News of Note

Animal rights groups slam Canada-China seal deal
Canada, which failed in a public-relations campaign to convince Europe that the seal hunt is humane, will also flop in its “insulting” attempt to find consumers in China, animal rights groups said yesterday.  Chinese animal welfare groups have accused the Canadian government of “racist bias” and “cultural imperialism” for selling their country seal products that have been banned by the European Union.

Conspiracies Don’t Kill Birds. People, However, Do.
At the beginning of this month when about 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky in one night in Arkansas, biologists were called on to put a damper on public speculation about pesticides and secret military tests by reminding everyone how many birds there are and how many die. They often do so as a result of human activity, but in far more mundane and dispiriting ways than conspiracy buffs might imagine.

Animals suffering in Brisbane flood crisis
It is not just people who have been affected by floods swamping Queensland – animals too are suffering terribly.  Domestic pets, wild animals and commercial livestock have all been caught up in the disaster.

Penguins Harmed by Tracking Bands, Study Finds
Bands attached to penguins’ flippers have helped scientists track their movement and migration for 50 years. The small identification tags are visible to researchers through binoculars from 100 feet away. Now, a new study reports that the seemingly innocuous bands have a significant effect on penguin mortality.

Bill would make torturing dog or cat felony offense
A Mississippi legislator has introduced a bill that aims to make cruelty against cats and dogs a felony in the state. The measure, which seeks to impose up to a $10,000 fine and a maximum five-year prison term on first-time violators, would not apply to hunting, farming and other practices. Similar legislation failed to advance in the state last year.

Sit. Stay. Parse. Good Girl!
Chaser, a border collie who lives in Spartanburg, S.C., has the largest vocabulary of any known dog. She knows 1,022 nouns, a record that displays unexpected depths of the canine mind and may help explain how children acquire language.

Bill sheds light on equine industry issues
The introduction of a state bill that could pave the way for the reopening of horse processing plants in Nebraska has led to increased awareness about some of the issues currently plaguing the equine industry.  The struggling economy has left many people unable to afford the luxury of owning a horse. The result is that horse owners are often left at a crossroads – find the horses a new home or have them euthanized.


Utah bill would permit shooting feral animals
A Utah legislator wants to change the state’s animal cruelty law to make it legal to shoot and kill feral animals.  Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, doesn’t think feral animals should be protected by a state law that makes animal cruelty a felony.  Under House Bill 210, the humane killing of feral animals, pests and rodents would be exempt from that law.

Chef bows out of Winterlude over foie gras fiasco
A famous Quebec chef has bowed out of Ottawa’s winter festival in defiant defence of one of his staple dishes: foie gras.  The Winterlude furore stems from an ongoing debate over the ancient delicacy, now increasingly threatened by calls for it to be banned because of its alleged cruelty to animals.   Organizers say they and the event sponsors faced instant pressure by animal-rights activists over the potential use of foie gras on Picard’s menu.

Joint Replacements Keep Dogs in the Running
Joint replacement has helped larger working dogs return to hunting, aiding the blind and assisting in search-and-rescue missions and other police activities, not to mention relieving the pain of beloved pets. Although hip-replacement surgery for bigger dogs has been performed since the mid-1970s, micro-hip replacement for cats and dogs weighing 6 to 30 pounds began in the last five years.

Walgreen to bring fresh food to “food deserts”
Walgreen Co plans to add more fresh food to about 400 stores in areas where access to produce and other goods is scarce, as it tries to position itself as a one-stop shop for health and daily needs.  The drugstore chain has already added fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and a variety of other fare to 10 stores in parts of Chicago where grocery stores are hard to find.

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