often rely on hunting license fees to pay managers' salaries, and most agency managers are (or were) hunters, the primary motivation behind wildlife agencies' supporting hunting is based on obtaining more resources, not "managing" wildlife.
From their mission statement: "We also work to expose how the economic infrastructure of government wildlife management actually perpetuates human-wildlife conflicts while simultaneously encouraging a bias that favors killing as a form of problem solving. We seek a complete renovation of this operating philosophy. Until such time, we advocate the use of humane, non-lethal methods to resolve or minimize the conflicts between Canada geese and humans."
Formed in 1997, CAFT is a grass-roots campaign against the fur trade in Great Britain.
"Although we only focus on anti-fur campaigns we are opposed to all animal cruelty / animal use, including all forms of hunting"
CASH is a committee of Wildlife Watch, Inc. and its mission is "to accomplish what its name says in the shortest possible time." CASH provides materials to effectively argue against different methods of hunting as well as other lethal methods of resolving human-wildlife conflicts (baiting, trapping, etc.). Member Peter Muller's No-Cull website provides responses to common rationales used by hunters to "justify" deer hunting, including basic points to make as well as documents supporting anti-hunting perspectives:
Argument from Overpopulation
Some hunters argue that without hunting, wildlife populations will exceed "social carrying capacity." In fact, hunted herds have been shown to demonstrate a greater percentage increase in population one year after a hunt than unhunted herds.
Argument from Ecological Destruction
Some hunters argue that "culling" deer populations is necessary to preserve plant life, or that "culling" predators is necessary to preserve prey species. However, many more factors are involved in environmental changes such as decreases in a particular plant species, from climate change to soil erosion, and hunting is more likely to contribute to imbalances in the ecosystem than to serve as a "corrective" for ecological change.
Argument that Overpopulation contributes to Car Collisions
Some hunters argue that if it weren't for hunting, there would be even more wildlife-car collisions. In fact, more animals are on the move during hunting seasons, resulting in a consistent increase in collisions between wildlife and automobiles.
Argument that Overpopulation contributes to Lyme Disease
Some hunters argue that the more dense the deer population, the more rampant Lyme Disease will be. In fact, the population of ticks carrying Lyme disease is related to the population density of rodents rather than deer.
Argument that Non-Lethal Methods of Population Control are Impractical/Expensive
According to CASH, "Immunocontraception is relatively inexpensive and has worked successfully in parks and urban/suburban settings"No-Cull.
Paul Shapiro was a high school sophomore in Washington when he started Compassion Over Killing in 1995. While the primary goal of COK's campaigns is the promotion of a vegetarian lifestyle and an end to animal abuse, focusing on an end to animal cruelty in agriculture, it does support an anti-hunting stance. Literature on the website describes hunting as a form of animal abuse and cruelty.
Founded in 1957, Friends of Animals "advocates for the right of animals to live free according to their own terms." They are a strongly anti-hunting organization that also supports a vegetarian lifestyle. One of their main goals is to abolish hunting altogether, and they are "unequivocally against hunting and the destructive methods of 'wildlife management' that caters to, and fosters hunting. Hunting is an act against Nature on both moral and biological grounds."
According to Friends of Animals, hunting is cruel, deceitful, socially unjustifiable, and ecologically disruptive:
Hunting is Cruel
Hunting causes gratuitous pain to wild animals.
Hunting is Deceitful
Hunters try to disguise the reality of hunting with euphemisms such as "harvests," "culls," "wildlife management," "bag limits," "sport," "game," and many others.
Hunting is Socially Unjustifiable
It is an unnecessary waste of life and resources.
Hunting is Ecologically Disruptive
Hunting disrupts natural ecological dynamics. "Wildlife management" of deer in particular actually increases the number of deer, but alters the proportion of males to females since hunting almost solely targets male deer, and since hunters seek out "trophy" deer it is typically the strongest of the species that are killed.
Cleveland Amory, an author and animal advocate, founded The Fund for Animals in 1967. In 2005, the Fund became part of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). "The Fund has won landmark lawsuits to protect animals from hunting and trapping, and the organization is currently fighting for animals with the help of the Animal Protection Litigation section. This group of full-time attorneys, law clerks, and pro bono law firms are defending animals in federal and state courts from cruelty and abuse. The Fund's current cases seek to protect endangered species, stop the abuse of circus elephants, keep national wildlife refuges safe for animals, and much more."
As an HSUS subsidiary, the Fund no longer has separate public positions. Fact sheets issued by the Fund for Animals before the merger are available on the Internet Archive.
Sport Hunting is Ecologically Destructive
Hunters kill many endangered and threatened animals, including bald eagles, golden eagles, grizzly bears, Florida panthers, and whooping cranes. In addition, hunters annually position themselves along the migratory flyways and massacre, often indiscriminately, millions of ducks. Though some states are outlawing lead in bullets, many hunters still use toxic lead shot.
Hunting Disrupts Natural Selection
Individuals who would not normally have reproductive success will have it because hunters do not select the weakest animals as nature does. By often killing the ablest, hunters downgrade the quality of the gene pool.
State Wildlife Agencies Propagate 'Game' Species
On average, over 90 percent of funds go to "game" species projects, when non-game animals make up a majority of the ecosystem. State agencies also spend millions of dollars burning and clearcutting forests and stocking "game" animals. Finally, further funds are directed towards enforcing hunting regulations, providing hunter education courses, and building target shooting ranges.
