Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

Killing Cats to Protect Birds

Here is a really long article in the NY Times Magazine about a guy that killed a feral cat (or some say cats) to protect birds. I haven't had time to read the whole article, but it looks pretty good.

"Ethical" Foie Gras To Be Introduced

Just in time for the holidays!

The first "ethical" foie gras to be made in Britain is being launched by a supermarket chain next week.

The goose liver and duck liver pates have been made without the traditional force-feeding of the birds.

Waitrose, who is selling the products, has named them "faux gras" and marketing them as a British twist on the French product, made without cruelty to the birds.

The supermarket stopped selling French foie gras six years ago, as the tide of popular opinion turned against the force feeding of birds - traditionally the only way to give the livers the truly plump feel and smooth taste that is so prized by gourmets.

It has the backing of the animal charity RSPCA which says the faux gras was created with welfare in mind.

A spokesman for the supermaket admits that "fans of real foie gras will realise this is not the real thing."

However, David Stone, a buyer for the chain, said: "We think this is as near to authentic foie gras as we can get without the cruelty. We are confident we have come up with the holy grail of the gastronomic world - a pate with the richness of traditional foie gras, but without any of the guilt."

I've never eaten foie gras so I have no idea how it tastes. And, of course, the new "ethical" product was still made from a living being. But it's a start and change has to start with something.

Photo by nikaboyce.

Canadian Demand for Free-Range Eggs Lags

There's a whole lot of talk about buying eggs laid by cage-free or free-range chickens. It's the humane thing to do. But surprisingly, in Canada at least, it's the corporations and the governments that are leading the demand for these eggs, not the consumers.

Sparked by concern over the living conditions of commercial egg-laying hens, the B.C. cities of Richmond, Vancouver and Whistler recently vowed that their municipal cafeterias would only serve eggs laid by chickens raised in large open barns instead of stacks of small wire cages.

Those commitments, made earlier this year, were followed by similar moves by employers such as Google and postsecondary institutions such as the University of Guelph in Ontario, the University of British Columbia and Langara College in Vancouver. In the United States, Burger King and ice-cream giant Ben & Jerry's are phasing regular eggs out of their products.

But the recent spate of corporate promises hasn't had the trickle-down effect that animal rights activists have hoped for. Consumers still aren't rushing to buy cage-free eggs - and until that happens, egg producers say there's no reason to tear out their cages.

While cage-free egg sales have grown slightly in recent years, they're nowhere near the skyrocketing sales of other specialty brands, such as omega-3 enhanced eggs, which promise health benefits for people, not chickens. Without market demand, producers aren't rushing to pour millions of dollars into cage-free housing systems.

"You're asking me to produce without a market," says Harold Froese, a second-generation egg producer whose Manitoba facility houses 100,000 hens. "That's pretty tough."

Currently, 98 per cent of the six billion eggs produced each year in Canada come from farms that use caged chickens, the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency says.

Photo by Boot Boot.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Blood Sport of Wildlife Penning

Thanks to the Humane Society for having the stomach to investigate and talk about these brutal "sports."

Wildlife penning basically involves sticking a coyote or fox in a pen and setting a pack of dogs after them. The wildlife often gets torn apart.

Here's some more detail from the Humane Society.

Here is an interview with an insider who has witnessed these events.

What kind of people enjoy these things? And why do the more bizarre blood sports in the US always seem to be in the Southeast?

Photo by In posa.

Australian Fur Seals Killed in Shooting Spree

I'm not sure of the motive behind this killing spree. The seals' bodies were left behind and it sounds like the fur was intact. So, no trophy hunting and no poaching.

Just a little target practice?

Rare and protected Australian fur seals have been killed in an apparent shooting spree in Australia's island state of Tasmania, conservation officials said Wednesday.

At least nine seals had been found dead along the island's east coast, conservation official Andrew Irvine told Australian Associated Press.

Three had been confirmed shot, he said.

The Australian fur seal is one of the world's rarest and its numbers are recovering slowly after it was hunted to the brink of extinction.

Photo by davelight.

No More Small Animal Hunting in Moscow

Moscow plans to pass an ordinance outlawing the hunting of squirrels, hedgehogs, rabbits and other small animals.

The proposed law would be enforced by a series of fines. Any individual found deliberately damaging an animal's habitat - for example by burning vegetation - would be fined between 1,000 and 2,000 rubles, while companies and organizations doing the same would be obliged to pay up to 150,000 rubles. Hunting or otherwise abusing any of the small animals mentioned would lead to a fine of 2,500 rubles.

The move is especially surprising considering the overview of animal rights in Russia. Dog fighting, banned in almost every Western nation, is still legal and popular in many parts of the former Soviet Union. The Russian government still allows the hunting of polar bears for indigenous peoples, despite the fact that the arctic animal is at high risk of extinction.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Outsourcing Animal Testing a Growing Business

Here is an article on CNN about Charles River Labs, which contracts with companies and other entities to do animal testing. Business is booming.

Charles River operates 80 facilities in 15 countries. It also works at customer sites.

"It's all about drug companies having pipelines that are not very good," Foster said. "That means drug companies really have to work hard to replenish those drugs, or their sales and profits will drop precipitously."

Customers include pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms, government research agencies and universities.

"We're actually building huge facilities to do the work for our clients," Foster said. "No drug companies are building new animal facilities."

Not only will new construction solve capacity crunches -- by building facilities closer to customers, shipping costs can be reduced.

The company's capital expenditures have grown from $40 million in 2004 to about $225 million this year, Foster says.

The firm completed a new animal lab in Massachusetts early this year and is finishing a 450,000-square-foot preclinical facility in Reno, Nev., expected to open in January. A 300,000-square-foot lab is under way in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

About 50% of a new animal research building under construction in Maryland will be for work generated by the National Cancer Institute.

China won't be left out, either. Charles River formed a joint venture with a preclinical services firm in Shanghai, where it is building a new 50,000-square-foot facility.

Yes, I can't wait for drug testing from China. That will get rid of those pesky activists. And look at all the wonderful things they've done with toys and dog food!

Photo by Jurvetson

Australian Scientists Say Japanese Whale Killing Unnecessary for Research

Australian scientists are saying that the Japanese don't need to kill whales for research purposes.

Researchers from Southern Cross University in New South Wales said they have developed a more humane technique for collecting the scientific data.

The process involves DNA testing of the whales' skin flakes, which naturally shed when they breach the water, said Peter Harrison, an associate professor at the university.

''The skin samples can give you the genetic information of the whale, they can tell you the relationships to the other whales, who's the mother, who's the father, etc.,'' Harrison told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The Japanese whaling fleet is due to set sail for the Antarctic Ocean within weeks. Once there, the whalers plan to kill more than 1,000 minke, fin and -- for the first time -- humpback whales.

The whales, Japan says, are taken to collect their genetic information, which in turn is needed for the future management of the ocean mammal's stocks.

These methods do not allow for exact age determinations for population studies, but that breakthrough may only be a matter of time. For now, it is at least possible to humanely estimate the age of a whale from its genetic material.

Let's be honest though. In my opinion, Japanese whaling is not about research. It's about PRODUCT and PROFIT. This sentence from the article says it all.

