India: Dolphins "Non-Human Persons"

 

India has become the first country on earth to officially recognize that dolphins are “non-human persons”.  As you know, the country’s Ministry of Environment and Forests banned dolphin captivity earlier this year, calling it “morally unacceptable” due to their high intelligence and sensitivity.

“They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations..” — Henry Beston

 

 

Defeat the King Amendment to the Farm Bill

The Farm Bill is still making news. The revamped Bill recently approved by the House still includes the highly controversial King Amendment. House-Senate negotiators are now working to resolve the differences between their bills. The King Amendment, named after Representative Steve King of Iowa (who proposed it), claims to protect interstate commerce. In reality, it’s designed to undermine animal welfare laws enacted by individual states.

Please take a moment to call the four leaders of the House-Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee to ask them to remove the King Amendment from the final Farm Bill.
  • Sen. Thad Cochran: 202-224-5054
  • Rep. Frank Lucas: 202-225-5565
  • Rep. Collin Peterson: 202-225-2165
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow: 202-224-4822
According to the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, states should be able to ban the sale of agricultural products if they are not produced in a manner approved by that state. Please help us defeat the dangerous and unconstitutional King Amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill.
More info at In Defense of Animals.

First Ag-Gag Challenge Filed

This week (Monday 22 July) marked the first lawsuit against ag-gag laws. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA, environmental journalist Will Potter and animal rights activist Amy Meyer filed a civil lawsuit on Monday contesting the constitutionality of a Utah law that bans recording at an agricultural facility without the owner’s consent. In February of this year, Meyer became the first person charged under an ag-gag law, after she filmed a downed cow at a slaughterhouse while standing on a public sidewalk. Charges were later dropped.

The lawsuit alleges that the Utah law violates the Constitution, as it singles out certain types of speech for less protection under the First Amendment. It would also single out certain types of investigative reporting as illegal. Although its primary purpose is to put a lid on political debate over factory farming by preventing the public from finding out about the inherent animal cruelty, it could also impact food safety measures and apply to the filming of unsafe working conditions or bad employment practices.

A total of 8 states now have ag-gag laws. Proponents argue that this is a private property issue. They are right, of course. At issue is their private property: money.

 

Vote NO for the Zoo Levy

If you live in King County, you should have received your ballots and voter’s guide for the upcoming primary and special election on August 6. Among the city council, mayor, and other public official positions up for your vote, there are a few measures on the ballot. One that deserves some special consideration is King County Proposition No. 1, which we at the NARN board encourage you to vote NO.

vote-cartoon1

Proposition 1 is a levy meant to provide funding for King County-operated parks  and recreational facilities. It also provides 7% of the levy collection to be earmarked for the Woodland Park Zoological Society. According to the figures provided by King County, they estimate that $4.2 million per year would support the Woodland Park Zoo. Using the last budget figures provided by the Zoo — a projected operating cost of $32.9 million — the levy would contribute roughly 1/8 of its budget.

Now, anyone familiar with our Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants campaign, or have seen the critical Seattle Times expose of the Zoo, knows that the zoo has stubbornly refused to release their elephants to a sanctuary when all evidence has pointed to the fact that the Zoo is incapable of providing the basic necessities for elephants.

While any visit to any zoo will feature a vast array of bored, lonely, listless animals cooped up for the entertainment of people, elephants like Bamboo, Chai, and Watoto at the WPZ pose particular problems that zoos aren’t able to address. Elephants are very social creatures, forming life-time bonds with parents, offspring, friends, relatives in the wild, but are separated when they are captured in the wild or taken from their families as babies when born in captivity; they require the space that only freedom provides, sometimes walking as many as 50 miles a day, with home ranges in the hundreds of square miles. Zoos are cramped and lonely places for them, with indoor facilities measured in feet, not miles, and an outdoor range of one half to three acres. And owing to the cold and wet climates of much of the US (including here in the Pacific Northwest), compared to the hot and dry climates of their habitat in Asia and Africa, this means that elephants like the ones in Woodland Park spend a majority of their time indoors.

