Category Archives: Issues

Act Against the USDA’s ANTI-Wildlife Services

In June, Wildlife Services released a 655-page report in which it acknowledged killing over four million animals last year. This total includes over 75,000 coyotes, 420 black bears, 3,700 foxes, 12,200 prairie dogs, as well as beavers, wolves, mountain lions, otters, , ferrets, birds, and other animals.  It’s a secretive, wasteful, ineffective and cruel war on wildlife. One they need to not only continue but grow.  One that, fyi, you are largely financing.

Bear in mind that these four million animals are not only shot (and we know how often that is NOT a quick death) from land and from the air, but also trapped, burned and poisoned — methods that cause hours/days of agony before death , and the deaths of countless other non-target (and non-reported) animals.  In addition, I think we have probably all seen appalling news stories and videos about Wildlife Services employees routinely practising extreme cruelty, leaving animals to die in traps from exposure or starvation, attacking trapped coyotes for fun, and even brutalizing domestic dogs.

coyotrap

It is also good to remember that while all of these animals were killed because they were somehow inconveniencing humans, a large number died specifically because they were inconveniencing humans producing meat – so many that Wildlife Services has been termed a subsidy for the livestock industry.

Wildlife Services operates with little public oversight and few rules requiring that it use the best available science, non-lethal methods, or techniques to reduce the deaths of nontarget animals — or even the suffering of target animals. There is a growing outcry from the public, scientists, non-governmental organizations and members of Congress, to change this. Let’s add to it.

Tom Vilsack                                                                                                                           Secretary of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
phone (202) 720-3631
fax (202) 720-2166
AgSec@usda.gov

Act now to help Watoto

Watoto is an elephant at Woodland Park Zoo. The Zoo is planning to send her to another impoverished zoo exhibit and she needs your help!

Ignoring science, the media and public opinion, the Zoo announced their plan to send Watoto to another zoo.

Watoto the elephant, caged and alone
Watoto suffers at Woodland Park Zoo and needs a sanctuary, not another subpar zoo.

1) Come to the July 14 City Council meeting

What: Seattle City Council meeting.
When: Monday, July 14th, 1:30pm
Where: Seattle City Hall at 600 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104.

Meet in front of City Hall on 4th Ave.

Free t-shirts will be provided with the message: Seattle Watoto Sanctuary

RSVP: Email Friends of Woodland Park Elephants letting them know if they should order a t-shirt for you.

2) Please email to ask that Watoto be sent to a sanctuary.

Write a polite email to the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray today. Simply say, “Send Watoto to a Sanctuary” or include these points:

  • A majority of citizens want the elephants retired to a sanctuary.
    Since the zoo is moving Watoto, we’re asking that the Zoo honor our values and send her to a sanctuary.
  • Woodland Park Zoo has received $100 million taxpayer dollars from the City and King County since 2002 making the welfare of Watoto all of our responsibility.
  • Twenty-seven zoos have closed or will close their elephant exhibits; let us join those progressive enlightened Zoos.

Addresses for your mail: Ed.murray@seattle.gov; Jean.Godden@seattle.gov; Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov; Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov; Sally.Clark@seattle.gov; Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov; Nick.Licata@seattle.gov; Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov; Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov; Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov

Be assured we will never give up on Bamboo and Chai but Watoto needs your help NOW.

Please cross post widely and check out the Free Woodland Park Zoo Elephants site for more information.

DxE action in San Francisco

Visiting Animal Activists – DxE

Animal liberation group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) will be stopping by Seattle on their West Coast tour this July. The first day the organizers from the East Bay Area chapter of DxE will speak about the origins of the network, its organizing principles and its current campaigns. This will also be a place for discussion, where we will trade ideas and hear about the struggles and campaigns that Seattle is involved with.

The second day of their tour will be a day of action, where they will collectively plan and implement actions at different locations across the city with those who want to get involved based on what they learned during the first day.

DxE action in San Francisco
DxE action in San Francisco

The purpose of the tour is to strengthen the network and relationships with activist communities through face-to-face interaction. As part of the “network” in NARN, we are excited to learn from activists doing new things and figure what can be applied in Seattle.

Please join DxE, NARN, and your local animal liberation community for this event before you head out for any giant vegan BBQ potlucks. This will be a great way to really kick off the Seattle summer! If you are unsure about DxE, anti-corporate activism, civil disobedience, humane myth-busting, or any part of their campaign, this is a great time to learn more.  Free of course!