'Japan's research makes a valuable contribution to the management of Antarctic whale species to ensure that any FUTURE COMMERCIAL WHALING REGIME is robust and sustainable TO PROVIDE A RELIABLE FOOD SOURCE for generations to come,'' {Institute of Cetacean Research Director General Minoru} Morimoto said.

Photo by jmcar.

Vick Agrees to Pay $1 Million to Dogs

I just hope that flag football contract he gets when he's out of prison can make up for these losses.

His lawyer William R. Martin said in court documents that Vick will deposit $928,073.04 by Friday to an escrow account.

The money is "to be used to pay whatever restitution money is ultimately ordered in this case," states the document, known as a consent order.

The order was filed a week after federal prosecutors asked a federal court in Virginia to order Vick -- also known as "Ookie" -- to keep that much money on hand to cover the dogs' care.

Vick had agreed under his plea agreement to pay "restitution for the full amount of the costs associated with the disposition of all dogs" in the case.

And here's a list of his other liabilities from the CNN article:

• The Atlanta Falcons' attempt to recoup bonus money from his 10-year, $130 million 2004 football contract,
• Vick's alleged default on a $1.3 million bank loan for a wine store,
• Another bank's lawsuit seeking payment for default on a $2.5 million line of credit,
• A third bank's lawsuit seeking at least $2 million for loans related to a car-rental business.

I foresee a future career in advertising psychic hotlines on late night TV or maybe used cars.

Photo by Barrio Dude

Fox Hunting Not a Human Right

It looks like the pursuit of the inedible by the unspeakable (as Oscar Wilde would say), is not a human right. That, according to a recent ruling by Britain's highest court.

Britain's highest court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by countryside groups against the government's ban on hunting with dogs, ruling that the law does not contravene human rights.

It was the second time the Law Lords had been asked to rule on the lawfulness of the Hunting Act 2004, which banned fox and deer hunting and hare coursing with dogs in England and Wales following similar laws in Scotland.

Campaigners have tried to have the act declared invalid and claimed it would devastate rural communities and local industries supporting hunts, such as kennels for hounds and farriers who ensure hunt horses are well-shod.

But in a unanimous decision, one of the three judges, Thomas Bingham, said the act "must be taken to reflect the conscience of a majority of the nation".

"The democratic process is liable to be subverted if, on a question of moral and political judgment, opponents of the Act achieve through the courts what they could not achieve in Parliament," he said.

They are now going to the European Court of Human Rights according to Animalblog. That sounds like an incredibly stupid argument to make.

Photo by David Wulff

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Madonna Sheep Incident Causes Outrage

No, she hasn't come out with a sequel to her book Sex. She apparently dyed some sheep different colors for a photo shoot.

The RSPCA termed the incident as an “irresponsible publicity stunt” and said that it would provoke more such incidents.

“Why is it necessary and what are they trying to prove?” The Sun quoted a RSPCA spokesperson, as saying.

“It sends out the wrong message about how to use animals. Even if the dye is safe for the animals, others might copy it with an unsafe dye,” he added.

Um, yeah. I'm not in favor of the whole "sheep dyeing" concept here, but how many beers would you have to have to go out, buy a bunch of dye, and then try to find some sheep to use it on? I'd recommend you kids stick to marking up your passed out roommate's face with a permanent marker and posting the video on Youtube.

And since when did Madonna get the "Madge" nickname? I'm sorry, but there can only be one Madge, and here she is:

Photo by Annodam

Makah Face Tribal Charges on Illegal Whaling

All I can say is, I'm glad they are also up on federal charges as well. Something tells me that even if they are found guilty, they will get little more than a slap on the wrist.

Five members of the Makah tribe face a year in prison and may be fined $5,000 each for participating in an unauthorized whale hunt this fall.

On Monday, the Makah Tribal Council announced that it had charged Wayne Johnson, Theron Parker, Andy Noel, Bill Secor and Frankie Gonzalez with violating state and federal laws, including the Marine Animal Protection Act, by joining in an unsanctioned hunt for gray whales off Neah Bay on Sept. 8.

Let's face it, these people all know each other. The only reason the Tribal Council is acting is because they don't like the negative publicity, and want to show the feds they can "be responsible" in managing legal whale hunts.

Photo by Ricardo Martins

April Trial Date Set for Vick on State Charges

I'm sure this will further delay his re-entry into the NFL. Or flag football or whatever he thinks he's going to be doing...

EU to Ban Dog and Cat Fur Trade

The ban is set to take place in 2009, which is not soon enough according to some activists.

The sale and import of products containing cat or dog fur is to be banned across the European Union, officials said Monday, Nov. 26. EU agriculture ministers formally adopted a proposal to this effect put forward a year ago by the European Commission during a regular council meeting in Brussels.

The proposal, which becomes European law at the beginning of 2009, calls for a total ban on the import, export and sale of cat and dog fur in all of the EU's 27 member states.

The European Commission proposed the legislation after public outcry that fur traders were not following a voluntary prohibition and cat and dog fur was found in EU products. The new EU rule, however, does not say how the ban will be enforced.

Photo by Qole Pejorian

Monday, November 26, 2007

Canadian Hunting May Be Hurting Polar Bears

I didn't even know Canada had hunting policies for polar bear. It's amazing what one learns from running a blog. Anyway, not only are polar bears in danger of drowning from melting ice caps, but their male population is threatened by hunting. Because it takes two to reproduce, this hunting could endanger the survival of the species.

Here are the highlights....

New research suggests that Canadian polar bear hunting policies could be pushing populations of the iconic Arctic predator toward sudden, steep declines.

Hunters focus mostly on male bears. {Peter Molnar of the University of Alberta} said that about two-thirds of the bears taken by hunters in Canada are males.

That means the bears could be edging toward what biologists call the Allee effect - a sudden collapse of breeding success after the male-female ratio passes a tipping point.

Scientists say two-thirds of the world's polar bears will be gone by 2050 as melting sea ice slowly robs them of their habitat.

Animal rights activists such as the U.S. Humane Society have used those statements to argue for a ban on sport-hunting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering declaring the bears an endangered species, even though the lowest estimate of their worldwide population is 20,000.

But Inuit, who can earn up to $30,000 for guiding a single sport-hunting trip, say bear numbers are healthy and some populations are actually growing - testimony often referenced by climate change skeptics.

The report was done in collaboration with the government of Nunavut. Although polar bear quotas are proposed by community-based hunter's groups, the territory has the ultimate responsibility for deciding how many of the bears can be taken.

Photo by intrepidberkeleyexplorer.

Vegan Student Expelled From Moscow State for Refusing to Experiment on Live Frog

Roman Belousov has been a straight A student, but that wasn't enough to save him.

His microbiology course involves dissecting live frogs, rodents and rabbits – something he refuses to do. Belousov says such operations go against his ethical beliefs and are not necessary for his career.

“I refused to experiment on a frog because I had to paralyse it and operate without anaesthetic. I think these tests are senseless especially for someone who doesn’t intend working with animals in the future,” Belousov said.

By not taking part in practical experiments, he's failed some of his exams and has had to repeat his third year three times.

He’s now taking his university professor to court for the right to study without dissecting animals. He wants to be allowed to use other ways of learning, such as computer simulation.

