The Humane Society of the United States
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Statement on Wild Animals

Endangered species

The survival of wildlife species is increasingly threatened by a number of anthropogenic factors, including habitat loss and degradation, over-hunting and over-fishing, introduced diseases and parasites, attempts to eradicate "pest" species, and capture for the pet trade. The demise of any species is an irreparable loss that deprives the world of a unique creature and the role that creature plays in its ecosystem. The HSUS is committed to protecting threatened and endangered species and their habitats by pressing the U.S. Department of the Interior to aggressively implement and enforce the Endangered Species Act of 1973 as amended in every way possible.

We also urge international federal, and state wildlife agencies and officials to broaden their programs for the protection and recovery of threatened and endangered species and their habitats, and we encourage private citizens to assist in preserving habitats where such species are known to reside.


The HSUS seeks to build a humane society that will move toward protecting and celebrating wildlife, and will develop humane solutions to wildlife conflicts through innovation. The HSUS actively works to eliminate the most inhumane and unfair sport hunting practices, such as the use of body-gripping traps and snares; bear baiting; the hound hunting of bears, bobcats, mountain lions and wolves; contest killing events; and captive-hunting on fenced properties. We oppose live pigeon shoots and other forms of staged hunting where the animals are bred or stocked simply to be shot as living targets. We also oppose the trophy hunting of rare or endangered populations and the use of lead ammunition, since less toxic alternatives are workable and available in the marketplace.

Marine mammals

The HSUS opposes the killing of marine mammals for commercial, sport, ceremonial, "nuisance management," and other non-subsistence purposes—for example, the harpooning of whales, clubbing of seals, drowning of porpoises and other marine mammals in fishing nets and gear, and shooting of marine mammals from fishing and other commercial vessels with rifles. We also oppose the chase, capture, and confinement of wild marine mammals in marine parks and aquariums because such activities result in considerable animal suffering.

The HSUS therefore supports measures to protect all marine mammals by:

1. Supporting a total ban on all commercial whaling (as adopted by the International Whaling Commission) and the imposition of sanctions against those nations that refuse to comply with the ban

2. Supporting a total ban on all commercial seal hunts, including the harp and hooded seal hunt by Canada

3. Opposing the sport hunting of marine mammals

4. Supporting the moratorium on taking and importing marine mammals established by theMarine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and encouraging effective administration and enforcement of its provisions

5. Seeking the development of new fishing practices and gear that will prevent injury to and death by drowning of marine mammals incidentally entangled in fishing nets and line

6. Seeking an end to the capture of wild marine mammals for the purpose of public display in the United States and abroad

Non-native wildlife

The HSUS opposes the introduction of non-native or exotic species into the environment as such introduction can be harmful to both native and non-native animals as well as to ecological systems. In the cases where non-native animals have been intentionally or unintentionally introduced by people and have established populations in the wild, The HSUS supports humane forms of population management and opposes methods that cause trauma and suffering

Predator control

All native animals play a vital function within their ecosystems, and this is especially true of predators. Many of the predator control programs implemented by counties, states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program result in the killing of both target and nontarget wildlife species without justification. The indiscriminate killing of predatory animals by poisoning, trapping, shooting from aircraft, killing young at their dens, and other inhumane methods is unacceptable.

The HSUS accordingly opposes the cruel techniques used in the present program and encourages the use of non-lethal means of protecting livestock from predators, such as guard animals, aversive conditioning, frightening devices, sound livestock husbandry practices, and other methods as they become available. We support incentive programs and other means by which to encourage livestock owners to use non-lethal forms of livestock protection.

Trapping and fur ranching

The HSUS opposes the trapping, rearing on "fur ranches," and killing of animals for the production of fur apparel and accessories. Such exploitation causes needless and unjustifiable suffering and death and is, therefore, inconsistent with the aims of a humane society. There should be an immediate ban on the use of the steel-jaw leg-hold trap and neck snares in particular, because they are inherently inhumane.

There is no justification for any form of trapping except live trapping in those rare cases in which such live trapping demonstrably benefits animals or provides necessary benefits to ecological systems. This kind of trapping may be accepted only after less intrusive alternatives have been attempted and exhausted, and it must be done responsibly, efficiently, and by a humane method that captures the animal alive without injury.

Wild animals as pets

Wild animals make unsuitable pets under virtually all circumstances, and very few people are equipped or have the expertise to properly maintain wild animals in household environments. We define as " wild" any animals, whether captive born or wild caught, who have not been domesticated, i.e., have not been genetically controlled over a very long period of time and specifically adapted to live in close proximity to humans.

The HSUS opposes the general traffic in wild animals. Wild animals suffer when captured and transported and placed in close proximity to humans. Furthermore, many wild animals carry pathogens that may cause significant human disease and some wild animals are dangerous in and of themselves. The HSUS opposes the sale of wild animals (i.e., any non-domesticated native or exotic mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, or invertebrate, regardless of whether the animal is wild caught or captive bred) by any commercial establishment.

The HSUS opposes the sale of animals as novelty or decorative items and the sale of domesticated fish bred and housed in inhumane conditions.

Wild mustangs and burros

The HSUS works to protect the remaining herds of wild horses and burros from inhumane treatment, exploitation, and eradication, and we use our influence to ensure that protective legislation is improved and properly administered and enforced.

Zoos and aquariums

Wild animals should ideally be permitted to exist undisturbed in their natural environments. Zoos and aquariums are, however, a currently established part of our society, and some of them provide benefits for animals such as financially supporting conservation programs and the preservation and restoration of threatened and endangered species and promoting the education of people to the needs of wild animals and their roles in the ecosystem.

Zoos and other facilities that house captive wildlife must not be set up solely for profit or for entertainment. Such facilities must be organized around a core mission that educates the public about the needs of wild animals and the threats to which they are exposed, and that supports humane conservation programs. In addition, such zoos must maintain animals in conditions simulating their natural habitats as closely as possible and must treat them with the highest degree of humaneness, care, and professionalism. Achieving these requirements is an imperative not only for the welfare of the animals but also because inhumane or inappropriate conditions viewed by an impressionable public provide a negative learning experience by seeming to condone indifference or cruelty.

The HSUS pledges to work with those zoological parks and other zoos and aquariums desiring to improve and having the capability to do so. At the same time, we are committed to the elimination of those institutions that will not or cannot improve and meet these standards. The HSUS urges zoos to act as sanctuaries for non-domesticated animals, providing facilities for animals in need rather than breeding them for exhibition purposes or acquiring them from the wild or from exotic animal dealers.

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