Even if you missed NARN’s letter-writing party this week, there’s still a way you can write to advocate for the billions of pigs, cows, chickens and other animals who, every single day, endure a living hell of unspeakable torture:
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of 1966 sets minimum standards for animal care and guards against abuse. However, the more than 9 billion farmed animals that die each year and many small animals used in laboratories are excluded.
Two laws are in place for slaughter and transport, but they are full of loopholes and rarely enforced. State anti-cruelty laws also fail farmed animals by exemption, leaving the agricultural industry to self-regulate and put profits before animal stewardship.
No federal law saves farmed animals from having their testicles, tails, horns, beaks and toes cut off without anesthesia or pain management. No federal law prevents male chicks (“byproducts” of the egg industry) from being tossed onto conveyor belts and ground up alive. No federal law stops geese from being force-fed until their organs fail, or chickens from being starved so they’ll start laying eggs again, or fish from being exposed to light 24 hours a day to speed their growth. No federal law saves animals from being confined in spaces so small they can’t turn around, stretch out, extend their wings or lie down comfortably.
NARN and In Defense of Animals invite you to tell your Congressional lawmakers that farmed animals need to be included in the Animal Welfare Act. Feel free to personalize and submit the letter below to:
Dear [Lawmaker name here],
As a voter who cares deeply about animals, I’m asking for an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 54) to extend legal protections to farmed animals.
Shockingly, there are no laws in place to protect the more than nine billion farmed animals who are slaughtered in the United States every year from abuse and acts of cruelty while they are being bred and raised. Farmed animals, like pigs, fish, sheep, cows and chickens are routinely subjected to painful and barbaric procedures.
As you know, animals are confined in spaces so small they can’t turn around, stretch their limbs or extend their wings, or lie down comfortably. Without anesthesia or pain management of any kind, their testicles, tails, horns, beaks, and toes are cut off. Male chicks in the egg industry are tossed onto conveyor belts and ground up alive. Geese are force fed until their organs fail, while chickens are routinely starved to induce egg laying, and fish are exposed to light 24 hours a day to speed their growth.
Farmed animals are exempt from the AWA and from most state anti-cruelty laws, leaving the agricultural industry to self-regulate and put profits before animal stewardship. While some animals exploited for food are covered under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, no federal law regulates how farmed animals are bred and raised.
Recently proposed amendments, such as the amendment concerning captive marine mammals, have sought to address gaps in the Animal Welfare Act. Farmed animals should not and cannot continue to be left vulnerable to acts of cruelty.
Every day, billions of pigs, cows, fish, chickens, and other animals face unspeakable suffering and torture. Please stand up for their welfare and amend the AWA to include standards for the housing and treatment of farmed animals.
The federal government believes that when the grizzly bear population hit 600 in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, it had done its job. Now at 700, they’re ready to delist the bears as endangered and hand “conservation” of grizzlies over to Montana, Wyoming and Idaho — who are ready to let hunters shoot them, despite overwhelming citizen support (including at a public meeting in Bozeman) for not shooting them.
“Why rush when you’re as close as you are to your absolute minimum?” David Mattson, a grizzly researcher retired from the U.S. Geological Survey and no longer on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, told The Humane Society of the United States. The bears are expanding beyond Yellowstone and Grand Teton because there’s less for them to eat in the parks — which will make them more vulnerable to hunters if they are delisted.
“Grizzly bears haven’t evolved to be hunted like game,” said Robert Wielgus of Washington State University, who cites to HSUS in the above article the negative impacts of trophy hunting in Canada and details the territory rituals of grizzlies that push females and cubs closer to humans.
Many grizzlies have learned that it’s safe to let their cubs eat near public roadways, where they’re a popular attraction in national parks. These bears will be the first to be shot for their skins, heads and claws, if they are delisted and hunted as trophies.
What’s more, many scientists believe that the grizzlies we do have now need to mix their gene pools, meaning they’d need to travel safely between national park areas.
Once found in most western states, our country’s majestic grizzly bears were once hunted to near-extiniction. The type on the California flag is extinct. Let’s not allow this to happen again.
