Parks levy funds the zoo: Humane Voters of WA says vote no

Parks levy funds the zoo: Humane Voters of WA says vote no

Orangutan at a zoo in Australia. Photo:
Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Humane Voters of Washington says the parks levy includes $36 million to fund the zoo, which is a private entity.

“In zoos animals are denied the most basic instinctual behaviors that are important to them—like courting, mating, roaming, climbing, foraging and choosing others of their own kind with whom to socialize. As our communities’ acknowledge that even under the best of circumstances captivity cannot begin to replicate wild animals’ lives and habitats, it has lead to a 10-year trend that is unmistakable and accelerating: attendance at WPZ is declining while the region’s population is booming,” according to the Humane Voters of Washington website.

“Since 2002, King County and Seattle taxpayers have provided nearly $200 million to WPZ. Yet as a private organization the zoo is exempt from public disclosure laws which means there is little oversight or transparency about WPZ’s care and treatment of the animals, despite partial funding from public sources. Rejecting this levy means that fewer dollars flowing to the zoo will ensure fewer wild animals suffering in zoo captivity.”

What Woodland Park Zoo did with the elephants who once lived there was particularly heartbreaking. There’s been a lot of coverage about the suffering of elephants in zoos — Michael J. Berens’ series in The Seattle Times exposed the profit motive behind allowing that suffering. The New York Times last week published a magazine article about the fact that elephants continue to be taken from Africa — as supposed “rescues” — despite “mounting evidence that elephants find captivity torturous.”

So do other animals.

UW: Stop surgical training on live animals

Rescued pig basking at Edgar’s Mission in Australia. Photo:
Jo-Anne McArthur/We

It’s a shock. The University of Washington has resumed using live animals in surgical training — a useless, inhumane practice.

At our last NARN letter-writing event, many of us wrote letters to the officials and offices below. If you’d like to join the chorus asking the university to stop, write to:

UW Office of Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 357160
Seattle, WA  98195

Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.
CEO, UW Medicine
1959 NE Pacific St
Seattle, WA 98195

Ana Mari Cauce
UW President
301 Gerberding Hall
P.O. Box 351230
Seattle, WA 98195

Here’s a sample letter:

Dear XYZ (above),
I’m writing as a Seattle resident/UW alum/WA resident to ask that you stop using live pigs in surgical training, an ethical decision you made five years ago that should not change in light of financial incentives. As you know, there are excellent — and, despite your recent public statements, sufficient — alternatives that do not involve animals. Please find your moral compass. 
Thank you,
Your name

Deborah Horne at KIRO-7 broadcast an excellent story on the issue on May 31.

“The University of Washington stopped using pigs in its surgical training five years ago. But it recently gave the medical school the green light to resume using live pigs for advanced training,” Horne reported. “Critics say it’s all about the grant money being used to fund the use of live pigs for surgical training.

“Now a professor is calling foul. Lisa Jones-Engel has devoted her life and her career to animals. So she joined the University of Washington’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee to help in its mission to establish protocol for the use of animals in research.

“She accuses the UW and the committee of stepping away from that standard after a new grant came in that would allow the Medical School to once again use live pigs in surgical training.”

After 17 years at UW, Jones-Engel left after spring quarter.

Get out your pens/keyboards! And stay tuned for the date of our next letter-writing event!

Unprecedeted comment period for Tule elk in Point Reyes opens soon

The group Restore Point Reyes National Seashore sent this update on an upcoming public comment period that will affect the area’s Tule Elks. Please sign up for updates — and speak out for the elk next month:
“The National Park Service (NPS) at Point Reyes National Seashore says it plans to release its Draft General Management Plan Amendment (GMPA) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the impacts of commercial ranching at the National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) in August. The public will have 45 days to comment on the way the National Seashore should be managed going forward. 
“The NPS has never before released an EIS on commercial ranching and dairy operation impacts at the National Seashore. It has for decades simply rubber stamped grazing permits that allow 5,000-6,000 beef and dairy cattle to graze year round on national parklands without issuing an EIS or allowing for public comment. Because of a federal lawsuit brought by environmental groups in 2016, the NPS must now provide an EIS on park ranchers’ impacts to native plants, birds, and wildlife, air, waters, climate, local economy, and visitor experience.

“Domestic cattle at the Seashore outnumber native Tule elk by nearly 10 to 1. The majority of Tule elk are confined to Tomales Point behind a 10 8-foot fence to prevent them from eating grass that’s leased to the ranchers. Half the confined elk herd—more than 200 animals—died during the recent drought for lack of water and nutritious forage.

“But there’s a free-roaming herd of Tule elk herd near Drake’s Beach, adjacent to parklands grazed by cattle. Ranchers complain that these elk compete with their cows for grass. The NPS’s proposed remedies include killing, fencing, and removing the elk. Its current approach is daily hazing to run the elk off the leased range.

