The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance has long been concerned over provisions within the Endangered Species Act that anti-hunting groups are using more and more to get large government payouts for filing lawsuits that do not help the recovery of threatened or endangered species. Many of these lawsuits even threaten to stop hunting, fishing, or trapping.
Documents provided by the U.S. Department of Justice to the House Natural Resources Committee show that our federal government is giving millions of taxpayer dollars to anti-hunting organizations. Anti-hunting groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Sierra Club are cashing in – on your dime.
Taxpayer Dollars to Anti-Hunters – How Much?
On cases that were listed as “active” between October 1, 2008 and April 4, 2012 more than $21 million was paid out to pay the attorney’s fees for groups suing under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Of that $21 million, more than $6 million in taxpayer dollars went to pay attorneys for some of the nation’s largest anti-hunting organizations.
The money is paid out from a taxpayer fund called the Judgment Fund. That means your tax dollars are being paid to anti-hunting organizations’ attorneys.
Why the Government is Paying
The short answer is because the law says they have to.
Provisions within the ESA allow plaintiffs – typically animal rights and environmental groups suing the government – to recover the costs of their attorney’s fees in cases where they have at least “some success on the merits” of the case.
Although originally intended to help promote species recovery, activist organizations are using it as their financial backing to push their radical agendas. More and more lawsuits are being filed under the ESA and more and more taxpayer dollars are being doled out to pay for animal rights and environmental groups’ attorneys.
Often these groups sue on purely technical grounds (not based on science or in the best interests of wildlife conservation) simply because they know they’ll win the technical argument and the government will be forced to pay their attorney’s fees. Ultimately, many these lawsuits have no impact on the recovery of endangered or threatened species.
Sportsmen and non-sportsmen alike should be appalled that their tax dollars are being given away to pay for frivolous lawsuits filed by anti-hunting and other activist organizations. It just doesn’t make sense for this to continue in a time where our government is facing an economic crisis and our national debt is skyrocketing.