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James Drake

State and local humane societies across America are involved in the care and welfare of homeless animals.

Many volunteers and some paid staff operate shelters and assist in pet adoptions.

That being said, you’d probably figure the Humane Society of the United States is the national umbrella group for all these smaller community shelters. If you believed that, then you’d be wrong.

The HSUS is very interested in sponsoring anti-hunting campaigns, but not so concerned with doing anything to protect animals on a local level.

According to the watchdog group HumaneWatch, the HSUS spends less than one percent of its budget on grants to pet shelters.

HumaneWatch has reviewed the HSUS’ latest IRS form 990 that covers 2011. This document highlights income and spending and is required of all nonprofit groups. It is available to anyone.

According to HumaneWatch, public support was down in 2011 to the HSUS by about $8.5 million compared to 2010 and their total revenue decreased by more than 10 percent.

HumaneWatch also reported that the HSUS spends only about 0.25 percent of its budget on grants to pet shelters. If you add in spay/neuter grants, then that figure only goes up to about half of one percent.

That’s not a whole lot when you consider the Muscular Dystrophy Association reported 77 cents of every dollar it receives goes directly to research, services and education. The American Heart Association spends 7.6 percent on management and 13.2 percent on fundraising. The rest goes to the cause for which donations are intended.

Regionally in 2011, the HSUS gave $6,308 in grants within Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania got $3,000 and West Virginia's total was $2,500, while Virginia saw one of their largest bequeaths which was $22,043.

Maryland received nothing. $0 was the Maryland total in 2011 from the HSUS.

Ponder that if you’re making donations to this national group and you expect that money to trickle down to the local level.

No Maryland shelter received a single dime from the HSUS to aid in pet sheltering.

HumaneWatch also revealed that the HSUS spent 38 percent of its total budget on fundraising while less than one percent goes out as grants to pet shelters.

The HSUS spent another $2.4 million on its pension plan, bringing the total to about $17 million since Wayne Pacelle took over as CEO in 2004. And, speaking of Mr. Pacelle, he received just under $300,000 in compensation for 2011 to make his total payment since joining the HSUS to about $3 million.

Besides Pacelle, HumaneWatch noted that 24 other people on HSUS staff make more than $100,000 each.

If you want your money to help homeless pets, then simply give directly to your local shelter.

Don’t feed the deer

We’ve already had a little taste of winter weather recently and if things get really bad in the days ahead, people may think they’re doing a good deed in putting out food for wild critters.

I’m not talking here about black oil sunflower seed for the chickadees and titmice, but rather a bale of hay or a couple bags of apples for the wild deer.

Many undomesticated animals actually have fairly complex and delicate digestive systems and deer are certainly included in that group.

When you decide to give them extra food, it may very well be something their digestive systems can’t readily accept, and they can die from starvation even though their stomachs are full of food.

Congregating deer in a small area also increases the chance for them to pass diseases to each other. Additionally, they’ll probably also snack on other vegetation that’s in and near the artificial feeding area. They can damage these plants permanently in certain artificial situations, and they just might need them in coming years for survival.

King tides

Those of us living in Southern Maryland are truly blessed that none of us are too far from the water.

If you’ve got a camera and the inclination, consider taking some shoreline photos and join the Maryland King Tides Photo Initiative from Jan. 9 to 13.

Never heard of a king tide? I doubt you’re alone. This non-scientific term was first coined in Queensland, Australia in 2009 and simply refers to naturally occurring, exceptionally high tides.

King tides have nothing to do with climate change or the rise in sea level, but rather are caused by the sun and moon lining up together when they’re closest to Earth. It may be winter now, but our planet is actually closer to the sun right now than it is in the summertime.

For 2013, king tides are expected Jan. 9 to 13 and the King Tide Initiative Group would like to see shoreline pictures taken during that time from Maryland.

The sea level around our state is expected to rise three to four feet over the next century. Building a photographic library of how local communities are already experiencing flooding due to natural events, such as these unusually high tides coming up, is another step to learning more about vulnerable communities.

For more information, go to and click on “Calling for Pictures of High Tides.”

Late firearm season

Maryland’s late firearm season for deer will be held Jan. 4 to 5. For many hunters, this might be their last chance to add venison to the family freezer.

If you’ve been unlucky so far during the regular firearm season, then maybe you need to change something.

If you can find a spot that has had little or no hunting pressure during the regular firearm season, then you’ve discovered a prime late season hunting area.

Get away from other hunters for the deer pattern people’s movements just as much as we pattern them. Consider hunting untraditional areas at untraditional times.

Upcoming show

The Mid-Atlantic Outdoor Sportsman Expo will be held Jan. 11 to 13 at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.

Lots to see and plenty to learn from free seminars throughout the day on topics from kayak fishing to trolling the Chesapeake Bay for trophy stripers. Vendors expected range from African safaris to backyard boats.

The cost is $12 for adults and children 12 and younger are free. For more information, go to