In 1973, Congress passed and President Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with the intent of protecting threatened species such as the bald eagle. Since then, close to 2,000 species and subspecies (1,400 of which are in the United States), have been added to the listing under the Endangered Species Act.
While the original Act was well intended, the Endangered Species Act has become the Trojan horse that sneaks in property-thieving regulations and a “sue and settle” lawsuit scheme while pretending to be beneficial to conservation. This threat to animal owners, animal based businesses, and private property has expanded significantly in recent years with animal rights groups hijacking the conservation aspect of the ESA to advance their radical agenda.
These groups make up a $400 Billion global coalition of organizations that raise money under the guise of promoting the welfare of animals, while using that money to buy lawyers and lobbyists to fund misleading, emotionally driven campaigns to pit the public against animal owners and breeders.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is one such radical animal rights group based in San Francisco that files lawsuits against privately owned animal businesses with no intent of winning in court. Rather, the lawsuits are used to propagate a false narrative against their targets (typically animal based small business owners) in order to force them out of business. Instead of doing the work of raising, breeding, and caring for animals, the victims of these lawsuits must spend scarce resources on lawyers and public relations experts to clear their good name, and defend their livelihoods and their animals. Many cannot afford this burden and simply close up shop.
Recent reports from the House Committee on Natural Resources have uncovered that an entire cottage industry exists around filing lawsuits based on the ESA. As a result, funds that were once intended to be used to protect species in danger of extinction are now being diverted to fund frivolous lawsuits against animal owners who are the targets of extremist animal rights groups.
In addition, government bureaucrats often act unlawfully through a tactic called “sue and settle.” They settle litigation with their allies in environmental and animal rights groups behind closed doors in a way that advances the activist’s radical agenda, and in the process block out citizens, states, and local governments affected by their decisions and their subsequent rules and regulations.
This “sue and settle” tactic funnels millions of settlement dollars from the Federal Government to the animal rights and environmental activists to fund their continuing efforts to game the system and wrongfully attack animal enterprise ultimately. The result is the destruction private property, businesses and lives.
One such victim of these attacks is Pam and Tom Sellner, owners of Cricket Hollow Zoo in Iowa, are one of many faces of victims of these attacks. Pam and Tom have been bringing joy to families for years with their privately owned collection of tigers, lions, pumas, and other exotic animals. Their zoo provides learning opportunities for students in rural Iowa who may otherwise not have access or contact with these animals. However, that will never satisfy the animal rights extremists who believe that these animals don’t belong in captivity.
Tom and Pam are now faced with mounting legal fees to fight this frivolous lawsuit from an animal rights activists group (ALDF) radically out of step with American values, but funded and well staffed with attorneys to do the dirty work. The Sellers are just one of the many faces of the victims of ESA-based lawsuits that have sprung up across the country.
While well intentioned when written over forty years go, the ESA has become a weapon for lawyers to beat small animal businesses over the head, all at the taxpayer expense.
Ultimately, the abuse of power under the ESA puts at risk the very animals it was intended to protect, as private property rights are trampled under the hooves of this Trojan Horse, and the system attacks the animals it was intended to protect.
Animal rights groups are using the ESA and our court system as a weapon to destroy those who aren’t in line with their ideology. If this works on animal enterprise, what is next?
Mindy Patterson is the President of The Cavalry Group, a member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related business, hunters, and agriculture concerns legally and legislatively nationwide. Follow Mindy Patterson and The Cavalry Group on Twitter: @cowgirlathart and @TheCavalryGroup