December 29, 2011
2011: A Winning Year for Wildlife
From the oceans to the prairies, we're celebrating 2011 as a year of victories for wild creatures the world over.
2011 was the most successful year yet for our work to end shark finning—the cruel practice of cutting the fins off a shark and tossing the mutilated animal back into the ocean to die. Many fisheries target sharks' fins for use in shark fin soup.
The U.S. Congress passed the Shark Conservation Act, which requires that sharks be landed with their fins still naturally attached. We also worked in the European Union, Chile, Central America, and Taiwan advancing regulations to ban shark finning. We helped pass bans on shark fin sales in Guam, Washington, Oregon, California, and Toronto, and held education events in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan to let consumers know about the cruelty behind shark fin soup.
In March, we applauded a major new development: The Truth in Fur Labeling Act went into effect, closing a loophole that allowed many jackets trimmed with animal fur to go unlabeled. In the fall of 2012, all clothing with animal-fur trim should say so on the label. This will reduce the chance that compassionate consumers seeking fake fur will instead end up with real fur from raccoon dogs.
HSUS investigators collaborated with independent filmmakers on the June 2011 exposé, "Animal Planet Investigates: Captive Hunting Exposed." The film shone the spotlight on this especially cruel "sport," where hunters pay to shoot fenced-in animals who can't escape. The investigation prompted two U.S. Representatives—Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee and Brad Sherman, D-California—to introduce the Sportsmanship in Hunting Act, now under consideration by Congress. In nine different states, The HSUS and supporters were able to defeat bills which would have expanded captive hunting.
We worked in 2011 to combat poaching, helping pass measures that crack down on illegal hunting in Washington, Maine, Vermont, South Carolina, and Oregon. We partnered with federal agencies and more than half the state wildlife agencies in the country to offer more than $90,000 in poaching rewards.
In California, we launched the California Anti-Poaching Action Network, which will tackle the troubling discrepancy between the rise in poaching crime and the lack of meaningful punishments for convicted poachers. The HSUS's 2011 anti-poaching efforts were featured in stories by The Washington Post, The Associated Press, and The New York Times.
We continued our efforts to protect hundreds of sea lions at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River along the border of Oregon and Washington. The National Marine Fisheries Service had authorized the killing of sea lions under the guise of protecting salmon, but after we filed suit the agency revoked authorization for Oregon and Washington to kill the animals.
Humane Society International successfully blocked Japan's efforts to lift the ban on commercial whaling in 2011. The U.S. Department of Commerce took action to certify Iceland under the Pelly Amendment as a result of our efforts to highlight its continuing violation of international fisheries and environmental treaties.
Canadian seal hunt
In 2011, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus became the latest countries to end their trade in harp seal fur, joining existing bans in the U.S. and the European Union. As more countries ban trade in seal products, there has, thankfully, been a marked decrease in the number of seals being killed in Canada's annual commercial seal hunt.
Experts from The HSUS have begun training volunteers and professional wildlife biologists on the latest techniques to humanely relocate prairie dogs. In June, The HSUS went to Arizona's Camp Navajo National Guard Training Site, where the prairie dogs had unfortunately chosen a perilous location as their home base—Camp Navajo's shooting range. Instead of poisoning the animals—a cruel and too-frequent solution—wildlife biologist Janet Lynn asked The HSUS for help. The group successfully relocated the prairie dog colony out of the shooting range, and more trainings are planned around the country. Watch the slideshow »
Polar bears will now receive more protection. In 2008, they were officially listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but trophy hunters and others filed lawsuits challenging that listing. In 2011, The HSUS also won two major court battles to protect the ESA listing and to close a legal loophole: from now on, sport hunters who kill polar bears in Canada will not be allowed to import polar bear trophies into the U.S.