The HSUS is the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful anti-hunting organization in the world. With more than $130 million in annual revenue (95 percent of which comes from contributions, grants, and bequests), the HSUS is calculating enough to allow large portions of the public to acquire the impression that, based on its name, it is somehow intensely involved in the work of dog and cat shelters and the direct rescue of mistreated animals. According to the HSUS, it is “one of the largest and most diverse providers of hands-on care for animals in the country”—based on a grand total of five (count ʼem, five) care centers it operates from sea to shining sea. But only a nickel of every dollar of its revenue ends up in those centers, while 50 cents is spent on “campaigns, litigation, and investigations,” “strategic communications,” and of course fundraising.
The HSUS likes to maintain the quaint fiction that it does not oppose “ethical” hunting, although by its definition there does not seem to be any such thing. Will Rogers never met a man he didn’t like, and the HSUS feels the same about every effort to ban hunting it has ever heard of—from doves to bears to hunting with hounds, on Sunday, over bait, or with lead bullets. Its president and CEO, Wayne Pacelle, has been famously quoted as saying, albeit at an earlier stage of his animal-rights career, that if he could “shut down all sport hunting in a moment,” he would. He’s also said that his goal is to get the public to view hunting in the same category as “cock fighting and dog fighting.” All of which makes it impossible to think that any support given to the HSUS does not advance its de facto ambition of outlawing both hunting and fishing.
None of this is to suggest that there is not animal abuse that goes on, or that there is not an urgent need from more shelter and rescue services for cats, dogs, and other domestic animals—and even some wild animals, such as injured raptors. The problem is that shelter and rescue is not what HSUS is about. And unfortunately, it’s hard to find any national animal protection organization (even the ones that actually operate shelters) that publically recognizes the importance of hunting and fishing to wildlife management, or acknowledges that hunters and anglers are natural stakeholders when it comes to the issue of animal welfare, as opposed to animal “rights.” In general, so-called “animal lovers” do seem unenthusiastic about making generous donations to groups known to be positively disposed to hunting or fishing. This does not in any way mean that hunters and anglers should not support animal shelter and rescue agencies, only that it’s probably better to think locally. Go to your neighborhood or hometown shelter, find out what its position on hunting and fishing is, and if you’re comfortable with the answer, lend them all the help you can.
It seems safe to say that Mr. Limbaugh does not hunt or fish (at least he’s not known for speaking on air about participating in either activity), which is his choice. But a significant portion of his listening audience certainly does. And it might be reasonable to assume that he would consider the views of that portion before throwing his backing behind an organization that aggressively works to destroy the freedom to enjoy hunting and fishing, and which thereby threatens the most successful system of wildlife management in the world (ours), which is organized around hunting and fishing.
The HSUS, which is nothing more than PETA in a coat and tie instead of a lettuce leaf bikini, really doesn’t need any more aid than it already receives, especially from someone like Mr. Limbaugh. Championing the HSUS champions an assault upon classic conservative concepts of freedom—concepts that allow us to hunt and fish, concepts, in fact, that Mr. Limbaugh seemingly would embrace. You cannot divorce yourself from HSUS’s fundamental agenda by claiming that you favor only certain aspects of it any more than you can claim to be just a little bit pregnant. Either Mr. Limbaugh is ignorant of the HSUS’s complete agenda (Rush, ignorant?), or he is playing far too clever a verbal and mental game. Or maybe he is indeed, as his liberal foes insist, a big, fat idiot.