Seattle Stop of the Direct Action Everywhere West Cost Tour
Day 1: July 4, 2014
12:00-2:00 pm
Black Coffee Coop
501 E Pine St, Seattle, Washington 98122
RSVP on Facebook or just show up: https://www.facebook.com/events/294618630711332/

Day 2: July 5, 2014
Time and location to be announced

 

Sea Shepherd Targets the Taiji of the North

It seems that the entire world should now be aware of the carnage of dolphins in a bay filled with their own blood in Taiji, Japan. It is less widely known that the Danish Faroe Islands — just 200 miles from Scotland — host their own annual cetacean slaughter.

grindadrap (2)

Much like in Taiji, the hunt starts when fishing boats sight a pod of whales or dolphins, and drive them into a bay.   However, in the Faroe Islands, 23 different bays are used, not just one (which makes sabotaging or even just recording the hunts much more difficult). Every member in the pod is driven or pulled onto the beach with ropes and using a blunt hook in their blowhole. Then they are hacked to death.  Faroese citizens take part and rush into the water to join in the slaughter, sparing no one, not mothers, babies, or pregnant females.

In allowing this to continue, Denmark is in violation of three conventions it has signed vowing to do everything in its capacity to protect pilot whales – the Bern Convention, Bonn Convention and ASCOBANS. Pilot whales are classified as “strictly protected” under the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.  Even harassing whales and dolphins is a crime in Europe.

The Faroe Islanders have one of the highest standards of living in the world, so the slaughter of entire pods of small cetaceans is not to provide jobs for ‘starving subsistence fishermen’, nor to satisfy the unconscionable demand for performers at marine parks, nor even to feed hungry mouths.  Faroese health officials have condemned pilot whale meat as unsafe for human consumption (due to mercury, PCBs, dioxins and DDT derivatives); especially as Faroese children already show higher levels of poisonous mercury than anyone else in the world. The annual Faroese ‘hunt’ — called the Grindadrap or Grind — still takes place because it is apparently considered ‘traditional fun’.

unborn pilot whale
Unborn Pilot whale calves are cut out of their mothers’ murdered bodies 
(Undercover images credit: Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd – 2010)

Sea Shepherd has been disrupting the Grind since 1983, in spite of considerable violence against them.  Video footage they obtained has provided the basis for several documentaries. Sea Shepherd’s Operation Grindstop this year will include calling the Danish government to task for providing EU subsidies and loans to the Faroe Islands which openly flaunt European laws protecting cetaceans, and working to gain direct support from members of the European Parliament. Sea Shepherd is also researching the possibility of creating a defensive wall of sound outside the Grind coves to deter migrating cetaceans. Efforts are being made to identify the Faroese fishing vessels used in Grind hunts, as well as their owners, for the purposes of  naming and shaming them as well as having them blacklisted as EU fish suppliers.  Sea Shepherd also intends to further publicize the fact that the Faroe Islanders kill hundreds of dolphins as well as pilot whales. For this reason the logo for Operation Grindstop 2014 features both a pilot whale and a dolphin (see below). It is to be hoped that all this will have a detrimental effect on the Faroese tourist industry.

grindadrap

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if one Faroe Islander stood alone on the beach of a Grind cove and held out his arms and shouted, “NO MORE!”

Tony the Tiger STILL Languishing in Louisiana

 Some of you have probably already heard of Tony.  He is a Siberian-Bengal tiger who has spent the last 13 years in a crappy chainlink cage at a truck stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana.                                                      Take just a moment to think of what you have done in the last 13 years.  Take another to think of what tigers would normally do in 13 years.                                                                                                                                           He hasn’t done anything.

Tony the tiger

Incredibly, the Louisiana Senate Bill 250 presently pending was specifically designed to allow Michael Sandlin, owner of the truck stop, to continue his miserable exhibition of Tony — this despite the fact that Tony’s captivity was declared illegal by a state court of appeal, AND despite the fact that Sandlin has repeatedly violated federal law by failing to provide adequate veterinary care and safe and sanitary housing and by handling that causes undue stress/ trauma. The Louisiana legislature should be ashamed of itself — but obviously isn’t — for creating a loophole to skirt its own state’s animal-protection laws.

SO…unless Governor Bobby Jindal vetoes the bill, Tony’s fate is sealed. It is URGENT, therefore, that we all contact the governor as quickly as possible, by phone (225-342-7015 or 866-366-1121),  fax (225-342-7099), by letter (P.O. Box 94004, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9004), or by email (http://www.gov.la.gov/index.cfm?md=form&tmp=email_governor),  to ask him to VETO SB 250.  I have listed these in order of importance, although of course best of all is to do ALL OF THEM.

It is bad enough that Tony has had to languish in appalling conditions on reeking cement for 13 years; it would be heartbreaking to know that for lack of effort, he would never know anything else.  For however much time he has left, he should know grass, water, running, climbing trees, and being able to make simple decisions about his own life.  Please … do it now: ask Governor Jindal to veto SB250.

New rules will make life worse for chickens

Chickens killed for meat have short, brutal lives. Unfortunately, the government is considering new rules that would allow the poultry industry to kill even more birds per minute.