Hunters Endanger Non-Hunters
Non-hunters are not safe walking in the woods during hunting season, have fewer chances to view wild animals, and are not given the same voice in determining how wildlife is treated. Although hunters make up less than 10% of the public, they are given an undue influence in determining wildlife and land "management" policies.
"For these reasons and others, The Fund for Animals opposes sport hunting and seeks a restructuring of state wildlife boards and commissions to ensure that all parties legitimately concerned about wildlife are proportionately represented."
Founded by Anthony Marr in 2009, this brand-new organization currently has a myspace page and a blog, but is already being promoted by other organizations that oppose hunting, who are posting Mr. Marr's 36-states-in-6-months Compassion for Animals Road Expedition #7 (CARE-7). "All groups and individuals opposed to hunting, trapping, and culling (including recreational hunting, trophy hunting, whaling, dolphin slaughter, seal massacre, wildlife population reductions, the illegal wildlife trade, the fur industry, etc.) can become part of this newly formed coalition, which has the capacity to significantly strengthen any local campaign by bringing the attention, people, resources, and pressure of our growing network of allies to bear on animal exploiters, torturers, and murderers. On December 9, 2009, with barely a week's notice and with little backing behind us, we made a sizeable impact at Shawnee Mission Park in Kansas City by means of the Funeral Motorcade for the Deer, which garnered coverage by at least 2 TV channels, 2 newspapers and 2 radio stations."
Founded in 1954, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) "seeks a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We are America's mainstream force against cruelty, exploitation and neglect, as well as the most trusted voice extolling the human-animal bond." The HSUS supports both local humane societies and a Human Wildlife Services program. Their campaigns target such activities as dogfighting and cockfighting, abusive puppy mills, factory farming, canned hunting, internet hunting, horse slaughter, dove shooting, pheasant stocking, bear trophy hunting, contest kills, poaching, fox pens, and the fur trade.
The Human Society's policy statement on wildlife and hunting makes it clear that "The HSUS actively seeks to eliminate the most inhumane and unfair sporthunting practices, such as the use of body-gripping traps, baiting, use of dogs, pigeon shoots, stocking of animals for shooting, and fee-hunting on enclosed properties. Unfortunately, the welfare of animals may, on occasion, necessitate the killing of wildlife. When such killing is permitted, it must be used as a last resort, be demonstrably necessary, and be conducted by responsible officials, and the methods utilized must result in an instantaneous and humane death. The legitimate needs of human subsistence may also sometimes necessitate the killing of wildlife. In such cases, killing should be accomplished in a humane and non-wasteful manner. Individuals of endangered or threatened species must be protected from subsistence hunting."
In 1983, veterinarian Elliot Katz began IDA -- initially called Californians for Responsible Research -- when he joined with others to take legal action against UC Berkeley for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Today, IDA campaigns against animal abuse in Korea, animals in entertainment, dissection, foie gras, fur, puppy mills, and vivisection, among other atrocities.
The IDA Wildlife Campaign includes literally dozens of anti-hunting campaigns, and IDA is a proponent of banning sport hunting, blood sports, trophy hunting, and aerial hunting. Their website includes non-lethal alternatives for coexisting with wildlife without conflict.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was started in 1969 in New Brunswick, Canada by a small group of people who wanted to stop the the commercial hunt for seal pups in Canada. IFAW now has offices worldwide dedicated to several animal protection campaigns: providing emergency relief during disasters, ending commercial whaling, stopping ivory poaching, fighting the illegal wildlife trade, ending the seal hunt, helping dogs and cats, supporting humane education, and banning hunting with hounds.
While IFAW's anti-hunting activities tend to be directed towards specific campaigns, such as ending trophy hunting of bears and banning canned hunting and captive breeding, they are generally against sport hunting, though there may be minor variations between international offices. The Animal Welfare Manifesto makes it clear that IFAW favors strong restrictions on trophy hunting and wildlife hunting as well as the banning of commercial whaling, elephant hunting, fox hunting with dogs, and seal hunting. In addition, James Isiche, the regional director of IFAW in East Africa, takes an anti-sport hunting stance. IFAW does, however, work with more "apolitical" groups as well as state and federal wildlife agencies from time to time, so IFAW may be a borderline case for inclusion in the anti-hunting category.
Founded in 1984 by Hollywood actor Chris DeRose, LCA began as an anti-vivisection organization using nonviolent strategies and "direct action." LCA has expanded its campaigns to include protests against factory farming, the fur trade, animal experimentation, and animals in entertainment. They also campaign against pet theft, puppy mills, and animal fighting and promote animal sanctuaries, humane education, and vegan activism. Along with Compassion Over Killing and several other organizations, they are a member of the Coalition to Abolish the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
LCA's statement of philosophy: "Last Chance for Animals (LCA) recognizes that animals have the ability to experience pain, and as such they deserve certain basic rights protecting them from pain caused by humans. LCA believes that non-human animals should not be subjected to suffering and exploitation by humans because alternatives exist for nearly every traditional 'usage' of animals. LCA opposes the use of animals for scientific curiosity, entertainment, clothing, and food. LCA recognizes the use of non-human animals in medical experimentation as both immoral and of questionable scientific validity due to the tremendous biological difference between species. LCA's work advocates conscious and informed lifestyle decisions, and the organization is committed to disseminating truthful information about societal animal abuse to improve the treatment of animals."