Photo by Nellring

Mixed Reaction Over Killing of Mountain Lion

I have the stomach flu, so don't get too close to this while you're reading it. Hey, I need something to laugh through the nausea.

Anywho, here is a really interesting article about a man who shot a mountain lion that was attacking his dog. Some thought him a hero for protecting his dog. Others thought him a monster for killing such a wonderful animal. It certainly raises a lot of issues. It's easy to say that, yes, we are infringing on the mountain lion's habitat etc. But if it's got your dog in his jaws, that's not something that goes through your mind. I think it's really a lose/lose situation.

At the Division of Wildlife offices in Denver, a surge of e-mails arrived, while the switchboard lit up with callers weighing in on whether Kocar should be commended for protecting his pet or slapped with charges for unauthorized killing of wildlife.

Ultimately, the DOW declined to file charges.

"No matter what decision we make, 50 percent of the population is always upset with us," Baskfield says. "Either we haven't done enough to protect public safety or they're upset we killed the animal."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Aussie Green Leader Calls for Tougher Stance on Whaling

Green Leader Bob Brown is asking that Kevin Rudd follow up on Labor's promise to take measures against Japanese Whaling. I hope they do. It will be interesting to see what effect this will have on Australia-Japan relations if they start buzzing the whalers with military aircraft.

The six-ship fleet is a week out of Japan after foiling Greenpeace plans to tail it, and is likely to reach Antarctica to begin whaling by mid-December.

Labor went to the election pledging to take a much stronger stand against whaling than the Howard government. Mr Rudd said it was time to take a new course of action, and "step it up a bit".

Foreign Affairs spokesman Robert McClelland said Labor would use the Australian Defence Force to gather evidence on Japanese activity to present to international tribunals.

With the whalers planning to add 50 humpbacks from Australian stocks to the kill, international law specialists including Australian National University's Professor Don Rothwell say legal action could be taken urgently.

Photo by SqueakyMarmot

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Bush" Meat Case in the US

I'd never heard about this, but a woman in NY is on trial for trying to smuggle in meat from monkeys and other animals.

They're trying to claim ignorance, but I have my doubts.

The case dates to early 2006, when federal inspectors at JFK Airport examined a shipment of 12 cardboard boxes from Guinea.

They were addressed to Manneh and, according to a flight manifest, contained African dresses and smoked fish with a value of $780.

Instead, stashed underneath the smoked fish, the inspectors found what West Africans refer to as bushmeat: "skulls, limbs and torsos of non-human primate species" plus the hoof and leg of a small antelope, according to court papers.

Three days later, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents were at Manneh's door, where she told them she ran a smoked fish importing business.

According to the agents, she initially denied ordering any bushmeat from Africa or ever eating it while in the United States.

But after she consented to a search, the agents came across a tiny, hairy arm hidden in her garage.


Mobile Pet Adoptions

The Seattle Humane Society now has a mobile pet adoption vehicle that can hold hold up to 20 animals. That's an excellent idea.

Friday was the maiden voyage for the MaxMobile, a 33-foot bright-yellow truck specially designed and built for the Humane Society. It can hold up to 20 animals — including cats, dogs and rabbits — for transportation to retail centers or high-traffic areas where they are put on display in hopes they'll steal a heart and find a new home.

"We've been looking to get a cat for the last few months," said Sherer, holding Ace as he cuddled into her neck, purring in her ear. "He's going to be a great cat. I think my kids are going to flip."

Sherer filled out the necessary adoption forms and paid the $80 fee before she took the cat home. Adoption fees vary with the age and type of pet. Puppies and kittens cost more, and animals with special needs cost less.

Critter of the Week - Crazy Cleo!

Crazy Cleo is out and about searching for the One She Loves.

Beware Mr. Barky!

Inhumane Conditions in China's Animal Parks

The conditions have been terrible in Chinese zoos and wild animal parks for years. What is it going to take for a change? Is there a need for nation-wide reform or must it be done on a park-by-park basis?

As you read this, believe me, it is nothing new. And, get this, some tiger parks are using these incidents to argue for tiger FARMS. Apparently, this is a better way to preserve the species??

Animal rights activists called Monday for improved living conditions at China's wild animal parks after the deaths of captive tigers from disease and starvation, including a tiger killed by four other cats in a fight over meager food supplies at a zoo in northeast China.

The more than 30 tigers in the Bing Chuan park in Shenyang have been receiving less than their normal allowance of about 11 pounds of frozen chicken and beef per day because of lack of funding, said a park official, who gave only his surname, Li.

....Jeff He, communications manager for the International Fund for Animal Welfare in China, said the tiger parks were using such incidents to pressure the government into lifting a 1993 ban on domestic trade in tiger parts, which are prized in traditional Chinese medicine.

Inadequate regulations on the number of animal parks and a lack of animal welfare legislation were compounding the problems and playing into the operators' hands, He said.

"I think that if these types of wild parks cannot afford so many tigers, then the best way is to actually control it so that this kind of tragedy doesn't happen," He said.

Operators already have some government support for lifting the ban.

Chinese officials have reportedly sought support for plans to farm tigers for their body parts, from India, home to the world's largest remaining wild tiger population, which opposes lifting the ban.

Photo by CameraGurl.

Japanese Whaling Hypocrisy

The Japanese are so full of it when they argue cultural prerogative as the basis for their whaling practice. My parents are Portuguese and whaling was a big part of Portuguese history. Are they still whaling now....uh, no. So why should the Japanese?

Apparently, the Japanese aren't even consistent in their own application of the culture argument.

Whaling is part of Japan's culture, they say. They point to archaeological evidence that whale meat has been a Japanese staple for more than 2,500 years. Respect for the "brave fish" courses through Japanese literature and paintings, they say, and has inspired folk festivals and puppet shows. Whales are so revered that the souls of the hunted and killed are commemorated in the Buddhist temples of Japan's hunting ports.

Yet despite contending that tradition justifies the whale hunt, the Japanese government BALKS AT ACCEPTING SIMILAR ARGUMENTS from the Ainu people on the northern island of Hokkaido who want to fish for wild salmon. The Japanese government has long PREVENTED THE INDIGENOUS AINU PEOPLE FROM EXERCISING THEIR TRADITIONAL HUNTING AND FIHING RIGHTS, including the right to catch salmon as they return to Hokkaido's rivers to spawn.

Salmon have always been a food staple for the Ainu, such a fundamental element of their culture that they annually perform ceremonies to give thanks for the fish. Only in recent years has the government bent to Ainu lobbying and agreed to permit a small salmon haul that allows a few fish to be caught for ceremonial purposes.

This year's allowance is 1,700 salmon, up from the 20 approved in previous years.

I would not claim that my government is always consistent," Joji Morishita, director for international negotiations for the Japanese government's Fisheries Agency, said when asked about the discrepancy between how Japan wants its whalers to be treated and the restrictions it imposes on the Ainu community. "You cannot be perfect on every issue and unfortunately that's happening in the case of the Ainu."

How noble of him to admit it.

Photo by Greenpeace_Flor.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lawsuit Filed in Puerto Rico Animal Killings

This is just a sick, sick story that keeps getting worse. Thanks to the Associated Press for its investigative probe into the atrocities.

