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Just Say No to Backyard Flocks

i Jun 10th Comments Off by

We’re reposting this great article with permission from Ducks and Clucks:

ducks and clucks1

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:

ducks and clucks2

You know what’s missing from those professionally-photographed and beautifully-styled yuppy urban farms? A LOT. A WHOLE LOT.

reality_collage

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.

16,000 Cormorants Flee Nests After Government Slaughter

i Jun 4th No Comments by
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Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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
david.e.williams@aphis.usda.gov

Curt Melcher, Director, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (general email)
odfw.info@state.or.us

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.
Thank you,

Cute Wolf Pup Video — Help Keep Them on the Endangered List

i May 28th Comments Off by

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.

Please ask Senators Maria Cantwell (202-224-3441) and Patty Murray (202-225-3106) to oppose this bill, which would be devastating to gray wolves and other wildlife.

Let’s Help Stop a New Aquarium in Mississippi

i May 28th Comments Off by
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Photo: NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Like so many sea animals, dolphins were tremendously harmed when BP spilled more than 4 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

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.

Please Ask Senators to Pass Chemical Safety Bill That Would Save Animals

i May 28th Comments Off by

Photo: Bill Branson, NIH

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.

Please contact Senators Maria Cantwell (202-224-3441) and Patty Murray (202-225-3106) to encourage them to move ahead with the bill.

Ask Your Senators to Vote ‘Yes’ on Toxic Substance Control Act Reform Bill

i May 26th No Comments by

Yes, it’s a mouthful — the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) reform bill — but it’s important. The reforms could save many thousands of animals from chemical testing.  It would improve the science behind commercial testing, encourage safer decisions and reduce or eliminate the use of animals in chemical testing.

The House passed its version of the bill this week.

Please call Sen. Maria Cantwell at(202) 224-3441 and Sen. Patty Murray at (202) 224-2621 now and ask them to vote yes on the final TSCA reform bill to improve the science behind chemical tests and to help animals.

It’s a mouthful that can save lives!

University of Washington: End Live Animals in your Paramedic Training!

i May 12th No Comments by

Can you believe that the University of Washington uses live pigs in their paramedic training? This cruel and barbaric practice needs to stop.

How to help:

1 – Complete the online form here addressed to William S. Ayer – Chair, University of Washington Board of Regents.

2 – Write to the Chair and Please ask the Board of Regents to replace the use of live pigs in the school’s paramedic training program with validated human-relevant methods.

William S. Ayer, Chair
University of Washington Board of Regents
139 Gerberding Hall
Box 351264
Seattle, WA 98195-1264
phone (206) 543-1633
fax (206) 543-6110
regents@uw.edutext

Talking points:

  • Please replace the use of pigs in the University of Washington’s paramedic training program with human-relevant training methods.
  • Anatomical differences between pigs and humans render this type of training suboptimal.
  • Other regional programs and 99 percent of ATLS programs teaching the same procedures do not use animals.
  • UW has a state-of-the-art simulation center that could replace the use of animals immediately.

You can see the sample letter and more details at all-creatures.org.


Answers From Bamboo Garden Co-Owner

i May 4th Comments Off by

By the board of NARN

After news spread that a beloved Seattle restaurant, Bamboo Garden, which had been marketing and advertising itself as vegan, was serving ingredients containing dairy and eggs, emotions have been running high within the vegan community. As a vegan animal rights organization, we at NARN share your shock, dismay, and disappointment on hearing the news. It felt like such a betrayal, especially since many of us have been going there for years, having had countless meals there with many of our fellow activists and friends, often before and after demos, protests, tabling and outreach. Who can miss the animal rights pamphlets in the lobby, including “What’s Wrong With Dairy and Eggs,” or the “Meat Free Zone” lobby sign with featured illustrations of eggs and dairy crossed out with the word “Vegan” written in large red letters? While those pamphlets were not reflective of the views of Bamboo Garden and just a result of them allowing activists to leave pamphlets and post signs in the lobby, the vegan branding was present in many ways. The business’s legal name (Chinese Vegan Inc), email address, and Yelp description were just a few places Bamboo Garden identified as vegan.

Obviously at a vegetarian or omnivore restaurant, our vigilance is up, asking questions to ensure that there aren’t any undisclosed animal ingredients in what we order. At a restaurant where it was advertised that everything but the fortune cookies were vegan, we felt safe. Even when people have asked, they were assured that all the faux meats were vegan. Now it is apparent that is not the case, and many people are angry that their ethics were compromised.

