Organizations from 'Get a gun' to 'No way'

  • Cartoons - Happiness is a Warm Gut Pile and Equal Rights for Animals

    Diane Sylvain

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, Unarmed but dangerous critics close in on hunting.

Wildlife Legislative Fund of America: "Our sole purpose in life is to protect the right to hunt, fish and trap," says staffer Allan Wolter. This umbrella organization for 1.5 million sportsmen was founded in 1978 to fight a proposed Ohio state amendment that would have outlawed trapping. Current issues include amending the Endangered Species Act "to put man back into the equation," fighting ballot initiatives to ban bear hunting and working to open some wildlife refuges to hunting. (Columbus, Ohio: 614/888-4868)

National Rifle Association: After a series of magazine articles about marksmanship piqued the public's interest, gun aficionados founded the NRA 124 years ago. With 3.3 million members today, it aims to "defend our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms' - no matter what. Its hunting division works to expand access to public lands, stop hunter harassment, promote effective wildlife management and defend the right to hunt. (Fairfax, Va.: 703/267-1000)

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: According to a policy statement: "Hunting is an historic tradition that involves humanity directly in the fundamental workings of nature." Founded in 1984 by hunters to protect habitat for elk and other wildlife habitat, the foundation supports ethical hunting. It says its main mission is protecting habitat. (Missoula, Mont.: 406/523-4500)

Ducks Unlimited: "We're not a hunting organization, we're a conservation group," says director Glenn Childs. DU boasts 1.2 million members in North America, 89 percent of whom say they're hunters or anglers. Sportsmen formed the group during the dustbowl days of the 1930s to protect wetlands in Canada; the group's conservation efforts expanded to the United States only 11 years ago. (Memphis, Tenn.: 901/758-3825)

Izaak Walton League: In 1922, Chicago anglers formed a group to fight water pollution and named it after Izaak Walton, a 17th century angler, conservationist and author of The Compleat Angler. The League supports safe, responsible hunting, and roughly half of its 50,000 members are hunters. Its main issues are clean water, outdoor ethics and carrying capacity of the land. (Gaithersburg, Md.: 800/453-5463)

National Wildlife Federation: Claiming 4.5 million members, the federation was started in the 1930s by a group of sportsmen and anglers interested in habitat protection. The group views legal hunting as a legitimate use of the land. Many members are hunters, says staffer Tom Dougherty, although he jokes that they "don't have to sign a card" saying so. Habitat and wildlife come before hunting, as when the group worked to ban lead shot in the early 1980s, despite protests from hunters. (Washington, D.C.: 202/797-6800)

The Wilderness Society: With founding fathers such as Aldo Leopold and Bob Marshall, the group was started in 1935 as a conservation group sympathetic to hunters. Though the group takes no official stand on hunting, spokesman Jerry Greenburg says, "It's certainly compatible with other public land uses." Of its 275,000 members, Greenburg says, "I'd be surprised if we didn't have quite a few hunters in our ranks." (Washington, D.C.: 202/833-2300)

The Nature Conservancy: Founded by a group of scientists in 1951, it allows staffers at each individual preserve to decide whether hunting will be allowed. "In most cases, that means no hunting to maintain biodiversity, although sometimes hunting is a condition of the land gift," says staffer Mike Coda. Its 820,000 members include both hunters and non-hunters. (Arlington, Va.: 703/841-5300)

National Audubon Society: Founded in 1905 to oppose the gathering of plumage for women's hats, the society takes no official stand on hunting. Of 550,000 members, roughly 8 percent hunt. The group runs more than 100 wildlife sanctuaries and is dedicated to preserving habitat and wildlife. (New York, N.Y.: 212/979-3000)

The Sierra Club: "It doesn't matter whether you're there to mountain bike, hike or hunt," says Sierra Club spokesman Melanie Griffin. "Our main issue is habitat." Founded in 1892 by John Muir, a naturalist, writer and vegetarian, the group opposes sport hunting in national parks, but accepts regulated hunting and fishing as valid wildlife management practices. (San Francisco, Calif.: 415/776-2211)

National Parks and Conservation Association: Founded in 1919 to protect the national park system, the group is not anti-hunting but it does support existing federal law prohibiting hunting in national parks - except in some 45 parks where Congress has specifically authorized recreational or subsistence hunting. The group approves or rejects hunts to control wildlife inside national parks on a case-by-case basis. (Washington, D.C.: 202/223-6722)

Environmental Defense Fund: "Hunting just hasn't been a part of the issues we've been working on," says staffer David Wilcove. Its main issues are wildlife, the global atmosphere and pollution. Founded in 1967 by scientists fighting DDT contamination, the group now has 300,000 members. (New York, N.Y.: 212/505-2100)

Friends of the Earth: Founded in 1969 by David Brower, FOE takes no official stance on hunting. With 40,000 members, its issues cover the gamut from ozone depletion and global warming to toxics and nuclear waste. (Washington, D.C.: 202/783-7400)

Natural Resources Defense Council: Founded in 1970 by a group of New York attorneys and Yale law students to defend and promote environmental laws, the group now has 170,000 members. Its official position on hunting: none. (New York, N.Y.: 212/727-2700)

Earth First!: Started sometime around 1979, this loose organization now has about 10,000 members. Craig Benneville, an Earth First! Journal staffer, says his group opposes sport hunting, but not the occasional killing of "weedy species' like deer or elk for subsistence. After all, said writer Edward Abbey, "I only feel alive when I eat dead meat." (503/741-9191)

Humane Society of the United States: The Humane Society, which has 2.5 million members, works to eliminate the most abusive and biologically reckless forms of hunting, says spokesman Wayne Pacelle. Founded in 1954 to protect the rights of domestic animals, the group is a political beast, Pacelle admits: "We're against sport and trophy hunting, but we only try to stop the worst kind of hunts, such as steel traps." (Washington, D.C.: 202/452-1100)

Fund for Animals: "We are 100 percent opposed to sport hunting," says director Heidi Prescott. The fund is an animal rights group of 250,000 members, founded in 1967 by Cleveland Amory, who wrote best-selling books about animals. (New York, N.Y.: 212/246-2096)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: PETA, an animal rights group of some 500,000 members, opposes hunting, though the group takes no stand on subsistence hunting by indigenous groups. "It's cruel and unacceptable to cause the pain, fear and suffering that occurs when an animal is hunted and killed," says Zoe Rappoport, a PETA researcher. Founded in 1980, the group works to eliminate animal exploitation and suffering. (Washington, D.C.: 301/770-7444)

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