Although hunting is not one of LCA's campaign areas, "Yes LCA is against hunting . . . If you go to youtube our founder Chris DeRose recently did a video asking President Obama to demand an end to all Whaling"
Love Canada Geese is primarily a website by Choo and Earl Rosenbloom, but is included here as it is also a source of information on Canada geese and humane (cruelty-free and non-lethal) methods of geese population control. In addition, many articles on the site address problems with hunting and non-lethal alternatives to wildlife "management." According to Choo, "Love Canada Geese is definitely opposed to hunting of all animals" and "We need to get the message out there that hunting should be banned." The website also includes an article by Barry Kent MacCay that debunks several common Hunting Myths.
Northwest Animal Rights Network was founded in 1986 as a Seattle-based animal rights organization concerned with ending animal exploitation in the food, entertainment, experimentation, and fashion industries. NARN's campaigns include anti-cruelty litigation in Washington State, banning foie gras in Seattle, demonstrating against vivisection and animal experimentation, supporting activists in prison, and vegan outreach. NARN is also against factory farming, the fur trade, and the use of animals in entertainment such as circuses, rodeos, dog and horse racing.
While hunting is not one of NARN's main campaign issues, according to Peter Keller (a member of the Board of Directors), "we are indeed against hunting. We recently partnered with the Global Anti-Hunting Coalition in the stance against hunting, and co-ordinated an action with them in their tour across the US and had a successful protest action with them to start off this years' tour for them. In short, we oppose any violence taken against any animals, and hunting is an egregious form of it. We also work for the animals that are confined and tortured for the food, fashion, research, and entertainment industries, because we feel animals shouldn't be used for those purposes".
Founded in 1967, PAWS operates both an animal shelter and a wildlife rehabilitation center. Also known as People Helping Animals, PAWS devotes time to both companion animals and wildlife in its campaigns, and takes a very explicit anti-hunting stance. Their work is focused in Washington State, where they made a point of encouraging non-hunting citizens to participate in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 2008 wildlife management survey, since "92% of those surveyed held hunting licenses!"
PAWS operates a no-kill shelter, promotes spaying and neutering clinics, and led a campaign to ban the use of cruel traps on wildlife in 2000. PAWS began wildlife rehabilitation in 1981. "Our goal is to return the animals to the wild with the best possible chance of survival. We do not keep any wild animals permanently in captivity, for display or for educational purposes."
PAWS also educates adults and children on how to peacefully co-exist with wild animals, works to pass legislation to protect wild animals in Washington State, and provides practical humane solutions for solving conflicts with wildlife. Their vision is for "this world to be a place where all people recognize the intrinsic value of animal life, are mindful of the impact of their daily behaviors and choices on animals, and consistently demonstrate compassion and respect" and their core beliefs include "the recognition and respect of the intrinsic value of animal life," "the right of animals to be free from cruelty, neglect and abuse," and "the preservation of wild species and their habitats."
"Wild animals are best served by being allowed to live undisturbed in their natural environment. Wild animals should not be owned as household pets or property. Wild animals of any kind should not be used for commercial exploitation."
The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Australia was founded in Victoria in 1871. It joined with subsequently founded societies to become the Royal Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1923. Its mission is to prevent cruelty to animals, and its campaigns include promoting cage-free farming, improving the treatment of dairy cows, promoting spaying and neutering of companion animals, banning duck hunting, opposing the live export trade of animals, and encouraging humane methods of animal control, among many others.
Founded in 1824 as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, RSPCA was granted royal status by Queen Victoria in 1840. It was the first animal welfare charity to be founded anywhere in the world.Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
RSPCA has strong anti-hunting policies, and is particularly opposed to falconry, hunting of animals with dogs or other animals, shooting for "sport," the use of air weapons or bows, the pinioning of "game" birds, the killing of predatory animals, and the use of lead gun-shot. "The RSPCA is opposed, in principle, to the taking or killing of wild animals, or the infliction of any suffering upon them." This also includes policies against trapping (with the exception of humane live traps used for temporary relocation or rehabilitation purposes).
Originally founded as Animal Liberation Action in 1993, the name was changed to Vegan Outreach in 1995. Promoting a vegan lifestyle and against any killing of animals, Vegan Outreach emphasizes the importance of promoting a "cruelty-free" lifestyle rather than obsessively ensuring that not one iota of animal product is consumed. They are primarily a leafleting organization that publishes brochures such as this one to educate people about vegan options and the animal product "industry." While not specifically targeting hunting, Vegan Outreach believes in general that animals should not be viewed as "commodities" and is against the slaughter of animals.
Incorporated in 1997 in New Paltz, New York, Wildlife Watch seeks to protect wild animals through education, political awareness, and direct aid. Its mission is "to help connect People, the Environment, and Wildlife," and it offers non-harmful, non-lethal solutions to wildlife "conflicts." Wildlife Watch sponsors a hotline to put callers in contact with wildlife rehabilitators, and publishes a journal called Wildlife Watch Binocular. Articles promote empathy for other species and environmentalism.
Wildlife Watch generally supports vegetarian or low-meat lifestyles, collaborates with other anti-hunting organizations such as CASH to keep hunters off private property, and promotes awareness that government wildlife agencies only protect "game" during certain times of year, doing so primarily to increase their own income through the sale of hunting licenses.
Deer in the Headlights:
It is a sad forest that Ted Williams exalts in "Wanted: More Hunters" [Incite, March-April]. In it, hunters assume the role of wolves and cougars (incidentally, killed off by hunters), and deer are killed to rid the world of Lyme disease. Natural predators kill the weakest and sickest members of prey species; human hunters prefer the best-as trophies. By removing the least fit, natural predators improve gene pools. By killing the healthiest and strongest-and leaving the most diseased-hunters weaken the species' gene pool. Williams writes, "Less than 10 percent of the public are hunters." In truth, it is about 6 percent: a tiny special-interest group linked to the weapons industry that helps fund wildlife management. Killing has never been a good ethical answer. May I remind you: We are not gods.