Please let Dept. of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who’s headed home to Seattle soon, that this is not a responsible way to handle protection of our fragile grizzly population. Here’s the letter I pasted into its feedback form:
Dear Secty. Jewell, I’m a Seattleite who read with pride this spring’s UW Columns Magazine profile of you, which mentions your imminent return to the Northwest. I know you have to strike compromises, but I don’t see it as responsible to delist grizzlies in and around Yellowstone as endangered when their population is barely above what’s considered recovered. To make it in the long term, these bears need to safely reach bears to the south to mix their gene pools. They also need to continue to trust that they will not be shot if they’re near roadways, where tourists love them and the mother bears and cubs are safe from males who are switching territories. Please don’t allow your legacy to include setting the stage for the decline of grizzlies, after all this country has done to bring them back from the brink of extinction. Thank you!
The Stop Animal Violence Foundation posted an account on Facebook this week of animal mistreatment at Havasupai in the Grand Canyon by outfitters including REI.
Some quotes from it:
The photos, including of open sores and saddle sores, are posted on Facebook. The witness called some of the outfitters and was told they don’t use pack animals.
Please visit the Facebook page, which includes links to more information about the horses and mules, and follow up with emails to the Havasupai Tribal Council, REI and other outfitters insisting that wranglers stop running them, tied together or not, up and down the canyon. And, for heavens sake, stop packing them with cooler and propane tanks.
REI CEO Jerry Stritzke: email@example.com
REI Chief Information Officer Julie Averill: firstname.lastname@example.org
REI Head of Communications Alex Thompson: email@example.com
Subject: Photos of REI pack animals at the Grand Canyon
I was dismayed to read an eyewitness account of REI coolers and propane canisters being slung on already hurting pack animals at Havasupai in the Grand Canyon. I understand that some outfitters deny they use such animals — but there are photos with this post. It’s a shock to see REI’s name and services associated with this sort of treatment of horses and mules.
Xyz in Seattle or in Washingon State
We know mice, rats, pigs, cats and dogs are research subjects. Even primates, our closest relatives, are subject to the horrors of our research labs. And, of course, orcas are subject to research work at theme parks.
But grizzlies? Who knew Washington State University kept grizzly bears in captivity for research? Turns out that at least 15 grizzlies have died in the past six years under the “care” of WSU research labs, according to public records obtained by The Spokesman-Review in Spokane.
“Five were put down for experiments that required body-tissue samples. Four were euthanized as cubs to control the number of bears in captivity. At least two died because of human error, and the deaths of other animals have raised questions about WSU’s treatment of research animals,” reporter Chad Sokol wrote.
In 2010, two grizzly cubs had to be euthanized after nearly starving to death because they failed to go into hibernation.
In 2014, an 11-year-old bear named Mica was found dead after a tear in her uterus spilled infectious fluid into her abdomen. Mica had been given a contraceptive called megestrol acetate, which the doctor who dissected Mica wrote is “an established risk factor” for uterine infections in dogs and “may be the primary inciting factor in this bear.”
“Regardless, records show all of the center’s female bears were on a megestrol regimen a year later,” according to The Spokesman-Review.
Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now in Cincinnati is calling for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fine WSU for “infractions related to animal treatment, citing bear deaths and the overdosing of three bighorn sheep,” the paper reported.
Let’s support his request. Please email Dr. Robert Gibbens, director of the USDA’s western region:
Or call him at (970) 494-7478 — asking that he fine WSU for these grizzly deaths.
Sample email: Subject: Please fine WSU over grizzly deaths
Dear Dr. Gibbens,
Recent news reports that WSU has been negligent in its treatment of grizzly bears used for research — to the point 0f killing some of them — signifies a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the USDA.
While many organizations along the west coast rescue and rehabilitate bears orphaned in forest fires and otherwise in distress, WSU has apparently killed four grizzly cubs in the past four years to avoid overpopulation in the labs. What a waste of resources.
Worse still are the unnecessary and unplanned deaths of Mica, who died because of the contraceptive she’d been given, and two cubs who were euthanized in 2010 because they’d failed to go into hibernation as researchers erroneously expected.
These mistakes are unconscionable. I hope you will impose the maximum fine to let WSU know this treatment and these deaths will not be tolerated and must stop.
We’re reposting this great article with permission from Ducks and Clucks:
The backlash continues to grow against the urban farming trend when it comes to backyard flocks. In recent years, cities across the US have revised land use codes to permit backyard flocks. But now those same cities are seeing an increase in neighbor complaints, dumped and surrendered chickens and even rat infestations.