When workers lock birds into shackles, the chickens’ leg bones often break. If workers are forced to shackle birds faster, they’ll handle the animals even more roughly, which will cause even more  suffering.

chicks

Of course, not eating chickens or other animals is the best solution, but on behalf of the billions of birds being killed and eaten by people every year, please take action.

Please call your representative and politely say, “As a constituent, I’m calling to express my concern that the USDA’s proposed poultry slaughter rules would result in higher rates of food contamination, animal suffering, and worker injury. Please support Congresswoman DeLauro’s Agriculture Appropriations bill amendment prohibiting the USDA from spending any funds to implement the ‘Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection’ rule.”

Please follow up by contacting your representative using this form from HSUS so he or she can get your concerns in writing.

Thank you!

Help stop a monkey-breeding lab in Florida

You may have heard about the plight of macaques raised for lab research on the island of Mauritius. These monkeys are caged, tormented and abused.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) found out about plans by American company Prelabs (under the pseudonym Primera) to create a similar breeding farm in Florida. The Dodo reported the findings recently.

The farm is meant to hold more than 3,000 macaques, who will be kept in confined cages and forced to breed continuously so they can be shipped around the world for scientific research.

Besides being extremely cruel to the primates, this plan is a risk to public health and compromises an ecosystem that already has problems with non-indigenous wildlife. ADI previously stated:

“Primera has not addressed the question of potential interaction between the different primate species or the potential for cross-species spread of disease. Florida has previously allowed, and documented regret regarding, the introduction of two different species of monkeys into the wild.”

You can read more in ADI president Jan Creamer’s statement.

How to help

Please write the County Commissioners and ask them politely to say “no” to the new primate lab.

Additionally, you can contact:

Urgent Action Alert! Submit comments NOW to halt construction of new UW animal lab!

This just in from Action for Animals:

The University of Washington Board of Regents recently approved plans for a new animal lab that will allow the university to greatly increase the number of primates and smaller animals that it subjects to cruel experiments and neglectful care. However, in addition to imprisoning and torturing nonhuman animals, the proposed lab location has been identified as having the “potential to have a significant adverse impact on the environment” and the public is invited to submit their comments to the UW’s Environmental/Land Use Compliant Officer prior to a decision about whether the lab construction will go forward.

Please take advantage of this significant opportunity to tell the UW to halt plans to construct a new animal research facility!

Submit written comments to:
Jan Arntz, Environmental/Land Use Compliant Officer
Capital Projects Office
Box 352205
Seattle, WA 98195
jarntz@u.washington.edu

**All written comments must be received by May 14, 2014. Please keep all comments polite and focused on the adverse impact that the lab will have on the environment and the importance of the UW adopting advanced alternatives to using animals in labs and not building this facility.**

Points to address:

  • The detrimental impact on the environment of constructing a large underground facility.
  • The expense and harmful impact of building a facility that is only expected to accommodate the UW’s animal experimentation plans for the next 10 years.
  • The traffic increase in the area that the construction and operation of the lab will cause.
  • The potential harm to the environment of operating a facility that will produce hazardous waste, including chemicals as well as the bodies of dead animals.
  • Alternatives to building the new facility, including pursuing alternatives to animal experimentation, and the scientific and publicity benefits to the UW that would come from adopting alternatives to using animals in research.
  • The negative public view of the UW for building a new facility that harms the environment, facilitates the UW’s continued use of animals even after several citations by the USDA, and demonstrates a lack of commitment to exploring innovative non-animal research methods.

Thank you for caring about the animals and environment that would be harmed by the construction of this lab. Please write and encourage your friends and family to do so as well; and pass on this message to others via email and social media. The UW needs to know that this lab should not be built!

If you have any questions about writing or the approval process, contact Action for Animals at info@afa-online.org.

Take action against puppy mills

Sick puppies are imported into the USA almost every day from foreign puppy mills. Many come from countries with no laws protecting dogs. These puppies are sold in US pet stores and online–and many are diseased and dying.

puppy mill

In 2008, as part of the Farm Bill, The HSUS urged Congress to pass a law to protect puppies under six months of age from being imported into the US for resale. It’s been six years, and the USDA still has yet to enforce the law.

This week is Puppy Mill Action Week, and we need your help to protect dogs and puppies.

Go to this HSUS page and use the form to personalize and submit a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and urge him to finalize the Puppy Import Rule.

Palm Oil Isn't Vegan

I thought about a title for this post for quite a while. I wanted something that would make you stop and decide to read more. Maybe if the title were “The Best Cheese in the World”, you would stop and look, and by the time you found out it wasn’t about cheese, you would understand why I told you it was.

