DENVER— The U.S. District Court of Colorado has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the law by funding a Colorado Parks and Wildlife plan to kill hundreds of mountain lions and dozens of black bears without properly analyzing the risks to those animals’ populations and the rest of the environment.
In response to a lawsuit brought by conservation groups, the court ruled that the Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by agreeing to fund the project using federal money without completing its own environmental analysis. Further, the court found the environmental analysis the Service tried to rely upon, completed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, did not adequately analyze the impacts of killing black bears and mountain lions under the plans.
“On behalf of the majority of Coloradans who support coexistence with native carnivores, WildEarth Guardians applauds the court for recognizing the substantial environmental impact that these killing ‘studies’ impose on native wildlife in the state,” said Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. “These studies threatened local ecosystems by the extermination of entire populations of bears and lions in these regions, a fact that the Service completely ignored. We hope this ruling ensures that the Service will carefully consider all funding requests for wildlife ‘studies’ long into the future.”
The multi-year plans to kill black bears and mountain lions in the Piceance Basin and Upper Arkansas River areas of Colorado were intended to artificially boost the mule deer population for hunters, where habitat had been degraded by oil and gas drilling. But overwhelming scientific evidence shows that killing native carnivores does not boost prey populations. The killing plans were hatched and approved by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in 2016 and funded by the Service in 2017 despite overwhelming public opposition, and over the objection of leading conservation biologists’ voices.
“This ruling immediately halts the use of taxpayer dollars for the slaughter of Colorado’s mountain lions,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m so pleased that the court put a stop to this scientifically baseless study that needlessly targeted Colorado’s ecologically important, native carnivores.”
The court agreed that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to consider the many substantial environmental harms that were likely to result from the plans, such as the harm to the local ecosystem caused by these killings and the suffering and deaths of orphaned cubs and kittens.
“Persecuting bears and mountain lions in this way is not only incredibly cruel to these highly-sentient, social beings who spend years raising their dependent young, but it is also environmentally destructive,” said Laura Smythe, a staff attorney with the Humane Society of the United States. “These inhumane wildlife killing plans left cubs orphaned, who likely died from starvation, dehydration, predation or exposure. Intensive trophy hunting and killing of mountain lions leads to increased conflicts with humans, pets and livestock. The federal government had no business funding this completely unnecessary state-sponsored slaughter.”
The Piceance Basin Plan has been completed but the Upper Arkansas River Plan is ongoing and will be halted as a result of this ruling.
Background: Started in 2017, the Upper Arkansas River Plan was approved to last nine years, during which time Colorado Parks and Wildlife would kill more than 50% of the mountain lion population in the area. Colorado expected the killing of up to 234 mountain lions would cost nearly $4 million, 75 percent of which would be federally funded with taxpayers’ money.
Mountain lions and black bears are critical to their native ecosystems. Mountain lion predation provides food for more bird and mammal scavengers than that of any other predator on the planet. Black bears’ diverse diet of fruits results in broad dispersion of seeds, and their foraging behavior creates disturbances that allow sunlight to reach plants below the forest canopy.
Excluding seldom-seen vagrant species, eight New World oriole species occur in the United States (see list below). Thanks to their distinctive orange-and-black or yellow-and-black plumage, orioles are fairly easy to identify. And because they inhabit large portions of the country — and occasionally visit feeders — many Americans are familiar with these colorful birds.
Despite their relative abundance, most North American orioles are in decline, some steeply. The Baltimore Oriole, for example, has experienced a 42-percent population decline in the last 50 years; the Audubon’s Oriole has been added to Partners in Flight’s (PIF’s) Yellow Watch List (an indicator of conservation concern); and the Altamira Oriole, which numbers fewer than 500 in Texas, has been listed as “threatened” in the state by the Texas Organization for Endangered Species.
The alphabetical list below includes all orioles, both migratory and resident, that breed regularly in the continental United States. The PIF population and conservation data we use is exclusive to the United States and Canada. (Note that only three listed species reach Canada: Baltimore, Bullock’s, and Orchard.) As a result, population estimates shown here do not reflect total numbers for orioles with parts of their breeding ranges in Mexico and Central America. We have included one exotic species on our list, the Spot-breasted Oriole, which has been established in the U.S. for more than 70 years, and we have omitted several vagrant species that rarely visit.
U.S. Population Estimate: <500 Population Trend: Unknown Habitat: Dry forest and brush near Rio Grande Threats: Habitat loss Note: Although most of the Altamira Oriole’s range lies south of the U.S. border, it can be found in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The Texas Organization for Endangered Species lists the species as “threatened” within the state; however, the Altamira Oriole is still considered common in the southern parts of its range.
U.S. Population Estimate: <5,000 Population Trend: Overall trend unknown; decreasing in the U.S. Habitat: Dry forest and brush Threats: Brood parasitism, habitat loss and fragmentation Note: Formerly known as the Black-headed Oriole, Audubon’s Oriole is the only oriole species in the New World to sport a black hood with a yellow or orange back. Conservation concerns have led PIF to add Audubon’s Oriole to its Yellow Watch List.
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 12,000,000 Population Trend: Decreasing Habitat: Open eastern deciduous forest Threats: Habitat loss Note: Like most oriole species, Baltimore Orioles build hanging nests by weaving an assortment of fibers, including hairs and grasses. The nests, which take one to two weeks to construct, are lined with feathers and downy fibers. Baltimore Oriole populations have decreased by 42 percent over the last 50 years.