Constance Young Wildlife Watch Inc. New Paltz, NY
Founded in 1981 through the merger of the World Federation for the Protection of Animals (WFPA), founded in 1953, and the International Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPA), founded in 1959, WSPA is an international organization with 12 offices worldwide. WSPA's campaigns include protecting bears from cruelty and captivity, opposing the dog meat trade, ending deforestation and "culling" of wildlife species, putting a stop to factory farming, educating people worldwide on the importance of animal welfare, disaster management, and ending activities such as bullfighting and the commercial whale hunt.
WSPA's beliefs and principles are as follows:
- Animals have biologically determined instincts, interests and natures, and can experience pain and suffering.
- Each individual animal has intrinsic value, and it is the responsibility of humans to ensure that their welfare is respected and protected.
- Animals should live their lives free from avoidable suffering at the hands of humans, rather than be used inhumanely as ‘raw materials’ for the benefit of mankind.
- The key difference between animal conservation and animal welfare is that conservation focuses on species, populations and habitats, whereas welfare focuses on the individual animal.
- The welfare of an animal can be described as good if the individual is fit, healthy and free from suffering.
- WSPA assesses the welfare of animals using the Five Freedoms (Farm Animal Welfare Council, 2003):
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst. 2. Freedom from discomfort. 3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease. 4. Freedom from fear and distress. 5. Freedom to express normal behaviour.
WSPA's policy on wild animals is clearly against hunting, and they advocate non-lethal methods of controlling "pest" or "invasive" species whenever possible.
Organizations Allied with Hunters
While some organizations in this group do support limitations and regulations on hunting, none of them want to restrict hunting to subsistence-only hunting (e.g., they may not oppose recreational or sport hunting), and many of them are allied with hunters.
Founded in 1978, AWA's mission is "the protection of Alaska's natural wildlife for its intrinsic value as well as for the benefit of present and future generations. The Alliance is your voice for promoting an ecosystem approach to wildlife management that represents the non-consumptive values of wildlife. AWA was founded by Alaskans and depends on the grassroots support and activism of its members."
Though they are against trophy and sport hunting, their board includes both hunters and non-hunters, and they do support local hunting. While they claim in their official policy statement that this is "subsistence" hunting, they are not using the true meaning of subsistence, which is "the minimum (as of food and shelter) necessary to support life" . AWA considers hunting done by local hunters for the purposes of obtaining meat as "subsistence" hunting, though many of these hunters do not require meat for survival. While they do claim that local "subsistence" hunting has a less harmful ecological impact than factory farming, claiming that their hunting policies are "ecologically sustainable" , they still support the notion that human beings need to kill other animals for sustenance, and are allied with rural hunters "as a means of providing greater opportunities for true subsistence hunters and as a means of preserving indigenous cultural practices."
Founded in 1875, American Forests is the oldest not-for-profit citizen's conservation organization in the United States. "American Forests believes that wildlife and fisheries are a critical component of healthy forest ecosystems. Hunting and fishing under proper regulation are valuable tools in the professional management of forest ecosystems. Recreation on our forests is an important and growing use of the resource on both public and private lands. Hunting and fishing under appropriate regulation are legitimate forms of forest recreation."
Founded in 1877, American Humane describes itself as an organization for protecting children and animals. Although American Humane has come out against "sport" hunting, their definition of recreational hunting as described explicitly in their Animal Protection Position Statement is limited to "canned" hunting, internet hunting, and trapping. Within this context, the stated primary goal of American Humane is to ensure that animals killed by hunters do not suffer unnecessarily, but they do support hunters.
From their position statement: "American Humane strongly opposes any animal hunt in which the target animal is confined or tame, in which the hunter fires on an animal with a remotely controlled weapon, or which uses animal traps that cause indiscriminate and unnecessary suffering. These practices involve no sport or skill, are denounced by true hunters and outdoorsmen, and result in painful deaths to thousands of unsuspecting animals, many of whom have been tamed and are unafraid of humans."
Animals are kept within a confined area, where hunters often pay to shoot them. In addition, animals used in canned hunts are often geographically displaced from their native habitats, which can lead to the introduction of new diseases. Finally, the animals are often more used to people, and relatively tame and unafraid.
American Humane comes out on the side of "true hunters," using the argument that "Most true hunters scorn canned animal shootings as unfair and unsporting."
Facilities for internet hunting allow users to shoot at animals from a remote location using a camera and a computer-controlled rifle.
Steel-jaw traps in particular cause pain and suffering as animals caught in them are generally not killed immediately. In addition they are indiscriminate as any animal (including humans and domestic pets) may be caught in them.
Founded in 1902 in Yellowstone National Park, they now represent fish and wildlife professionals in all U.S. states and territories as well as federal agencies. The Association professes the goal of "sound management and conservation" and works with hunters, providing resources for hunting and fishing as well as links to the National Shooting Sports Foundation on its website.
This document states that "The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recognizes and supports properly regulated and managed hunting, fishing and trapping as appropriate management techniques for fish and wildlife and their habitat, which, in turn, provides recreational opportunities for everyone to enjoy. The Association recognizes the role of hunting, fishing and trapping as important activities in the development of our conservation heritage and hunters and anglers as important leaders in the conservation movement. The Association supports ethical and safe hunting, fishing and trapping, which respects wildlife and their habitat as important components of our legacy as wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists."
