Friends of Animals has worked tirelessly throughout 2021 to stop animal cruelty and exploitation, protect critical habitat and provide lifetime care for the animals at our sanctuaries in the U.S. and Africa. We couldn’t do it without you!

Below is a summary of our recent legal victories and other successes over the past year.

To make an end-of-year donation, please click here.

CT bans the sale of the body parts of Africa’s Big 5

Connecticut trophy hunters will no longer be able to sell the body parts of the African elephants, giraffes, leopards, lions and rhinos they kill because Governor Ned Lamont signed the Big 5 African Trophies Act into law. Friends of Animals helped draft the legislation, also known as ‘Cecil’s Law.’

This historic legislation makes CT the second state to do so in the country

While this does not bring Cecil the lion back, it means his tragic death in 2015 was not in vain. His death made Connecticut lawmakers see the trophy hunting industry for what it is—morally bankrupt as well as economically useless in terms of conservation. We worked for five years to deliver this setback to the trophy hunting industry and to help protect these magnificent ecosystem engineers.

FoA succeeds in eliminating hunting theme in Duck Stamp contest

Friends of Animals has succeeded in its effort to overturn a regulatory rule that illegally forced artists who entered the Federal Duck Stamp Contest to promote hunting. The inclusion of an element “celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage” was added to the duck stamp art rules in 2020 by the Trump administration.

That year, Friends of Animals filed a lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over this rule, causing the agency to re-evaluate it. Two weeks into the Biden administration, attorneys for FWS told FoA that the agency was reconsidering the rule. Rather than defend the illegal rule in court, FWS decided to repeal it.

Wildlife artists annually vie for the prestige of seeing their art grace each new Duck Stamp, which waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older are required by law to purchase and carry with their general hunting license. However, the beauty of the stamp is that anyone can contribute to conservation by buying them, and they can also be used as free passes into any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee. Birders, photographers, artists, stamp collectors and others who don’t get off on killing birds are doing just that, thankfully, because the number of hunters in the U.S. continues to plummet.

Ninety-percent of the annual $25 purchase price goes directly to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to acquire and protect wetland habitat vital to the survival of migratory waterfowl and purchase conservation easements for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

FoA works to save wild horses from extinction

A federal appeals court ruled May 17 that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrongly refused to review Friends of Animals’ bid to include Montana’s Pryor Mountain wild horse herd—made famous by Cloud, a white palomino stallion featured in documentaries—on the country’s list of imperiled species because its refusal hinged on a rule that is inconsistent with the Endangered Species Act.

This moves the Pryor Mountain wild horses into queue for full and fair consideration under the ESA. The red warning flag of extinction is flying on the Pryor Mountain wild horse range. There are a scarce 170 left on 27,000 acres after years of the Bureau of Land Management taking away mares’ ability to reproduce by forcibly drugging them with a fertility pesticide and years of yanking so-called ‘excess’ horses off the land to be part of an adoption scheme.

FoA is also in court fighting the Bureau of Land Management for issuing decisions that allow the agency unfettered discretion to round up wild horses for the next decade. These plans eliminate public input and oversight of how the BLM manages wild horses. We also filed a lawsuit in 2021 to suspend the agency’s $1,000-a-head Adoption Incentive Program because it creates a pipeline to slaughter for thousands of federally protected wild horses.

Most recently, FoA submitted a rulemaking petition to new Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning to halt wild horse roundups and convene an independent panel of scientists to overhaul the agency’s controversial Wild Horse and Burro Program rules and policies. FoA wants the BLM to include the impact of cattle and sheep ranching on public land range assessments, and immediately reduce the number of cattle and sheep within wild horse herd management areas when any wild horse management is planned because of range deterioration, followed by a phaseout of all livestock as grazing permits expire.

FoA calls for ban on importation of ‘trophies’ of threatened, endangered species

FoA filed a rulemaking petition with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If the agency denies the petition, then FoA can challenge it in court. The goal of the Endangered Species Act is conservation of species, so U.S. regulations should not grant a loophole legalizing the slaughter of the most vulnerable among them and then add insult to injury by permitting the glorification of the killing through the importation of their body parts. Banning the import of trophies into the United States will have a profound impact on threatened and endangered species since Americans kill far more animals than any other nation. FoA’s petition points out that FWS blindly equates money spent on a trophy hunt with enhancement of the propagation of a species, ignoring evidence to the contrary—studies show that trophy-hunting programs are grievously damaging species such as elephants and lions.

FoA also filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of the Interior to reinstate a policy that prohibits U.S. hunters from importing the trophies of elephants from Zimbabwe. Under the Trump administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reversed a ban that had been enacted in 2014.