News that live animals had been thrown to their deaths from a bridge reached the public last month when Animal Control Solutions, a government contractor, was accused of inhumanely killing some 80 dogs and cats seized from three housing projects in the town of Barceloneta. A half dozen survived the fall of at least 50 feet.

The AP probe, which included visits to two sites where animals were slaughtered, found the inhumane killings were far more extensive than that one incident. The AP saw and was told about a scale and brutality far beyond even what animal welfare activists suspected, stretching over the last eight years.

A $22.5 million lawsuit against Animal Control Solutions and city officials — including those who helped round up the animals — was filed on behalf of 16 Barceloneta families whose dogs or cats were seized under rules prohibiting pets at the city projects. The animals' deaths show "a cold and depraved heart and has stirred public outrage around the whole world," the lawsuit says.

As bad as Animal Control Solutions is, one also has to fault the Puerto Rican government agencies. They apparently don't give a damn and should be held accountable. This is an international embarrassment and gives the incorrect impression of a backwards, underdeveloped, uneducated country. I just don't buy that.

Animal welfare activists have complained to government agencies for years about allegations of improper disposal of animals, but say officials didn't act. Preventive action also is almost nonexistent: Puerto Rico has at least 100,000 stray dogs and cats — and no island-wide spaying or neutering programs.

Activist Alfredo Figueroa said the animal disposal companies acted with impunity because government agencies ignored allegations of cruelty, rather than investigate the companies or address the overpopulation of strays.

"There is apathy," Figueroa said. "No one wants to take responsibility."

Photo by Oquendo.

Trap, Spay and Return in Israel

Good, in-depth article on the attempt to get state-wide trap, spay and return (release) programs for stray cats in Israel. I did not know how bad the problem is there.

According to experts in relevant fields, Israel has a particularly large street cat overpopulation problem. In the words of a veterinarian from central Israel: "No other western country has as severe a problem as Israel with street cats."

The same veterinarian claims these issues are constantly being dealt with in the US and Europe, whereas "in Israel it's as though no one cares. There is no awareness here."

Photo by RachelandEric.

Alien Spiders Invade Europe

No word yet on whether they have frickin' lasers attached to their heads.

Swiss researchers are warning that greater numbers of spiders are making their way to Europe - an idea likely to strike fear into the hearts of arachnophobes.

The scientists say that over the past 150 years the expansion in global trade has led to more alien spiders, bigger than domestic species, being inadvertently imported.

A huge, furry monster goosesteps across the screen. It has eight legs and you just know it's going to eat everything in sight. It is, of course, that 1975 classic, The Giant Spider Invasion.

In the real world, it's not quite as scary, but that doesn't mean there isn't an invasion going on. It is more like a slow process that has been taking place for over a century.

According to zoology professor Wolfgang Nentwig and his colleagues at Bern University, 87 foreign spider species have made their way to Europe over the past 150 years.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Canada's Fur Industry Strikes Back

The Canadian Fur Industry has launched an ad campaign promoting fur as environmentally friendly.

No, I'm not making it up.

Run by the Fur Council of Canada, the campaign uses trendy catchphrases such as renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and non-toxic to depict fur as eco-friendly. The council also stresses the humane treatment of animals used to produce fur.

"I defy anybody to name me a more environmentally friendly produce, something that's produced in nature, that gives us an incentive to protect the forest," said council spokesperson Alan Herscovici.

But I thought a lot of furs come from fur farms that do not rely on forests, but the animals in the pens for the fur supply.

Perhaps they are taking a page from the Bush Administration. According to them, people are so dumb that if you say something often enough, they'll eventually believe you. Even if it's a blatant lie.

It's been pretty successful so far in the US....

Photo by Vegan_Butterfly.

Adopting Turkeys

Here is an interesting article in the NY Times about Farm Sanctuary and other groups that adopt turkeys.

It is one thing for the president of the United States to pardon a pair of turkeys every year and then send them off to live out their days in Florida. It’s quite another to save a turkey from the Thanksgiving table by inviting it to live with you.

Two weeks ago, Karen Oeh and her husband, Mike Balistreri, who live not far from Santa Cruz, Calif., adopted two turkeys that had been rescued after an airline shipping misfortune in Las Vegas.

“I am like a new parent,” said Ms. Oeh, 39. “I instantly, totally fell in love, and now I just want to stay home with them.”

Ms. Oeh and Mr. Balistreri will not be among the 92 percent of Americans who will eat turkey today, as estimated by the National Turkey Federation, a trade group. Instead, they have given the birds a softer, easier path that bypasses the oven and leads to the backyard.

Here is a link to Farm Sanctuary

Photo by Jeniphur99

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Animal Activism as Terrorism

It's always made me mad that the people that decided to NOT GET BIN LADEN instead of attacking Iraq have branded Animal Activists as somehow one of the greatest threats to humanity. Jennifer at Animalblawg has a thought provoking piece about the erosion of civil liberties against animal activists. Even if you don't agree with some of the tactics, remember that these people want to torture and waterboard people they label as "terrorists". Worst. President. Ever.

Law students gathered to hear Will Potter, an award-winning journalist and creator of, a blog that tracks and analyzes the governmental and corporate responses to animal rights and environmental activism.

At the lunch, Potter discussed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a federal law signed into law in November 2006 that labels many crimes as “terrorism” when they are undertaken with a specific viewpoint—the pro-environment or pro-animal viewpoints. While even the activists that many people would label as “extremists,” such as the Environmental Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, do not act violently against people, these activists have been labeled “terrorists.”

Before the passage of the AETA, the actions of the ELF, the ALF, and others accused of anti-industry crimes, were already illegal and carried strong penalties under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992. However, 2006’s AETA is extraordinary because it pins the “terrorist” label to environmental and animal activists who engage in illegal activities.

The addition of this “terrorist” label is one result of the “Green Scare,” says Potter. The Green Scare, according to Potter, is a three-pronged attempt to instill fear and hatred in the public against the environmental and animal rights positions. Using the courts, legislation, and, most importantly, an extensive public relations campaign, the government and industrial groups are attempting to discredit the environmental and animal rights viewpoints.

Animal Blog UK

Here is an excellent blog in the UK. No matter where you are, if you are interested in animal issues, they are worth a daily check.

That "Happy Turkey Day" Crap

Thursday, November 22, is Thanksgiving, an American holiday. Americans sit down with family and friends to enjoy a lot of food and some football. Then it's off to the Christmas season where it's buy, buy, buy.

I like Thanksgiving even though I don't eat meat. But I do have a pet peeve. Instead of"Happy Thanksgiving," some people choose to say "Happy Turkey Day."

Look, there are no happy turkeys on Thanksgiving. They are all dead and on someone's plate or in their stomachs. So don't say Happy Turkey Day on Thanksgiving.

The only one that's happy is probably you.

Photo by Emmy!

Australian Puppy Mills Criticized

As long as there is demand for purebred puppies and the opportunity for profit, there will be puppy mills. As long as there are puppy mills, there will be a desperate need for clear regulations and strict enforcement.

The RSPCA investigated 21 separate breeders across Australia last financial year.

