Letter to DFG: Return the money, sportsmen, -women will make up the difference and more

Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Jul 07, 2009

The following letter was sent by California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) to the Department of Fish and Game, representing dozens of the largest hunting and fishing organizations of California and the United States, asking for the return of money to the anti-hunting, animal-rights group HSUS.

June 23, 2009

Mr. Don Koch, Director
California Department of Fish and Game
1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: DFG Partnership with HSUS
June 3, 2009 HSUS Press Release

Dear Don:

The California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA), and each of our undersigned organizational members, would like to express our serious concerns regarding the Department of Fish and Game’s (Department) decision to enter into a “partnership” with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), as lauded in their press release, dated June 3, 2009. Although each of our organizations strongly support the need to curb illegal poaching in our state, the full ramifications of who we partner with to achieve this goal must also be considered. Not only do we believe it was a poor decision for the Department to partner with, and highly promote the contribution of the HSUS to this effort, it was offensive to those organizations and individuals who have long supported the Department’s funding and programs in many ways.

COHA and our membership understand the value of building unique partnerships to achieve our mutual goals. COHA staff has long had a close and productive working relationship with organizations such as the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and many more. These environmental organizations recognize the value of hunting, its place in science-based wildlife management, the important annual funding it generates for resource conservation, and the tremendous incentive it provides to private landowners to manage their lands to provide habitat for game and non-game species alike.

HSUS, however, has little or no track record of supporting habitat conservation and science-based resource decisions. Rather, HSUS is an animal-rights organization that pursues many of the same goals as PETA and other radical groups — including the elimination of hunting in California and throughout the nation. The Humane Society of the United States is a “humane society” in name only and has little to do with local animal shelters. Yet, through this name association and emotionally appealing marketing, HSUS has reportedly become the wealthiest animal-rights organization in the world. Although better funded than any other animal-related organization, HSUS has done little to enhance the fish and wildlife resources we all care so deeply about.

COHA staff, and our member organizations, have advocated for years on behalf of the Department for annual program funding and warden salaries. This Legislative Session alone, we have spent many staff hours fighting for Department budgets, including our efforts to address a proposed $30 million transfer from the Fish and Game Preservation Fund to non-fish and game related purposes. As you are well aware, the Department must support the Governor’s proposed budget and cannot ostensibly contribute to these efforts. So most often, COHA staff and our allied conservation partners are alone at the podium and in the halls advocating for increased Department funding. To our knowledge, HSUS rarely, if ever, contributes to these efforts.

Those who support COHA’s member organizations also generate tens of millions of dollars each year in Department funding by way of their purchase of hunting and fishing licenses, stamps and tags. In addition, they annually provide millions in additional funding to the Department and other state wildlife agencies through their purchase of sporting arms, ammunition and related items via the tax revenues generated pursuant to the federal Pittman-Robertson Act. In addition, they generate even more funding to support the Department’s mission via the many fundraising dinners and related events sponsored by our member groups.

The below listed organizations and their members have long worked hard to support the Department and its wardens financially, as well as to reduce illegal activities in the field. In addition, they often generously spend out of their own pockets to conserve and enhance habitat for both game and non-game species. By far and away, the efforts of the hunting community have been overwhelmingly positive to the Department and our natural resources. Knowing this, it is unfortunate that so much of the Department outreach has dealt with poaching incidents. The resulting steady diet of negative media coverage has, unfortunately, helped foster a poor opinion of hunting by a large portion of the California public, and somewhat diminished the positive work of the Department’s dedicated professional habitat and wildlife management staff. This negative public sentiment, in turn, translates to the difficult battles COHA and our partners must fight in the halls of the Capitol and beyond to protect our outdoor traditions and the critical annual funding streams they provide to all facets of the Department.

HSUS has in no way earned the right of partnership in preserving the future of our hunting heritage and the vital funding streams it generates for the Department, its wardens, and our fish and wildlife resources. In fact, a large portion of HSUS’s mission is in direct conflict with the Department’s stated goal of promoting recreational use and science-based management of our natural resources. It is a shame that with such a very small contribution to CalTIP and warden canines, HSUS managed to persuade the Department to help substantially promote their organization and animal-rights agenda.
The Department’s proposed “lasting partnership” with HSUS to combat poaching threatens many other productive and time-honored partnerships that your agency has with hunting and wildlife conservation organizations and their membership. We urge you to reassess your relationship with HSUS, consider returning their contribution, and approach your traditional partners who would be pleased to assist you with CalTIP reward funding and food and veterinary care for your warden canines.

On behalf of the below listed organizations,

Bill Gaines, President
California Outdoor Heritage Alliance
California Waterfowl
Delta Waterfowl
California State Chapter,
    National Wild Turkey
Mule Deer Foundation
California Deer Association
California Houndsmen for
National Open Field Coursers
Rocky Mountain Elk
Wilderness Unlimited
Wilderness Unlimited
Kids Outdoor Sporting Camp
Sportsmen in Labor Coalition
Golden Ram Inc.
Suisun Resource Conservation
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
Mendocino County Blacktail
Garcia’s Hunting Preserve
Black Points Sports Club
California Hawking Club
Red Bank Outfitters
Westervelt Ecological Service
California Bowmen
    Hunters/State Archery
California Retriever Training
Lower Sherman Island Duck
    Hunters Association
Sportsmen’s Council of Central
Golden Gate Chapter, Safari
    Club International
Pheasants Forever, Yolo County
Northern San Joaquin Chapter,
    Safari Club International
    The Black Brant Group
Tulare Basin Wetlands
California Chapter, North
    American Wild Sheep

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