— 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."