The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has opened what it calls “a robust, transparent public process” over proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, a law that aims to recover “our most imperiled species to the point they no longer need federal protection.”
Curious that Fish & Wildlife considers what it’s doing “robust” and “transparent.” You would think from reading its summation and an accompanying press release that the proposed changes were good for animals. To the contrary. The first clue that something is not robust and transparent comes from the press release: “The Trump Administration is dedicated to being a good neighbor and being a better partner with the communities in which we operate.”
This is an administration that has nominated a Dow Chemical lawyer to oversee the Superfund program, worked hard to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and foisted the U.S. Army Corp of Engineer to evaluate a prospective gold mine near Bristol Bay over the objections of Alaska’s governor.
Also curious thaty NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Chris Oliver says the changes are meant to bring “clarity and consistency” to the Endangered Species Act.
NPR’s Nate Rott highlights two of the changes: “The first would end the practice of treating threatened species the same as endangered. This proposal says that threatened species could still get some of those protections as endangered, but it would be determined on a case-by-case basis. It won’t be de facto anymore. The second would allow the economic consequences of a species’ protection to be taken into consideration during a listing. The decision would still ultimately be determined by the best available science, but the cost of that would also be considered.”
Costs and economic consequences balanced against wildlife.
Rott interviewed Collin O’Mara, head of the National Wildlife Federation, who said, “One out of every three wildlife species in this country is either at risk or vulnerable to extinction in the coming century. We have a crisis that we need – that needs solutions. Like, the status quo is basically just managing decline of specie populations that we all care about.”
O’Mara would like to see more resources put into helping wildlife before they’re threatened or endangered, Rott said.
That sounds smart. Let’s do that instead. Here’s where you can comment on the administration’s proposed changes, until September 24.
Here’s a sample comment:
Your summation and press release indicate this would be good for wildlife, while instead it would be good for business. You need to drop this plan and instead (not in addition, but rather instead) work on more and better ways to help wildlife before it’s threatened and/or endangered.
Here’s how public employees with integrity behave: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/11/21/resisting-trump-from-inside-the-government
As I approached one of Seattle Farmed Animal Save‘s monthly demostrations last year, I started driving by by row after row of plastic huts by the side of the road.
I suspected they were veal crates but, despite having gone vegan largely because of the horrors of the dairy industry (dairy pizza was the last thing I gave up), I didn’t want to believe I was driving right by so many thousands of isolated, suffering calves.
As I drove, I began to look more closely at the farms where the plastic huts were located and, sure enough, they were dairies.
I pulled over and looked inside a hut. What — who — I saw was heart-wrenching.
(Just look at his eyelashes!)
As I peeked into a crate, the calf inside stood up on wobbly legs, his ear tags showing his recent birthdate. Looking across the top of his and the other veal crates, I could see these calves’ mothers standing nearby.
They were so close.
Many accounts and videos attest to the love cows have for their babies. Like any mother, they want to protect and feed their young. Instead, they are separated soon (sometimes minutes) after birth — even on small dairy farms like this — and their milk is taken for humans. Their daughters become dairy cows and, when their bodies give out, they, like their mothers, are killed for hamburger or pet food.
Their sons become veal.
If you eat cheese, you are directly funding the veal industry.
Mother cows live in a Groundhog Day of unbearable grief. They are forcibly impregnated, frequently on something farmers call a “rape rack,” then have their babies taken from them over and over again.
It’s nothing like the picture we paint of small dairies in childrens’ books, on “happy cow” milk cartons and in our own minds (before we learn the truth). And as a recent Mercy for Animals undercover investigation found, the misery does not end there.
There’s video of workers shoving, dragging, and tossing baby calves; cows suffering from diarrhea and breathing difficulties without proper veterinary care; and cows being kicked and hit. Personally, my heart goes out to anyone who works with the animals in the meat, egg or dairy industries, because of the desensitization they experience in order to make a living.
I believe there’s a continuum of suffering and abuse in animal agriculture and that factory farms are worse than smaller and organic farms. But the calves I saw — who were killed as someone’s meal without ever having known even their own mothers — lived at the “better” end of that spectrum. For what? So we can eat pizza and ice cream that has their mothers’ milk in it?
When I went vegan, I finally turned away from my pizza (and ice cream) by thinking at each temptation of the suffering of nearby cows. Now I can add veal calves to that mental picture, although there are so many tastier alternatives that I’m no longer tempted.
