Taxpayer Millions Paid to Anti-Hunting Organizations

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.

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21 comments on “Taxpayer Millions Paid to Anti-Hunting Organizations

  1. somsai says:

    Introduce legislation such that EAJ funds are not available to orgs larger than a certain size. Eliminate payments on technicalities. I think the bottom line is that these suits hurt large energy companies not so much, Exon isn’t worried about the CBD getting a million or two. For sportsmen it’s a different story. We have very few orgs that will step up and lawyer up too.

    What about seed money towards activist orgs that are pro sportsmen? A few tens of thousands of dollars for some of the anti wolf orgs with the stipulation that they tone down their political stuff and stick to animal issues so that they don’t alienate the general public?

  2. regan h says:

    I think that has to change right now.Those anti groups need to be outlawed! They are crimials stealing from us the hunters trappers and fishermen. Its wrong

  3. Marty says:

    As I understand it, the vast majority of the attorney fees are paid to these organizations for work that was donated to them. They get lawyers to do some pro bono work for them and then claim the value of that work when they get “reimbursed” from the government. Lots of non-profits have been doing this for years.

    So, it’s actually a money making venture for them. If all we did was make it so that it was truly reimbursement for actual lawyer’s fees, it would eliminate a whole lot of the lawsuits. If they knew they weren’t going to make a cash profit from the deal, the incentive would be drastically reduced.

    • Rick Kelly says:

      I agree Marty, just stopping the personal gain from these suits would decrease the number of them. Some might say it is profitable gain over sincere care and well being.

  4. mikey says:

    Could someone give an example of a technical lawsuit?

    • Jeremy Rine says:

      An example would be an animal rights organization filing petitions to list hundreds of species at the same time knowing full well that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not be able to meet the strict deadlines for reviewing/compiling the scientific evidence needed to determine whether a species needs to be listed or not.

      The AR group would then sue (or force the government into a settlement) and “win” on technical grounds because the FWS doesn’t have budget or the staff to respond to all of the petitions in the correct amount of time. Their “win” is not based on the science of whether or not species should be listed under the ESA but because they intentionally overwhelmed the FWS with petitions.

      Doing this, the AR group does not help protect potentially endangered or threatened species but would likely be entitled to recover attorney’s fees from filing the lawsuit. This situation happened recently where the Center for Biological Diversity filed nearly 800 petitions to list species, forcing the government into a settlement.

      Another example is where AR groups sue over an inconsequential missed deadline (that has NO impact on species recovery) just because they’ll win. This “technical” win would likely allow them to recover attorney’s fees but doesn’t do anything to help threatened or endangered species, the whole reason the ESA was created in the first place.

  5. And, in some cases, like the case involving suing the USFWS to force them to re-introduce the Thickbill parrots into Arizona, there is no science behind this proposal. There is no habitat that is viable for these birds. No one who is knowledgeable about the species believes this is a good idea because of the lack of appropriate habitat. However, one of these organizations is suing USFWS to force the issue. Obviously, since USFWS is now very shorthanded, there is no way the staff is going to be able to spend the time preparing the documents for going against this proposal. Thus, this will likely be another case of taxpayer dollars going into the funds of these sue-happy orgs.

  6. Frank Denninger says:

    Another problem is Federal agencies (NPS) intentionally violating NEPA and other laws knowingly with the full understanding that environmental organizations will swoop in with specialist lawyers like Myers & Glitzenstein (M & G) to reverse the outcomes of planning processes such as what happened recently in the Bear Island Unit of Big Cypress National Preserve. Maybe they do this because they do not want to be the one who says NO to certain activities and thereby shift the blame for losses of activities to the enviro community and away from themselves. The mistakes made there were tantamount to a 6th grader trying to say 2 + 2 = 6. NPS’s superintendent Karen Gustin was far too experienced IMO not to have known local enviro-extremists wouldn’t overturn the 2+ years of work done by NPS staff and outdoorsmen volunteers wouldn’t be reversed.

    Personally, from what I’ve seen in the last 20 years I don’t believe the Federal and State governments or agencies have one lawyer that understands NEPA and other issues as well as the M & G law firm and until they do sportsmen will continue the slide into oblivion in America.

    In fact the record of the latest hunt plan planning effort by NPS in Big Cypress actually stated in their scoping newsletter that they hope to avoid triggering NEPA via NPS’s draft alternative 3. . That in itself will probably get the plan overturned.

    The only way to describe this is Intentional Stupidity.