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 6,500,000 Population Trend: Decreasing Habitat: Open western deciduous forest Threats: Habitat loss, possibly pesticide use Note: Bullock’s Oriole enjoy a varied diet, including insects, fruit, and even nectar from agaves and other flowers. They can occasionally be found sipping from hummingbird feeders. Populations of the Bullock’s Oriole have decreased 22 percent over the last 50 years.
U.S. Population Estimate: 350,000 Population Trend: Increasing Habitat: Open woods and brush Threats: Localized brood parasitism by Brown-headed and Bronzed CowbirdsNote: Hooded Orioles, which tend to nest in palm trees, have expanded their range northward, following the introduction of ornamental palms in residential areas. They can now be found as far north as Arcata, California.
U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 10,000,000 Population Trend: Decreasing Habitat: Open woods and brush Threats: Habitat loss, brood parasitism Note: The smallest of North American orioles, Orchard Orioles have a noted tolerance for other birds. In areas of favored habitat, multiple Orchard Oriole pairs will sometimes nest in a single tree. They are also known to nest in close proximity to Baltimore Orioles, American Robins, and Chipping Sparrows, among others. Orchard Oriole populations have decreased 23 percent over the last 50 years.
U.S. Population Estimate: 1,600,000 Population Trend: Decreasing Habitat: Varied open, arid habitats Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation Note: Although most birds avoid eating Monarch butterflies due to toxins ingested by the milkweed-eating insects, Scott’s Oriole and several other bird species have learned to prey upon them by eating the abdomens of less-noxious individuals. Populations of the Scott’s Oriole have decreased by 29 percent over the last 50 years.
U.S. Population Estimate: Unknown Population Trend: Increasing Habitat: Lushly planted suburban areas in South Florida Threats: Severe winter freezes, habitat loss and fragmentationNote: Native to southern Mexico and Central America, Spot-breasted Orioles were introduced in the U.S. more than 70 years ago. The birds are now found in areas between Miami and West Palm Beach. They nest in human-altered landscapes with an abundance of flowering and fruiting ornamental trees and shrubs, including suburban yards and golf courses.
Chuck-will’s-widow belongs to a family of birds with the folk name “goatsuckers.” The family name, Caprimulgidae, literally means “milker of goats” and is based on an ancient belief that the birds milked goats with their enormous mouths each night.
In reality, the birds’ attraction to livestock was likely due to the presence of insects. Chuck-will’s-widow forages at dusk and dawn, silently swooping over the ground in search of prey. Specialized feathers known as rictal bristles help funnel insects into the bird’s mouth, which is so large that they may occasionally swallow small birds and bats as well!
The “chuck” is the largest nightjar in North America and is almost entirely nocturnal. During the day, the birds roost along tree branches or on the ground, where their beautifully mottled brown plumage provides perfect camouflage against dried leaves and tree bark.
Chuck-will’s-widow and chicks by Dick-Snell
Chuck-will’s-widows do not build nests, instead laying their eggs on the ground among dead leaves, pine needles, or on bare dirt. Incubating adults are almost invisible against the forest floor and only flush off their nests when closely approached.
Since they have a highly insectivorous diet, Chuck-will’s-widows are impacted by pesticide use. They are sometimes killed by cars when they land on roads at night to pick up grit. Habitat loss on both breeding and wintering grounds is also a continual threat.
This nightjar winters in lowland forests throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, where it shares habitat with Wood Thrush, Kentucky and Prothonotary warblers, and Painted Bunting. Chuck-will’s-widow is benefiting from ABC’s efforts to “bring back the birds” in these areas, with our focus on conserving geographically linked habitats both north and south.
More than 850 cattle will be slaughtered in Spain after spending a “hellish” two months stuck on a boat in the Mediterranean.
The animals, which were initially due to be sold in Turkey, left the Spanish port of Cartagena in mid-December on board the Karim Allah.
However, Turkish authorities refused to let the animals into the country over fears they had bluetongue virus, a disease that causes lameness and haemorrhaging.
The ship later returned to Cartagena on 22 February, after other countries, including Libya, had also been unwilling to accept the cargo. While tests were being conducted by the Spanish authorities, the cattle remained on the boat.
Last week, a vets’ report seen by Reuters said that many of the animals were unwell after their long journey.
Although it did not say whether the animals had bluetongue, the document suggested that euthanasia was the best course of action.
On Friday, a court in Madrid rejected an appeal against the decision to put them down. As a result, the animals will be taken off the boat on Saturday and slaughtered.
Of the 895 calves that initially left Spain, 22 of them died at sea and were thrown overboard, according to the boat’s captain Nabil Mohamad.
Speaking about the cattle’s plight, Mr Mohamad told the Spanish newspaper El Pais: “I can’t explain it. I’ve been in this for 25 years and nothing like this has ever happened to me. I don’t understand anything, it has been very hard.”
The ‘Karim Allah’ docked in Cartagena, Spain (Reuters)
Miquel Masramon, a lawyer representing the shipowner, Talia Shipping Line, said last month that more than €1m (£866,000) had been spent on looking after the animals at sea. null
However, animal rights groups have questioned how well the cattle had been cared for, with Silvia Barquero, the director of the Igualdad Animal NGO, describing their crossing as “hellish”.