“The soon-to-be-public Draft GMPA and EIS will determine the future of the elk, the Seashore, and GGNRA for decades to come. Learn more and Sign up for updates at Please forward this newsletter to friends.  When the Draft EIS comes out, please mail your comments to GMPA, Point Reyes National Seashore, c/o Superintendent, 1 Bear Valley Road, Pt Reyes Station, CA 94956 or comment online at

Some history on the Point Reyes area’s Tule elk from the same email: “Last year, in a move to eliminate the Seashore’s free-roaming elk herd and rewrite the 1962 law that established Point Reyes National Seashore, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced HR 6687, which would give ranchers lifetime access to graze cattle at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Under the Seashore’s enabling legislation cattle grazing is not mandated, rather it is at the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior. Essentially a death warrant for the native elk, Huffman’s bill was an end-run around the court-mandated planning process that NPS, Seashore ranchers, and environmental groups had signed on to and that would give the public the opportunity to comment on whether and to what extent ranching would continue in these national parks. When we learned that the Huffman bill had passed the House under the radar–without debate–and was headed for the Senate, we sounded the alarm. With your help, more than 13,000 messages were sent to our Senators asking them to oppose the bill.  Fortunately, the bill failed to reach a vote in the Senate. But Rep. Huffman recently signaled that he will try again if NPS doesn’t give the Seashore ranchers the deal they want.  Please stay involved!”

Also from the group: “Take three minutes to enjoy this beautiful video of Point Reyes National Seashore, courtesy of CBS Sunday Morning.”

Support orca sanctuary at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Great Hall, Green Lake

Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Brandon Southall, NMFS/OPR:

The Whale Sanctuary Project will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 18, at the Great Hall by Green Lake (7220 Woodland Ave NE) to share details of a vision for a 60- to 100-acre seaside sanctuary to care for orcas who are allowed to retire from life in concrete tanks at marine parks and aquariums. It would also serve as a full-service veterinary and “urgent care” facility in the San Juan Islands for free-ranging orcas who live-strand or need  special assistance in a controlled setting

“We have all the science we need to know these animals need to be out of concrete tanks,” Marino, who is also a neuroscientist and the lead author of a peer-reviewed scientific paper in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, told The Seattle Times’ Lynda V. Mapes. “The goal is to empty all the tanks and not breed any more [captive orcas] so eventually this whole form of entertainment is phased out.”

The Miami Seaquarium still holds Lolita, who was among 90 orcas taken from Puget Sound waters in 1970 to serve as entertainment. The Seaquarium “has on multiple occasions fought lawsuits to free Lolita and also rejected an ongoing campaign by the Lummi Nation for her release. Lummi tribal members are expected to file a new lawsuit soon to free her,” Mapes writes.

Please join the public meeting on Thursday!!

Update: Twin Lakes/Federal Way no longer plans to gas geese

Update on July 13: The emails seem to have worked! We received word that Twin Lakes is no longer plans to kill the geese. The people who’ve been receiving the emails are tired of them, so no need to write with thanks. Way to go! And thank YOU!

Original post from June 12:

[A note to be polite in asking officials to stop this treatment of the geese. Professional-sounding requests may or may not work in the short term, but nasty ones almost surely will turn people against the idea of change.]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services calls it “relocation services.” But in fact, when they’re paid to remove Canada geese, the birds are instead gassed to death.

Two residents of Federal Way are speaking out against the practice, telling Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club and Twin Lakes Homeowners Association that they don’t want their fees spent on such “services.”

“Canada geese know how to hold their breath so the gassing process is a long, agonizing, terrifying suffocation, Bonnie Armstrong noted in a flyer she sent to Twin Lakes neighbors,” the Federal Way Mirror reported.

The city of Federal Way hires Wildlife Services to “control” Canada geese on behalf of the Steel Lake and North Lake Lake Management Districts.

[Emails deleted when the plan to kill geese was ended.]

Tell the National Park Service to stop killing elk

Ever wonder what NARN’s letter-writing parties are like? Aside from great food and excellent company, they involve writing letters based on templates like this one, which was created by Melanie, who co-hosted our letter-writing dinner last month. Thank you, Melanie!!


Stan Austin, Regional Director
Pacific West Region
National Park Service
333 Bush Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94104-2828

Sample letter:

I urge the National Park Service not to kill Tule Elk at Point Reyes National Seashore in order to protect the profits of the beef and dairy industry.  Tule Elk, which are native to Point Reyes, were exterminated and then reintroduced by the National Park Service. Now the beef and dairy ranchers, which no longer own the land they occupy, want to extend their land leases and cull the Drakes Bay Tule Elk herd.  Please choose to protect wildlife over industry profits and select the alternative of no ranching and protection of the Tule Elk herd. Our National Parks are for nature not agribusiness.


  • The Tule Elk were once thought to be extinct and have been a pillar of success in local conservation work. 
  • Point Reyes National Seashore is now the only national park where you can view these animals. 
  • Local beef and dairy operations, leasing 30% of the park, are pressuring the National Park Service to “manage” the wild elk, including their relocation off the seashore and even their lethal removal. 
  • At a time where so much wildlife is already at stake, we ask the park to protect the elk and its habitat and NOT cave to industry pressure.

We are asking for:

  1. Under no circumstance shall the park kill any Tule Elk.
  2. The park should prioritize Tule Elk habitat.
  3. The park should refuse to grant 20-year permits and leases to cattle and dairy ranchers. Ranchers have overstayed their original permit limits already. Long-term leases will set a terrible precedent in favor of private, commercial industry and jeopardize the future of our parks and the health of the ecosystem.
  4. Absolutely no diversification of ranch operations. Any diversification (such as chicken coops, pigs, sheep, row crops, etc) will only serve to attract more predators like coyotes, foxes, bobcats that will be in conflict with ranch operations and have to be “managed” as well.
  5. The park should revoke permits for all cattle and dairy operations and restore the leased land to its original, pre-industry state. The park should prioritize wildlife NOT commercial interests!