It’s a complex issue with emotional and political implications including social justice, personal freedom and self-sufficiency. But animal shelters and rescue groups will tell you it’s just gotten out of hand.
I have been rescuing and rehabilitating ducks and clucks for over nine years now. There hasn’t been a single day in that time when I am not at or beyond capacity. I don’t know of any reputable, safe sanctuary in the entire NW that isn’t also at capacity and constantly seeking safe homes for dumped poultry. Not one. It’s becoming a crisis and the animals are suffering.
One of the biggest problems we see when people decide to get backyard chickens is the information available is almost entirely skewed towards the positive aspects of urban flock keeping. Just look at this beautiful spread of chicken coops and accessories by Williams Sonoma:
You know what’s missing from those professionally-photographed and beautifully-styled yuppy urban farms? A LOT. A WHOLE LOT.
Here’s our collage of the reality of many backyard flocks. This is just a few snapshots of what happens every day with backyard flocks. Not quite as romantic and beautiful as the Williams Sonoma catalog, is it?
This collage includes aggressive ducks or roosters that bite children, infected wounds from dumped geese attacked by dogs, chicken $#!t covered in flies, an injured rescued rooster covered in lice, a raccoon bite down to the vertebrae, raccoons, bloody wing from raccoon attack, hawks, $#!t-covered deck and porch, and rats… lots of rats.
So obviously we discourage backyard flocks. You don’t rescue over 100 birds in 9 years and come out thinking backyard flocks are an awesome idea. This isn’t to say that everyone is doing it wrong. But enough people are regretting their choice to get flocks that it’s causing a big problem for shelters and sanctuaries, and way too much unnecessary suffering for the animals caught in the middle.
So here’s our list of tips to seriously consider before ever taking on the commitment of a backyard flock. But honestly? Just don’t do it.
Tip #1: Protecting urban chickens is costly but required. Chicken wire is not predator proof. Hens are extremely vulnerable to predators like hawks, eagles, raccoons and dogs. Raccoons can reach right through chicken wire to eat hens through the wire, and often work in groups. Eagles and hawks don’t pick up hens and fly away with them, they just take a piece. Roomy coops with hardware cloth on all sides, top and bottom can provide safety for urban hens.
Tip #2: Roosters may be illegal where you live. When hatching chicks, what will you do with all the male chicks? There is no local or state agency to help with animal control issues for urban flocks. Resources at local shelters are very slim and most aren’t well-equipped to house poultry or other farm animals. Two roosters will fight and injure each other. Factory farms and hatcheries routinely grind up male baby chicks while they’re still alive. It is difficult to acquire hens without taking part in the cruelty that male chicks face. Ask before you buy, “What happens to the male chicks?”
Tip #3: Hens get sick. What will you do? When a hen is sick, do you know where to go for urgent treatment? It is important to ensure that even backyard hens are free from suffering and neglect. Basic veterinary care for infections, parasites or injuries can start at $80 and run into the hundreds of dollars. Birds are much better than dogs or cats at hiding illness, so it is critical to get them care quickly. Are you prepared to ensure your birds don’t suffer?
Tip #4: Chicken feed attracts rats and chicken droppings attract flies. Cleaning and maintaining urban coops on smaller lots can be difficult and time consuming. Flies and rats bring parasites and illnesses with them that can infect hens and other household pets. Rat populations can easily get out of control and often damage homes.
Tip #5: Hens don’t lay eggs every day. Many urban farmers get hens to ensure their families have humanely-raised, fresh eggs to eat. But hens have natural cycles that change as the seasons change, and sometimes they don’t lay eggs. Laying an egg every day takes a lot of nutrients, especially calcium. Poor nutrition or poor breeding can cause many hens to be prone to reproductive cancers and other maladies like prolapse and egg binding. First-time farmers often need to be reminded that hens are not egg-laying machines and each hen is an individual. Egg-laying hens reach their peak at 18-months but can live more than 10-years.
Tip #6: Hens crow too. While generally not as loud as roosters, hens crow too. Hens cluck in the morning quite early to be let out of their predator-proof nesting areas. In the summer when days are long, the hen crows can begin at 4:15am. Neighbors will tend to think you are illegally keeping roosters if they hear crowing, and may complain. Also, some hens cluck loudly when they lay eggs. It is important to keep in mind if you have close neighbors.