  7. alice in lala land says:

    Employment History
    Period Employer Title Additional Info
    Humane Society of the US
    Revolving Door Personnel: (1) Client lobbying profile
    1997-1997 Office of the Solicitor of Labor
    Revolving Door Personnel: (8) Attorney/Advisor
    Meyer & Glitzenstein
    Revolving Door Personnel: (1)
    Lobbying Firm Private Sector Federal Govt. State/Local Go

    This man now works for HSUS infiltrating our government with animal rights zealots.. meanwhile his wife Nancy Perry.. formerly Humane Society of the US now with the3 ASPCA..
    Pacelle is registered as a lobbyist and yet he works for ‘charity”

    Year: “) “) “) “) “) “) “) “) “) “) “) “) “) “) “)
    Lobbyists representing Humane Society of the US:
    Total number of lobbyists: 5
    Revolving Door Profile Revolving Door profile Revolving Door Profile Former Congressman
    Lobbying Firm Hired Amount Subsidiary (Lobbied For) Lobbyist
    Humane Society of the US $740,000 Humane Society of the US Brody, Miriam
    Pacelle, Wayne
    Patch, Richard
    Perry, Nancy
    Solarz, Susan

  8. Vet Barnes says:

    Its time to cut the money trough off for these organizations. This is a waste of tax payer money and theft of services under the color of law. Get to your senator and put forth laws to stop any non-profit from filing.

  9. Frank says:

    These organizations are also using tax revenue targeted for highways and bridges to conduct studies to reduce animal-vehicle collisions. Ultimatley, the studies lead to actual work on transportation projects springing from these studies like multi-million dollar overpasses for deer and the use electronic mintoring of wildlife near transportation facilities. Doubt it? Look up eligible projects listed under the current Transportation Enhancements program. Note: this program will soon be known as Transportation Alternatives under the newly passed MAP-21. Wake Up America!

  10. texxsCynicalOne says:

    You make some great points and if what you say is true something should be done. You headline was off the mark though and if fact made me doubt the credibility of everything in the article. I wish you the best because I love to fish, but I already know that some organizations that support hunting and fishing are right wing extremists that can’t be trusted. If you want my trust, and those of the many moderates like like me, you have to separate yourself from the extreme right..

    • Jeremy Rine says:

      I’m sorry you felt misled by the headline. However, the information is accurate. The ESA’s provisions allow millions of taxpayer dollars to go to organizations that oppose hunting and that spend lots of money to lobby against hunting and filing anti-hunting lawsuits.

      USSA has always been a nonpartisan advocate for your hunting and fishing rights and we work with both the left and the right to do this. When it comes to sportsmen’s rights, it is more important to sportsmen that a lawmaker is pro-hunting, fishing, or trapping than what side of the isle they are from.

      • EthicalOne says:

        And again is NOT a right is a privilege.

        You do not have to ask to exercise a Right.
        You do have to ask to exercise a privilege.
        You have a Right to eat. You don’t need a license to eat.
        You have the Right to breathe. You don’t need a license to breathe.
        You do not have a Right to eat my food.
        You do not need a permission to buy food.
        You do not need a permission to breathe.
        You do not need a permission to live.

        My food is my property. When I give it to you or you buy it from me it becomes your property. Otherwise, if you take it, you violate my Right to property.
        If you buy a gun they will ask you stuff, ask your ID and permit/license. So is a privilege. A right they will not ask you all that crap and saying you need a permit.
        A right is not ridden with regulations.

  11. mark canale says:

    what can we do as a voter on this issue?

  12. River Mud says:

    Honestly, the buck stops at the federal agency staff and managers who are not filling out required paperwork, completing required species management plans, and other parts OF THEIR JOBS, which leaves the door open for these technical merit lawsuits.

    Great example is the Hatteras ORV lawsuit – Park Service was required to have a endang. bird management plan on file for the property. They did not. Never worried about it. Some speculate that an anti-public access employee tipped off anti-access groups to this technicality, but I haven’t seen any evidence of it. Regardless, a few FOIA’s later, the anti’s had all the evidence they needed to win a lawsuit – federal employees failed to write a simple, 30 page document for 20 years.

  13. David Garner says:

    Lawyers write the laws in a manner that allows for litigation, “just follow the money” . The real problem, is Lawyers, do you think they really care what side of an issue they are on? They only care that there IS an issue.

  14. Jim Larson says:

    Someone PLEASE draft an amendment that removes the repayment of atty.s/lawers fees so this money can be used for what it was intended!

  15. Larry says:

    This is for alice in lala land: What the hell is all this goobly gook that you posted. Say it in plain English. Thank you.

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