Zoos will do just about anything to avoid having to admit that they may not be able to adequately care for an animal, and Woodland Park Zoo is no exception. Despite the increased public concern that the WPZ is not the right place for elephants, they steadfastly refuse to budge on the issue. They, like any other zoo, do not want to admit that any information that comes out about the conditions can actually force a zoo to release an animal to a sanctuary. That is why they continually whitewash the obvious concerns, and why the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the governing body of the zoo industry, refuses to acknowledge the existence of a natural-habitat refuge like the Elephant Sanctuary of Hohenwald, Tennesee. To do so would be a fatal admission that an animal would be healthier and happier while living elsewhere.

While zoos insist their main focus is education and conservation, animals on display merely serve as profit-making attractions; their “conservation” programs arguably serves to actually diminish the population of animals in the wild, as fertile females are taken from their natural habitat to provide baby animals for zoos which attract more paying visitors. And even their captive breeding programs are largely unsuccessful; Chai of the Woodland Park Zoo, for example, has undergone 112 attempts to forcibly impregnate her, even against recommendations to not do so since she has the elephant herpes virus. She has had numerous miscarriages, and her last birth, a female elephant named Hansa, died at the age of 6 in 2007 of the herpes virus that was passed onto her.

While claims are made by zoos like Woodland Park of the value of their education and conservation programs, a study funded by the AZA  “Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter: Assessing the Impact of a Visit to a Zoo or Aquarium,” reports that there was no statistically significant change in “overall knowledge”. Instead, social scientists found that zoo visits actually “reinforced” and “supported” the pre-existing attitude and values of guests. (1) Their claims of “conservation” is meaningless as animals bred in zoos are never released, and will never be released, to replenish the ones lost in the wild, and animals in captivity have up to half the life expectancy of those in their natural habitats.

Zoos like the Woodland Park Zoo are poor investments of public money, so you can show your disapproval by voting NO for King County Proposition 1. Obviously a concern about this levy is its primary funding for the county-operated parks and other outdoor areas, and it is hard to vote against the continued maintenance of our valuable green space–particularly since such levies are now the primary source of funding for the King County parks and recreation division; the King County general fund support for that division was eliminated as of 2011. This levy is meant to continue funding after the expiration of the 2008-2013 voter-approved operations and maintenance levy, of which approximately 70% of the operating budget of the parks was provided.

Parks levies enjoy popular support–each one regarding park operations and maintenance (from both King County and Seattle) brought to the voters have passed. The last levy proposed by King County in 2007, Proposition No. 2 – Open Space, Regional Trails, and Woodland Park Zoo levy, passed 59-41%. With such popular support, this levy stands a very high probability of passing, but through your vote of NO, the margin of support will diminish, and we can then demonstrate the public concern about using our money to fund failed education and conservation programs of the Woodland Park Zoo. In the unlikely event of this levy failing to pass, we can as citizens of King County then provide that as proof of our unwillingness of using public funds for the Zoo, and we can demand instead a levy for the parks that does not provide allocations to the Zoo.

Don’t forget to mail in your ballet by August 6, and to vote NO on King County Proposition No. 1. Thank you.

(1) “Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter: Assessing the Impact of a Visit to a Zoo or Aquarium,” (Falk, Rienhard, Vernon, Bronnenkant, et al., 2007, p. 10).

