HSUS affiliate oversees millions of acres

Mar 29, 2013

On Friday, March 25, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) happily announced the acquisition of over 1,000 acres of northern California by one of its satellite groups, the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust (HSWLT). Since “steward of the land” usually shows up in HSUS’ attacks against farmers and hunters—claiming they aren’t—rather than their resume as an organization, the announcement deserved some attention.

HSWLT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which was started in 1993. According to the group’s webpage, the purpose of HSWLT is to provide “protection of both land and wildlife” through turning lands into permanent wildlife sanctuaries where hunting, logging or mining is prohibited. The organization has positioned itself as a means to help landowners preserve their donated property in its wild state after their death.

The group claims to protect over 100 separate sanctuaries amounting to over 2 million acres over the U.S. and abroad. Individual sanctuaries range widely in size. The largest in the west is the anonymously-donated, 2,991-acre Greenwood Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary, while the smallest is the 2-acre Hughes Issaquah Wildlife Sanctuary just outside of Seattle, WA.

Donated land or ownership-retained conservation easement donations are visited at least annually by trust staff, volunteers, and/ or contractors. Efforts are made to have volunteers visit more frequently and address any issues which may arise.

While HSWLT is not HSUS, the trust is an affiliate of the larger group. The two are also linked by appearance and personnel.

The group shares HSUS’ logo style, displays the HSUS logo and link at the bottom of its webpage, and shares the parent group’s display style.

The board of directors for HSWLT is a who’s-who of top HSUS individuals, including Wayne Pacelle (CEO); Holly Hazard (senior vice president for programs and innovations); John Grandy, PhD (senior vice president for wildlife & habitat protection); G. Thomas Waite III (chief financial officer/treasurer); and Andrew Rowan (chief scientific officer president and CEO of Humane Society International).

The most recent acquisition of the California property was a donation of a 1,122-acre property in Sonoma County along California’s northern coasts. It is one of the largest sanctuaries in the west now overseen by HSWLT.

Previously, the property had been in the care of the Thelma Doelger Animal and Wildlife Preserve Trust and is now being called the Thelma Doelger Wildlife Preserve and Sanctuary. The property is said to be home to several rare and endangered species, including the foothill yellow-legged frog, steelhead trout, the northern spotted owl, and the marbled murrelet seabird. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor