Put yourself in the Humane Society of the United States’ shoes. You bring in over $100 million a year and you give only 1 percent of it to pet shelters—the real humane societies that take care of abandoned and abused dogs and cats (the animals you are all too happy to use in your ads). So what do you do with all that money?
Along with stuffing it away in hedge funds and your pension plan and, of course, rolling it back into more fundraising, you can afford your own law firm—50 in-house attorneys, to be precise. And all those lawyers need something to do, so you can have them sue over the smallest thing.
That’s the case in the Pacific Northwest. The Daily Astorian notes that HSUS has once again filed a federal lawsuit attempting to stop government authorizes from euthanizing a few sea lions in order to decrease pressure on the endangered salmon population.
Just what’s at stake here? Thirty sea lions out of a population of 300,000—0.01% of the animals. There’s no chance this will harm the sea lion population, which biologists estimate can sustain 9,000 deaths a year without issue. And in this case, the government is trying to protect another species—salmon. But no matter, HSUS is suing anyway.
Frankly, we’re not sure what difference killing 30 sea lions is going to have, but if that’s what the experts say, then so be it. HSUS, on the other hand, doesn’t have expertise on much besides the “conflict industry.”
So what’s the driving factor?
Is it HSUS naivety? Possibly. As the Daily Astorian astutely puts it, “wildlife management is not for the squeamish or those whose reality was formulated by Walt Disney cartoons of the 1950s.”
Is it a “blame humans first” philosophy? Maybe. HSUS’s problem seems to be that the government is favoring people (who are responsible for 17 percent of the salmon deaths) over sea lions (which are responsible for 2 percent). How “speciesist” of us—even if the seal management is driven in part to protect salmon.
Or is it to make hay out of a non-issue, keeping HSUS in the media and ginning up another potential fundraising pitch?
Ah, of course. Perhaps it’s a modified form of Occam’s razor—when in doubt, the option that involves HSUS raising more money is the most likely. HSUS raises plenty of money off of seals. Salmon, however, don’t quite have the same wallet-opening draw. Even if you call them “sea kittens.”
They don’t call HSUS a “factory fundraising” machine for nothing. You need to perpetually manufacture controversy to keep the dollars flowing in. After all, 50 lawyers don’t just pay for themselves.