No Seriously — A Bullfighting School in California

It is pompously called the California Academy of Tauromaquia. You can see it online here: http://www.bullfightschool.com/. Calling bullfighting a “misunderstood science”, the poorly-written description claims the bullfighting school offers adventure and “entry to an exciting lifestyle.” Blood is so conspicuously absent even in the few photographs of bulls already wounded by banderillas that photoshopping must have taken place. While it is unlikely that this school will train any world-class toreador, you never know what creeps who go there in the first place are going to do in their spare time, and bullfighting must not be glorified in ANY way, or gain a foothold in this country. We have enough to fight already.
So if it makes you feel better, you can leave comments on their website at  bullfightschool@gmail.com, but more importantly, drop the following decision-making San Diego city officials a line:
Mayor Bob Filner                                                                                                                    City Administration Building                                                                                                202 C St., 11th Floor                                                                                                          San Diego, CA 92101                                                                                                        Phone: (619) 236-6330                                                                                                        Fax: (619) 236-7228BobFilner@sandiego.gov
Joe Terzi
CEO San Diego Tourism Authority                                                                                    San Diego Tourism Authority                                                                                             750 B Street, Suite 1500                                                                                                   San Diego, CA 92101                                                                                                   Phone: (619) 236-1212
Jerry Sanders
President San Diego Chamber of Commerce
Emerald Plaza
402 West Broadway, Suite 1000
San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: 619.544.1300
webinfo@sdchamber.org
Tell these people it is a blemish on the city to have a school that glorifies animal abuse, and that you will most definitely not be vacationing there. Remember, paper letters are great, calls are great, emails are good. All three are wonderful. And bullfighting has to be one of the very bloodiest of a world full of bloody “sports”.

New York Gets Animal Abuser Registry

Sounds like a no-brainer, but it is a first: the New York Senate has passed a bill requiring convicted animal abusers, like convicted sex offenders, to register with the appropriate criminal justice department. In addition, those convicted of torture have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and are banned from ever owning a pet again. I am glad it is clear to at least one state that animal torture isn’t a merely a momentary lapse in the judgement of otherwise good people — like giving someone the finger in traffic after a bad day at work.
Now, the names and addresses of convicted animal abuses in New York will be made readily accessible to the public — meaning, just for example, that shelters can check the registry before finalizing to an adoption. This bill is on its way to the NY Assembly, where it will be sponsored by Jim Tedisco, the same man behind NY’s original 1997 ‘Buster’s Law” making animal abuse a felony. (I could tell you about Buster but I won’t.)
Considering that it is no easy feat to be convicted of animal abuse to begin with, and that there is a high rate of recidivism (partly because it’s so EASY), let’s hope NY’s registry is just the beginning. Michigan and California are also considering animal abuser registries, but an attempt to pass a similar law earlier this year in Maryland failed, largely due to the efforts of the PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Committee), which claimed that keeping animals out of the hands of psychos would make life too hard for pet retailers.

Geese Killed at Lake Sammamish State Park

Action for Animals recently found out about geese being killed at Lake Sammamish State Park. Read on for details and how you can help stop this in the future.

A few weeks ago Washington State Parks used USDA Wildlife Services to kill geese at Lake Sammamish State Park. They didn’t give the public any notice or any opportunity to comment.

geese

USDA Wildlife Services cruelly rounds up geese when the adults start to molt and can’t fly. USDA then herd the adults and babies into pens. If they are still doing what they did in the past when they were killing geese in the Seattle parks, the geese are shoved into gas chambers in the back of the USDA trucks.

The gas chambers weren’t designed for large birds like geese. The chambers are too small for the geese to stand upright prior to being gassed to death. Multiple geese are stuffed into the chamber at the same time while frantically struggling and trying to escape. Of course this is all done under a cloak of secrecy, so people are unaware of what’s being done or how.

There are many humane alternatives that work well when used together. Killing the geese only creates a temporary solution, because other geese will move in, resulting in an endless cycle of killing.

Geese at all of the Washington State Parks are in danger. If they are killing geese at Lake Sammamish State Park, they are probably killing them in the other state parks as well.

TAKE ACTION:
Please contact officials at Washington State Parks and tell them to stop the endless cycle of killing and to come up with a focused well thought out, comprehensive plan that uses humane alternatives. Killing is unacceptable and we must do a better job of sharing the earth with wildlife.