BCA describes itself as "dedicated to protecting wildlife and wild places in Wyoming and surrounding states, particularly on public lands." Begun in 1988, their guiding principle is that "all species and ecosystems deserve protection." Their website makes little mention of hunting in one regard or another. However, the executive director, Erik Molvar, is himself a hunter, and provided the following information in an e-mail:
None of the Endangered Species in Wyoming are allowed to be hunted under state regulations, so the hunting of Endangered Species is a non-issue.
Biodiversity Conservation Alliance is not against hunting as a general rule, and I myself am a hunter. We often advocate on behalf of protecting lands important to hunters.
We do oppose some particularly objectionable practices, such as prairie dog shooting (which is not hunting due to the fact that it lacks a sporting element) and bear-baiting.
Founded in New Mexico by three former U.S. Forest Service employees, the Center's stance is that "the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants." The Center's six main programs address endangered species, global warming, global biodiversity, marine species and ocean habitats, public lands, and urban wildlands. The Center works alongside hunters in these efforts, cooperating with organizations such as The California Fish and Game Commission, "expanding the non-lead requirements to hunting of non-game mammals and birds and prohibiting the use of lead .22-caliber and smaller-rimfire cartridges for non-game hunting in the condor range".
The Center for Biological Diversity also supports the view that wildlife populations may potentially benefit from hunting. They believe that "public hunting has played a central role in the restoration and conservation of wildlife in North America for the past century" and that including hunting as part of wildlife management practices "will help foster long-term conservation".
Founded in 1938 as a waterfowl research facility in Manitoba, Delta Waterfowl is an explicitly pro-hunting organization, "the future of waterfowl and waterfowl hunting." Though primarily concerned with duck hunting, Delta Waterfowl also advocates using traps as a way of controlling duck predators. They have partnered with U.S. Bank, Geico, Go-Devil, Original Log Homes, Hunting Retriever Club, SportDog, Purina, Buck Knives, Cabela's, Federal Premium Ammunition, and shotgun manufacturers Stoeger, Mossberg, and Remington.
Founded in 1937 by a small group of waterfowl hunters, Ducks Unlimited was started with the goal of raising money in the United States for waterfowl conservation in Canada, as the Canadian prairie is the breeding ground for most North American waterfowl. Today 90 percent of Ducks Unlimited members are hunters. Their website provides extensive resources for duck hunters, ranging from dog training to shooting and the use of decoys. Ducks Unlimited claims that hunters contribute more to conservation efforts than the general public.
The Ducks Unlimited hunting position statement states that "Ducks Unlimited, Inc. supports the sustainable use and harvest of renewable resources based on sound science. We support waterfowl hunting, when conducted in an ethical and sustainable manner, as a legitimate and acceptable use of a renewable resource."
"Ducks Unlimited, Inc. does not direct its resources toward the influence of firearm or hunting legislation unless the legislation is clearly and directly related to waterfowl habitat conservation".
Founded in 1922 by a group of anglers, this organization was named after the 17th century author of The Compleat Angler. The League has over 260 chapters of grassroots volunteers who address issues such as restoring wildlife habitats, decreasing pollution, improving water quality, and educating "outdoor recreationists" on conservation ethics. "Protecting recreational shooting and hunting opportunities has long been part of the League’s mission," and they have partnerships with the shooting sports industry and government agencies in addition to operating over 100 shooting ranges throughout the country.
"The Izaak Walton League of America believes hunting should be considered a valuable management tool where it is compatible with other resource uses and purposes"
The National Association of Audubon Societies was incorporated in New York state in 1905. According to their website, "Audubon's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity." Many hunters are members of NAS, and Ted Williams, a proponent of deer hunting and spokesman for hunters, is a regular contributor to Audubon Magazine .
"The National Audubon Society has never been opposed to the hunting of game species if that hunting is done ethically and in accordance with laws and regulations designed to prevent depletion of the wildlife resource. We have made this clear repeatedly in official statements of policy, and it remains Audubon policy. Audubon will advocate restrictions on hunting, including the complete closure of a hunting season, whenever we are convinced that the welfare of the species involved requires it. However, we insist on sound scientific information before deciding these issues." 
One of the National Wild Turkey Federation's primary goals after "the conservation of the wild turkey" is "the preservation of our hunting heritage." Established in 1973, NWTF also works to get women, children, and the disabled more involved in hunting. "The NWTF has led the charge in promoting youth hunting opportunities and has teamed up with the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and the National Shooting Sports Foundation to remove youth hunting barriers across the nation." They claim that hunters pay for wildlife conservation, and that conservation depends on getting more people involved in hunting.
In 1936, Ding Darling, illustrator of the first Federal Duck Stamp to be purchased by waterfowl hunters, convinced President Franklin Roosevelt to invite over 2,000 hunters, anglers, and conservationists across the country to a conference in Washington, DC. Originally named the General Wildlife Federation, NWF "was formed with the idea of uniting sportsmen and all outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts behind the common goal of conservation." According to NWF, "American wildlife conservation is grounded in the belief that wildlife belongs to the people, a concept commonly known as the Public Trust Doctrine or the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation."
NWF not only works with hunters, but actively promotes hunting as part of our "heritage," provides information on where to hunt, and views hunting as a "tradition" to be preserved and passed on to future generations.
According to their website, "The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.
To achieve this mission, we advocate for the Refuge System with national and local decision-makers; educate and mobilize communities across the country in partnership with our nearly 190 refuge "Friends" affiliate organizations; and engage diverse partners to conserve critical wildlife habitat in refuge landscapes."