“What has happened to the waste produced by all these animals for two months?” she asked last month. “We are sure they are in unacceptable sanitary conditions.”
It is with a heavy heart that I share devastating news about a beloved matriarch. Red wolf Veronica, also known as F1858, passed away earlier today from a closed pyometra. She was nine years old.
Veronica joined the Wolf Conservation Center pack in 2017 when she and her family arrived from the Museum of Life and Science in North Carolina. Unbeknownst to them, the endangered group quickly burst into the hearts and minds of a global audience thanks to the WCC’s live-streaming webcams. Viewers exclaimed with joy and delight watching Veronica guide her rambunctious pups through their developmental years, and celebrated from afar when the experienced mother of four became a mother of ten – she gave birth to six pups in 2018!
As the family grew in size, so did Veronica’s influence. She taught her children the importance of love, teamwork, and family – and that there’s always time for a quick romp in the snow or a harmonious howl. Red wolf Veronica and her daughter SkyRae enjoying the snow.
We can be better and do better because she lived. Her loving and tenacious spirit will empower us to continue the fight to safeguard the wild legacy she leaves behind.
Our hearts go out to her family (mate Sam and children Tom, Notch, Gilda, Penny, Martha, SkyRae, Rich, Max, Hunter, and Shane) and the many people who she had unknowingly touched. Thanks to her, millions of people are connected to the plight of red wolves and are dedicated to their recovery.
RIP, Veronica. We miss your nurturing soul already.
Image via: Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre / Facebook
The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) said it is devastated following the brutal killing of Olivia the rhino. According to the centre, she was killed at the hands of poachers on Monday 1 March 2021.
OLIVIA DIES IN THE SAME MANNER AS HER MOTHER FIVE YEARS AGO
The HESC said the rhino was killed on the reserve that was released into by the centre back in September 2019. The South African reached out to the centre to find out which reserve, however, there was no response at the time of publication.
“She died at the hand of ruthless rhino poachers and was found butchered with her horn hacked off. She died as her mother had died five years ago – killed in cold blood by merciless thugs who illegally trade in rhino horn,” the HESC said in a Facebook post. null
Olivia the rhino arrived at HESC in April 2016 as a little four-month-old rhino after she had witnessed the savage killing of her mother and was left orphaned.
“She was terrified and very traumatised, but eventually made friends and settled down with Khulula, Nhlanhla and Lula, three other orphans in our care. She was released back into the wild after rehabilitation when she was old enough to manage on her own,” it went on to say.
“Our hearts are broken,” it added. null Image via: Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre / Facebook
Image via: Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre / Facebook
On Thursday 4 February 2021, exactly one month ago, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) confirmed that rhino horn worth R53 million was seized at OR Tambo International Airport.
According to the revenue service, the consignment was on its way to Malaysia. null
“The Customs unit of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) made a bust of rhino horn with an estimated value of R53 172 000, in a shipment destined for Malaysia,” SARS said.
“This is the fourth rhino horn bust by SARS Customs at the O.R.Tambo International Airport between July 2020 and February 2021. The overall weight of the rhino horn seized in these four cases is 277.30kg – with an estimated value of R234 114 206,” it added.
Owls are quintessential creatures of the night (with a few exceptions mentioned below). Beautiful and formidable predators, they inspire admiration, fear, and a sense of mystery.
There are more than 200 species of owls around the world. They are divided into two families, Tytonidae (Barn Owls) and Strigidae, which includes all other owl species. Owls in both families have evolved outstanding hunting skills that allow them to catch their prey with quiet precision.
Great Horned Owl by Alessandro Cancian/Shutterstock
With their superb hunting abilities, owls are truly fascinating. Here are some interesting facts about them that you might not know:
Owls eat other animals, from small insects such as moths or beetles, to large birds, even as large as an Osprey. A few species of owls mostly eat fish, such as Ketupa (fish-owl) and Scotopelia (fishing-owl) species, found in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively. Owls spend much of their active time hunting for food. The Snowy Owl, for example, may have to try quite a few times, but can catch three to five lemmings a day.
Owls Cannot Chew
Like other birds, owls do not have teeth to chew their food. They use their sharp, hooked bills to tear the flesh of prey into pieces, often crushing their skulls and other bones. They can also swallow small prey whole, usually head-first. Any body parts that owls are not able to digest, such as bones and fur, are regurgitated hours later in the form of a pellet.
Although we typically associate them with the night, some owls are diurnal, or active during the day. Species in northern latitudes, such as Snowy Owls, must be able to hunt throughout the continuously bright days of summer. In western mountain forests, Northern Pygmy-Owls hunt small birds during the day, and although they mostly hunt at night, Burrowing Owls are often seen outside their burrows in daylight. Some others are crepuscular, active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk.
Guided by Sound
Mostly nocturnal, owls rely on outstanding hearing abilities to find their prey in the darkness. Barn Owls, for example, are able to locate small animals hiding in vegetation by using their auditory sense alone. The Great Gray Owl (in the video below) can find prey under almost a foot of snow. Owls’ flat faces work like dish antennas — the feathers around the face direct soundwaves to their ears, which are hidden on the sides. Many owl species also have a slight asymmetry in ear position, which helps them determine target distance.https://www.youtube.com/embed/w4OH6gMN6vY?autoplay=1&enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fabcbirds.org
Bountiful Years Bring Lots of Chicks
The amount of food available affects owls’ reproduction. While Barn Owls typically lay four to seven eggs, they have been known to lay as many as 12 during years with high rodent populations. In years of food scarcity, however, some owls might refrain from breeding altogether.
