The news for bears and wolves, I’m afraid to report, isn’t good — in fact, it’s damn distressing. The Obama Administration has endorsed a perfectly miserable federal bill, S. 3525, that is a grab-bag for the hunting lobby, and Congress seems hell-bent on passing the so-called “Sportsmen’s Act of 2012.” The bill before the U.S. Senate has a provision that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from restricting the use of toxic lead shot ammunition, and one other that would allow American hunters to import the heads and hides of polar bears they shot in Canada, even though the species is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The New York Times panned this atrocious bill in an editorial, in an attempt to shame the many Democrats and Republicans who seem intent on supporting this political sop to the hunting lobby.
Meanwhile, the hunting fraternity’s assault on predators and rare species occurs on other fronts, too. It was reported this week that hunters in Idaho and Montana have shot and killed at least seven radio-collared wolves from Yellowstone National Park (they were being monitored by wildlife scientists in a study of the predators). The wolves are among more than 500 shot and trapped this fall in the Northern Rockies and the Upper Great Lakes in the greatest assault on the species in the lower 48 states in more than 75 years. The HSUS is battling to prevent a wolf hunting season in Michigan, while some lawmakers there strain to pass a bill in the final weeks of the year. “It has taken nearly 40 years to restore the state’s gray wolf population to an estimated 700 animals,” wrote the Lansing State Journal in an editorial this week opposing the season. “Initiating a hunting season so quickly, when there are other measures that can be taken, would be overreacting.” In fact, according to Jill Fritz, HSUS state director for Michigan, on Nov. 27, citizens will gather at the state capitol to tell lawmakers Michiganders oppose a wolf hunt in their state.
That sentiment is equally true for the hapless wolf victims in Minnesota and Wisconsin and in the Northern Rockies. But pandering politicians in the administration, Congress, and a handful of state legislatures don’t seem to care about wolves. They somehow think the American public sides with the hunting lobby on this issue. You don’t seem to agree, and have had a lot to say about our past and announced efforts to stay the hunts: