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.
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
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.
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 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.
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!”
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.
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.
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 —
— 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.
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.
Volunteers for Sea Lions Still Needed at the
Bonneville Dam and in Astoria, Oregon
In Defense of Animals and the Sea Lion Defense Brigade (SLDB) are seeking passionate, dedicated individuals to be volunteer observers through the end of May at the Bonneville Dam and in Astoria, Oregon near Pier 36. The Columbia River sea lions need reliable eyes and ears on the river to assist in ending the lethal removal program.
If you have a still camera, binoculars, and/or video equipment and time to help, please volunteer with SLDB at either the Bonneville Dam or in Astoria.
The sea lion killing program is more about politics than sound science. Sea lions are being trapped, branded, and killed for eating only 1% of the fish, while human predation is at an all time high.
Sea Lions are being scapegoated by the fishing industry. Science shows the importance of protecting keystone species in the ecology and removing these species from an eco-system causes harm to the system as a whole.
For information about how you can help, or to volunteer, please contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Miami Seaquarium has recently been purchased by a California-based amusement park company called Palace Entertainment. Among its many captive animals is the orca Lolita. This is a great opportunity to demand that she be released back into the waters of her birth, something Seaquarium’s present owners have always refused to do.
Lolita has lived at the Miami Seaquarium for almost 45 years, in the smallest orca tank on the entire continent (35′ x 80′ x 20′ deep — although she herself is 20′ long). For the first 10 years of her captivity she had a male companion, Hugo, who apparently committed suicide in 1980 by repeatedly bashing his head against the tank walls. Now she lives a solitary life, forced to perform in depressing daily shows for the public.
She was caught in 1970 in Puget Sound, taken from the L pod of the Southern Resident orca community in an 80-whale ….what? roundup? theft? kidnapping? Her mother and extended family still live there. Marine mammal experts have proposed a plan in which Lolita would be transferred to a coastal sea pen, and once she relearns the skills necessary for independent survival, she would rejoin her family in the wild.
Please, contact Palace Entertainment and ask for her release:
“I am writing in response to the recent announcement that Palace Entertainment has signed an agreement to purchase the Miami Seaquarium. I’m sure you are aware of the controversy surrounding Lolita, an orca at the Miami Seaquarium who for decades has lived in a small concrete tank, without the company of another orca. I urge Palace Entertainment to allow Lolita to be rehabilitated and released into her native waters. Such a decision would bring tremendous positive publicity to your company!”
Also contact Miami-Dade County’s Mayor and Commissioners and ask that, as a condition of the sale of the Miami Seaquarium to Palace Entertainment, that Lolita be released back into the waters of her birth. Contact:
Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioners
Stephen P. Clark Government Center
111 NW 1st Street, Suite 220
Miami, FL 33128
Online comment form.
“I am writing in response to the recent announcement that the Miami Seaquarium has agreed to be bought by a California-based amusement park company. I’m sure you are aware of the controversy surrounding Lolita, an orca at the Miami Seaquarium who for decades has lived in a small concrete tank, without the company of another orca. I urge Miami-Dade County to request, as a condition of the sale of the Miami Seaquarium, that Lolita be rehabilitated and released into her native waters.”
Please take a couple of minutes to write a letter that could change her life..GIVE her a life…what’s left of her life.
We sure owe it to her, after what our species has done.
HERE WE GO YET AGAIN: The Canadian government has announced a MASSIVE quota of 400,000 harp seals for this year’s seal slaughter, Instead of moving forward with a federal buyout that Canadians — including many sealers — SUPPORT.
A federal buyout would mean rather than wasting tax money on a hunt with no market, the Canadian government can actually save money by offering to pay sealers a fair dollar amount to give up their license to kill.
An increasing number of nations are taking action by banning trade in seal products. Yet the Canadian government still authorizes the cruel slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seals each year — even using government funds to finance the purchase of seal pelts.
Each year, unimaginable suffering is inflicted on the seals, all for their pelts to be stockpiled in a warehouse — not that it would make any difference if they sold like crazy. Many Newfoundland sealers themselves support a federal sealing industry buyout. With this plan, the seal slaughter would end, sealers would receive financial compensation, and economic alternatives would be developed.
Please ask Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end this revolting slaughter once and for all with a federal sealing industry buyout. Here you will find mailing address, fax and email info: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/contactpm
Sample letter below — but please personalize as much as possible!
Dear Prime Minister Harper and Honourable Ministers,
I am writing to ask for your help to end the Canadian commercial seal slaughter by implementing a federal buyout of sealing licenses.
Each year, horrible suffering is documented during the slaughter. Conscious, wounded baby seals are left to suffer in agony and impaled on metal hooks, dragged across the ice and cut open. Seal pups that have been shot and injured escape into the water where they die slowly and are never recovered. All of this often takes place before the eyes of their mothers.
Please help move Canada beyond this antiquated commercial sealing by supporting a federal sealing industry buyout. Thank you for your consideration.
No, not the James Bond flick (that’s Live and Let Die). This is better!
Next Wednesday, Live and Let Live comes to Seattleand NARN and the University of Washington’s Critical Animal Studies Group is very excited to host.
This feature documentary examines our relationship with animals, the history of veganism and the ethical, environmental and health reasons that move people to go vegan. From butcher to vegan chef, from factory farmer to farm sanctuary owner, Live and Let Live tells the stories of six individuals who decided to stop consuming animal products for different reasons and shows the impact the decision had on their lives.
After the movie, the Director will be on hand for a Q & A session.
This movie screening is FREE and open to the public so bring your friends & family!
Check out the trailer! Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 Time: 6:00pm – 9:00pm Place: UW Allen Auditorium (in the Allen Library) near 15th Ave NE & NE 40th St.
One of our members, Shelby, has brought to our attention a goose family in need of help. Mom is incubating eggs in a nest on a retaining wall outside Macy’s at Southcenter Mall in Tukwila, and Dad patrols the parking lot area below (apparently the family has chosen this ill-advised nesting site before!). Shoppers, both on foot and in cars, do not expect geese and will not be watching out for them (let’s be real: even if they did, would they?). Mall security doesn’t seem to care. They WILL care, however, if you all call to show them that a single goose family is important to you. Their number is 206-246-7400, press 5 for mall security. All we are asking is that a small area, 3 parking spaces, be cordoned off to protect this family from cars and people. You might also mention that messing with nesting geese is illegal, and that geese are excellent parents who may very well be aggressive towards people who come too close, so that creating a barrier between people and geese would be a good idea all round.
And thank you Shelby — a great example of NOT WALKING ON BY.
In less than a week, the Seattle premier of Speciesism: The Movie will be showing at The Varsity Theater.
I bought a copy if the documentary a couple of months ago and I loved it! I’ll be at the movie theater to see it again. The film follows Mark Devries across the country, as he sets out to figure out why humans see ourselves as the most important species and how we decide which animals are “food” and which are “pets.”
Devries learns a lot on his journey, and you’ll get see his awakening as he talks to animal rights experts, people on the street, and people in the “food animal” industries.
Lucky for us, Mark Devries will be in Seattle for the showing of Speciesism, and will be leading a Q&A session afterwards. You won’t want to miss it! Hear first-hand how making this movie shaped and changed his ideas. Maybe it will change yours too!
When: Thursday, April 3rd at 7 pm Where: Varsity Theatre, 4329 University Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98105