NWRA is very much pro-hunting, supporting the sale of the "Duck Stamp" as a federal waterfowl-hunting license with proceeds going towards the purchase or lease of additional wetlands and grasslands refuge habitat. NWRA permits sport hunting in most of its refuges, with seasonal limitations, regulations on hunting ranges and bag limits, types of weapons and ammunition used, and so forth; for instance, at the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge in Nebraska, only non-toxic shot may be used, and the use of dogs for hunting coyotes is not permitted. Otherwise hunting regulations are determined by the state .
In 1995, NWRA initiated a national coalition of 22 "wildlife, sporting, conservation, and scientific organizations." This Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) is primarily intended to raise money for the National Wildlife Refuge System. "Representing over 15 million Americans who enjoy refuges for wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, recreational pursuits and conservation, we remain dedicated to working together to ensure that Congress provides the Refuge System with adequate funding for the responsible management, operations and maintenance of the world’s largest network of wildlife conservation lands for the benefit of the fish and wildlife it sustains and for future generations of Americans." Signed on February 3, 2010, many of the coalition members present themselves as environmental organizations but seem to support recreational hunting . The organizations also each provide their individual rationales for joining CARE.
The members of CARE are:
- American Birding Association
- American Fisheries Society
- American Sportfishing Association
- Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
- Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
- Defenders of Wildlife
- Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
- Izaak Walton League of America
- Marine Conservation Biology Institute
- National Audubon Society
- National Rifle Association of America
- National Wildlife Federation
- National Wildlife Refuge Association
- Safari Club International
- The Corps Network
- The Nature Conservancy
- The Wilderness Society
- The Wildlife Society
- Trout Unlimited
- U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance
- Wildlife Forever
- Wildlife Management Institute
Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy's stated aim is "to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive." The Nature Conservancy works in all 50 states and in more than 30 countries, addressing threats to conservation such as climate change. Hunting and fishing are permitted on several Nature Conservancy owned preserves, and "The Conservancy has worked with hunting and fishing organizations on projects large and small." The Nature Conservancy also supports wildlife "management" projects to eliminate "invasive species," claiming that relocation and sterilization are ineffective.
In 1984, four hunters from Troy, Montana founded RMEF "to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat." Today they have over 550 chapters, and count Federal Cartridge, Hunter's Specialities, North American Hunter, Remington, Sportsman's Warehouse, and other similar corporations among their official sponsors.
Founded in 1892, Sierra Club's mission statement is "To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives." Sierra Club frequently partners with hunters on various projects, and a Sierra Club leader was elected as Vice President of the League of Kentucky Sportsmen.
Sierra Club actively seeks out partnerships with hunters and anglers, and promotes the use of "ecofriendly" ammunition. The Sierra Sportsmen Network has its own page on the Sierra Club website, and promotes introducing children to hunting as well. Sierra Club's policy on sport hunting and fishing is that "Wildlife and native plant management should emphasize maintenance and restoration of healthy, viable native plant and animal populations, their habitats, and ecological processes. Acceptable management approaches include both regulated periodic hunting and fishing when based on sufficient scientifically valid biological data and when consistent with all other management purposes and when necessary total protection of particular species or populations. Because national parks are set aside for the preservation of natural landscapes and wildlife, the Sierra Club is opposed to sport hunting in national parks."
The Sierra Club has a strong policy opposing trapping: "The Sierra Club considers body-gripping, restraining and killing traps and snares to be ecologically indiscriminate and unnecessarily inhumane and therefore opposes their use. The Sierra Club promotes and supports humane, practical and effective methods of mitigating human-wildlife conflicts and actively discourages the use of inhumane and indiscriminate methods."
Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Idaho, WWP works to improve public lands management in eight western states, focusing in particular on the negative impact of livestock grazing. "WWP's scope of influence assures the agility and readiness necessary to promote recreational, hunting, fishing, wildlife, watershed, and water quality values across the west." While WWP advocates for protection from hunting for endangered species and several predators, in general they are "not opposed to hunting of game species", and part of their advocacy platform to protect wolves from hunting rests on the argument that more wolves will not significantly diminish the availability of "game" animals such as ungulates for hunting.
Founded in 1989 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, WildEarth Guardians began as Forest Guardians, merging with a large carnivore protection non-profit in 2008 to become WildEarth Guardians. Their programs focus on wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, climate and energy. WildEarth Guardians has many programs dedicated to preventing hunting of specific species -- particularly carnivores such as mountain lions, bears, coyotes, and wolves -- and wants to abolish federal wildlife killing, particularly aerial gunning practices. They also monitor state wildlife management to ensure that endangered species receive the protection they are entitled to by law.
However, WildEarth Guardians do not oppose sport hunting in general, and have worked with hunters on various projects, such as providing training courses to hunters to educate them on how to avoid over-hunting. According to Membership Communications Director Lori Colt, "Our organization is not anti-hunting, as we have done pro-active cougar hunter training in Colorado and New Mexico to save female cougars from being over-hunted. We do not have a policy with respect to hunting, although we are working to ban trapping in New Mexico."
Founded in 1935, The Wilderness Society's goal is "to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places." They claim to use science as the foundation for all the work they do on issues such as wilderness, global warming, energy, roadless forests, and stewardship. The Wilderness Society portrays hunting in a positive light, stating that "Many hunters and anglers prize wilderness for its hunting and fishing opportunities, and for the ability to hunt without having game harassed or habitat degraded by motorized vehicles."
