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Rep. Campbell Blames NRA for Defeat of Proposal to Pull Funding from Program that Kills Predators

John Campbell, who represents parts of Newport Beach, says ranchers should take on the expense of protecting their livestock.

— From KOCI News/101.5 FM

, who represents parts of Newport Beach, released a statement this week about his defeated proposal to eliminate a Department of Agriculture program that kills predators, such as wolves and coyotes, that threaten privately owned livestock.

Campbell's "Guns and Critters" amendment lost June 16 on a 287 to 132 vote primarily because of opposition by the National Rifle Association. The Humane Society of the United States had supported Campbell's amendment.

Campbell, a Republican from Irvine, objected to the Agriculture Department hunting by helicopter as "expensive and inefficient." He objected to traps with cyanide canisters as "inhumane and dangerous."

"Why is it a taxpayer responsibility to protect privately-owned livestock? Why don't the owners of the livestock pay to protect them?" Campbell said in his statement.

"The bipartisan Lethal Predator Control Amendment was sponsored by Campbell, Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

Campbell's proposal would have saved $11 million a year and shifted responsibility from the taxpayer to the rancher. The amendment would have reduced funding to the Wildlife Service Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Program, leaving funding to protect airports.

Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the Humane Society, said: "At a time when so many lawmakers are focused on deficit reduction, we can save millions of taxpayer dollars and save animals by reforming harmful government programs. Costly and inhumane killing of predators with poisons and aerial gunning ... are wastes of tax dollars."

"The millions of dollars spent by federal agents shooting from helicopters and setting out indiscriminate traps and poisons often exceed the value of ranchers’ losses due to predation," Markairan said. "Common-sense non-lethal methods like the use of guard animals, penning, and shepherding are cheaper and more effective in reducing livestock predation, but ranchers have no incentive to use these methods as long as the federal government keeps paying for unlimited lethal control."

“Wildlife and wildlife predators cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage annually to natural resources, public infrastructures, private property and agriculture,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director for NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “We will continue to oppose efforts like the Campbell-DeFazio Amendment that seek to diminish essential wildlife and predator management programs that protect our hunting heritage.”

Campbell suggested less expensive alternatives, "There are all kinds of non-lethal ways to protect calves and such, including pens, fencing, lighting and other things. And, of course, the rancher can always shoot the predator."

Cox stated, "Coyotes and other predators have decimated a great deal of the mule deer, moose and elk populations throughout the United States.  As it stands, lethal predator control remains the best tool we have for keeping large predators in balance with existing habitat and the prey they require."

Markarian claimed, "This antiquated program has been wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and recklessly killing animals with steel-jawed leghold traps, toxic poisons, aerial gunning, and other inhumane methods. The poisons, particularly Compound 1080 and M-44 sodium cyanide devices, are so deadly and indiscriminate that they have killed family pets and endangered species in addition to killing their intended targets. Moreover, they are ineffective, since other predators simply move into the vacant territory."

Campbell cited USDA statistics that showed that "less than 1 percent of livestock in the U.S. are killed by predators each year."

Campbell claimed that the NRA opposition "was key in defeating the amendment. But, the bill has nothing to do with gun ownership or gun use or anything like that. So, why did they oppose it? It simply appears that they oppose most things that the Humane Society is for, even if there is no direct impact on gun freedoms."

"This was yet another defeat for the anti-hunting agenda being pushed by the Humane Society of the United States,” Cox said. “NRA will continue to fight to protect America’s hunting heritage from those who seek to eliminate it.”

Campbell pointed out that he was a member of both the NRA and the Humane Society. "I do not see their missions as being in conflict. I strongly support the Second Amendment to the Constitution and believe that people should have the right to keep and bear arms. This is about freedom, it is about self-defense, and it is about respect for the Constitution. I also love animals. I believe that human beings should treat animals humanely, in part, because they are God's creatures and we have a moral obligation to care for and protect them. I also think that how a society treats animals is closely correlated to how that society will treat its people."

Campbell concluded his written statement, "I will continue to speak out for and vote to support the Second Amendment. And, I will just as vociferously support laws that protect animals, both wild and domesticated, from abuse at the hands of the dark side of human behavior. I'm a gun-owning animal lover. And, I think that's just fine."

Montana Libertarian June 24, 2011 at 04:58 AM
Well, there's a certain amount of justice in the idea of having ranchers responsible for the protection of their livestock. How about this: let's allow them to shoot predators without penalty. Coyotes, yes, they can shoot coyotes. But wolves? OMG! NO! Cougar? WTF? OMG! NO! I don't think the Humane Society wants the predators listed as targets for ranchers with scoped rifles.
ExNuke June 24, 2011 at 02:58 PM
Less than 1% of the US population is killed each year by violent criminals, let's let the victims look out for their own defense and save all that money we waste on Police. After all, why should I have to pay for YOUR protection.
JayneMiller June 25, 2011 at 02:25 AM
I am a rancher. More of my livestock are killed by pet domestic dogs and poachers. Dogs kill more livestock each year in the USA than bobcat and cougar combined. Here in Oregon poachers kill more deer, more elk and more cougar than are legally killed, costing tax payers millions more in damage than ranchers face from natural predators. California Fish and Game have reported that they have an annual $100,000,000 black market of poached wildlife issues that is second to their illegal drug trades. ODFW manages wildlife not for their sustainability and ecological balance, but as a bank account to satisfy the addiction of killing them for fun. It is a business that is damaging our natural resources. Ranching on public lands is also out of hand. It is getting to the point where the beef just is not worth the damage it is causing. Anyway, ranching and hunting have gotten so bad these last 50 years I've been ranching that its just plain wrong. See: WWW.OreCat.org to learn more.
ortheo June 25, 2011 at 02:56 AM
I'm an avid hunter but I realized a long time ago that the NRA doesn't really care about hunters or wildlife or habitat, they are simply another right wing PAC. Let hunters shoot those coyotes and maybe even make a little money selling their pelts. If you actually stop and think about it, the notion that we are spending millions of dollars so some cow boys can fly around in helicopters shooting coyotes or poisoning them on public land is beyond ludicrous.
ortheo June 25, 2011 at 02:59 AM
In case you haven't noticed the police do a lot more than just investigate murders.

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