Rich Benson
Lake Sammamish State Park Manager
Phone: 425-649-4275
Email: Richard.Benson@PARKS.WA.GOV

Andrew Fielding
Washington State Parks Resource Steward
Phone: 509-665-4312
Email: Andrew.Fielding@PARKS.WA.GOV

Don Hock
Washington State Parks Director
Phone: 360-902-8844
Email: Don.Hoch@PARKS.WA.GOV

Also, please sign AFA’s online petition:
http://www.change.org/petitions/washington-state-parks-officials-stop-killing-geese

Thank you!

Israel to Ban the Sale of Foie Gras

Israel, once the third-largest producer of the cruel delicacy known as foie gras, is now to ban all trade and sales.
This month a preliminary hearing of the new legislation passed the Knesset by a wide margin (59-10). Dov Lipman, the conservative rabbi and new member of parliament who sponsored it, said, “I am proud to be a member in a Knesset that chose to place values before interests and fleeting pleasures. As a public official I have many responsibilities, one of them being to care for the rights of animals that depend entirely on us and can’t care for themselves. I believe that this law will contribute not only to animals but also to Israel’s global image. The time has come to get this soul-corrupting food out of Israel.”

WWF Supports Seal Massacre

Just letting you know, in case there was anyone left who still thought the WWF was in it for the animals. It has long been a haven for big game hunters, trappers, hunters, fur farmers, commercial fishing operations, and other animal abusers. It supports both the commercial slaughter and the ‘recreational’ killing of wildlife. In their own words: “We support the hunting and consumption of wild animals provided the harvesting does not threaten the long-term survival of wildlife populations. The WWF has never opposed a sustainable seal hunt in northern or eastern Canada.”
In fact, the WWF has endorsed the worst massacre of marine mammals on the planet: the Canadian government now subsidizes the largest seal slaughter since the 1800s, with a quota of 350,000 a year for three years. There is nothing “sustainable” about this and the government has not produced one peer-reviewed scientific study to justify such numbers. Yet, the World Wildlife Fund endorses it.
So quietly cancel your membership and pretend you knew all along. But when you do, be sure to let the WWF****** know EXACTLY why (or tell them why you never WILL have a membership):
For questions or concerns related to membership or donations, please email gifts@wwfcanada.org.
For questions or concerns related to WWF’s conservation programs, please email panda@wwfcanada.org.
You can also reach them by mail, phone or fax:
WWF Canada
245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410 Toronto, ON
M4P 3J1 Canada
Phone: 1-800-26-PANDA
In the Toronto area: (416) 489-8800
Fax: (416) 489-8055

Geese Kills Resume

 
(Courtesy of Action for Animals) A few weeks ago Washington State Parks used USDA Wildlife Services to get rid of geese at Lake Sammamish State Park.  There was no notice given to the public or any opportunity to comment.They know why not.
“Relocated” was the word used, surely a prizewinning euphemism, since the only place the USDA “relocates” to is gas chambers on the backs of their trucks.  This means that geese everywhere here are once more in danger; Lake Sammamish will not an isolated incident.
The thing is, with geese as with other wildlife, lethal methods of control do not work. Killing geese only creates the illusion of a fix, as other geese quickly fill the ‘hole’ created, thus ensuring an endless cycle of killing. There are many non-lethal methods of control that have been shown to be effective across the nation, include hazing of various kinds, egg-addling, planting vegetation, etc. Of course, none of them are as easy as paying someone else to just drive in and kill them all.
We must take action NOW.
Most of all, contact officials at Washington State Parks.  Tell them to stop resorting to killing to solve problems that have humane solutions. Tell them what you think of rounding up terrified families and gassing them. Maybe not exactly what you think…but some of it.
Rich Benson
Lake Sammamish State Park Manager
Phone: 425-649-4275
Andrew Fielding
Washington State Parks Resource Steward
Phone: 509-665-4312
Don Hock
Washington State Parks Director
Phone: 360-902-8844