We certainly understand these feelings, but we have noticed that some of the social media reactions included troubling racism, as well as unnecessarily spiteful and malicious comments.

While the racist comments have been dealt with swiftly by group administrators, it is still disappointing to see; part of being vegan is being compassionate towards people as well as animals. Feeling betrayal is one thing, but hate is simply not justified or excusable.

Since the initial expose, a few members of the vegan community modeled true compassionate behavior and reached out to Bamboo Garden. Two of those individuals, Lee and Jamie, met with Bamboo Garden to discuss ways to assure greater transparency and allow customers to order items that have been confirmed to be vegan. They looked at the ingredients list of every packaged food used at the restaurant, combed through the entire menu and reorganized all 120 dishes to distinct categories: vegan, can be made vegan, and vegetarian. They also created a template for new menus that clearly state what is, what can be, and what isn’t vegan.

Bamboo Garden New Menu 2016

Lastly, efforts are underway by those individuals to identify wholesale restaurant suppliers that can bring in more vegan and kosher food items to the kitchen, with the long-term goal to have Bamboo Garden become a truly vegan restaurant.

Since the initial story, others have approached Bamboo Garden for an explanation, and while the owners were contrite and anxious to clear things up, they gave seemingly contradictory information. We wanted to find out ourselves, so two NARN Board Members (one of whom spoke Cantonese) and another associate that spoke Cantonese arranged for a meeting with the owners. We knew that language and cultural barrier might have been an issue, so having Cantonese speakers talk to the owners was a vital part of clearing up the confusion. At that meeting, we were told that at the time of the ownership change in 2011, the person who became the owner and ordering manager was given instructions of which supplier to use, but not specific products. Over the years, certain products were discontinued, the supplier recommended similar ones in place of the original products. The products were checked for the proper kosher designation, but the actual ingredients were never checked. While the owner/ordering manager is vegetarian, the kitchen staff are not vegetarians and knew less about vegetarianism than the manager. They just prepare the food as directed. The owners stated they want to make amends with all of their customers — they did not intentionally lie about what they have been serving, but acknowledged they were wrong and will learn from the situation.

At the moment, Bamboo Garden has no plans to become a vegan restaurant. One stumbling block they cite is an apparently difficulty finding products that are vegan and kosher. Maintaining their Kosher Certification (which is Dairy Kosher and was not violated according to Rabbi Gallor of their certifying organization, Va’ad HaRabanim of Greater Seattle) is important to Bamboo Garden. Additionally, the owners of Bamboo Garden simply don’t seem interested in being an all vegan restaurant, but they do want to cater to vegans. While we remain hopeful that they will eventually become a vegan restaurant, since that is the best thing for the animals, it is understandable that many of us will have a hard time trusting them again. It’s up to each of us individually to make that judgment for ourselves. If you do patronize Bamboo Garden again, we do encourage you to clearly state that you are vegan, or that you want a vegan meal. Ask about ingredients, and ask to view packaging, if you feel any doubt.

Following is the conversation that took place (in Cantonese) on April 27  with a co-owner of the restaurant:

Bamboo Garden: I have never looked at the ingredients. I didn’t know about the ingredients since I was an employee. I took over the responsibility of the inventory after the switch of the ownership.

NARN: You have been here for a long time?

Bamboo Garden: Yes. It wasn’t me that was ordering the restaurant products.

NARN: What about the kitchen staff?

Bamboo Garden: They know less than me. They won’t understand vegetarianism. They are not vegetarians. They just prepare the food as told….. When they asked to see the ingredients, I was nervous that there was something wrong. They mentioned the ingredients having milk, and I didn’t know.

NARN: How long has Bamboo Garden been ordering from these suppliers?

Bamboo Garden: For as long as I have been here. I was directed to the suppliers we ordered from, but I’m unsure if the products themselves are the same ones the old owner had been ordering.

NARN: Do you know if the products being ordered prior to the 2011 ownership switch were vegan? How many years have these products containing dairy/eggs been served?

Bamboo Garden: I really don’t know. I was told where to go to reorder, and over the years, certain products would get discontinued and the suppliers would send me similar ones in place of the original products. We haven’t read the labels or ingredients. We just knew they were vegetarian.

Bamboo Garden: I just knew the OU symbol [the kosher designation]. I never knew D means dairy. When I saw OUD, I knew it meant OU. We have someone coming in regularly to inspect and ensure that everything is Kosher compliant. We just listen to the Rabbi, and we are told everything is good to serve.

NARN: What was the reason you didn’t allow for the people to see the packaging when asked?