FoA calls on FWS to provide giraffes ESA protections

Habitat loss, trophy hunting, poaching, climate change, mining and the bushmeat trade have placed giraffes in danger of extinction and they should be placed on the Endangered Species List, Friends of Animals said in comments it filed in 2021 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Giraffes currently have no protection under U.S. law.

The species has declined nearly 40 percent to just under 100,000 in the past three decades from more than 150,000.

In 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which recognizes one species of giraffe and nine subspecies, elevated the threat level of giraffes two categories to “vulnerable to extinction.”

In 2019, the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species listed giraffes on Appendix II which regulates commerce and trade in the species but doesn’t ban it.

Although animal advocacy groups filed a petition urging FWS to list giraffes as endangered in 2017, the agency has yet to list them.

Meanwhile, trade in their parts continues to thrive with the U.S. being a major importer.

“It is widely recognized that the U.S. market and American trophy hunting culture are driving factors contributing to both legally targeted hunting and illegal hunting of giraffes. More than 40,000 giraffe parts and products were imported into the U.S. over one decade’s time.” FoA said in comments filed by its Wildlife Law Program.

Between 2006 and 2016, the U.S. imported 21,402 bone carvings, 3,008 skin pieces and 3,744 hunting trophies and 3,000 pelts and skin products and 825 jewelry pieces. Body parts are being turned into Western boots, knives, pillows, rugs and furniture.

FoA files lawsuit to protect scarlet macaws on the brink of extinction

Friends of Animals filed a lawsuit Aug. 3 against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the D.C. district court because the agency failed to list a distinct population of scarlet macaws as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. A species clearly on the brink of extinction, there are only about 25 of the Northern Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the southern subspecies of scarlet macaws remaining in Panama and 1,000 in Costa Rica.

Scarlet macaws are quickly vanishing from the wild. One of the drivers behind their decline is people seeking to lock them in cage and put them on display as pets.

FoA’s challenge comes after FWS, in 2012, decided to list the Northern DPS of the scarlet macaw as endangered, which would protect the birds from the pet trade. Then in 2016, FWS threw logic and the best available science out the door and abruptly changed its decision to list the population as threatened.

FoA provides continued support to two primate sanctuaries

The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project, an island sanctuary in the River Gambia National Park, is now home to 140 chimpanzees who live in four groups in relative freedom—without bars or cages—on three of the park’s five islands. This year HBO released the documentary “Lucy the Human Chimp” chronicling the work of our program’s extraordinary director, Janis Carter.

Many of the refuge’s chimpanzees were confiscated as orphans of parents killed by hunters for bushmeat or parents who were taken for exploitive industries. Some were voluntarily relinquished by people who had unwisely tried to make them into pets. Friends of Animals’ support ensures that the chimpanzees receive supplemental food for a complete diet and helps prevent over stripping of the island vegetation by the chimpanzees. FoA’s support also makes possible the health monitoring that is vital to the survival of these great apes.

FoA also provides the essentials—healthcare, food and enrichment activities that stimulate wild behaviors and habitat maintenance—for the primates and birds who reside at Primarily Primates, the Texas-based, 78-acre sanctuary that FoA has managed since 2007. Primarily Primates is home to hundreds of animals—including 32 chimpanzees. We continue to rescue animals from the exotic pet trade, roadside zoos, animal experimentation and the entertainment industry.

FWS cuts ties to NRA thanks to FoA

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service terminated its unethical and illegal agreement with the National Rifle Association to assist in the recruitment, education and retaining of hunters through NRA’s outreach programs following a lawsuit filed by Friends of Animals in January.

The agreement was signed by the former Trump administration just a week before President Biden’s inauguration.

Within days of the agreement, FoA filed a lawsuit and urged FWS to rescind the agreement. On May 5, the new director of FWS wrote to NRA cancelling the agreement and stating that the agreement had not been “adequately reviewed by staff or the Solicitor’s office” before being approved last year.

FoA successfully appeals the public’s right to elephant import information under FOIA

FoA submitted a FOIA request for information about the import of elephant parts to the U.S. Shockingly, FWS redacted the names of the importers from the information it turned over to FoA, claiming that those who choose to import the parts of elephants deserve privacy for their grotesque activities. FoA then sued to challenge the agency’s wrongful withholding of this information.

After the district court agreed with the government’s withholding of this information, FoA appealed this ruling to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. In October, the court ruled for FoA, holding that the public’s interest in information about who imports the parts of threatened species like elephants outweighs any negligible privacy interest that these importers have. This ruling is a big win for transparency and the public’s right to information about the import of elephant parts.