While criticisms of Ryan have focused mainly on his economic and Medicare policies, his lesser-known positions on animal issues - opposing the protection of puppies, endangered species, wild horses, and primates - are also important.
Paul Ryan, Hunting & Fishing
In an interview with a hunting magazine, Ryan stated, "Bowhunting is my passion. Studying the strategy, preparing food plots, the strategy of where a dominant buck is living or will be moving and then being in position to get a shot, that’s really exciting."
In hunting, a food plot is an area planted with crops for the purpose of feeding and baiting wildlife for hunting.
Ryan is a former co-chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and his candidacy is supported by confessed poacher/hunter Ted Nugent. Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, told The Washington Times, “We’ve given him an A rating and endorsed him every cycle he’s been in Congress.”
Paul Ryan on Animal Protection Issues
After nearly thirteen years in Congress, Ryan has passsed only two bills: one renaming a post office, and one lowering the federal tax on arrows.
On the Humane Scorecard, he scored 20% in 2004, 28% in 2006, 17% in 2008, and 13% in 2010. Ryan also has a score of 13% in the midterm scorecard for the 112th Congress.
According to the Humane Scorecard, Ryan's most recent anti-animal votes included:
- Voted against the protection of any new species or new critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (112th Congress, 2011-12)
- Voted against cutting the budget of the USDA Wildlife Services' lethal predator control program (112th Congress, 2011-12)
- Voted to bar the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from collecting greenhouse gas data from factory farms (111th Congress, 2009-10)
- Voted against grants to protect marine turtles (111th Congress, 2009-10)
- Voted against a recovery program for Southern sea otters (111th Congress, 2009-10)
- Voted against a bill to prohibit the sale and slaughter of wild horses (111th Congress, 2009-10; 110th Congress, 2007-08)
- Voted for allowing guns in national parks (111th Congress, 2009-10)
- Voted against conservation programs for great cats and rare canids (111th Congress, 2009-10; 110th Congress, 2007-08)
- Voted against a ban on interstate and foreign commerce in primates as pets (111th Congress, 2009-10; 110th Congress, 2007-08)
- Voted in favor of allowing hunters to bring their polar bears trophies from Canada into the U.S. (110th Congress, 2007-08)
- Voted against provisions in the farm bill to strengthen the federal law against animal fighting, prohibit the importation of young puppies and increase penalties under the Animal Welfare Act. (110th Congress, 2007-08)
Ryan's most recent pro-animal votes included:
Ryan, Romney and Obama
Romney is a "small varmint" hunter and also hunts quail and supports rodeos, so picking Ryan as his running mate will only increase his appeal to hunters. Romney had already drawn criticism from animal advocates because he once drove twelve hours with his dog strapped to the roof of his car, even after the dog became ill - an act that Romney still defends.
It is important to note that Obama often comes down on the wrong side of animal protection issues. Animal advocates don't expect the president or vice-president to support a true animal rights platform, but hope that those in office will at least advance animal protection.
Disclosure: Although I am a Democrat, my views as a Democrat did not influence this article.