HSUS, The Fund for Animals join forces

Associate Editor

Washington Two animal rights organizations recently announced
their merger, creating a “huge threat to sportsmen,” according to
Beth Ruth, associate director of communications for the U.S.
Sportsmen’s Alliance.

The Humane Society of the United States announced on Monday,
Nov. 22 it would join forces with The Fund for Animals, “the first
time in the history of the animal protection movement that two
national, high-profile organizations have united in order to
advance their common mission,” a HSUS press release states. The
announcement comes exactly 50 years after the formation of the HSUS
in 1954. The group says the merger will formally occur Jan. 1,
2005.

“Our groups have decided to join forces not out of necessity,
but because we believe we can do more to help animals together than
we can do operating separately,” said David O. Wiebers, M.D., chair
of the HSUS’ board of directors.

The press release says the groups “plan to operate their
advocacy programs under the banner of the HSUS, building a new
external affairs department to focus on major issues such as fur,
sport hunting, factory farming, and malicious animal cruelty,
including animal fighting.”

Adds Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS: “With our new
campaigns, we will create meaningful social change for animals. Our
goal is nothing short of a kinder society, where compassionate
individuals join with us to ensure that animals are not abused

Ruth, of the USSA, said the merger had been rumored for several
months.

She said indications are the HSUS/Fund for Animals will target
bowhunting, and its elimination. She said the topic came up in
conversation between Rob Sexton, USSA vice president of
governmental affairs, and a Scripps Howard News Service reporter
who also interviewed HSUS members.

According to that story, Pacelle said the organization “does not
support a blanket ban on hunting, but is opposed to using bows and
arrows, which are inaccurate and can wound animals.”

And the HSUS web site refers to archery gear as “brutally
inhumane.”

Further, according to the web site’s “hunting” link, ” hunting
today is a recreational pastime, and worse, waterfowl, pheasant,
and dove hunting are no more than shooting at living targets.”

The HSUS long has campaigned against “canned hunts,” as well,
and opposes wolf delisting.

The Fund for Animals is “the most vociferous anti-hunting
organization ” according to the USSA. In a pamphlet published by
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, in which groups’ positions
on hunting are documented, The Fund for Animals states it is
“unalterably opposed to the recreational killing of wildlife.
Besides being a piteously unfair and cruel slaughter of innocent
animals, sport hunting is also ecologically destructive.”

Ruth said the USSA has already responded to what is perceived as
a now even greater threat to bowhunting by calling together
bowhunting groups in the U.S.

“We’re in the process of rounding up the troops; we’ve sent a
memo to all bowhunting groups,” she said.

Ruth said both groups were in good financial shape prior to the
merger.

Together, she said they combined assets of nearly $100
million.

According to the HSUS press release, the group has about 8
million members and constituents, a 2004 budget of $82 million, and
more than $100 million in assets. The Fund for Animals has about
200,000 members and constituents, a 2004 budget of about $7
million, and $20 million in assets. The combined budget in 2005 for
the two groups is estimated at over $95 million.

Ruth said the two groups spent an unprecedented $600,000 in an
anti-bear hunting campaign in Maine. There, voters by a 54- to
46-percent margin, defeated a referendum that would have banned the
use of bait, traps, or dogs to hunt bears.

“When you put two groups together that are as well-financed and
as well-organized as these, you have a huge threat to sportsmen,”
Ruth said.

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