Tip #7: Each hen has a unique personality. While some breeds have specific characteristics, every hen is her own chicken. While they can be charismatic, emotional and interactive, some hens will attack and injure less dominant hens, especially if space or food is limited. Other hens will eat their own eggs. Some will chase other household pets or pluck out their own feathers. They are unique individuals and don’t always get along.
In summary, because hens are easy to hatch and cheap to buy, they are often treated as disposable animals. And hens that no longer lay eggs are considered useless. But when it comes to suffering, all animals are created equal. With proper care and attention, hens can live up to 10+ years. Before becoming responsible for the care and happiness of any living being, do all the research you can, and be wary of anyone who makes urban chicken coops seem simple and easy. It is a years-long commitment with daily, required care.
P.S. If you still still STILL think a backyard flock is for you, ADOPT! Please adopt. Do not buy or hatch while so many healthy, beautiful, loving, friendly birds languish in shelters.
Following the government’s slaughter of cormorants on East Sand Island in Oregon, 16,000 additional cormorants have abandoned their nests — a horror for the animals and their eggs as well as a biological catastrophe.
Absurdly, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is blaming eagles.
“Bald eagles are known to significantly startle and disperse nesting colonies,” Corps spokeswoman Amy Echols told The Daily Astorian.
Dan Roby, a researcher at Oregon State University, disagreed in the same story: “I’m pretty confident that’s not what caused the cormorants to abandon the colony. We’ve seen that number of eagles out there before. We’ve seen them killing cormorants on their nests, and it doesn’t cause that kind of abandonment.”
Federal agents shoot cormorants and oil their eggs to “protect salmon” — rather than significantly addressing human overfishing, hydroelectric damming or pollution. They reported killing 209 cormorants between May 12 and May 18, the paper reported.
Last year, Wildlife Services killed 1,707 cormorants in Oregon and oiled 5,089 nests. A permit this year allows them to kill 3,114 double crested cormorants, 93 Brandt’s cormorants and 9 Pelagic cormorants — and oil 5,247 nests,according to the Chinook Observer.
The Audubon Society of Portland and other animal organizations have tried to sue the U.S. Army Corps and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, including a new suit demanding a halt to the “management plan.”
Please email officials to let them know this program has now failed spectactularly and must be stopped:
Dave Williams, Oregon Wildlife Services State Director
Curt Melcher, Director, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (general email)
A sample email:
Cormorant killing backfired — please stop
Dear Mssrs. Williams and Melcher,
It’s clear from the recent departure of 16,000 cormorants on East Sand Island that the program of destroying the birds and their nests has backfired. Please discontinue it before you completely topple the island’s ecosystem.
There are other ways to protect salmon populations, including preventing overfishing and mitigating pollution.
Killing cormorants is not the answer, as we’ve just learned the hard way.
A federal judge has ruled that gray wolves should be reclassified as an endangered species. He called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to turn management over to Idaho and Montana but keep the endangered designation in Wyoming “at its heart a political solution.”
Now a Senate bill called the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act is attempting to override that ruling — and going further by allowing “predator control” on national wildlife refuges in Alaska.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant thinks that — and the fact that his state’s last aquarium was ruined by Hurricane Katrina — makes a new aquarium on the coast a good way to spend $17 million of the damage money the state is getting from BP. “The outdoor water feature includes a dolphin exhibit where visitors could feed and touch the animals,” according to the SunHerald in Biloxi.
Gov. Bryant is wrong.
“I used to work as a dolphin trainer at Marine Life in Gulfport, before it was washed away by Hurricane Katrina. I know first-hand that a new facility for captive dolphins is the last thing Mississippi needs,” according to an online petition to stop the new aquarium.
The public has already made clear that they don’t want to see orcas in captivity. Why would they want to see dolphins?
Please sign the petition above and write to Gov. Bryant letting him know the BP money should go to a more worthy project. Here’s his online contact page.
It’s a big name — the Toxic Substances Control Act reform bill — and it could save tens of thousands of animals from chemical testing.
The House passed its version of TSCA reform this week 403 to 12. The bill minimizes animal testing and focuses on more efficient and less costly testing methods, which would save animals from being fed deadly chemical and having them rubbed on their skin and in their eyes.
Now Rand Paul is holding up the bill in the Senate.
“Well, it looks like American families will have to wait a bit longer for better protection from toxic chemicals” given Rand’s decision, Robert Denison, a lead senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, wrote in a blog post.