I wish everyone could see what I saw that day along the road, make the connection between the cheese, milk and ice cream they eat and the suffering of these gentle animals, and make a change that would greatly reduce the suffering of innocents in this world.
Millions of newborn chicks and ducklings are being sent through the mail as if they were inanimate objects. Barely a day old, they are packed in dark boxes without food or water and sent across the country on harrowing trips that can last up to 72 hours.
Farm Sanctuary has rescued a number of animals, including a beautiful chicken called Tofu, who were shipped this way. It recently rescued three ducklings at a post office, because the man who ordered them was too sick to pick them up. The ducklings had traveled from Iowa to California — across a desert by truck — sanctuary co-founder Gene Baur wrote in an email to supporters. They would have stayed in the box without food, water or care if Farm Sanctuary had not stepped in to help. The sanctuary, which named those sweethearts Dominga, Carrera, and Pavarotti, is now asking people to sign its petition for the U.S. Postal Service to ban shipments of live animals.
You can also contact Postmaster General Megan Brennan via her media contact, Toni Delancey, at firstname.lastname@example.org and 202-268-3118. Here’s a sample message:
Dear Postmaster General Brennan,
Day-old chicks and ducklings are shipped around the country without food or water for up to 72 hours. As you know, many arrive dead.
You have the power to ban the shipment of live animals by mail. Please do everything you can to stop this abuse.
Here’s Tofu’s story:
Kristina Giovanetti is the founder of Seattle Farmed Animal Save, a nonprofit that’s part of The Save Movement, a global effort that started in December 2010 with Toronto Pig Save. The idea is to bear witness to animals sent to slaughter in our own communities. Kris has been holding personal vigils at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion’s live animal auction for about a year and invites everyone to join her.
The next vigil is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 15. As the Facebook invitation says, “We are a grassroots, love-based, and peaceful organization. We believe in non-violence and the transformational power of compassion. We follow a Tolstoyian perspective in that we do not believe in turning away from suffering, but instead moving closer to it.” It’s a heart-wrenching experience to watch roosters, geese, rabbits and others struggle and cry out as they are auctioned. There are almost always day-old dairy calves, piglets, lambs and baby goats — and once a month, they auction horses that are sold for slaughter.
It’s also powerful to stand on the road outside the pavilion with signs reminding people that animals don’t belong to us, encouraging them to go vegan, and to honk for the pigs. A surprising number of people honk! A lot yell for us to “get a job,” too, which is puzzling and good for a laugh.
Here’s a Q&A with Kris about The Save Movement in Seattle:
What moved you to start a branch of The Save Movement here?
In June 2016, I attended an all-day vigil in Toronto with Anita, the founder of The Save Movement. We spent 16 hours bearing witness outside pig, cow, and chicken slaughterhouses. The pigs deeply affected me – looking into their eyes, you can really see the fear, you can sense their suffering in a profound way.
Pigs are very much like dogs and to lock eyes with them, to reach out and stroke them in an attempt to provide a moment of comfort and then watch the truck turn into the slaughterhouse where you know they will be brutally killed just moments later is a life changing event.
That day in Toronto I became an activist.
When did you start going to the Enumclaw Live Animal Auction? What have you seen there?
When I returned home, I immediately started looking for places near me to connect with the animals and share their stories. My first trip to the auction barn in Enumclaw was in July 2016.
I’ve seen so many horrible things there – the chickens are transported in cardboard boxes with a few air holes punched in the sides. There is a stone-faced woman who always works the birds. She reaches in, pins their wings behind their back and yanks them out of the box. The birds are screaming, literally screaming as she holds them high and waves them around in the air for a few seconds as the auctioneer works the crowd and finally sells them for 3 to maybe 9 dollars. Then the woman shoves the screaming and terrified bird back into the box, head first.
The day-old male dairy calves always stay with me, in my mind, for days after I see them. They still have umbilical cords dangling from their bellies and look absolutely bewildered. They have no idea they are being sold to become veal calves and will spend the next few weeks chained to a crate and will then be killed.
This place sells lambs and baby goats, too. The babies are always very hard to see. But I think the spent dairy cows are the most heartbreaking of all. They are absolutely skin and bones – it looks like they haven’t been fed for weeks. Their bodies are emaciated and they have large, swollen udders. But it’s the look in their eyes and the way they hang their head that just rips my heart out. These sweet, gentle beings have been impregnated over and over again, and have had their calves stolen from them every single time. Their bodies have been exploited and pushed absolutely to the breaking point. And when their milk production begins to wane, the farmers stop feeding them, then sell them to slaughter to become cheap hamburger meat. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching to see them.