The flight of owls is nearly silent, which allows them to approach and then pounce on unsuspecting targets. Because the wings’ surface area is larger than most birds in proportion to body mass, they can glide more slowly without stalling and dropping to the ground. Their feathers also play a role – their shape and soft texture help muffle the sound of the owl’s flight.
Owls’ Water Needs
Owls can drink, but they mostly get their water needs met by the animals they eat. During metabolism, the hydrogen contained in the animals’ fat gets oxidized, yielding around one gram of water for every gram of fat. During northern winters, owls sometimes may be seen eating snow.
While owls’ extraordinary hunting skills and nocturnal habits are the stuff of legend, the dangers they face are often overlooked. Threats like habitat loss, pesticides, and vehicle collisions have already sent a third of all owl species in the United States into decline.
The Northern Spotted Owl (a subspecies of the Spotted Owl) has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since 1990, and six additional owl species have been placed on Partners in Flight‘s Yellow Watch List, indicating the need for conservation action.
By Joseph Laws For Mailonline 16:55 22 Aug 2020, updated 17:13 22 Aug 2020
Oldest polar bear in Britain dies aged 22 after suddenly falling ill in wildlife park
He had terminal kidney failure and after he suddenly fell ill vets put him to sleep
Victor was rehomed in Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster in 2014
Britain’s oldest polar bear has died aged 22 after falling ill on Friday.
The animal, named Victor, was living at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster after being moved from various zoos in Europe.
He had terminal kidney failure and after he suddenly fell ill, vets put him to sleep. The animal, named Victor, was living at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster after being moved from various zoos in Europe
Victor was born at Rostock Zoo in Germany, before moving to Rhenen in the Netherlands.
After he retired from the European breeding programme, he was rehomed in Yorkshire in 2014. He fathered 13 cubs during his time in the breeding programme.
The directors of the park thanked the team of vets from Portland House Veterinary Group who responded so quickly and the ‘dedicated’ team who had ‘loved and cared’ for the bear since his arrival.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park said: ‘Victor was a great ambassador for his species, inspiring generations and drawing attention to the plight of his species in the wild and the threat of climate change. He will be greatly missed by everyone.’ The animal, named Victor, was living at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster after being moved from various zoos in Europe
In July, the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, announced having a dog as a pet would be against the law. Stating that pets are a symbol of capitalist ‘decadence,’ dogs in Pyongyang are being confiscated and being sent to either restaurants or zoos for meat to solve the nation’s food shortages.
According to the Daily Mail, dog meat has continued to be a delicacy on the Korean Peninsula, and even though there has been a downturn with younger people, there are still one million dogs raised on farms for human consumption.
“Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them to give them or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down,” a source from South Korea’s Chosun IIbo newspaper stated.
Pet owners have little choice even though there have been reports of “cursing Kim Jong-un behind his back.” Anyone refusing to give up their dog could be viewed as an act of defiance by Jong-un, who commonly refers to himself as the Supreme Dignity.
In 1989, pets were encouraged in North Korea and used as a symbol of economic development, sophistication and wealthy families could be seen walking their dogs on state run television programs. In 2018, Kim Jong-un gifted the South Korean president two home grown hunting dogs presenting them as “peace puppies.” Those obviously were the lucky pups.
North Korea now faces a widespread food shortage – 60% of the population of 25.5 million people are included.
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Following an amicus brief filed last week by Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, they are the latest experts to call for freedom and sanctuary for Happy the elephant
July 22, 2020—New York, NY—Two habeas corpus scholars and twelve North American philosophers with expertise in animal ethics, animal political theory, the philosophy of animal cognition and behavior, and the philosophy of biology have submitted amicus curiae briefs in support of the legal personhood and right to liberty of an elephant held alone in captivity in the Bronx Zoo.
The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) recently filed an appeal in its habeas corpus case on behalf of Happy, a 49-year-old Asian elephant who is both the first elephant in the world to demonstrate self-awareness via the mirror self-recognition test and the first to be the subject of habeas corpus hearings to determine the lawfulness of her imprisonment.
The authors of the briefs are:
Justin Marceau (Brooks Institute Research Scholar at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law) and Samuel L. Wiseman (Professor of Law at Penn State Law in University Park):
“One of the greatest blemishes on our justice system is the wrongful detention of persons. The Writ of Habeas Corpus is one of the tools available to correct injustices by requiring a person’s captors to justify the person’s imprisonment to the courts. While the Writ has provided a procedural vehicle for vindicating the right of thousands of humans to not be unlawfully detained, this brief argues that the time has come to consider the Writ’s application to other cognitively complex beings who are unjustly detained. The non-humans at issue are unquestionably innocent. Their confinement, at least in some cases, is uniquely depraved—and their sentience and cognitive functioning, and the cognitive harm resulting from this imprisonment, is similar to that of human beings.”
