Sunday, May 29, 2011

ALDF Lawsuit against Woodland Park Zoo dismissed

By Michael Simeona Editor

A lawsuit filed against the Woodland Park Zoo and city of Seattle for the treatment of elephants was dismissed by King County Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey on Friday.

Activists from the Animal Legal Defense Fund argued that the city of Seattle was acting illegally in providing support for the Woodland Park Zoo because of its treatment of elephants.

Judge Heavey dismissed the suit because the group had no standing to sue the city, and there was nothing illegal about the city's funding of the zoo.

"We are very pleased with the ruling," said Zoo President and CEO Dr. Deborah Jensen. "This was an attempt to get a court to decide issues of elephant care and medicine that have been appropriately delegated to experts - at our zoo and at other zoos around the country." Full story at link

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WUNDERLICH: Congress pushes for probe of HSUS

Follow the Spay and Neuter HSUS Campaign on the SAOVA website. View the joint Congressional letter to IRS and find contact information for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in order to send your own request that IRS speed up the HSUS investigation.

Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2011 7:00 am Argus-Press

WUNDERLICH: Congress pushes for probe of HSUS Glen Wunderlich The Argus-Press 4 comments

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) – a national, tax-exempt organization not affiliated with local animal shelters and the most powerful anti-hunting group in the nation – has drawn fire from a group of lawmakers who question its status as a qualified 501 (c)(3) organization.

HSUS supported a ballot initiative in Missouri (Proposition B) by pouring in some $1.85 million (plus another $300,000 in non-cash contributions) into its Missouri front group’s bank account.

The measure passed by a slim three-point margin and sets regulations for the state’s dog breedersm including how many dogs are allowed per facility. At the root of the issue is whether the HSUS attempted to influence legislation as a “substantial part” of its activities.

In a letter to Inspector General Eric Thorson in Washington, D.C., six members of Congress from Missouri and Alaska — Don Young (R-Alaska), Vicky Hartzer (R-Missouri), Blaine Luetkemeyer

(R-Missouri), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Missouri), Sam Graves (R-Missouri), and Billy Long (R-Missouri) — have requested a federal investigation into the level of funding and participation of HSUS in Missouri’s affairs.

The letter follows previous letters to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner that have resulted in no remedial action.

The members of Congress state the case this way, “We believe that HSUS’s own public documents show beyond question that lobbying is a ‘substantial part’ of its activities, and feel that IRS’s failure to act is attributable to the politically-sensitive nature of HSUS’s activities.”

“We certainly understand that 501 (c)(3) organizations are allowed to participate in lobbying activities. However, lobbying not only is a substantial part of HSUS’s overall activities; it often appears to be the only reason for HSUS’s existence.”

By its own admission, HSUS spends more than twice as much on “Advocacy and public policy” than any other category of expenses. The Proposition B ballot initiative was heavily financed by HSUS. Campaign disclosure forms show that HSUS donated more than $2.1 million of the $4.8 million raised by proponents of the measure.

The lawmakers also cite other efforts in numerous examples of HSUS to influence legislation by having its employees urging the public to contact members of legislative bodies for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation.

As part of the investigation, the legislators are requesting the IRS to apply what it calls the “Substantial Part Test” to determine whether an organization has run afoul of conditions of its tax-exempt status.

According to, the test is conducted as follows: “Whether an organization’s attempts to influence legislation, i.e., lobbying, constitutes a substantial part of its overall activities is determined on the basis of all the pertinent facts and circumstances in each case. The IRS considers a variety of factors, including the time devoted (by both compensated and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted by the organization to the activity, when determining whether the lobbying activity is substantial.”

“No group should be allowed to maintain tax-exempt status solely due to its political leanings or power. If HSUS is not complying with the law, it should be investigated and disciplined just like any other organization, as taxpayers would be effectively subsidizing a political organization.”


EDITOR’S NOTE: Glen Wunderlich is an outdoors writer for The Argus-Press. He can be reached by sending email to

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wolves Off U.S. Endangered Species List, Lawsuit Seeks Reinstatement

WASHINGTON, DC, May 5, 2011 (ENS) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today issued a final rule to remove protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies under the Endangered Species Act. The rule is identical to the 2009 delisting rule that was struck down by a federal court in August 2010.

Effective immediately, the rule will return management authority over wolves to the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Utah, while retaining federal control in Wyoming until an adequate state management plan is developed.

The rule is required by a rider added to the continuing budget resolution passed by Congress last month that funds the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year.

The rider was attached to the federal budget bill by Senator Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, and Representative Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican, and marked the first time an animal or plant has been removed from the endangered species list by Congress.

That rider was challenged in court today by the Center for Biological Diversity. The nonprofit group filed a challenge in federal court in Missoula, Montana, arguing that a congressional rider requiring removal of Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains is unlawful because it violates the separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution.

"The wolf rider is a clear example of overreaching by Congress that resulted in the wrongful removal of protections for wolves," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The rider is not only a disaster for wolves but for any endangered species that a politician doesn't like. Congress has set a terrible precedent that we hope to overturn."

The group's case is based on Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the principle of "separation of powers." This principle dictates that the judicial power of the United States lies in the federal courts and not in Congress.

In this case, the Center argues, "Congress violated the principle by inserting itself into an ongoing legal case brought by conservation groups over the fate of wolves in the northern Rockies."

Rodger Schlickeisen, president of the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, said, "While today's announcement comes as no surprise, the action taken by Congress and the Obama administration last month to strip federal protections for wolves was unwarranted and extremely disappointing. It has undermined our nation's commitment to good stewardship and sets a terrible precedent for side-stepping America's bedrock environmental laws whenever it's politically convenient to do so.

"However, wolves can still have a bright future in the Northern Rockies if states manage them responsibly as they have promised in the past. The elected leaders of Montana and Idaho, in particular, continue to assert that their states know best how to manage wildlife. Now is their chance to prove it." Full story at link

Related Articles:

U.S. Department of Interior Begins Delisting of Gray Wolves in Eight States
Washington, DC --( On the heels of legislation passed last month with the support of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) as part of the FY 2011 budget agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced this week that it is lifting Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for 5,500 grey wolves in eight states in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes and has published a proposed rule to remove gray wolves from ESA designation in the Western Great Lakes.

Groups sue to regain wolf protection
Three environmental groups joined to file a lawsuit Thursday to return federal protection to gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, arguing that politicians are deciding the fate of an endangered species.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Maine lawmakers nix ban on bear trapping, dog use

GLENN ADAMS, Associated Press
Updated 02:40 p.m., Monday, May 2, 2011

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers voted Monday to continue allowing bear hunters in the state to use traps and dogs, maintaining the status of the law since voters made the same decision seven years ago.

While voting 11-0 to kill a bill that would have outlawed the use of traps and dogs, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee kept alive other bear hunting proposals for further consideration. Two members were absent from Monday's vote on the trapping and dog bill.

Similar proposals have come up and been rejected since 2004, when Maine voters defeated a referendum proposal to outlaw bear trapping and hunting bear with bait or dogs. Supporters of the proposed ban had portrayed baiting, trapping and use of dogs as unsportsmanlike and unnecessary.

No one spoke in favor of the latest bill Monday before the committee rejected it. But other bear hunting bills are still pending in committee following hearings.

A bill seeking to establish a spring bear hunting season, from the third Monday in May to the fourth Saturday in June, drew mixed reactions.

Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade, said he was motivated to sponsor the bill by a constituent who said the spring hunt would help Maine sporting camps.
Full story