The animal protection society says that "cruel puppy farms" are using limited breeding pools to produce a generation of dogs beset with genetic health problems including blindness, arthritic joints and skin problems.

ACA Breeders Kennels in Sale, where the pictures were taken and an estimated 300 to 400 dogs are kept for reproduction purposes, have denied the exploitation.

The pictures were taken by Animal Liberation Victoria, which claimed it rescued some dogs needing treatment for eye infections.

"It's a factory, a production line with rows and rows of breeding mums," ALV spokeswoman Debra Rigaldi said. "Puppy farms are the ultimate betrayal of man's best friend."

And RSPCA President Dr Hugh Wirth said the dogs pictured probably experienced a life of "terror".

"They live a life of confinement and deprivation," he said. "It's very difficult to find them a home later because they aren't used to open spaces, they are just terrified."

Photo by clussman.

NZ Minister Condemns Heather Mills' Campaign

I didn't realize Heather Mills was so influential that a New Zealand government official would actually speak out against her activism. I guess she doesn't have to be married to Sir Paul to cause a fuss...see below.

New Zealand Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said Thursday that British celebrity Heather Mills was deluded in a campaign against eating meat and dairy products that she launched this week in London. "The claim that you can't be an environmentalist if you eat meat and dairy products is wrong," Anderton said.

"That the picture on one billboard associating meat and dairy with a burnt out wasteland and hellish fires suggests Ms Mills has never seen a New Zealand dairy farm. For her information, they are lush and green."

New Zealand is the world's biggest single exporter of butter, cheese and other dairy products and a major supplier of sheep meat to Europe and beef to the United States and Asia.

Photo by Russell Bremner.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

South Africa's Growing Elephant Industry

There seems to be an industry for everything. In South Africa, now there's an industry for captive elephants.

The department of environmental affairs and tourism will publish a new set of norms and standards on Monday that is intended to control South Africa's burgeoning captive-elephant tourism industry.

There are at least 112 elephants in captivity in South Africa, of which 92 are used to give rides to tourists, or otherwise interact with them. Fourteen captive elephants are in circuses or the film industry, and six are in zoos.

Representatives of elephant owners and trainers have argued that the industry should be allowed to regulate itself and that the training of elephants for human interaction is not cruel.

Those opposed to the industry say that keeping elephants in captivity and training them to interact with humans on command requires both the physical and the mental domination of the animals, and that the imposition of this dominance necessarily involves cruelty.

At a public meeting in October, Greg Vogt, the spokesman for the Elephant Trainers' Association, told the department that his organisation had drawn up its own set of norms and standards and that no other monitoring or regulation was necessary.

He said captive-elephant tourist industry did not believe that animal rights or animal welfare organisations, or anyone not involved in the industry, should have a say about how elephant owners or trainers treated "their" elephants.

A range of NGOs and individuals - including Animal Rights Africa, Public Watch, the National SPCA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare - have taken part in the review of the exploitation of captive elephants, most of them calling for the industry to be shut down or far more rigorously monitored.

Photo by flucoid.

NBC Teams Up With Company That Does Animal Testing for Pet Social Network

Ah the perfect marriage of advertiser and corporate news. Or is it? Procter and Gamble Says that they do animal testing as a "last resort"but still, you have to wonder about their motives are in this. Other then gobbling up all your cash, that is. The new website is called Petside and is run by NBC.

According to Mashable (with a h/t to Webb Alert):

Petside is a new social network for pets and the owners that love them. It’s being launched in conjunction with NBC Universal and Proctor and Gamble. The umbrella company that lords over countless consumer products sees this as a potential outlet for advertising Iams pet food. That sorta makes sense, but was it necessary for Proctor and Gamble?

Potential Market Research = Targeted Ads

Depending on the amount of research it can gather from the site, the level of user engagement and customization for site content, and its user interaction, I can see the potential for creating such a site. Instead of launching its own, it’s gone through an established media company for this very purpose.

P&G does have some sort of a relationship with the Humane Society. According to the P&G website:

The Humane Society of the United States and P&G have established a strategic partnership committed to the elimination of animal use for consumer product safety evaluation that at the same time ensures marketed products continue to be safe for both the consumer and the environment. Both organizations have a long history of commitment to alternatives development and we believe that by working together we can enhance the likelihood of achieving our common objective of making animal testing for consumer products unnecessary.

Others, however, are not so impressed. According to Uncaged in the UK:

P&G admit that guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, ferrets, rats and mice are among the animals used in their ‘product safety research’, as well as cats and dogs in pet food experiments. Uncaged’s investigations continue to reveal disturbing examples of P&G’s ongoing involvement in painful and lethal animal tests.

Procter & Gamble exist for one reason, and one reason only - to make as much money as possible. P&G test on animals because of their desire to get new chemical ingredients on to the market. This allows them to claim that their new hair dye, skin cream or washing powder etc. is ‘new, improved’, in the hope of increasing sales. But with many companies producing similar consumer products without carrying out animal tests, it shows that P&G’s cruelty is motivated by greed.

Obviously, P&G realise that their behaviour appals most people. Sadly, instead of reforming, P&G invest enormous amounts in PR and spin that aims to give a rosy impression of their testing practices. P&G have even been lobbying governments to try to block bans on animal testing for cosmetics that have public support. Now, Uncaged’s investigations have uncovered P&G’s outrageous plans to carry out massive animal testing programmes for new cosmetics and household product ingredients.

So, don't expect to many stories on animal testing in their news section. Or much of anything controversial for that matter.

If you want a good pet site, go to Itchmo. They are a for-profit site too, but are an independent voice. And, they have lots of good articles, cute pictures of pets, and a very active community of people posting comments. And best of all, they are based in the Northwest which makes them ultra-cool in a Nirvana-grunge-REI-latte-sniffing sort of way.

Photo by Arimoore.

Prosecutors Seek $1 Million From Vick to Pay for Care of Pitbulls

Nothing wrong with that. It's not like he can't afford it.

The government, citing Vick's ``deteriorating financial condition,'' asked U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson to issue a restraining order freezing about $928,000 to be used for the care of 54 dogs and find homes for them, according to court papers filed today.

Vick, who turned himself in yesterday to begin his prison term, faces up to five years at his Dec. 10 sentencing for a federal dogfighting charge. Vick is financially responsible for the animals' care as part of the agreement with prosecutors he entered by pleading guilty to a charge of plotting to run an interstate dogfighting ring, the Associated Press said.

Whaling Protests Bound to Get Very Nasty

Sea Shepherd has vowed to stop the Japanese whalers from reaching their quota of whales.

The Robert Hunter's first officer Peter Hammarstedt said targeting humpbacks was the group's "line in the sand".

"We are taking an uncompromising stance," Hammarstedt told AFP, refusing to divulge details of tactics. "We are going down there to enforce international conservation law."

In its last encounter with the Japanese in Antarctic waters, the vessel collided with a Japanese ship.

The incident led the Japanese to brand the group "terrorists", an accusation Sea Shepherd rejects. It says no one has been injured by its activities in its 30-year history.

Greenpeace will also be there to try to disrupt the hunt. If Australia's Labor Party wins as predicted in the Saturday election, it's possible the Australian military may monitor the whaling vessels as well.