If you are reading this, chances are you are vegan. You have fought your cheese battle and won, fought your cute-leather-shoe battle and made do, fought your chocolate battle and either decided you like dark chocolate because it is way healthier, or — like me — decided to just do without. Your supermarkets are smaller than other peoples’: they have no meat, no fish, and no dairy aisles. Hopefully, I am about to give you one more battle to win, and am about to make your grocery store smaller still. Because palm oil isn’t vegan.

When you think of the meaning of ‘vegan’, it doesn’t ONLY mean ‘no animal ingredients’; for most of us, there is a very strong element of ‘no animal suffering‘ and that is why palm oil fails. Palm oil sneaks into almost as many things as dairy does, and causes terrible suffering as more and more forest is destroyed to make way for palm plantations. Critically endangered orangutans, whose last holdout is the Indonesian rainforest of Sumatra and Borneo, are the most visible victims. I am not including the photo that made me a believer in the split second it took to absorb the sight of a burned-but-alive orangutan, covering her face with her hands. These only-everso-slightly-different non-humans, whose name means ‘people of the forest’, are chased, shot, poisoned, burned and beaten, and their homeland destroyed and bulldozered at such a rate that according to this short slide show –

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/audioslideshow/2014/apr/24/indonesia-deforestation-wildlife-paul-hilton-audio-slideshow

– it may be gone in ten years. Gone. Along with the orangutans, the elephants, the tigers, the rhinos — and an incredibly long list of others, because the Indonesian rainforest contains 12% of the world’s mammal species, and 17% of all known bird species. And it is estimated that more than half of Indonesia’s species have never even been recorded. At this rate they will disappear unrecorded.

A French documentarist named Patrick Rouxel made a short documentary about the palm oil/rainforest crisis, simply called “Green”. Watch it:

Not all palm oil comes from burning out orangutans and poisoning elephants in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Some of it comes from Malaysia. Some is termed “sustainable”. The Earth Balance margarine so beloved of vegans contains palm oil, and Earth Balance is proud to say 30% of it is “sustainable”.  I freely admit that where animals are concerned, I tend to be a glass-bone-dry person. But if 30% is “sustainable”, what is the other 70%? And where colossal amounts of money are to be made, the word “sustainable” can become as flexible as those standing to profit from it wish. And those palm plantations in It’s-OK-Malaysia? They are being created in someone‘s ex-habitat. Maybe the someone isn’t as heartrending as an orangutan infant, as photogenic as a Sumatran tiger, or as big as an elephant, but their home is being destroyed and burned and bulldozed nevertheless.

Let me tell you why.

For crap. The popular mass movement away from trans fats caused a gap that palm oil has filled. It is mainly in processed foods, crackers, chips, cookies, boxed cereals, candy, cake, pastries, bread spreads (check your peanut butter!),and margarine. It is in about half of all boxed foods. Many of those foods got tossed out in battles you have already won. And luckily none of them are crucial to your survival.

Face it: margarine is a cultural habit. You know how many millions of people around the world would look at you blankly if you told them you only eat bread with grease wiped on it? If you don’t want to give up wiping grease on your bread, I can give you a good, easy, much-healthier margarine recipe, and you can make your own from now on. You can also skip that step and use straight coconut oil for everything you used margarine for. Unrefined for a slight coconut taste, refined for no taste at all. And you wouldn’t believe all the health benefits coconut oil is meant to have. Palm oil is also in all kinds of utterly unnecessary beauty products, toiletries, laundry and kitchen products, even ones claiming ‘bio’, ‘enviro’ or ‘green’ status. (Btw, PETA has a great list of excellent DIY, completely cruelty-free beauty and cleaning agents.)  The following list of foods and other products containing palm oil comes from BOS (Borneo Orangutan Survival) Australia. Many of the things listed are non-vegan and so you would not be eating them anyway, and many are specifically Australian, but the list will give you a very good idea what foods to suspect in the US, too.

http://www.orangutans.com.au/Orangutans-Survival-Information/Helping-you-buy-responsibly-Palm-oil-free-alternatives.aspx

How will you know? Look for anything with ‘palm’ in it, like palm kernel, palm fruit, palmitate, or palmate, but here is a full list of palm oil’s stealthy aliases:

http://understory.ran.org/2011/09/22/palm-oils-dirty-secret-the-many-ingredient-names-for-palm-oil-or-what-ingredients-contain-palm-oil/

So watch the movie and the slide show, and research for yourself what eating crap you shouldn’t be eating anyway is causing in places not your own back yard. And I think you will sit back with the same feeling you had when you first watched “Meet Your Meat” or whatever it was that made you change your life, and you will see why palm oil isn’t vegan. Because vegan isn’t just the letter of the law, it’s the spirit, too. And we are strong people when it comes to giving up things and not looking back. So much so, I don’t think you will mind that I just bulldozed another aisle or two of your supermarket.