What does it mean to you to bear witness as these animals are sold? What is the power of bearing witness?
Bearing witness is being present in the face of injustice and trying to help. When we bear witness we become the situation – we connect with our entire body and mind. And from that, action arises. The purpose of bearing witness is to provide love and compassion to these animals, to share their stories, to show the reality of animal agriculture, raising awareness to the public, and helping people make the connection. People need to understand what goes on so they will make the decision to stop supporting it.
How do people react to the protest? What do you think of the calls to “get a job”?
We get about an equal number of supportive people and angry people, and a lot of people just pass by with no visible or audible reaction. The supportive people will honk in a friendly manner and give a thumbs up. The angry people show us their middle finger and yell at us. The comment to “get a job” is so curious to me because we hear it all the time, and I’ve heard it at vigils all over the world. I think what they are really saying is that we should do something constructive with our time.
Are there also slaughterhouses near Seattle? Where are they, and what do you know about them?
Yes, there are two slaughterhouses within an hour of Seattle that we have investigated and will be holding vigils at. Both of them are north of the city, around Stanwood and Mt Vernon. The Draper Valley chicken slaughterhouse kills more than 800,000 chickens each week.
Do you plan to have vigils at the slaughterhouses, too?
Absolutely! We are learning the truck schedules and will be starting vigils up there very soon.
If you happen to be in Europe this fall, she’ll also be speaking in Luxembourg in September at the International Animal Rights Conference.
By Molly Jordan
When you think about Orcas in the context of Animal Rights, there are a few individuals who immediately come to mind. Regardless of when you joined the movement, undoubtedly you have heard of the captive Orca at Miami Seaquarium, Lolita—or Tokitae, as she was originally named, which is a native Coast Salish greeting meaning “nice day, pretty colors.” She has spent nearly half a century living in abysmal conditions in captivity despite decades of activism, outreach, demands, and sea sanctuary plans to bring her home. If you’re like me, “Free Lolita” has been part of your activism toolkit for as long as you’ve been involved with speaking on behalf of captive cetaceans worldwide. Tilikum became a household name when in 2010 he killed a trainer at SeaWorld in Florida and then again in 2013 upon the release of the documentary film Blackfish, which exposed to the world many of the evils of captivity for these incredibly intelligent, social creatures. If you haven’t seen this powerful film, please find a friend with Netflix and watch it. It will give you a great overview of why captivity is so cruel.
Something the film touches on is the story of how Tilikum came to be in captivity and the dark history of the captive era in Washington State. n conversations about Orcas and other marine mammals, I’m often struck by people’s assumption that if they are living free in the wild and are protected from being hunted, they are safe. Tragically, this is far from the actual truth. While the Nnorthern and Ssouthern Rresident killer whale populations are now somewhat protected from human greed within U.S. and Canadian waters, we are still at significant risk of losing these iconic pods within our lifetime.
The Pacific Northwest observes June as Orca Awareness Month and offers educational opportunities to learn more about our Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) and the three challenges they are facing today: toxic waters, lack of food supply, and ocean noise.
The SRKW are often cited as some of the most contaminated marine mammals in the world, because of human activities that pollute the Salish Sea. Contaminants in Puget Sound come from agricultural runoff, litter, pesticides, marine debris, and other sources. Fish absorb contaminants, which are then passed on to Orcas and other marine life who eat these fish (and to humans who consume fish). Scientists have speculated contaminates have been a factor in the decline of live calf births among female killer whales of reproductive age, most notably with the recent death of Lulu, one of the only remaining whales left in the United Kingdom resident pod. Without healthy reproductive females bearing healthy calves, the chance that these pods will survive long term is dismal. The toxic environment also could be a contributing factor to the fact that almost all calves born during the Orca baby boom are males. There hasn’t been a surviving calf birthed in K-Pod since 2011.
One of the most critical dangers facing our SRKW right now is an extreme lack of their preferred species of salmon:chinook. Both the Northern and Southern Resident killer whale populations are unique fish-eating mammals. While our neighborhood whales eat a small variety of other salmon species, they depend on healthy chinook salmon runs for more than 80 percent of their diet, and thus for their survival. These residents should not be confused with their thriving mammal-eating relatives who regularly inhabit our waters and who are often referred to as Bigg’s killer whales or “transients.”
