Does your state wildlife management agency claim that the deer are "overabundant" and need to be hunted? Sick of photos of "browse lines" being used to justify a hunt? Tired of hunters saying that the deer will starve without a hunt? Do you know how and why state agencies intentionally increase the deer population? Learn how to make the scientific arguments against hunting.
Image © Doris Lin 2011, licensed to About.com
Inspired by a courtroom full of supporters for Sammy, an abused cocker spaniel dog in New Jersey, a newspaper asked, "What is it about animal abuse that evokes such an outpouring from people worldwide when violence against humans often goes unnoticed?" The article cites several examples, including Patrick, the abused pit bull with over 300,000 likes on his Facebook page.
People interviewed by the newspaper gave various responses, but none gave the answer that I would have given. I do have my own theory, but I don't want to influence the poll, so I'll wait a few days, before posting my answer.
What do you think?
Read more about animal cruelty.
Photo by Associated Humane Societies. Used with permission.
An undercover investigator who recorded video footage of animal cruelty at Quanah Cattle Co. in Colorado has been charged with animal cruelty. Taylor Radig, an undercover investigator for Compassion Over Killing, documented workers kicking and throwing newborn calves, and lifting them by their tails. COK turned the footage over to authorities about two months after Radig's employment at Quanah ended, leading to animal cruelty charges being filed against three employees and against Radig. According to a press release from the Weld County Sheriff, "Radig's failure to report the alleged abuse of the animals in a timely manner adheres to the definition of acting with negligence and substantiates the charge Animal Cruelty." Will Potter, of Green is the New Red, calls the charges "unprecendented."
Potter also points out the similarity between the sheriff's reasoning and proposed ag-gag legislation that would require investigators to turn over video footage immediately, which would prevent documentation of patterns of abuse. Footage of a single act of animal cruelty can be easily dismissed as unusual, so a pattern of abuse is important for establishing the company's tolerance and policies on animal cruelty. According to Potter, "Colorado is not an "ag-gag" state, but this is clearly part of that trend, and could indicate ag-gag legislation about to be introduced in Colorado."
As COK states on their website, "Witnessing - and exposing - animal abuse is not a crime!" The sheriff's office cites Colorado Revised Statutes 18-9-201 and 18-9-202, which says:
A person commits cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence overdrives, overloads, overworks, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, unnecessarily or cruelly beats, allows to be housed in a manner that results in chronic or repeated serious physical harm, carries or confines in or upon any vehicles in a cruel or reckless manner, engages in a sexual act with an animal, or otherwise mistreats or neglects any animal, or causes or procures it to be done, or, having the charge or custody of any animal, fails to provide it with proper food, drink, or protection from the weather consistent with the species, breed, and type of animal involved, or abandons an animal.
There is nothing in this law that requires a whistleblower to turn over video footage of animal cruelty immediately after it is shot. Unless the sheriff's office has evidence of Radig kicking or throwing calves, they shouldn't be charging her with animal cruelty. I feel like a broken record here, but I'll say it again: this is yet another example of how the government protects agribusiness interests, over the interests of activists or even public health.
The information on this website is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.
Image of calf at Quanah courtesy of Compassion Over Killing.
On Wednesday, Time.com published my article about hunting, "Hunting Isn't the Answer to Animal 'Pests'." A reader found my personal Twitter account (my animal rights Twitter account is @AboutAnimalRts), and tried to tell me I didn't know what I was talking about. Below is an excerpt from our conversation (scroll down):
Doris Lin: State DNR shouldn't increase the deer population and then claim a hunt is needed because there are to many deer.
montani: no state DNR's do that, definitely not around here, deer are prey animals, they've evolved to repopulate quickly and in large #'s Doris Lin: This is what WV does to increase the deer population: (this link) montani: haha by planting shrubs so not so many starve to death every winter? that evil dnr Doris Lin: I'm glad you changed your mind & now see your state DNR intentionally increases the deer population, just for hunters montani: I never doubted they did things to improve the health of the population and obviously it's for hunters, they bring a lot of $ here
montani: no state DNR's do that, definitely not around here, deer are prey animals, they've evolved to repopulate quickly and in large #'s
Doris Lin: This is what WV does to increase the deer population: (this link)
montani: haha by planting shrubs so not so many starve to death every winter? that evil dnr
Doris Lin: I'm glad you changed your mind & now see your state DNR intentionally increases the deer population, just for hunters
montani: I never doubted they did things to improve the health of the population and obviously it's for hunters, they bring a lot of $ here
I don't know if he (I assume montani is male because his Twitter avatar appears male) thinks he lost or won the debate, but at the very least, it seems I convinced him that his state DNR manipulates the deer population for the benefit of hunters, even if he doesn't believe that food plots increase deer fertility. He said that he isn't a hunter, which is probably why he's never heard about how deer are managed.