Bamboo Garden: I didn’t know what that meant. I also didn’t know what they were looking for. I was really nervous and was afraid of what consequences may follow if I were to give them the packaging (lawsuits, etc.) I now know that was a mistake on my part, and I am sorry for not letting them see the packaging.

NARN: What is your plan moving forward?

Bamboo Garden: We are getting help from [vegan community members] Lee and Jamie, and they are helping us figure out what is vegan and vegan friendly. We will have everything clearly labeled on our menus. They are coming back in a few days to show us their revisions. We have been encouraged to ask every single customer (on the phone/dine-in) to distinguish if they are vegan and make sure they do not get something that has eggs and dairy.

NARN: In the interim, are you confident that you know what all the ingredients are as of today?

Bamboo Garden: Yes, they (Lee and Jamie) walked us through the kitchen, looked at all the ingredients, sauces, and have taught us what to look for. Honestly, it wasn’t until the pictures surfaced online, with the ingredients circled that I knew there were dairy and eggs in there. The word whey is completely new to me. I only know the words milk and eggs , but now I know what to watch for.

NARN: To confirm, this will remain as a vegetarian restaurant, and not a vegan one?

Bamboo Garden: We have thought about it, and we don’t have plans to be a vegan restaurant. It doesn’t seem possible at this time because we need to be remain as a Kosher restaurant. If there is something that is both Kosher and vegan, it would make everything easier….  We have vegan chicken available as of right now since February, due to the ones we usually order were out. However, we still have the some of non-vegan chicken in the kitchen. We have tested the vegan chicken out and have been told by customers they prefer the old (vegetarian) ones. At this point, we have made the decision to continue carrying both and will re-order the vegetarian versions once they become available again.

NARN: Is there a message you would like to send out to all of Bamboo Garden’s patrons that have been impacted by the recent happenings?

Bamboo Garden: All I can is sorry. We are sorry and I would like to apologize to everyone who has been affected by this. We want to make amends with all of our customers; we have had many that have been supporters of this restaurant for decades. We did not intentionally lie about what we have been serving, but we acknowledge we are wrong. We have been very wrong and we will learn from this. If they are willing to come to Bamboo Garden, I can apologize in person to each customer…..  All I can say is sorry. I’m unsure if I can say anything beyond that in person (if customers return), as I don’t speak the English language well. Thank you for giving us a chance to have a statement.

Speak Out for Sea Lions

i Apr 9th Comments Off by
Photo: NOAA National Marine Mammal Laboratory

Photo: NOAA National
Marine Mammal Laboratory

The permission that Washington, Oregon and Idaho received to kill sea lions expires on June 30, and they’ve requested a five-year extention.

Fewer than 20 comments have been made so far. One is from Duane
“Boomer” Wright, general manager of the Sea Lion Caves near Florence, OR. He says it looks like there isn’t enough food for the Steller and California sea lions, and points to the extinction of the Japanese sea lion.

Japan’s fishing industry once blamed sea lions for their low catches; now they’re trying to reintroduce sea lions to reestablish the ecosystem, he wrote.

“I think we should take that as evidence that killing sea lions will not increase the salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia. The solution to this problem is to increase the population of the salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and all rivers and tributaries along the Oregon Coast. Sea lions, whether California or Steller should not be used as a scapegoat for our misuse of our natural resources,” Wright wrote.

Please add your voice here. The deadline is April 27.

CANCELED! – "Chicken Chase"

i Mar 22nd Comments Off by

VICTORY!
The event is canceled! Thank you for being a voice for animals.

Please thank pastors Dr. John Paisley and Ken Griffin for doing the right thing (emails below).

~~~~

On Sunday, April 3rd, Riverview Baptist Church in Pasco, Washington, is planning a “Chicken Chase.”

The event is as cruel as it sounds. Chickens will be released into an arena so children can chase them, catch them, and “win” the chickens. canceled Chickens are delicate, and this terrifying event will no doubt cause injury and stress to the poor animals. And when caught, how do kids properly care for them? This event fails to help kids learn to respect animals and reinforces the idea that they are simply toys and here for our entertainment.

Please ask Riverview Baptist Church to do the right thing and host an alternative event instead (an event in which all the participants are there of their own free will).

You can send polite comments to:

Dr. John Paisley, Senior Pastor
Click here to send an email

Ken Griffin, Co-Pastor
Click here to send an email

Riverview Baptist Church
4921 W. Wernett
Pasco, WA 99301
509-547-2021