Andrew Fenton (Dalhousie University), Bernard Rollin (Colorado State University), David Peña-Guzmán (San Francisco State University), G.K.D. Crozier (Laurentian University), Gary Comstock (North Carolina State University), James Rocha (California State University, Fresno), Jeff Sebo (New York University), L. Syd M Johnson (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Letitia Meynell (Dalhousie University), Nathan Nobis (Morehouse College), Robert C. Jones (California State University, Dominguez Hills), Tyler John (Rutgers University-New Brunswick):
“We reject arbitrary distinctions that deny adequate protections to other animals who share with protected humans relevantly similar vulnerabilities to harms and relevantly similar interests in avoiding such harms. We submit this brief to affirm our shared interest in ensuring a more just coexistence with other animals who live in our communities. We strongly urge this Court, in keeping with the best philosophical standards of rational judgment and ethical standards of justice, to recognize that, as a nonhuman person, Happy should be released from her current confinement and transferred to an appropriate elephant sanctuary, pursuant to habeas corpus.”
In 2018, Judge Eugene M. Fahey of the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, favorably cited to an amicus brief submitted by philosophers in his concurring opinion in the NhRP’s chimpanzee rights cases. In that opinion, he urged his fellow judges to treat the rightlessness of nonhuman beings as a “deep dilemma of ethics and policy that demands our attention” and to “consider whether a chimpanzee is an individual with inherent value who has the right to be treated with respect.”
Earlier this year, Bronx Supreme Court Justice Alison Y. Tuitt wrote in her decision in Happy’s case that while she “agrees [with the NhRP] that Happy is more than just a legal thing, or property … and may be entitled to liberty,” she was required to dismiss Happy’s habeas petition because “regrettably … this Court is bound by the legal precedent set by the Appellate Division when it held that animals are not ‘persons’ entitled to rights and protections afforded by the writ of habeas corpus.”
Legal scholar and Harvard Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe also recently filed an amicus brief in Happy’s case, urging the First Department to recognize Happy’s right to liberty as part of New York’s noble tradition of expanding the ranks of rights holders.”
For a detailed timeline of Happy’s case and court filings, visit this page. For more information about Happy’s appeal, visit this page. To download the above image of Happy, visit this page (credit: Gigi Glendinning).
CASE NO./NAME: THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT, INC. on behalf of HAPPY, Petitioner, v. JAMES J. BREHENY, in his official capacity as Executive Vice President and General Director of Zoos and Aquariums of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Director of the Bronx Zoo, and WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY (Appellate Case No. 2020-02581)
Media Contact: Lauren Choplin firstname.lastname@example.org ###
About the Nonhuman Rights Project The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organization in the United States working through litigation, legislation, and education to secure fundamental rights for nonhuman animals.Nonhuman Rights Project
We are the only civil rights organization in the United States dedicated solely to securing rights for nonhuman animals.
Researchers have found that dogs adapt their communicative strategies to their environment and that owner behavior influences communicative effort and success.
Given the remarkable sensitivity of dogs to human vocalizations, gestures and gazes, researchers have suggested that 30.000 years of domestication and co-evolution with humans may have caused dogs to develop similar principles of communication — a theory known as the domestication hypothesis.
On this basis, researchers designed an experiment that would examine the factors influencing the form, effort and success of dog-human interactions in a hidden-object task. Using 30 dog-owner pairs, researchers focused on a communicative behavior called showing, in which dogs gather the attention of a communicative partner and direct it to an external source.
While the owner waited in another room, an experimenter in view of a participating dog hid the dogs` favorite toy in one of four boxes. When the owner entered the room, the dog had to show its owner where the toy had been hidden. If the owner successfully located the toy, the pair were allowed to play as a reward. Participants were tested in two conditions: a close setup which required more precise showing and a distant setup which allowed for showing in a general direction.
The findings indicate that a crucial factor influencing the effort and accuracy of dogs’ showing is the behavior of the dog’s owner. Owners who encouraged their dog to show where the toy was hidden increased their dog’s showing effort but generally decreased their showing accuracy. Bottom line: the current study indicates for the first time that owners can influence their dog’s showing accuracy and success.
Journal Reference: Melanie Henschel, James Winters, Thomas F. Müller, Juliane Bräuer. Effect of shared information and owner behavior on showing in dogs (Canis familiaris). Animal Cognition, 2020; DOI: 10.1007/s10071-020-01409-9
SAN FRANCISCO, CA. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the preeminent legal advocate for animals, released the first in a series of white papers providing policy recommendations to reduce our heightened risk from zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 and the next global pandemic, which need only a human-animal interaction to arise. The paper — COVID-19 and Animals — asserts that, even as the government mobilizes to limit the staggering impact of COVID-19, it is imperative it also address immediate and gradual changes to mitigate the ongoing risk from zoonotic disease outbreaks.
Live markets, where diverse live animals are sold and slaughtered on demand, originally received significant attention and criticism due to suspicion that COVID-19 originated in a live market in Wuhan, China — as SARS had originated in a similar market in 2002. Alternatively, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s paper raises the alarm around the rate of zoonotic disease being produced in the industrial animal agriculture industry in the U.S.