One of The Wilderness Society's most recent campaigns, to "protect" the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in South Dakota, will permit hunting: “Protecting Buffalo Gap National Grassland will establish a lasting legacy for future generations of South Dakotans and all Americans,” said Bart Koehler Senior Wilderness Campaigns Director at The Wilderness Society. “Local compatriots have come together to build a bedrock grassroots approach to protect this treasured area so that grazing, hunting and other activities can continue.” In addition, the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2010 is adding 20,000 acres to wilderness: "Wilderness protection is reserved for federal lands that rank high in scenery, biological diversity and recreational opportunities. Once added to the National Wilderness Preservation System, the areas are protected in perpetuity from logging, mining and road building but remain open to traditional recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding on existing trails and roads."
Started in 1987, Wildlife Forever has funded over 600 projects in the U.S. and Canada, "through private special interest conservation groups, state game and fish departments and federal agencies. Wildlife Forever projects target research, management, land acquisition, and educational purposes. Special emphasis is placed upon grassroots programs." Wildlife Forever acquires land for "public recreation," including hunting, constructs and places bird and waterfowl nesting structures, and does GPS "research" on wildlife, as well as supporting fish hatcheries and controlled burning of forests. Their mission is "to conserve America's wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife."
Wildlife Forever takes a strong stance on the prevention and eradication of "invasive species", partnering with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, several state's Departments of Natural Resources, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Sportsman's Club of Lake Vermillion, and the North American Fishing Club to address the issue. According to their website, "Whether you simply like to watch wildlife or you like to hunt and fish, your favorite outdoor past-time is being threatened. Invasive species are destroying the habitat and food sources of America's fish and wildlife."
"Founded in 1911, WMI is a private, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization, dedicated to the conservation, enhancement and professional management of North America's wildlife and other natural resources." WMI was established by sportsmen wanting to conserve wildlife populations in their natural habitats. "WMI works mostly on request with federal and provincial agencies, Congress, college and university researchers and educators, other private conservation organizations, and professional associations. It advises, testifies and, in a variety of other ways, provides educational services on timely wildlife-related issues." "WMI supports the wise use of wildlife, including regulated recreational hunting of designated populations. WMI endorses the proposition of game management, the concept of biological diversity and principles of ecology."
One major component of WMI is the Hunting Heritage Action Plan, which espouses the belief that "A critical link exists between hunting and wildlife conservation." They claim that a decline in the sale of hunting licenses is putting funding for conservation initiatives at risk, and that "hunting recreation" provides "billions of dollars in economic activity," additionally expressing concern that a decline in hunting may result in a loss of "important parts of the American fabric of life and rural culture." Numerous state wildlife departments and similar organizations have joined Hunting Heritage Action Plan in order to gain support for hunting.
In 1936, the Society of Wildlife Specialists was formed at the First North American Wildlife Conference in Washington, D.C. The following year, its name was changed to The Wildlife Society. The Society publishes scientific journals, technical reviews, position statements, and books. The Society monitors legislation affecting wildlife and natural resources but is primarily a professional scientific and educational organization. Despite their self-identification as a "science-based" organization, TWS receives much of its funding from pro-hunting organizations and their affiliates, such as the donation of Wyoming Commissioner Hunting License that was auctioned off at a fundraiser for $7,750.
Among its position statements, TWS advocates for "the replacement of lead-based ammunition and fishing tackle with nontoxic products, while recognizing that complete replacement may not be possible in specific circumstances." TWS also accepts "the use of wildlife resources for food, clothing, shelter, hunting, fishing, trapping, viewing, recreation, and as an indicator of environmental quality," adding that "Certain activities, such as hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife feeding, wildlife viewing, and other appreciative or recreational uses of wildlife, can have both positive and negative effects on natural resources."
TWS subscribes to The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which maintains that wildlife are Public Trust resources, eliminates markets for "game," allocates wildlife by law, states that wildlife should only be killed for a "legitimate" purpose, that wildlife are an "international resource," that science is the proper tool for discharge of wildlife policy, and that hunting should be "democratic." TWS is against baiting, canned hunting, hunting of endangered species, and favors regulations on uses of poisons and traps, but they fully support sport hunting, use of lethal methods to eradicate "invasive species," the fur trade, and a view of wildlife as "resources" for human use.
"Today hunting has many social values, including recreation, subsistence, heritage, utilization of the harvestable surplus to benefit people, and control of overabundant wildlife populations. Sociologists have documented that hunting provides deep, central life meanings for many participants and their families and, in many cases, core identities to social, conservation, and cultural groups throughout the world. Among themes that have been identified are a historical connection to a time they value, an honest relationship with nature, and pursuit of the ideal of self-reliance. Further, hunting often elicits a deep passion among participants that transcends gender, race, and socioeconomic class. Additionally, outdoor pursuits such as hunting help teach valuable lessons in ethics and responsibility and help participants develop a conservation and land ethic."
Founded in 1961, WWF has grown to become one of the largest "conservation" organizations in the world. Its mission statement is "to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth and the health of ecological systems by
* protecting natural areas and wild populations of plants and animals, including endangered species; * promoting sustainable approaches to the use of renewable natural resources; and * promoting more efficient use of resources and energy and the maximum reduction of pollution.
We are committed to reversing the degradation of our planet's natural environment and to building a future in which human needs are met in harmony with nature. We recognize the critical relevance of human numbers, poverty and consumption patterns to meeting these goals."