Photo by Ajft

Monday, November 19, 2007

Animal Rights Activists Losing Ground in UK?

That's the implication of this article in Germany's Der Spiegel. There's a lot in this article, including examples of the illegal and criminal activities engaged in by animal rights "terrorists." I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here are some highlights.

The British are waging a new war on terror, but this one is at home and is one in which they appear to be gaining the upper hand. When it comes to animal experiments, militant groups like the Animal Liberation Front, founded in 1976, have long enjoyed extensive support and a monopoly on opinion rarely questioned in public. Even when they resorted to extreme measures like setting fires or sending letter bombs, they could consistently bank on a silent majority's vague sense of guilt over the suffering of laboratory animals.

But this support is rapidly disappearing, thanks in part to Pycroft and Pro-Test {see below}, but also because as a result of their extreme actions the laboratory rats avengers have been marginalized, and some have even been imprisoned.

A new group called Pro-Test founded by Laurie Pycroft is leading the backlash against animal rights "terrorists."

He began his crusade by founding an organization called Pro-Test, to campaign on behalf of the kinds of animal experiments that are unavoidable. Students and professors quickly joined his group, and together they began staging public debates and counter-demonstrations. As the movement grew, Pro-Test's ranks swelled to the point where its protestors, sometimes numbering more than 1,000, would actually outnumber the animal rights protestors. Since then the house of Pycroft's parents, where he lives, has been under police protection.

Here are some examples of the backlash against activists, including increased police action ....

In many British cities, police officers now take action against illegal stands animal rights activists have set up in pedestrian zones. Using horrifying photographs, many of them very old, the unlicensed activists collect money and signatures for petitions to combat animal experiments.

The stands are apparently lucrative. According to the police, some have taken in as much as €115,000 a year. But investigators say that the petitions usually end up in the trash, while the money pays for criminal activities like SHAC's acts of sabotage.

In May, in a campaign dubbed "Operation Achilles," 700 police officers raided dozens of addresses in Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands, arresting 32 people aged 19 to 68. Nine were charged with extortion or other crimes. Among them were many senior members of the animal rights movement, including Greg Avery, the co-founder of SHAC. Avery, who goes on trial next summer, will likely be sentenced to a lengthy prison term.

As a result of the increased pressure, the number of violent attacks has declined drastically this year, but the movement is by no means dead. Although Huntingdon still keeps the names of its customers a closely guarded secret, the news leaked out that Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis allegedly uses HLS's services.

Tipu Aziz is a neurosurgeon and Parkinson's researcher.

"As soon as people are sufficiently informed about the meaning and purpose of animal experiments," says Aziz, "they become willing to support them." Or at least he hopes this is the case. An 88-year-old former nurse wearing a prison uniform recently went on hunger strike in front of his laboratory, demanding the liberation of all laboratory monkeys and an end to animal experiments everywhere.

Aziz was dumbfounded. "A nurse at her age," says Aziz, "was around when massive numbers of children were dying of infectious diseases." Without animal experiments as the core of medical research, this would still be the case today.

"The British have a grotesque relationship to animals," says Aziz, who was born in what is today Bangladesh. "They see them as human-like beings that feel and think the way they do." Which make is all the odder that they never became a nation of vegetarians.

If this backlash really is happening in Britain, then I'm very disappointed. If these animal rights activists are engaging in illegal activity such as fraud and extortion, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is no excuse for exploiting a cause in that manner. But if there is a growing acceptance of animal research amongst the people of Great Britain, and a concerted effort by government authorities to suppress legitimate activism, then I find this very disturbing.

I don't like to see anyone suffer. My own father suffered terribly from chemotherapy and eventually died from cancer. I have thought long and hard about the role of animal research in saving human life and alleviating human suffering. It strikes personally.

So I mean it when I say the following...I hear these statements all the time from medical acquaintances, "I choose to save people. People come first." Something has always bothered me about those statements and for the first time, I'm getting the guts to ask my question.


Why are humans more important? What have humans done to prove this superiority? Why are we so wonderful? Are we equally wonderful? What about murderers, rapists, pedophiles? Are they worth saving? Are they beautiful, wonderful examples of humanity that require us to cause pain and suffering on innocent animals? Let's be radical here for a moment. Why torture an animal that has never harmed a soul or made a conscious choice to harm anyone and yet protect, forgive and "love" the human being that made a conscious choice to hurt another human being? Where is the line drawn?

I'm tired of being on the defensive about animals. It's time to go on the offensive. If your species is so blessed, prove it to me. Make a cogent argument to me and we'll go from there. Because any student of history can show you that humanity is highly, highly flawed.

Photo by SorenL.

Maori Singer Mihirangi to Join Whaling Protest

According to Sea Shepherd, Australian based singer/songwriter Mihirangi will join the crew of the Robert Hunter to try to stop the hunt.

The Maori flag will fly from the masthead of the Sea Shepherd ship Robert Hunter and Mihirangi will join the crew along with some thirty-five other volunteers from around the world. Mihirangi is an internationally acclaimed artist who has toured extensively throughout her Native Aotearoa, Australia, Europe, Canada and the United States. Mihirangi’s performance was one of the highlight at the Sea Shepherd 30th Anniversary Event in Santa Monica, California where she performed for over 500 people.

“Ever since I first heard of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society I have felt a great sense of relief that there is a committed group of people who are willing to defend Nature from the overpowering and sightless greed of those who are hell-bent on economy and not ecology. It is human character to protect that which you believe in, that which you cherish and that which you love… I love Nature and I know that we as part of the Earths bionetwork may not survive the mass extinctions that we are now facing due to the stupidity of a powerful few and the ever increasing global population. I hope that by going on this campaign that I contribute to the survival of an intelligent and magnificent animal that plays a crucial role in the bio-diversity of the world we live in,” said Mihirangi.

Here is where you can listen to her music.

, by the way, is the Maori name for New Zealand.

Photo by Iwona Kellie

US Urges Japan to "Refrain" From Whaling Expedition

I can't say that there's much of an outcry by the US Government.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States recognizes Japan's legal rights under the Whaling Convention to conduct this hunt, but noted that there were "nonlethal ways to conduct scientific research."

"We call on Japan to refrain from conducting this year's hunt, especially with respect to humpback and fin whales," he said.

Coming from a government that puts industry lobbyists in charge of the environment, I can't help but feel that this is a sort of "yadda yadda yadda we care etc, OK? We said it. Blah blah blah whatever."

Here is the Greenpeace crew blog

It's a Jailhouse Thanksgiving for Vick

Well at least the dogs that live though this ordeal can give thanks.

In an apparent attempt to speed his return to football, Michael Vick began serving his prison sentence Monday on federal dogfighting charges, more than three weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced.

The Atlanta Falcons star quarterback turned himself into United States marshals, according to Jim Rybicki, a spokesman for the United States attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Vick pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy stemming from a dogfighting kennel being run from a property he owned in Surry, Va. He was scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson on Dec. 10 in Richmond. But Vick’s lawyers have been focused on getting him back into football as soon as possible. According to the sentencing guidelines, Vick faces anywhere from a year to 18 months in prison. By beginning his time in jail, he will be credited with time served and the sooner he may be released and, presumably, the quicker he can return to football.