Factory farms engage in many of the same risky practices as live markets, but on a scale orders of magnitude greater. Factory farming is already responsible for numerous zoonotic disease outbreaks, including the 1997 Bird Flu (H5N1) and the 2009 Swine Flu (H1N1). In April 2020, a highly pathogenic strain of Bird Flu (H7N3) — a strain which has caused illness in humans — was discovered in a turkey farm in South Carolina. It is simply a matter of time before a zoonotic disease outbreak has the combination of high level of contagion and high fatality rate. In that respect, COVID-19 is a dress rehearsal, with a fatality rate predicted to be under one percent (still fluctuating as cases progress) — compared to 60 percent of H1N1 and 90 percent of Ebola, another zoonotic disease, which have lower levels of contagion.
The legal and illegal wildlife trade, animal habitat loss and human encroachment, climate change, and recent regulatory obstruction by the federal government are also examined — as well as the failure of U.S. laws and regulatory oversight, including public health agencies, to prepare for a pandemic scientists and experts have predicted for decades — and the absence of any proactive measures.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is grateful for its collaborating partners in the production of these recommendations, including Co-Directors Ryan Gordon and Vanessa Shakib of Advancing Law for Animals and Jackie Bowen, MS, MPH, of Clean Label Project.
While walking down a street in Columbia some people were face to face with a shocking sight after a horse that was pulling a cart had to stop and give birth.
People there recorded the happening, some helped the horse and the little baby while another group was mad at the owner for making the pregnant horse carry heavy loads.
The birth happened at Popayan city and the video was put on YouTube and gathered more than 50.000 views.
Thousands of people that saw the video want for the owner to get charged with animal cruelty.
The owner of the horse tried to explain to the angry people that he along with his family were having financial struggles and they relied on the horse for their daily works.
But the angry crowd contacted animal authorities and reported the owner.
Óscar Ospina, Popayán’s health secretary informed that the horse and the baby had been taken from his previous owner so that she wont be used for heavy work again according to Mexico-based news site Cultura Colectiva.
Now the animal and her foal are under medical observation, added the article.
We hope we won’t hear these kinds of stories anymore because it’s truly heartbreaking.
After the Dutch government confirmed that two fur farm workers were “extremely likely” to have contracted the virus from mink, the country ordered the killing of hundreds of thousands of mink on the infected farms to prevent future outbreaks. Photo by BirdImages/iStock.com
The Dutch parliament has voted to permanently shut down an estimated 128 mink fur farms in the wake of coronavirus outbreaks on 17 of these farms since April. If approved by the Dutch government, the decision would bring a welcome end to the cruel business of fur farming in the country—a business that causes immeasurable suffering for millions of animals each year.
Mink on fur farms in the Netherlands have already paid a heavy price during the pandemic. After the government confirmed that two farm workers were “extremely likely” to have contracted the virus from mink, the country ordered the killing of hundreds of thousands of mink on the infected farms to prevent future outbreaks. Most of the animals killed were days’ old and weeks’ old pups.
Denmark, which is Europe’s largest mink producer, has also discovered infected mink on its fur farms and has culled at least 11,000 mink as a result.
The Netherlands is Europe’s third largest producer, producing 4.5 million mink pelts, according to the latest data available. Along with a dozen other countries in the European Union, the Netherlands has been in the process of phasing out mink fur farming since 2013, when a ban was adopted, with a deadline of December 2023. But animal protection groups, including Humane Society International, have been lobbying the Dutch government to end the practice sooner in the wake of the pandemic.
The Netherlands has already phased out fox and chinchilla fur farming.
The novel coronavirus is believed to have originated at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, and since the outbreak there has been more attention focused than ever before on trades that cruelly confine animals. We have been warning for years about the animal welfare problems inherent in such businesses, and the strong public health risk they pose. Last month the Humane Society family of organizations released an 11-point policy report to prevent the risk of future pandemics, including ending the wildlife trade, ending fur farming, ending the large-scale commercial breeding of dogs in puppy mills, and ending the intensive confinement of farm animals on factory farms.
Infectious disease experts around the world have voiced similar concerns over future pandemic outbreaks and animals kept in close confinement.
Conditions on fur farms are not all that different from those in a wildlife market: scared animals are kept in filthy, crowded cages. Many are often sick or injured, creating the perfect environment for diseases to breed. An HSl investigation of a fur farm in Finland showed hundreds of foxes and mink crammed in small, barren and filthy battery cages. Many of the animals had eye infections and gaping wounds, including a mink with a large, bloody hole in the head. Some animals lay dead in the cages and others ate them or walked over them.
The vote yesterday in the Netherlands shows that the people of that country do not want their nation contributing to such cruelty anymore, and we urge the government to approve the closure of fur farms without delay. The experience of the Netherlands should also serve as a reminder for other fur-producing nations that this is a business rife with animal welfare and public health problems, and that they should act swiftly to end fur farming on their soil. The market for fur is dropping fast, with major fashion houses and retailers shutting their doors on this cruel commodity. Now, with the danger of disease looming, there is not a single reason to keep this fading industry alive.
In a disturbing situation on Saturday afternoon in Hartford County, Maryland, a baby bear that had wandered into a residential neighborhood was shot and killed by police.
Witnesses were shocked and questioned why police did not notify Animal Control or the Department of Natural Resources to get involved. A local resident expressed her horrifying experience on social media.
“I just witnessed the most horrifying unjust killing of this baby bear,” Dawn Cowhey wrote on her Facebook page. “Right outback my condo building. Why wasn’t DNR called?!!! Why didn’t Animal Control in Hartford County get involved?! Why didn’t they tase the bear till DNR or Animal Control could come and sedate this poor life and relocate?!! Questions and absolutely felt helpless and could not protect this life as it was going down. I should have screamed louder… I should have screamed louder!!!!”