WWF is a major fund-raising organization working in over 100 countries worldwide, and as such is also strongly invested in a global economy. Their document on "Raising Revenues for Protected Areas" makes it clear that revenues generated by hunting (whether from recreational fees, taxes on hunting equipment, hunting licenses, or donations from hunters) are an important source of funding for "conservation" projects. Even for endangered species such as whales, they do not promote a ban on hunting but rather more "regulations," which are usually determined by agencies that also promote a global economy and tend to support hunters. Finally, WWF has worked directly with hunters on "wildlife management" strategies throughout the world, such as developing strategies along with hunters for "increasing prey populations" on hunting estates.
Organizations Adopting an "Apolitical" Stance
Either on their websites or when contacted directly and asked for their views on hunting, organizations in this group outright decline to publicly state their views on hunting, or advocate only partial regulation of certain types or targets of hunting, but do not publicly endorse hunting or form alliances with hunters either.
Founded in 1934, the Animal Defense League is a no-kill animal shelter in San Antonio, Texas. According to Beth Johnson, "We are an apolitical group concerning sport hunting and focus our attention on the stray dog and cat population in San Antonio."
AWI was founded in 1951 with the stated purpose of "alleviating suffering inflicted on animals by humans." Their aim is to decrease cruelty and increase compassion towards animals on farms, in laboratories, and in the wild.
According to AWI president Cathy Liss, "Our focus has been on those practices which cause extreme suffering-for example, we have fought against penning of foxes and coyotes (and I'm pleased to report success in prohibiting this brutal practice in Florida) and against the use of the barbaric steel jaw leghold trap. That said, we have not taken a position against killing if it is done painlessly and does not deplete populations or species. We do advocate strongly for non-lethal, humane means of managing wildlife conflicts, and we have a grant program to support research into development and expansion of such techniques. We were one of the first organizations to support use of immunocontraception of wildlife."
Founded in 1947 as Defenders of Furbearers, Defenders of Wildlife made a mission of protecting coyotes and other wildlife from lethal poisoning and steel-jawed leghold traps. Their focus is presently on the prohibition of aerial gunning of wolves, though they also address issues such as habitat conservation, global warming, international conservation, conservation science and economics, biodiversity, and legal efforts to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitats.
"Defenders of Wildlife is neither an anti-hunting nor a pro-hunting organization, but most of its 430,000 members are non-hunters and their concern is with the restoration and protection of all species of wildlife and their habitats."
"It has opposed hunting of some species and proposed reductions in bag limits to leave more prey for the wild predators . . . Its 'bottom line' goal is sustained populations of all native wildlife species for the enjoyment of all and for their intrinsic value."
Generally speaking, Defenders of Wildlife opposes any changes in regulations that allow for the hunting of protected or endangered species, that permit any type of traps or poisoning, that involve aerial gunning, or that increase bag limits or the length of hunting seasons. However, they do not advocate doing away with sport hunting altogether, and support subsistence hunting. The recent signing of the CARE document by Defenders president Rodger Schlickeisen indicates that Defenders may be moving towards a more permissive stance on hunting.
Founded in 1982, Earth Island Institute was started by David Brower, who was previously an executive director of the Sierra Club. It was original conceived of as an organization that would lend support to fledgling environmental projects by helping to get grants and funding for small organizations. Over 100 projects have been supported by Earth Island Institute in the past 25 years, with some going on to become independent organizations, such as the Rainforest Action Network.
The Earth Island Institute project directory includes anti-hunting groups like Big Wildlife as well as many other animal and environmental organizations (such as the International Marine Mammal Project, the John Muir Project, and The Red Panda Network). However, according to one of the Executive Directors, John A. Knox, "Earth Island does not have a policy regarding hunting. That's a very broad topic, and if we did have a policy it would most likely concern a specific human and animal circumstance"
NRDC was founded in 1970 as an organization of law students and attorneys interested in environmental protection law. Their mission statement describes their purpose as "to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends." According to Derek Samson at NRDC Membership, "NRDC has no official policy regarding outdoor activities such as hunting, trapping, and fishing, except for specific wildlands or habitat campaigns where harm to the environment is posed by the activity."
According to Trish Swain at TrailSafe, an organization that aims to do away with wildlife trapping, "The trapping issue is all we can handle. We have no official stance on hunting".
Founded in 1987, the primary goal of UAN is to help animals in crisis and to strengthen human-animal bonds through a variety of programs. They are involved with humane education, disaster relief, preventing animal cruelty, and providing grants to pet owners whose pets are in life-threatening situations. Primarily working with domestic animals, UAN does not have an official stance on hunting.
According to Director of Programs Karen Brown,
"UAN does not have any programs that are specifically targeted at hunting, and it is not one of the issues that the organization deals with on a routine basis. While hunting issues arise only on a rare basis among our campaigns agenda and program services, when they do arise, we take a compassionate approach and consistently support anti-animal cruelty measures, especially those that prevent particularly inhumane and senseless practices. For example, UAN recently opposed the expansion of bear hunting in California because the proposal would have allowed an unlimited number of bears to be killed, permitted electronic technologies that make it easy to locate and kill bears at point-blank range, and expanded the hunting range and the hound training season, all without demonstrating any need for the change.
Although UAN has consistently lent support or opposition to favor the "animals' side" in several legislative or regulatory situations, it's not accurate to say that UAN is an anti-hunting organization, since the issue is not something for which UAN frequently takes action, claims any special expertise or takes a leadership role. Therefore, it may not be appropriate to include UAN on a list of anti-hunting organizations since it could imply that UAN will be able to answer questions about hunting issues or provide expertise that we do not have."