Breaking news: Arizona bans wildlife killing contests

blog.humanesociety.org
By Blog Editor

The HSUS has been at the frontlines of the fight to end wildlife contests and our goal is to see them eradicated once and for all. Photo by John Harrison

Arizona today banned all wildlife killing contests for coyotes, bobcats, foxes and other animals, joining a growing number of states taking action to stop these gruesome events in which participants vie for cash and prizes for killing the most or heaviest animals within a specific time period.

The ban, proposed in June, was voted on by Arizona’s Fish and Wildlife Commission. It received final approval today in a unanimous vote by the Governor of Arizona’s Regulatory Review Council and will go into effect in 60 days.

Since the start of 2018, Vermont and New Mexico have passed laws banning coyote killing contests. California, Colorado and Maryland have also banned or restricted wildlife killing contests. The Arizona ban is the most far-reaching of all these because it covers many more species.

The momentum against these contests reflects changing attitudes among citizens and a growing disgust toward the cruelty and inanity of these events. Twenty years ago, this same Regulatory Review Council rejected a similar opportunity to approve a ban, but this time, its members found it difficult to ignore a rising groundswell of citizen opposition. Nearly 5,000 people submitted comments to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, and an overwhelming majority expressed support for the rule.

Professional wildlife stewardship organizations like The Wildlife Society have also spoken out against the random killing of wild carnivores in killing contests, and the events are increasingly being criticized by state wildlife agency leaders.

Organizers and participants have often used livestock conflicts as a reason to justify these contests, but scientific evidence shows that indiscriminately killing wildlife is not only ineffective at curtailing conflicts with livestock and pets, it can actually make matters worse.

The HSUS has been at the frontlines of the fight to end wildlife contests. We’ve conducted undercover investigations of these contests in New York and New Jersey, and in Oregon, and footage shot by our undercover investigators captures the casual indifference participants at these contests show for the suffering and death of animals. The contests also desensitize children — who are often encouraged to participate in the killing — to animal cruelty. Last year, at Arizona’s “Santa Slay Coyote Calling Tournament” in Dewey-Humboldt, advertisements depicted Father Christmas holding a rifle and standing in a pool of blood (the town later passed a resolution condemning these gruesome spectacles).

Our goal is to see these contests eradicated once and for all. Arizona’s pioneering action should inspire other states to follow suit. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is considering a regulatory change to outlaw killing contests for species like foxes and coyotes, and there is similar legislation in New Jersey and New York. As part of the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests, a coalition we co-chair with Project Coyote that is composed of more than 30 national, regional and local wildlife protection organizations, we’re taking the fight national.

For today’s outcome, we applaud the Arizona Governor’s Regulatory Review Council for listening to the voices of thousands of Arizonans and potential visitors to the state who submitted comments to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. If your state has wildlife contests and you want to learn how to effectively advocate to end them, you can download our toolkit. Wildlife killing contests are vicious and pointless, and there’s no justification for any state to condone them or support their continuation.

https://blog.humanesociety.org/2019/09/breaking-news-arizona-bans-wildlife-killing-contests.html

California becomes first state to ban fur trapping after Gov. Newsom signs law

By Louis Sahagun , Phil Willon

California has enacted a new ban on fur trapping for animal pelts, making it the first state to outlaw a centuries-old livelihood that was intertwined with the rise of the Western frontier.

The Wildlife Protection Act of 2019, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, prohibits commercial or recreational trapping on both public and private lands.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who introduced the legislation, said it was time to end fur trapping. “It seems especially cruel, obviously, and it’s just unnecessary and costly,” she said.

Although commercial trapping was an early part of California’s economy, opening the San Francisco Bay Area to international commerce even before the 1848 California Gold Rush, its fortunes have waned over many decades.

Gonzalez said that the roughly six dozen trappers still working in the state, down from more than 5,000 a century ago, cannot afford to pay the full cost of implementing and regulating their industry.

The ban also comes as California lawmakers consider more aggressive measures to protect animals and wildlife, often threatening age-old traditions.

Legislators are considering proposals to ban the sale of all fur products, including fur coats, and to outlaw the use of animals in any circus in the state, with the exception of domesticated horses, dogs and cats.

“There’s been a real change in attitudes about how we treat animals,” Gonzalez said.

A total of 68 trappers reported killing 1,568 animals statewide in 2017, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Among the 10 species reported taken were coyote, gray fox, beaver, badger and mink.

Trapped animals are strangled, shot or beaten to death, with care taken not to damage pelts before skinning them.

Under the law, using traps to catch gophers, house mice, rats, moles and voles would still be permitted.

The law followed a 2013 public outcry when conservationist Tom O’Key in 2013 discovered a bobcat trap illegally set on his property near the edge of Joshua Tree National Park.

O’Key stumbled upon the trap chained to a jojoba bush and camouflaged with broken branches just north of the 720,000-acre park, where the big cats are a dominant force in the ecosystem.

He immediately alerted neighbors and contacted the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and Hi-Desert Star newspaper, triggering an angry tide of complaints that put a spotlight on the practice of trapping, killing and skinning bobcats to supply fur markets in China, Russia and Greece.

