NSSF: Lawsuits to Give Animals Legal Personhood Would Mean the End of Hunting

By Larry Keane

Animal rights activists are at it again and now they’ve enlisted the support of New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. The Nonhuman Rights Project Inc.’s latest target is the Bronx Zoo. The offending act is that zookeepers there deign to care for two grown elephants, Happy and Patty, in captivity.

Apparently, this a violation of their “legal personhood.”

They’ve gone as far as to organize zoo protests and petitioned the courts to sue the Bronx Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Society for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Specifically, they want to sue on behalf of “Happy” for “unlawful imprisonment.” They say the zoo is illegally denying Happy the companionship she needs from two other female elephants in the zoo, Patty and Maxine.

Meet Happy

Happy is a 47-year-old female Asian elephant who has lived alone for 13 years. It wasn’t always this way. She was captured as an infant with several other elephants and was paired with another elephant, Grumpy, until that elephant was killed by Patty and Maxine, the same elephants with whom Nonhuman Rights Project contends Happy should be housed. Happy was later paired with another elephant named Sammy, who had to be euthanized in 2006. Maxine, one of the elephants who attacked Grumpy, was euthanized last year due to advanced cancer. Zookeepers attempted to pair Happy with Patty, but after a week, it was clear the two wouldn’t bond well and the attempt was called off.

A zoo spokesperson called the lawsuit “ludicrous.”

The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division last year thought so too. Nonhuman Rights Project’s case was thrown out.

Monkey Business

The thing is, they’ve tried this before with chimpanzees. In 2018, the same court denied the same group the same argument for a chimpanzee named Kiko. They lost spectacularly then, but they could have predicted that outcome too. That’s because they tried it before in 2015 at the State Supreme Court for two chimpanzees named Hercules and Leo. They lost that attempt to force Stony Brook University on Long Island to move the chimps to a Florida sanctuary.

The significance of these lawsuits to the firearms industry and hunters shouldn’t be underestimated, wrote James Delingpole for The Spectator. The driver of these cases is Stephen Wise, an activist and lawyer. Delingpole noted that Wise was dismissed as a nut in his early days. Now, he teaches at Harvard University. That means if Wise wins today or through his proteges in the future, “No more foie gras. No more crispy duck.”

It also means no more hunting.

Threats to Hunting

If the courts agree to Wise’s claims that Happy the elephant, or Kiko the chimpanzee are guaranteed the right to legal personhood, it’s not a far stretch to see the courts hearing cases of denial of legal personhood through harvesting of wild game. In other words – murder.

This is already happening. Look to New Jersey, where Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned on a promise to end the state’s black bear hunts. He tried, but was limited by law to prohibiting hunts on state-owned land, a prohibition he enacted in 2018. It was done despite the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife noting the bear population could double by 2022 without hunting.

New Jersey bear hunters face more than legal obstacles. They’re getting death threats from activists who make unfounded emotional pleas instead of sound scientific decisions. It’s not just bear hunters either. Activists protested the First Annual Family Squirrel Classic earlier this year, an event to introduce new hunters to a centuries-old tradition of small game hunting. It’s the type of hunt many youths start on to work up to hunting bigger game.

NSSF Protecting Hunting

That’s why the National Shooting Sports Foundation® isn’t dismissing these instances as fanatical examples of a fringe element. NSSF was leading the effort in North Carolina in 2018 to add the Tar Heel State to the list of 22 other states where hunting is a constitutionally-protected right. Eighty percent of the state’s lawmakers voted to add it as a ballot question. Voters spoke in 2018 and more than 2 million voters agreed to add it to the state’s constitution.

These efforts also deny the role the hunter-conservationist plays in wildlife conservation. Specifically, it ignores the role the firearms industry has performed, generating more than $38 billion in Pittman-Robertson excise taxes by firearms and ammunition manufacturers that goes directly to wildlife conservation. North American wildlife is at the healthiest levels ever, because of the efforts of hunter-conservationists.

It’s time to keep the activists from turning out courts into a zoo and our wildlife into a cartoon.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • R.M. July 21, 2019, 7:32 pm

    They will fight to the death for the rights of animals but won’t lift a finger to defend the rights of defenseless children in the womb. Shameful.

  • James Sutton July 19, 2019, 4:56 pm

    Not even the Ninth Circuit on their worst day would give personhood to animals, but the loons in the California legislature might try. If California does it, their sycophants in Oregon and Washington would probably follow suit.

  • Michael A Keim July 19, 2019, 12:36 pm

    What next? Allow them to vote!

  • farmore d tremental July 19, 2019, 11:16 am

    This personhood for aminals would end the fast food chains, steakhouses and the deli counter. Hope you like your veggies.

    But on a purely universal view, if animals have the right to personhood then all living beings have the same right, including fruits and vegetables. Tread lightly herbiveores, we can petition for plant personhood!

    On a more rational note — END CORPORATE PERSONHOOD!!!!!!!

  • Bad Penguin July 19, 2019, 11:07 am

    Unbelievable that mentally ill people like this are able to start lawsuits to force all off us to live in his delusional world.

  • Jack July 19, 2019, 9:57 am

    I’m surprised that the NSSF and the NRA haven’t supported this attempt to violate our rights as well.

    Why the change of heart?

  • Larry C. July 19, 2019, 9:16 am

    So animals are to receive “personhood” but a baby about to be born is till not a person and can be aborted! The “libbys” progressives sure have threi logic screwed up!

  • John A Lauricella July 19, 2019, 9:08 am

    Population should be Legal Citizens!,Citizens Should Be Cared For First. Animals should Be Treated Humanely But They Are Not People.
    Anyone pushing That Agenda has Ulterior Motives

  • Alan Robinson July 19, 2019, 8:59 am

    Yeah, as if there is enough non animal food in the world to feed the world. (Hint, there isn’t)

  • William Lynn July 19, 2019, 8:17 am

    Next they will be giving animals voting rights. Oh, wait, CA and NY have already given that to illegals.

  • shrugger July 19, 2019, 7:49 am

    No it won’t end hunting. It’ll simply end anyone giving a shit about the legalities.

  • Dr Motown July 19, 2019, 7:08 am

    Animals killing each other? SHOCKING….the next step will be more than just \”death threats.\” These nut jobs might finally decide to leave their computers in mommy\’s basement and actually go out into the woods to interfere with hunters, destroy tree stands, food plots, etc. It won\’t be a pretty sight when the lead starts flying

    • Joe July 19, 2019, 8:13 am

      They have already been doing that for decades.

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