Tell regulators new ‘humane’ rules don’t fly

The U.S. government wants factory farms that use unanesthetized castration, debeaking, dehorning and prolonged extreme confinement to be able to label their meat as “humane.”

As the Huffington Post puts it, “Up is down, black is white, and this meat was ‘raised with care.'”

Please let the U.S. Department of Agriculture know that the truth actually means something to consumers in this country. We’re in a public comment period for proposed new guidelines from the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and you can leave your comment here.

Here’s what I sent: “You seriously think meat farms should be able to define ‘humane’ on their own? How can you call yourselves regulators any more? The truth actually means something to consumers and to farms that do bother to treat animals with some humanity. Please do your job.”

For context, here’s part of the toothless new proposed guideline:

“For animal welfare claims, such as ‘Raised with Care’ or ‘Humanely Raised,’ FSIS will only approve a claim if a statement is provided on the label showing ownership and including an explanation of the meaning of the claim for consumers, e.g., ‘TMB Ranch Defines Raised with Care as [explain the meaning of the claim on the label]’ or ‘TMB Ranch Defines Sustainably Raised as [explain meaning of the claim on the label].'”

How is that even regulation? Sounds like somebody’s taking a page from bank regulators, who have allowed financial institutions to do way too much self-regulation.

That kind of laziness hurts consumers and, in this case, would hurt farms that have more humane practices. If factory farms can charge higher prices because they’re pretending to treat animals better than they actually do — and have the blessing of regulators in doing so — it could put the smaller, more humane farmers out of business.

Perdue Farms and Kroger have settled lawsuits about such labeling, and now the goverment wants to make it okay.

One Perdue chicken farmer turned against Perdue, a company he’d done business with, because of its misleading claims, as The New York Times reported.

The farmer invited Compassion in World Farming to make this video to show the truth of these chicken’s miserable lives, which include lameness, filth, raw skin and a lack of sunshine and fresh air:

WDFW response to wolf killing, and a possible response from you

Photo by Arne von Brill (some rights reserved)

Photo by Arne von Brill (some rights reserved)

The office of Jim Unsworth, the director of Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, responded to public concerns about the killing of the Profanity Peak wolf pack with the long email below.

Here’s a possible response — his email is

Dear Dir Unsworth,

Thank you for writing such a thoughtful and comprehensive response.

This part rings untrue: “Capturing wolves and placing them in captive facilities is also problematic. For one thing, live-capturing wolves is extremely difficult, especially in the rugged terrain of the Profanity Peak pack’s range. In addition, experience has shown that many wolves do not adapt well to captivity.”

Your department regularly captures wolves to collar them, including in the Profanity Peak Pack. At least one sanctuary offered to take them in. To learn more about sanctuaries, perhaps you should attend the Wolf Haven International event at Town Hall in Seattle next month.

In this case, it’s also concerning that you believe that the rancher(s) had taken appropriate measures. Although Washington State University has (inappropriately, I believe) disavowed its professor’s claim that the cattle were placed on top of the wolves’ den, the rancher himself is apparently acknowledging that the cattle were placed within a few miles of it. What do your guidelines say about that? Perhaps they should account for the fact that when this law was enacted more than a century ago, most ranchers lived near their cattle and that alone acted as a deterrent to the wolves.

Finally, while I realize cattle are technically property, perhaps you should reconsider calling them that. Aren’t the wolves in this case public “property” whose lives and well-being you should guard?

Thank you for your consideration,

Awesome vegan’s name here

Email from Dir. Unsworth’s office:

“The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) received your message regarding the removal of wolves in the Profanity Peak pack and appreciates your concerns. The volume of comments we have received on this issue precludes responding to individual messages, but we welcome the opportunity to explain the department’s actions.

Many people who contacted WDFW suggested that the department should focus on conserving endangered wildlife, rather than protecting ranchers’ cattle. Conserving native species is indeed our first priority, but the department also has a legal obligation to respond to reports of property damage and public safety threats caused by wildlife. In fact, addressing these situations is essential to maintain and increase public acceptance of wolves, bears, cougars and other wildlife on the landscape.