Overfishing is a global problem that tremendously affects our local SRKW. Lack of healthy and abundant fish stocks in the ocean leads to the whales slowly starving, more in some years than others. Another literal barrier preventing healthy chinook salmon runs in the PNW are the intact Lower Snake River Dams. One organization, Dam Sense, is working solely on bringing down these dams. It has an abundance of information about why this is crucial to the survival of the Chinook salmon and the SRKW. I saw a screening of the film Dam Nation, and it really opened my eyes to how severe an issue this is for ecosystems around the country. Bringing down the dams is just one way to help, along with not consuming salmon, and educating the people in your life about these issues.
Marine life worldwide and right here at home also face oceanic noise pollution. I was in a workshop last year where I saw the film Sonic Sea. The main takeaway, outside of the startling statistics about shipping traffic, is the simple fact that while oceanic noise pollution is a dreadful modern experience for marine life, it is also human caused and can be reversed simply by stopping the action that makes the noise. Unlike pollutants which can live in an environment well beyond our lifetimes, noise can be reduced and eliminated in marine environments by taking the cause of the noise out of the ocean! This is easier said than done, but it is possible to make even small contributions if you engage in marine vessel travel. Lime Kiln State Park has been noted as the best place to see Orcas in the wild from the shore – and believe me, it is! I have been mega fortunate to have seen them twice in just three short years of calling Washington State home, and it has truly been a magical experience. These sightings have involved several days of picnics and patience as you wait and see if that day will be the day they choose to swim by. Sadly, the ocean noise in the Salish Sea becomes all too apparent when your relaxing day on the bluffs is interrupted by the constant and annoying vessel noise from passing boats and container ships. If they are that loud and annoying to our human ears on land, just imagine what it is like for those whales who call these waterways home.
When advocating for animals, I try to learn about the specific motivations and history behind how a mainstream practice came to be (you can apply this to learning about human-based oppressions, too). When you sit down to comb through any of the materials I have presented here, I encourage you to follow the money trail to understand how, even decades after the last Orca was captured in Washington State, human greed and global commerce continue to contribute to the demise of these stunning creatures. A few of the books I recommend as a starting point are Puget Sound Whales for Sale, The Lost Whale, and Into Great Silence. They will all break your heart in various ways, but I have been endlessly inspired to learn more and do more on behalf of those who still need our voice. None of us can individually save the world, but we can all do small things every day to make this planet better. Now, more than ever, it’s important to help our fellow humans and nonhuman animals in whatever big or small way we can to ease the burden or struggle of those with whom we share this world.
When I moved to Washington State, I was happy to have so many tremendous resources available that are working toward the ultimate survival of these beloved whales. I have been able to hear some pretty amazing speakers and to meet others working on behalf of these whales and other marine life. Attending lectures also offers the opportunity to ask these organizations how they are crossing the intersections with other human- and animal-based oppressions. We know, as animal advocates, that much of our work crosses the boundaries of single issues. Having dialogue with caring individuals can help us bridge the gap between caring about iconic species like Orcas and caring about animals deemed unworthy of any protections, like chickens.
Some of my favorite organizations are: Orca Network, The Center for Whale Research, Cascadia Research Collective, The Whale Trail, The American Cetacean Society Puget Sound Chapter, and even Washington State Ferries! The M/V Tokitae is a ferry named in honour of our beloved whale who was stolen from her mother, Ocean Sun, in Puget Sound over 46 years ago. On the ferry walls is educational information regarding her capture and subsequent life of captivity as the lone Orca more commonly known as Lolita, so every single passenger riding that ferry can learn about her tragic plight.
I encourage you to do your own research and find organizations that align with your individual interests and ethics and learn more about the great work being done on behalf of humans and nonhuman animals in Washington State, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond. Thank you to Northwest Animal Rights Network for providing a platform to share this information.
Other organizations that may be of interest are: Wild Whales, OrcaLab, the Orca Project, Orca Conservancy, Seal Sitters, the SeaDoc Society, Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative (SRKWCSI), Orca Salmon Alliance, The Whale , and the Langley Whale Center.
For more information regarding Northern and Southern Resident killer whale protections in Washington State and British Columbia as they pertain to our respective governments, please visit:
“Paramedics don’t need to cut open the throat of a pig when they have other options,” Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, told the The News Tribune regarding the University of Washington’s practice of using live pigs to practice a medical procedure that involves slitting their throats.