Outside of hunters and animal rights activists, few Americans are aware of how state wildlife management agencies manage the deer - clear cutting forests to create the early succession habitat that they need, planting deer-preferred vegetation, and leasing land to farmers who are required to plant extra crops to feed the deer. All of this extra food and habitat leads to increased fertility. I have to admit that the first time I heard it, in the early 1980s, I found it hard to believe. Why would they increase the deer population when so many people complain that there are too many deer? The agencies are run by hunters, for hunters, and are funded by the sales of hunting and fishing licenses.
The next time someone tells you that hunting is necessary to control the deer population, look up their state's wildlife management agency. They often explain on their own websites how hard to they work to produce trophy bucks, or provide plenty of hunting opportunities. Learn more here.
Screencap © Doris Lin 2013, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Yesterday, President Obama pardoned another turkey and again made insulting jokes about the deaths of the 45 million turkeys who are killed for Thanksgiving every year (not to mention the inherent mocking of the pardoning of human criminals on death row), comparing the two turkeys, Popcorn and Caramel, to the winning tributes in the Hunger Games. Obama and the audience laughed, but the comparison is apt. The suffering and deaths of 45 million turkeys are as trivial and entertaining to most people as that of the tributes to the residents of the Capitol in Panem.
A sickening twist, introduced last year, was the chance for the public to vote on which of the two turkeys would get officially pardoned, although both would be ultimately be spared. Much like the sponsors in the Hunger Games sending life-saving supplies to their favorite tributes, the American public was invited to participate in the turkey-pardoning ceremony that reduces the very lives of the animals to entertainment.
And while Popcorn and Caramel will live out the rest of their short lives at Morven Park's Turkey Hill in Leesburg, Virginia, their brother who was "pardoned" by the governor of Minnesota will be slaughtered anyway.
There's a Thanksgiving song that I've been searching for, and I hope that someone out there knows more about it. In my elementary school music class in the 1970s, we learned a song about a family that raises a turkey to be slaughtered on Thanksgiving Day, but when the day comes, they don't have the heart to kill him:
The pudding's cooking in the pot.
It's made with plum and apricot.
But everything seems absurd.
No one can kill the bird.
We all have grown attached to him and on this holiday,
I left the door unlatched for him so he could get away...
The song also talks about guests waiting around for Thanksgiving dinner, and "Pa's a lovely shade of mauve." Does this ring any bells for anyone? I've been searching for this song for years, and even called up my old music teacher and asked her about it. She did not remember the song, and thought it must have been taught by the substitute music teacher during her maternity leave. I don't remember how the story ends, but I hope the turkey lived and the family did not decide to eat a different animal instead.
If you lived in the Capitol in Panem, what would you do? We all live in the Capitol. We can decide whether to partake in the oppression and suffering, or go vegan.
Happy vegan Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating!
Screencap © Doris Lin 2013, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Vegetarian rocker Joan Jett has decided not to participate in the South Dakota float in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, after ranchers protested her representing their state that, in the words of the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, is "heavily reliant on agriculture and livestock production." Instead, the PETA supporter will appear on a different float. In a prepared statement, Jett explained that she decided to switch floats "because people's political agendas were getting in the way of what should be a purely entertainment driven event . . . I will remain focused on entertaining the millions of people watching, who will be celebrating a great American tradition."
Jett is not vegan and continues to wear leather, but has spoken out for vegetarianism on behalf of PETA, and supports NYCLASS, which is trying to end the use of horse-drawn carriages in New York City.
This is another example of big-ag trying to use their muscle to silence critics. Whether cattlemen sue Oprah Winfrey, a meatpacking company tries to press charges against someone shooting a video or the dairy industry tries to silence a vegan cookbook author, they are afraid of people speaking the truth about their business and will do anything they can to keep the public in the dark. But we can fight back, speak for the animals and the earth, and go vegan.
Screencap ©Doris Lin 2013, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The FBI is refusing to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by animal rights activist Ryan Shapiro, claiming that the release of the information could hamper their ability to fight domestic terrorism. Shapiro, a student at M.I.T., has been submitting hundreds of FOIA requests as part of his PhD dissertation on how animal activists are marginalized as threats to American security. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the federal government must produce copies of requested documents, but some documents, like classified defense documents, are exempt. In case you're wondering why the name sounds familiar, Shapiro is also one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
In an article for Mother Jones, Will Potter (of Green Is the New Red) explains that the individual documents do not fall under any of the FOIA exceptions, but the FBI is arguing that together, the hundreds of thousands of pages create a "mosaic" of information that could "significantly and irreparably damage national security."