Wolf management in Washington is guided by the state’s 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, which addresses issues ranging from regional wolf-recovery objectives to strategies for reducing wolf depredation on livestock. The wolf plan was developed by WDFW in conjunction with the department’s Wolf Advisory Group (WAG), a diverse citizen panel including conservationists, ranchers and hunters. The state plan was adopted after an extensive public process and review, including consideration of over 65,000 public comments.

Earlier this year, the department worked with WAG to develop a new management protocol that established specific criteria for using lethal measures to stop wolves from preying on livestock when other measures prove ineffective. The protocol lays out specific conditions that must be met for taking lethal action, including a requirement that ranchers use preventive measures to protect their livestock.

In this case, both ranchers involved in the conflict with the Profanity Peak pack took proactive measures prescribed by the protocol and WDFW field staff to prevent attacks on their cattle. Yet, by the first week of September, the department had documented eight confirmed and five probable wolf attacks on grazing allotments in the Colville National Forest.

While ranchers can apply for compensation for those losses, state payments do not address the additional cost of protecting livestock or the disruption to ranching operations resulting from repeated predation by wolves.

Some people who contacted the department maintained that ranchers shouldn’t be allowed to graze their livestock on federal rangelands in the first place. Changing that century-old policy is beyond the department’s authority, and would require action by the U.S. Congress. So long as Washington ranchers can legally graze their livestock on public lands, WDFW has a responsibility to manage wolves in the eastern portion of the state where they were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2009.

Since then, the state’s wolf population has grown from five wolves to at least 90 today, increasing by approximately 30 percent per year. Most of that growth has been in the eastern section of the state, where 15 of Washington’s 19 wolf packs share the landscape with rural residents and ranching operations.

Unfortunately, WDFW’s options for relocating wolves to defuse conflicts are limited, especially if a pack has a history of preying on domestic animals. Studies show that many relocated wolves return to their original range, or resume attacking livestock in their new location.

Capturing wolves and placing them in captive facilities is also problematic. For one thing, live-capturing wolves is extremely difficult, especially in the rugged terrain of the Profanity Peak pack’s range. In addition, experience has shown that many wolves do not adapt well to captivity.

For these reasons, Washington’s wolf management plan concludes that “lethal control of wolves may be necessary to resolve repeated wolf-livestock conflicts.”

We at WDFW understand that the public is divided on this issue, and that many people are upset by the idea of killing wolves to protect livestock. Yet, eight states with growing gray wolf populations – Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming – have found it necessary to use lethal measures as a last resort to manage wolf populations.

As gray wolves continue to reestablish themselves in our state, some conflicts with humans, livestock and other wildlife species are inevitable. WDFW is committed to the recovery of wolves, but recognizes that maintaining the support of people who live and work near this apex predator is essential to achieving that goal. Without their support, wolves will face a far less certain future in our state.

For more information about wolf management in Washington state, please see the WDFW website.”

Wild horses won’t be slaughtered

I was about to write a post about how the US government was planning to slaughter 45,000 wild horses and burros and provide a call to action.

Good news! After public outrage, the plans have been halted.

It’s a great reminder to speak up for animals. From an article about the decision: “The panel’s recommendation created an uproar among animal rights activists and highlighted the challenges ahead for the U.S. government as it seeks to control the population of wild horses and burros.”

Letters, calls, and petitions DO make a difference. I’ll keep an eye on this issue and post action items if the situation changes.

Wolf Supporters to Rally in Olympia to Protest Killing of the Profanity Peak Pack

Media Advisory

August 30, 2016


Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613,

Brooks Fahy, Predator Defense, (541) 520-6003,

Wolf Supporters to Rally in Olympia to Protest Killing of the Profanity Peak Pack

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Wildlife supporters, including several conservation groups, will rally Thursday at noon in Olympia to mourn the loss of Washington’s Profanity Peak pack and call on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop killing the public’s wolves on public lands to benefit the private ranching industry.

The agency has already killed six of the pack’s 11 members and aims to eradicate the entire pack, including five 4-month-old pups, for conflicts with livestock on federal public lands after a rancher moved his cattle directly onto the pack’s known den site.