A press release from the Havre de Grace Police followed with an account of the situation. According to the police, the DNR had been contacted, but were unable to respond.
For Immediate Release Contact: Sgt. Daniel Petz, Public Information Officer, (410) 939-2121
On Saturday, June 20th, 2020, officers from the Havre de Grace Police Department were dispatched to the 700 blocks of Union Avenue for a bear on residential property. Officers responded to the area, and were unable to locate the bear who was last seen going towards the area of the hospital. Officers launched a search for the bear and alerted citizens in the area that a bear was sighted and to take appropriate actions. Officers eventually found the bear in the area of the promenade and had to euthanize the bear due to the high potential for a physical encounter with humans.
We understand this was a very unfortunate event, but officers made this decision based on the overwhelming concern for public safety.
As this investigation is still ongoing, no further information will be released at this time.
For additional information regarding this release, or any others, please contact the Office of Media relations at 410-939-2121.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources does not remove and relocate bears unless they have caused a conflict with humans or have shown signs of aggression. It is believed this baby black bear had been looking for food.
Bear attacks are extremely rare, and a bear showing up in a residential area doesn’t necessarily mean the animal is a threat. A general rule is never leave any food outside, make sure garbage cans are securely shut and remove bird feeders. If the bear appears aggressive, stay indoors and contact the DNA Bear hotline at 410.260.8888.
If you see a bear and it is not bothering anyone, keep your distance; take some photos, but never approach and stay at least 200-300 feet away from him. Be respectful of wildlife – they want to live too.
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If some people wear their hearts on their sleeves, this pup wears hers on her chest!
An adorable black and white dog with a heart-shaped patch of fur on her chest recently got adopted. Last week, Broken Arrow Animal Shelter shared a photo of the unique-looking border collie on their Facebook page. The post has been shared over 27,000 times and got thousands of comments, according to Fox23 News. Broken Arrow Animal Shelter
The shelter got hundreds of messages about the dog – both from people around the country and outside the U.S. Lots of people wanted to give her a home, but one dedicated family went the extra mile to make sure it’s their home she ends up in.
After arriving at the shelter, all stray animals have to stay in the facility for at least five days before they’re put up for adoption.
Also, adoptions are made on a first-come, first-served basis. A Facebook post they made last month explains this policy better: “The shelter is open for adoptions by appointment only. All adoptions are 1st come 1st serve on the date available.
This means: If you are the 1st person in our parking lot for a particular animal. Shelter staff will make contact with you as soon as they arrive at the shelter. We will take your name and number, and you will be asked to return when the shelter opens.”Facebook
Knowing this, a family from Tulsa began camping out the shelter’s parking lot 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday – 27 hours before the adorable pooch was eligible for adoption.
The family’s efforts were worth it – they got her! The shelter shared the good news on Facebook the next day.
“This precious baby girl has touched the hearts of people around the U.S. and we are happy to announce that she has found her new furever home!!! Thank you to everyone that has shared our post,” they wrote.
Many comments poured in from people who felt happy that the dog already found a home.
“This Sweet girl looks just like our doggie that was a stray we rescued. Happy the girl found a good home,” one user commented. Courtesy of Ryan and Liz
“I fell in love with her. Happy she found a home!” another one wrote.
The lucky new parents of the border collie are an engaged couple. We spoke about the adoption with the soon-to-be groom, Ryan, and here is what he said:
“My fiancé and I were excited to get the puppy and really wanted her. My step-brother Kyle kindly offered to wait in line for us so that we could be first in line to adopt her. We adopted Luna and met her days prior to adopting her. Kyle’s wedding gift to us was being a “stand in line” so that we would have the chance to adopt her first. It was a very kind gesture for Kyle to wait in line for us and even my fiancé and I and my parents waited in line with him as well. It was a family effort but Kyle was the trooper.” Courtesy of Ryan and Liz
The fact that this adoption is a family effort just makes this story even sweeter! Kyle Johnson told Fox23 that they’re planning to name the pooch Luna.
The Broken Arrow Animal Shelter also told the outlet that many dogs and cats in the facility are still in need of a forever home. Almost 50 of them that are up for adoption. Just like Luna, they’re hoping that these animals each find a loving family who will take them in. They may not have unique fur patterns, but they’re just as deserving of a home!
You may visit the shelter’s Facebook page to check their list of adoptable pets. For more information about their adoption policies, click here.
REMEMBERING HARAMBE, the magnificent endangered Western Lowland Gorilla who was killed 4 years ago, when a child fell into his zoo enclosure. You didn’t hurt the child but died because of paranoia, & his Mother’s neglect. Harambe gone but not forgotten. RIP ❤️🦍
Chief, a white-and-orange English setter, knifes through a forest of pale-barked aspen, so thick in places the trees seem to gobble him up, the ding ding ding of his collar the only clue to his whereabouts.
These impenetrable thickets in central Pennsylvania known as the Scotia Barrens make for hard hiking. But they’re prime habitat for ruffed grouse—crow-size birds whose mottled, russet coloring blends into the fallen leaves Chief is sniffing feverishly. If he flushes out a ruffed grouse on this November afternoon, he’ll get an extra hearty pat from his owner, Lisa Williams. That’s because Pennsylvania’s official state bird is getting harder to find.