“I could not have guessed in a million years,” O’Key said in an interview, “that trap would spark an unstoppable movement capable of shifting legislative thinking toward wildlife.”

Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) pushed through his Bobcat Protection Act of 2013, which was in response to petition drives, social media campaigns and telephone calls to lawmakers from wildlife advocates who decried trapping and killing as a cruel trade.

Eight months after O’Key sounded the alarm in Joshua Tree, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3 to 2 to ban commercial bobcat trapping statewide.

The Wildlife Protection Act of 2019 argues that the small number of active trappers in the state cannot afford to pay the full cost of implementing and regulating their industry as required by law.

It was backed by the Center for Biological Diversity, and the nonprofit group Social Compassion in Legislation, which spearheaded a recent bill that put an end to the sale of mill-bred dogs, cats and rabbits.

Opponents included the California Farm Bureau Federation, which warned that the bill, if passed, could have significant economic consequences for the agriculture industry.

The trapping industry declined over decades in California.

Before California’s population ballooned to roughly 40 million people, fur trapping played a significant role in the extirpation of wolves and wolverines and the severe declines of sea otters, fishers, martens, beavers and other fur-bearing species.

Over the last two decades, animal protectionists have partnered with mainstream environmental groups to put pressure on state and federal wildlife authorities, and to take their animal-cruelty concerns to the voters. Trappers are anachronistic, they said, and their snares subject wildlife to horrific suffering.

“The signing of this bill into law is the result of compelling data and a change of heart in public opinion regarding animal cruelty,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-04/fur-trapping-ban-california-law?_amp=true&__twitter_impression=true

When the CCTV camera is broken 😂

Judge Orders Antifa Activist Yvette Felarca to Pay Judicial Watch Legal Fees for Her ‘Entirely Frivolous’ Lawsuit – Judicial Watch

judicialwatch.org

(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch announced that a U.S. District Judge in California awarded Judicial Watch $22,000 in legal fees in a case filed by an Antifa organizer in an effort to block Judicial Watch from obtaining information about her activities.

Yvette Felarca, a middle school teacher in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD), and two co-plaintiffs were ordered to pay Judicial Watch $22,000 in attorney’s fees and $4,000 in litigation costs. Felarca had sued the BUSD in federal court to keep the school district from fulfilling its legal obligation to provide Judicial Watch with records of their communications mentioning: Felarca, Antifa, and/or BAMN. Judicial Watch also asked for Felarca’s personnel file.

Felarca is a prominent figure in By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a group founded by the Marxist Revolutionary Workers League that protests conservative speaking engagements. In 2016, Felarca and two of her allies were arrested and charged with several crimes, including felony assault, for inciting a riot in Sacramento. Earlier this year, Felarca was ordered to stand trial for assault.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, Northern District of California, who had previously ruled that Felarca’s lawsuit was “entirely frivolous,” wrote in his ruling awarding legal fees to Judicial Watch that Felarca and her co-plaintiffs’ First Amendment claims were “premised on the obviously baseless assumption” that the First Amendment condemns the speech of some while condoning the ideological missions of others.

Judge Chhabria added that “The plaintiffs also mischaracterized the documents under review” and that the plaintiffs “failed to grapple with the role Ms. Felarca played in making herself a topic of public discourse through her physical conduct at public rallies and her voluntary appearance on Fox News.”

Judge Chhabria’s order also states that “a significant portion of the documents the plaintiffs initially sued to protect from disclosure had been publicly disclosed months earlier in another suit brought by Ms. Felarca against BUSD, where she was represented by the same counsel. (See generally Felarca v. Berkeley Unified School District, No. 3:16-cv-06184-RS). The plaintiffs, therefore, had no reasonable argument to protect those documents from disclosure.”

Along with Felarca’s $20,000 payment, co-plaintiffs Lori Nixon and Larry Stefl were ordered by Judge Chhabria to pay Judicial Watch $1,000 each (Yvette Felarca, et al., v. Berekely Unified School District, et al. (No. 3:17-cv-06282-VC)).

“Judicial Watch is entitled to attorney’s fees because the plaintiffs’ lawsuit was frivolous, and their litigation conduct was unreasonable,” Judge Chhabria wrote in his order.

Additionally, Judge Chhabria’s order holds the plaintiffs “jointly and severally liable” to pay Judicial Watch $4,000 in litigation expenses.

In 2017, Judicial Watch filed a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request seeking public records information about Felarca’s Antifa activism and its effect within the Berkeley Unified School District. In her lawsuit aimed at keeping the Berkeley school district from furnishing the records, Felarca alleged that Judicial Watch was misusing the law for political means and the district should refuse to provide the information.

In January 2018, a separate judge ordered Felarca to pay more than $11,000 in attorney and court fees for her frivolous attempt to get a restraining order against Troy Worden, the former head of the University of California (UC) Berkeley College Republicans.

“This is a huge victory for Judicial Watch against Antifa and the violent left,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “Ms. Felarca attacked Judicial Watch without basis and the court was right to reject her ploy to deny our ‘right to know’ because we don’t share her violent left views.”

https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-releases/judge-orders-antifa-activist-yvette-felarca-to-pay-judicial-watch-legal-fees-for-her-entirely-frivolous-lawsuit/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=press_release

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