What: Members of the public, including members of multiple conservation organizations representing thousands of Washington residents, will rally at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife headquarters to mourn the loss of the Profanity Peak wolf family and to send a clear message that state residents want the agency to protect Washington’s endangered wolves, not kill them on public lands to benefit irresponsible ranchers.

When: Noon to 2 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 1.

Where: The sidewalk and parking lot in front of the main entrance to the headquarters building of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, at 1111 Washington Street, SE, Olympia, WA 98501.

Visuals: Attendees will hoist posters and banners with messages in support of ending wolf-killing for irresponsible ranchers; images of killed wolves will be displayed on the ground. Speakers will include Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity; Brooks Fahy, executive director for Predator Defense; Paul Ruprecht, staff attorney for Western Watersheds Project, and several citizen activists.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Northwest Animal Rights Network is a Pacific Northwest based animal rights organization which advocates for the rights inherent to all sentient beings to live a full life, to be free, and to not be used and exploited.

Predator Defense is a national nonprofit advocacy organization working to protect native predators and help people to coexist with wildlife. Our efforts take us into the field, onto America’s public lands, to Congress, and into courtrooms.

The mission of Western Watersheds Project is to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives and legal advocacy.

WildLands Defense: Working to inspire and empower the preservation of wildlands and wildlife in the West.

Call Gov. Inslee Today: Stop Killing the Profanity Peak Pack, Stop Transferring Calls to Fish and Wildlife

When you call Gov. Jay Inslee’s office (360-902-4111) about why the state is killing a second pack of wolves for a rancher who The Seattle Times says put his cows “right on top of the Profanity Peak pack’s dean,” the person who answers will transfer you to Fish & Wildlife. That’s what she’s been instructed to do. If that happens, call back and say that you’d rather speak to someone in the governor’s office. That way he’ll know how many people are calling.

You can also leave him a written message here. You might consider asking him not to route his calls to Fish & Wildlife.

Six wolves have been killed so far in this pack on behalf of rancher Len McIrvin.

“This livestock operator elected to put his livestock directly on top of their den site; we have pictures of cows swamping it, I just want people to know,” WSU researcher Robert Wielgus told the paper.

Update on Lolita: Records Show Dolphins Scrape Her Skin, Other Issues

Only if the orca Lolita faced “grave harm” would her captors at Seaquarium in Miami be deemed in violation of the Endangered Species Act, a judge ruled earlier this summer.

Apparently the fact that the dolphins with whom Lolita shares a small tank have scraped their teeth on her skin more than 50 times in one year does not constitute such harm. That and other signs of illnesss and misery were reported this week by The Seattle Times.

Lolita, who’s also known as Tokitae and was stolen as a young whale from the waters of Penn Cove in the Pacific Northwest, is 20 feet long. The tank she shares with the dolphins is 80 feet at its widest.

The PETA Foundation said it will appeal the judge’s ruling.

Bamboo Attacked, Bitten: Time for a Sanctuary

We join the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants in calling on the Oklahoma City Zoo to have compassion for Bamboo, our beloved elephant, and retire her to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

This call follows a new report in The Seattle Times saying Bamboo has been attacked in her new home in Oklahoma City and her tail bitten so severely that it was called an “amputation.” (Thank you to the paper and to reporter Sandi Doughton for the continued coverage.)

“Our hearts go out to Bamboo who is experiencing attacks from one or more of the elephants at the Oklahoma Zoo. In a tiny zoo yard, there is no space to flee and escape from an attack. Bamboo is also suffering from serious, captivity-related foot problems and colic. Bamboo has frequently been isolated as a result of these attacks,” the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants wrote.

Here is contact information for officials at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Please remember that they did not make the decision to keep Bamboo and Chai out of a sanctuary, but they can make the decision now to send Bamboo to one.

Cindy Batt, Chairperson — She works in the private bank division of Bank of Oklahoma. Its phone number is (405) 936-3900.