These actions, along with ag-gag laws and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act are just a few examples of how the government protects businesses that exploit animals. A peaceful, illegal action that challenges the status quo is labeled "terrorism," but violent criminal behavior against non-human animals is rarely prosecuted.
The law requires agencies to respond to FOIA requests within 20 days, but the FBI is asking the US District Court in Washington DC for seven years to respond. A ruling on whether and when the FBI needs to produce the documents is expected in the next few months.
Some of the documents that the FBI has produced so far are so mundane, they're humorous. Shapiro spoke on FBI surveillance of the Animal Rights National Conference at the 2012 Conference, presenting documents that detail the FBI's attendance at the conferences over the years. The agents returned to their offices with vegan literature, and reports on the various sessions they attended. But Shapiro called for openness and welcomed the agents:
"The FBI is explicitly interested in spreading false rumors about good activists being agents so that we don't trust them. About newcomers being snitches so that we don't let them in the movement. So that we're divided, so that we can't grow as a movement. So yes, if the FBI shows up at your doorstep, shut your mouth. But at this conference, we should have open arms for everyone. And honestly, if the FBI wants to hear about the horrors of factory farming, let them hear. If the FBI wants to read vegan literature, let them read."
Read Potter's full article.
Photo by Stephanie Crumley
In a horrible news story from Newbury, MA, local residents were told not to worry about the "inhuman" moaning from the local dairy farm - it's just the cows mourning the loss of their calves. Happens all the time. So many people were complaining, the police posted on their Facebook page that, "We've been informed that the cows are not in distress and that the noises are a normal part of farming practices."
A lot of people don't realize that calves are routinely taken from their mothers when they are newborns, so they can be turned into veal. So many people are unaware, that the newspaper told them that the calves are taken away to be "placed in small hutches until they are old enough to roam with other young cows." I guess "roam with other young cows" is a euphemism for "be slaughtered for veal."
One argument that I hear in favor of factory farming is that the factory farms can't be *that* bad if the animals are eating and gaining weight. They can't be suffering that much, can they? So how much does a cow suffer when her baby is taken from her and she cries so loudly the neighbors call the police? And the farm tells the police that the cows are not in distress.
There are a lot of reasons the animals on factory farms still eat and grow, and it's not because they're treated humanely. Learn more here.
A report by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future finds that factory farms have not improved and in some ways have regressed, when it comes to animal welfare, public health and environmental issues, compared to five years ago. In 2008, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released its highly critical report titled, "Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America." The new report, according to NPR, finds that the industry and the government agencies that regulate it have failed to follow the 2008 recommendations. One of the recommendations was to eliminate the practice of giving farmed animals subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics that cause them to reach market weight faster.
The new report, "Industrial Food Animal Production in America: Examining the Impact of the Pew Commission's Priority Recommendations," recognizes that public pressure is necessary for change and criticizes ag-gag laws:
[A]n engaged and informed public is a necessary cornerstone of any effort to facilitate meaningful change; this need is highlighted by recent industry attempts to eliminate transparency and limit public access to information about standard industry practices.
The report is also critical of the Obama administration's lack of action and finds that "regulatory agencies in the administration have acted regressively in their decision-making and policy-setting procedures."
If we have to wait for the industry to change, it's not going to happen. We can't even wait for government regulations to change, given the unbearably slow speeds at which the federal government responds to environmental crises, not to mention the big money from industry lobbyists. The report wants the public to demand changes from the industry, but we can make changes ourselves. There's no need to wait for anyone else to make the changes for us. We can save animals, public health and the environment. We can go vegan.
Blackfish, the documentary about the orca at SeaWorld who killed his trainer in 2010, is airing on CNN tonight at 9pm ET. I have not seen Blackfish yet - it had a very limited theatrical release - but I'm looking forward to seeing it on CNN tonight. It's gotten excellent reviews, and the buzz within the animal rights community has been great. Because of this film, the plight of marine mammals in captivity has been catapulted into the national consciousness. While the solution for what to do with orcas who cannot be returned to the wild is complex, the bigger solution is obvious: boycott aquariums. If we stop paying aquariums to imprison wild animals, they will stop doing it and new generations of orcas, dolphins and fish will be spared. If you're not able to watch or record it tonight, check your locals listings. In my area, the film will be aired on CNN several times over the next few days.
I can also highly recommend The Ghosts In Our Machine, a new documentary about animal exploitation and the work of activist/photographer Jo-Anne McArthur. Ghosts will be screened in New York City and Los Angeles throughout the month of November, but you can also request a screening or pre-order the DVD online. Check out my review for more details.