“I would like to see the university take responsibility and to search out different ways to solve these situations,” said Appleton, who is one of eight members of the state House who signed a letter asking the UW to consider using modern training methods instead of animals.
The university says it’s looking into it.
Let’s thank Rep. Appleton for publicly talking sense about this. Her number is (360) 786-7934, and her email address is email@example.com.
Here are the other reps who signed the letter: Jessyn Farrell of Seattle, Strom Peterson of Edmonds, Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island, Cindy Ryu of Shoreline, Joan McBride of Kirkland, Joe Fitzgibbon of Seattle and Mia Gregerson of SeaTac.
A lawmaker from Wisconsin had the bright idea that milk should be labeled milk only if it’s dairy. She wants to limit the use of yogurt and cheese, too. She’s wrong, of course. The dictionary could tell her that.
Nevertheless, Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s DAIRY PRIDE Act (some people need the all caps) has picked up some steam.
Please call you senators to remind them about the dictionary — and that there are more important things to be spending time on than changing the definition of milk.
In Washington state, our senators are:
Patty Murray: (202) 224-2621
Maria Cantwell: (202) 224-3441
If you’re in another state, here’s an easy way to look up your senators’ contact info.
The same week The Seattle Times reported that a macaque monkey at the UW died of thirst, The Baltimore Sun offered some hopeful news: Johns Hopkins, which runs the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, is now going to compare standard animal tests with more modern scientific methods that use human cells or computer models.
I used to think the end of animal testing — or, at least, most animal testing — was a no-brainer. It’s not emotionally tied to food, and people can surely understand that more accurate non-animal alternatives are better than inhumane treatment of animals.
But the propaganda is effective. Many people believe humans will die if animal testing stops, despite much evidence to the contrary — some of it self-evident.
How valuable do you think smoking tests on animals are? Do we not know the ill health effects of cigarettes? Yet the tests continue.
How about emotionally wrenching tests at the University of Wisconsin that showed monkeys prefer love to food? They’re at it again.
In an excellent report that gives a comprehensive outline of the issue, Meredith Cohn at The Baltimore Sun writes: “Many hope to decrease the number of drugs that show promise in animal testing but fail to prove safe and effective in human trials, failures that are costly and disappointing to pharmaceutical companies and researchers as well as to patients hoping for better therapies and cures. A drug trial for a promising Alzheimer’s drug failed in a large trials last year, for example.”
In 2015, more than 767,600 animals were used in research, Cohn reported. That’s according to data from a U.S. Department of Agriculture website that was recently taken down. That number included dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, primates and some farm animals.
It’s incredible that this hasn’t been done before, and thank heavens it’s happening now.
Next, how about someone stops the creation of these human-pig hybrids meant to carry human organs for transplant?
Here’s the heartbreaking story of another research monkey dead at the UW. In a new inspection report, federal regulators say a female pigtail macaque went without water for at least two or three days, and that she was “severely dehydrated.”
Her water line had become disconnected from her cage.
And contact UW President Ana Mari Cauce:
And ask the USDA to fine the UW’s Primate Center (WaNPC – Washington National Primate Center):
Fort Collins, CO Office
2150 Centre Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
Phone: (970) 494-7478
Fax: (970) 494-7461
From the Animal Legal Defense Fund:
A proposed new Ag-Gag bill is being considered by Arkansas lawmakers, and we need your help to stop it from becoming law. Factory farms want to keep their cruel practices hidden from the public, and industry lobbyists push Ag-Gag laws to accomplish that goal.
House Bill 1665 has already passed the Arkansas House and moved out of committee in the Senate. The law would allow factory farm employers to sue whistleblowers directly, making them vulnerable to expensive lawsuits all for trying to do the right thing. Such intimidation will effectively keep those who see animal cruelty from speaking up. Arkansas’s version of Ag-Gag is written so broadly that it would also ban undercover investigations of virtually all private entities, including daycare centers and restaurants. This law would silence conscientious employees who wish to report wrongdoing.
Call or email the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to politely inform them that if this bill passes, you won’t be visiting the state.
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism: 501-682-7777
It’s incredibly important to always be calm and polite when speaking with decision makers and other officials who might influence them. Keep your call short and simple, and consider using the script below.
“Hello, my name is __________ and I’m calling to let you know that even though Arkansas is a beautiful state, I will not be visiting if HB 1665 becomes law.”