Efforts in Indiana and other states to protect farmers from exploitation by radical animal activist groups who use undercover video to make often false accusations of animal abuse have been met with a howl of opposition from those groups, most notably the Humane Society of the United States.
Indiana HSUS testified before an Indiana House committee this year that without undercover investigations farmers would knowingly abuse their animals. With the help of organized labor and the media, HSUS was successful in blocking legislation that would have protected innocent family farms from being photographed and videotaped without their knowledge or permission.
But these kinds of investigations can work both ways. An international wildlife organization has produced an investigation of HSUS and several other so-called animal rights organizations and found all is not right behind their self-righteous facades.
Safari Club International Foundation (SCI) has released a scathing report accusing HSUS and several other groups of keeping the majority of the funds they raise and doing little to actually help animals.
SCI’s report does an excellent job of calling into question just how much trust should be placed in animal rights groups like HSUS, Humane Society International (HSI), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and Born Free USA.
All these groups have major fund raising efforts allegedly to help protect the African Lion. Yet, the report says very little of the funds raised actually help protect lions, “These groups aren’t doing a whole lot of work on the ground to help African communities.”
According to the HSUS watchdog group Protect the Harvest, HSUS and the other animal rights groups talk a lot about supporting and protecting animals, but they don’t seem to put their money where their mouth is. SCI reports that these four groups combined raised $151 million in 2011 and together spent only one penny of every dollar in Africa.
SCI President Joe Hosmer was quoted as saying, “The animal rights groups raise a pretty penny by ginning up one complaint after another. But, they are hypocrites, plowing the money into bloated overhead rather than into science and the conservation of African wildlife.”
Alexander N. Songorwa, Tanzania’s highest-ranking wildlife official, wrote in a New York Times article, “Odd as it may sound, American trophy hunters play a critical role in protecting wildlife in Tanzania.”
SCI reported the true facts about the economic impact hunters and conservationists have on African wildlife management programs. Their report indicated that, between 2008 and 2011, hunting generated $75 million for Tanzania’s economy.
As Protect the Harvest pointed out, “Animal rights groups rarely tell the full story. Much like the world’s best illusionists, HSUS makes sure you only see what they want you to see. The single photo. The doctored video. They don’t show you everything, because that’s not what brings in the money.”
Not all such wildlife support organizations are engaging in such deceptive practices. Safari Club International has already spent $1.1 million dollars and recently raised $1.4 million to promote conservation efforts for the African lion. SCI is “committed to responsible management of the wildlife populations and funds the annual African Wildlife Consultative Forum.”
So, do your homework before you support any animal care organization.
The lion population in Africa has been reduced by half since the early 1950s. Today, fewer than 21,000 remain in all of Africa. Meanwhile activist groups dupe the public out of millions of dollars and pad their own pockets.
These are the same groups that are out to besmirch the image and reputation of the farm families who produce our food supply efficiently and responsibly.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Gary Truitt may write to him in care of this publication.