Speed his return to football? Is he hoping to get out in time for the playoffs? All I can say is they better not let this turkey back in the NFL!

Photo and artistry by Knox_tri

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Critter of the Week: Pilar the Hamster

This is our cool little girl Pilar! She will run in her exercise ball for half an hour at a time. A real personality!

A Thousand Dollars for Feeding NYC Pigeons?

It could happen.

City Councilman Simcha Felder proposed Monday to ban pigeon feeding and impose a $1,000 fine on people who illegally fatten the birds, which he said excrete an average 25 pounds of droppings each year. Felder released a report outlining several other potential solutions to the pigeon problem, an issue that perplexes and plagues cities worldwide.

In London, Mayor Ken Livingstone has banned pigeon feeding in Trafalgar Square, closed down the official feed vendors there, and has sent hawks to infiltrate and scare the lingering pigeons. Los Angeles has begun a trial use of pigeon birth control, and in Basel, Switzerland, pigeon populations have been reduced by an approach that includes stealing their eggs and replacing them with fakes, fooling the birds into thinking they have reproduced.

What surprises me is that some animal welfare groups support this policy. However, the article does not indicate who they are.

Many animal welfare groups support pigeon control because of the theory that overpopulation is unfair and cruel.

This is a tough problem. It's true that overpopulation is cruel and unfair, but I also hate the thought of these animals slowly starving to death. We are the ones responsible for the problem in the first place. (European settlers introduced the domesticated pigeon to North America.)

Just another example of a human-created problem with no ideal solution.

Photo by Dottie Jo.

Jewish Documentary Addresses Meat Diet

A new documentary sponsored by Jewish Vegetarians of North America addresses the importance of a plant-based diet to save the world.

"Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World" just premiered in November.

Leading Israeli environmentalist and founder of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, Professor Alon Tal (also featured in the documentary), called the film "a curious juxtaposition." Aside from showing natural images, such as the polluted Yarkon River, A Sacred Duty presents a series of video clips portraying cruelty to farm animals. It ends on a positive note, however - that we can, in fact, reverse this catastrophic trend - complete with classic "clean earth" scenes of foliage, water sports on Israeli beaches and setting suns.

...For the Jewish community, {a plant-based diet} has particular significance. Eating an animal-based diet is "no doubt damaging the world and is in violation of the Jewish mandate to protect and care for the earth," said Jerusalem rabbi Adam Frank in the documentary. Schwartz agrees. He even takes it further, insisting that meat-eating is actually in violation of Jewish law, which requires us to "take care of the body, show compassion to animals, conserve resources, help hungry people, and seek and pursue peace."

Even kosher is cruel," said Roberta Kalechofsky, founder and director of Jews for Animal Rights. She cites violations by two kosher slaughterhouses in Nebraska and Iowa in addition to the farms that do abide by current standards, but still do not minimize pain as much as they could.

Photo by Liora.

Japan Whaling Fleet Sets Out on Commercial Hunt

Japanese officials are giving out the usual nonsense about this being a "scientific" mission. It's not. They plan on killing 50 humpback whales and 935 minke whales.

Families waved little flags emblazoned with smiling whales and the crew raised a toast with cans of beer, while a brass band played "Popeye the Sailor Man." Officials told the crowd that Japan should not give into militant activists and preserve its whale-eating culture.

"They're violent environmental terrorists," mission leader Hajime Ishikawa told the ceremony. "Their violence is unforgivable ... we must fight against their hypocrisy and lies."

The whalers plan to kill up to 50 humpbacks in what is believed to be the first large-scale hunt for the once nearly extinct species since a 1963 moratorium in the Southern Pacific put the giant marine mammals under international protection.

Flags with smiling whales? No hypocrisy there.

The Japanese hunt, which puts meat from the whales on the commercial market, is growing rapidly despite an increasingly vocal anti-whaling movement. This winter season's target of up to 1,035 whales is more than double the number the country hunted a decade ago.

Japan argues that it should have the right to hunt whales as long as they are not in danger of extinction.

Again, the truth comes out. This has nothing to do with science. It's all about the money. And don't give me this crap about culture. This could be considered a part of American culture at one time. I just don't buy the fact that issues of "culture" automatically make something virtuous.

Whaling is a barbaric practice that should be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Photo by Ahisgett

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Increase in Israeli Youth Violence Against Animals

No country is immune to this problem. I've seen several reports on the increase of youth abuse against animals. Much like the abuse of human women and children, is there really an increase or simply an increase in reporting of such abuse?

The ongoing school strike is taking a heavy toll on homeless animals. The number of calls to the AHAVA Association for Animal Rescue and the LE'AN organization for the prevention of youth violence has risen dramatically in the past two weeks.

In Kiryat Motzkin, a group of teenagers gouged out the eye of a kitten using a broken-off car antenna. Roy Schindler, a high school student and volunteer in both AHAVA and LE'AN, rescued the kitten from its torturers. The kitten was taken to veterinarian Dr. Yair Ben Zioni, who stitched up his wounded eye and staunched the bleeding. The AHAVA association is now looking for a home for the semi-blinded kitten.

This week, AHAVA and LE'AN initiated a project wherein youngsters will fight youth violence against vulnerable children and the elderly, and of course in preventing animal abuse. Teenagers with a conscience of at least 15 years of age are called upon to help build a better society in Israel.

Photo by city_larkii.

Irish Independent Columnist Criticizes Stag Hunting Ban

Big controversy churning in Ireland over an annual stag hunt.

Irish Independent columnist Kevin Myers is not happy that Ireland's Environment Minister John Gormley has not renewed the hunting license for the Ward Union Hunt Club. The license allows them to hold their annual stag hunt in Ireland.

Now, contrary to what many AREs {Animal Rights Enthusiasts} believe -- though I'm sure the minister does not share their delusion -- the Ward Union does not kill stags. It chases them, but that's it.

It doesn't tear them to pieces, in the stag-at-bay caricature that can be relied upon to bring tears to the sturdiest eyes. The hounds are always called off at the chase's conclusion.

But is even this not cruel on the stags?

Do they not get frightened?

Is this not bad for their lickle-ickle hearts?

Look. A stag in the wild, free of all human influence, lives a life of regular stress, watching for wolves, rutting with and fighting other stags.

It is built to undergo the hormonal surges of battle or of escape.

The unnatural condition for a stag is to know neither fight nor flight, fear nor foe.

Yet this is precisely the unnatural life we have created for it in predator-free Ireland.

The chase is as natural for a stag as the rut or the shag or the shit. That's it.

Moreover, the Ward Union is a truly -- but apolitically -- green organisation. Over 150 years old, it has raised and guarded its own 120-strong herd of pure Irish red deer.

It is from this herd that its quarry animal is chosen, and to which it is returned after the chase.

Without the hunt to subsidise the herd, the latter would not exist. No hunt, no herd. QED.

And more than that. The hunt provides an environmentally friendly method of disposing of animal cadavers: 4,500 head of livestock which have died of natural causes are consumed annually by the Ward Union hounds. These would otherwise have to be burnt

He goes on to add the following...

...the British hunt-ban has shown that unless law recognises the realities of rural life, it will just make an ass of itself.

