Friday, February 26, 2016

U.S. House Gives Stocking Full of Gifts to Most Extreme Factions of the Hunting Lobby

February 26, 2016
By Wayne Pacelle

The U.S. House said one thing today and did another. Lawmakers in support of H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, talked about helping sportsmen and the tradition of hunting and conservation. But in the legislation they passed today, they have done almost nothing for rank-and-file hunters and have instead offered a stocking stuffed full of special offerings for trophy hunters, ivory carvers, commercial trappers, ammunition manufacturers, and other special interests.

Among other harmful provisions, the SHARE Act now strips wolves of their federal protections in four states under the Endangered Species Act, subverting the judicial process and subjecting hundreds of wolves to hostile state practices such as baiting, hound hunting, and painful steel-jawed leghold traps. It also includes language to block federal wildlife officials from stopping aerial gunning and baiting of grizzly bears and denning of wolves on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. It prevents the federal government from stopping deer hunting with packs of dogs in the Mark Twain National Forest – an activity banned in the vast majority of states. And it blocks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from finalizing and enacting its proposed rule to curb the trade in ivory in the United States, which would help combat the current elephant poaching crisis.

The people who benefit from the provisions of this are America’s most extreme and ruthless hunters. They are to hunting what Cliven and Ammon Bundy are to ranching – zealots who want to operate with no rules and who act as if they, not the American taxpayers, own our public lands.

The bill contains troubling provisions that relate to the use of toxic lead ammunition, at a time when non-toxic ammunition is available to all hunters, and is less harmful to wild animals, land, and human health. A provision of the bill would roll back the Marine Mammal Protection Act and provide a sweetheart deal to help 41 wealthy polar bear trophy hunters import the heads of rare polar bears they shot in Canada. The animals were not shot for their meat, but just for trophies and bragging rights.

It’s the latest in a series of these import allowances for polar bear hunters, and it encourages trophy hunters to kill rare species around the world and then wait for a congressional waiver to bring back their trophies.

The only good news is that the SHARE Act is so chock-full of insanely far-reaching provisions that it almost certainly cannot pass the Senate or win a signature from the President in this current form. Given that at least two of his priority rulemaking actions would be negated by this legislation, I cannot imagine that President Obama would sign it.

The fact is, the hunting lobby already has access to federal lands and they pretty much get their way in terms of policy making. In this case, their greed and mania for killing took over, and Republican lawmakers were all too quick to embrace their demands and try to package it falsely as a mainstream bill. An honest reading of the bill tells us something very different.

*P.S.—See how your own Representative voted on this terrible bill, which passed the House by a vote of 242-161. And see where they stood on the key amendments to make the bill worse: delisting wolves, which passed by a vote of 232-171; blocking predator control rules on Alaska refuges, which passed by a vote of 236-169; and allowing hound hunting of deer, which passed 232-173. One pro-animal amendment, which failed by a vote of 159-242, would have struck the polar bear trophy hunting import language.