Don Kaspereit, Vice Chairperson — 12308 Kingsbrook Rd, Oklahoma City, OK 73142

Sample message for phone or mail:

Hello Ms. Batt/Mr. Kaspereit, I’m calling/writing  from Seattle to ask that you send Bamboo to a sanctuary now that it’s clear she is not doing well in Oklahoma City. We know that you’ve done your best to care for her, but the compassionate thing to do at this point is to send her to a sanctuary. Zoo managers have a hard time making that decision themselves, because of the politics within the zoo industry (cite Seattle Times story from a few years ago if necessary), but you as chairperson/vice chairperson of the board can make a difference for this elephant without risking your career. I hope you will consider doing that. Bamboo has suffered enough. Thank you.



Help prevent the killing of geese in our parks!

USDA Wildlife Services has been lethally removing Canada Geese from the Puget Sound area for 14 years. Geese are rounded up from parks and gassed to death or shot.

In 2015 Wildlife Services killed 578 geese in King County and 287 on Lake Washington. Shooting has become their preferred method of killing, but they also conducted two round-ups on Lake Washington where they gassed to death geese and their goslings. The numbers for 2016 will not be available until next year.

In a report to members of the Interlocal Agreement, Wildlife Services stated that they hazed and harassed 3,892 geese in King County.  The techniques used included “working dogs, boats, paintballs, and firearms.”

In a decreasing trend, egg addling dropped to just 292 eggs.  Clearly, egg addling is not a priority.  It is obviously much easier to shoot geese or round them up and gas them instead of addling eggs to prevent their development.


Humane solutions to mitigate conflicts with geese in urban areas exist. In addition to addling, the following are effective: landscape modifications, goose deterrent products and control techniques, automated devices to clean up goose droppings, and education and public outreach on the need to stop feeding waterfowl.

Officials often cite health concerns as a reason to justify the killings. However, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) website, “Canada geese are not considered to be a significant source of any infectious disease transmittable to humans or domestic animals.”

As part of an interlocal agreement to kill geese, several cities are working together, including Bellevue, Kent, Kirkland, Mountlake Terrace, Port of Seattle – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Renton, Seattle Parks and Recreation, SeaTac, Tacoma Metro Parks, Tukwila, Woodinville, University of Washington, and Washington State Parks.

Take action:

Like the Peace for Geese Facebook page, and sign the petition on

If you live in one of these cities listed above, or have connections to UW, please contact officials directly and ask them to stop the killings and opt out of the agreement.

Tell them that killing geese creates a void in the environment, other geese quickly move in, and a new round of killing begins. This creates an endless cycle of killing. The brutal killing of thousands of geese including their newborn goslings is unacceptable. We must do a better job of sharing the earth with wildlife.

Stop Mutton Busting!

You might be thinking, “What the heck is mutton busting?”

At mutton busting events, popular at state fairs, terrified sheep are “ridden” by children in front of a screaming audience.

Sheep are gentle, highly sensitive “prey” animals who desperately try to run away from the kids, whom they see as predators. The sheep have no escape from this highly stressful event.

From September 2 to 25, the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, Washington, plans to host this cruel event in addition to traditional rodeo activities. These animals need your voice now!

Please contact the Washington State Fair Foundation and ask officials to cancel “mutton busting.”

Please call and send polite comments to:

Washington State Fair Foundation
110 Ninth Ave. S.W.
Puyallup, WA 98371


Please Post Comments on Plan to Expand Hunting and Fishing in Refuges

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed expanding hunting and fishing in 13 wildlife refuges around the country, including in Colorado, Oklahoma and Indiana.

It would increase the killing of migratory birds, big animals or “game” and “sport” fishing.

Hunting is already allowed in more than 300 of the country’s 560 wildlife refuges — for the benefit of the 5 percent of the population that hunts.

Far more people watch birds than shoot them. And the majority of people spend tens of billions of dollars on wildlife-watching trips and equipment. Their voice — and their ability to get close to wildlife rather than watch it be eradicated by those who are tasked with conserving it — needs to be heard.

Post your public comment now so that Colorado’s Baca National Wildlife Refuge might stay free of hunting and the big animals in its Alamosa and Monte Vista refuges do not become game. The details of the government’s proposal and its comments section are here.

Enough is enough — and more than 300 refuges with hunting is plenty.