There are now more hunts, and more foxes killed, after the British "ban" than there were before it.

...The Ward Union does not kill anything. In that, it doesn't "hunt" stags at all. Which might in law mean that it doesn't actually need a licence, and that it can chase its own stag without anyone's permission.

The pictures I've seen of this hunt are pretty disturbing. And, according to the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, the Department of Agriculture had been monitoring the Ward Union hunt over a seven year period back in the 90s. In May 1997 the report by Veterinary Inspector Kieran Kane Kane found that many aspects of the hunt were inhumane. His report was not released until 2003.

Read the entire Kane report on Ward Union or see the key points of the report.

Photo by icabs.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Charges Likely in Puerto Rico Animal Killings

Well that's a start. Let's hope the knotheads in the local government that hired these people re-think their strategy for dealing with strays as well.

A Puerto Rico prosecutor indicated criminal charges will be filed in the slaughter of dozens of dogs and cats seized last month from housing projects and allegedly thrown from a bridge — an incident that generated worldwide public outrage.

Prosecutor Kendys Pimentel said the findings of an investigation into the killings would be released within a few weeks. "We are sure that the final results ... will please the country," Pimentel told The Associated Press late Thursday.

Demands for justice increased this week after an Associated Press investigation showed inhumane animal killings have been routine in Puerto Rico for years.

The investigation, including eyewitness accounts from two former employees of two animal-control companies, showed that hundreds of unwanted animals have been tossed off bridges, buried alive and otherwise inhumanely disposed of for years, despite pledges to deliver adoptable strays to shelters and humanely euthanize the rest.

Photo by Oquendo

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Love the Bird, Kill the Cat

Here is an article about someone up on charges for killing a cat to save a bird.

Jurors on Thursday began weighing the fate of a prominent bird watcher accused of animal cruelty for shooting a cat that lived under a bridge.

The trial has sparked a hot Internet debate between cat lovers who decry Jim Stevenson 's actions and birders upset by the toll feral cats take on bird species. It's also raised questions about what makes an animal a pet, especially if it lives outside.

Stevenson, founder of the Galveston Ornithological Society, would face up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. He said he shot the cat last fall because he saw it hunting a threatened species of bird near the San Luis Bridge Pass.

I have a hard time with this killing. I don't doubt that cats may present a threat to certain birds. But who is this guy to decide this question?

Photo by JJY.

Aussie Labour Party Opposes Japanese Whaling

Australia's Labour Party is talking tough about Japanese whaling in the Antarctic. The Labour Party is poised to win Australia's general election this weekend.

Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, Robert McClelland, said that under a Labour government Australian military aircraft would range across Antarctica, collecting data on the activities of the Japanese fleet.

The information would be used to mount a challenge against Japan's annual whale hunt, which Tokyo claims is conducted for "scientific research".

Australia's new policy would not, however, involve the interdiction or apprehension of whaling vessels.

"We are going to use... military resources to monitor the activities of the whaling vessels," said Mr McClelland.

"What is important is getting evidence... as to what's going on and getting the facts that can actually be presented to an international tribunal to try to get rulings to stop this.

"That is going to be a really strong point of emphasis for a future Labour government."

Japan does not recognize an Australian-declared whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean.

But Prime Minister John Howard's Liberal Party government say it's all political posturing.

..the foreign minister, Alexander Downer, dismissed Mr McClelland's declaration as a political stunt aimed at winning the election.

"It shows a complete lack of understanding of the legal status of Antarctica," Mr Downer said in a statement.

Photo by Greanpeace_Flor.

Japanese Whale Hunt Threatens Lone White Whale

Here's some more well-deserved bad press for Japanese whale hunting.

Australians fear that the world's only known white humpback whale could be slaughtered as Japan's whaling fleet prepares to embark on its annual hunt in the Southern Ocean.

The unique male whale, named Migaloo - an Aboriginal word for "white fella" - has become a celebrity in Australia since being spotted for the first time in 1991.

Each year Migaloo - along with thousands of other humpbacks - migrates from the icy seas of Antarctica to the warm shallows of the South Pacific and the Great Barrier Reef.

Conservationists fear that Migaloo is so accustomed to whale watching and fishing boats, that he will be easy pickings for Japanese hunters.

With the southern hemisphere summer approaching, the Japanese whaling fleet is preparing to leave port within days. It refuses to say exactly when.

It has declared that for the first time it will kill 50 humpbacks, as well as 50 fin whales and hundreds of minke whales.

The Japanese argue that after decades of hunting fin and humpback whales have recovered to sufficient levels that they can now withstand being harpooned again.

The Fisheries Agency in Tokyo refused to rule out killing Migaloo today {November 12}, with officials offering a blunt "no comment" to media inquiries.

Instead the agency called on Australia and New Zealand to ensure that the Japanese fleet would be protected from anti-whaling ships operated by a militant environmental group, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Excuse me Japan, but is it so much to ask for that you at least TRY TO AVOID the white whale? He is WHITE ya know, so he should stick out!


Photo by RetroRoger1.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Fined for Animal Abuse

USDA levied a whopping 20 thousand dollar fine. They probably spend more than that in a year on napkins in their cafeteria.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. acknowledged Wednesday that animal handling practices in its laboratory were "unacceptable" in several incidents that brought a $20,060 fine from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last year.

The incidents occurred in 2004 and included the death of a rhesus monkey that was mistakenly steam-washed and severe burns to the pads of another monkey that led to the amputation of several of the animal's digits.

Boehringer issued a statement Wednesday attributed to the company as a whole.

"In 2004, a USDA Inspection Report helped highlight areas where our animal handling practices were simply inadequate and the effects on animals were absolutely unacceptable," the statement reads. "We have done a great deal over the past several years to remedy the situation, including implementing a series of guidelines and safeguards, adding numerous improvements and upgrades to our facility, and increased staffing in an effort to prevent these incidents from occurring in the future."

"We feel confident that these measures will ensure that the issues raised in the 2004 report will not be repeated," the statement added.

What's interesting to me is that we've been medicating our hammie that chewed her leg off with Metacam. Guess who makes it...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Pet Killing Fields of Puerto Rico

Looks like throwing live unwanted pets off bridges is only the tip of the iceberg according to this AP article.

Back roads, gorges and garbage dumps on this tropical island are littered with the decaying carcasses of dogs and cats. An Associated Press investigation reveals why: possibly thousands of unwanted animals have been tossed off bridges, buried alive and otherwise inhumanely disposed of by taxpayer-financed animal control programs.

Witnesses who spoke with the AP said that, despite pledges to deliver adoptable strays to shelters and humanely euthanize the rest, the island's leading private animal control companies generally did neither.

And then here is my favorite part:

The AP could find no sign that any of the municipalities checked to make sure the companies dealt with the strays humanely.

"It wasn't our responsibility," said Edwin Arroyo, special assistant to the mayor of Barceloneta, which paid Animal Control Solutions up to $20,000 per year and in October hired the company to remove banned pets from housing projects — allegedly the ones that wound up at the bottom of the bridge.

OK, who's responsibility is it? They're paying them 20 grand to take care of this. Ever hear of oversight? Remember this response next time you hear any drivel out of Puerto Rican officials trying to counteract the negative publicity.
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