“Depending on who you talk to, the ruffed grouse is either the king of the game birds, or it’s a forest chicken,” says Williams, grouse biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, a state agency whose mission is to conserve birds and mammals for present and future generations. Hunters prize ruffed grouse because they’re canny—elusive on the ground and tricky targets in the air.
They’re native to the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes region, and large swaths of Canada. In the spring mating season, males hop onto a log and beat their wings rapidly and rhythmically in a crescendoing womp womp womp— “drumming” that carries more than a quarter of a mile,even through thick cover such as we’re tromping through following Chief’s helter-skelter lead.
But after a few hours of searching, the setter comes up short.
A male ruffed grouse in Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming, puts on a courtship display. These spectacular, elusive birds are a favorite among hunters.
A ruffed grouse perches on a branch in Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog. In 2005, a biologist found West Nile antibodies in birds killed at the Annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt, in north-central Minnesota. Crows, blue jays, and owls are some of the 300 species hit hard by the mosquito-borne disease.
Photograph by Michael Quinton, Minden Pictures (top) and Photograph by Benjamin Olson, Minden Pictures (bottom)
Between 1978 and 2000, flush rates for ruffed grouse reported by hunters in Pennsylvania declined by 2 percent, reflecting the aging of the thick, young forests the birds need for food and shelter, Williams says. But then, between 2001 and the end of 2018, flush rates plummeted by 54 percent.
West Nile virus: a mosquito-borne pathogen that dominated the news when it appeared in New York City in the summer of 1999. Many expected the virus to race through the human population as a pandemic, but the disease peaked four years later with just under 10,000 cases nationwide. The fear waned.
The virus lingered in the woods, however, spreading from bird to bird— not just ruffed grouse but more than 300 species, causing brain lesions, and killing millions of birds. “Some of our best-loved backyard birds are missing,” Williams says. Crows, owls, and blue jays are among those that have suffered severe losses to West Nile virus. Ruffed grouse numbers have fallen in states from Minnesota and Michigan to North Carolina and New Jersey, a problem exacerbated by climate change.
In Pennsylvania, Williams says, ruffed grouse declined by an estimated 23 percent between 2017 and 2018—“a horrendous year.” West Nile virus, she adds, is “a classic climate change disease.” Earlier springs in the forests give mosquitoes more time to pump out larvae, and increases in precipitation, also spurred by climate change, create more stagnant pools in which the insects can reproduce.
For all the seriousness of the situation, ruffed grouse numbers have yet to fall to a level that would trigger Endangered Species Act protections. That’s all the more reason to act now, Williams says. “The time to intervene is before you’re in that emergency-room situation. You want to do something while you still have enough animals to respond and work with.”
Following a hunch
Williams spent nearly two decades as a bat expert at the Pennsylvania Game Commission before switching to ruffed grouse in 2011. She had witnessed firsthand how white nose syndrome, a fungus that infects the faces and wings of bats, devastated local bat populations, and the more she examined ruffed grouse population information, the more she suspected that something similar was happening to the birds. But no one could say for sure, because in the early years after the virus showed up, most research focused on human health. (Read more about the killer fungus wreaking havoc on bats.)
In 2004, for example, Pennsylvania’s largest breeder of captive grouse reported that 24 out of 30 birds died during a two-week period. This prompted him to send one of the dead birds to a lab for testing, which determined West Nile virus as the cause of death. In 2005, a biologist found West Nile antibodies in birds killed at the Annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt, in north-central Minnesota. In 2006, experiments showed that West Nile could be particularly lethal to greater sage grouse, a relative of ruffed grouse native to the American West.
“There were all these different things that came together as I was sort of working through this hunch,” Williams says.
To get a better idea of what was going on, Williams mined information provided by hunters—an “amazing” trove going back to 1965. In Pennsylvania, ruffed grouse hunts are permitted from mid-October to the end of November, as well as for another 10 days in mid-to-late December. Each hunter is allowed to take up to two grouse a day but isn’t permitted to have more than six in the freezer at one time to prevent overexploitation of the birds.
In November 2019, I joined Duane Diefenbach, a wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and his English setter Chelsea, in Susquehannock State Forest, in north-central Pennsylvania. Diefenbach is one of hundreds of hunters who report to the commission everything from the number of hours they spend looking for grouse and where they search to how many times their dogs flush out birds.
When cornered, a ruffed grouse explodes out of the forest undergrowth with thunderclapping wings. So when Chelsea freezes, signaling that she’s scented a grouse, Diefenbach closes in, shotgun poised. But no bird erupts. “This is probably where the grouse was 10 minutes ago,” he says ruefully.
By the end of our outing, though, Chelsea and a younger setter named Parker have flushed out eight grouse. Diefenbach doesn’t bag a single one, though. “That’s how it goes with grouse hunting,” he says with a grin.
Eight ruffed grouse may seem a good number, but 30 years ago, a day in this forest would likely have yielded 20 or so, according to Diefenbach. “Everyone I know agrees there’s fewer grouse, and that’s because there’s less habitat…but if you’re a dedicated grouse hunter, you know that the changes over the past 10 years have nothing to do with habitat.”
To get a deeper understanding of the effects of West Nile virus on ruffed grouse, in 2014 Williams began asking hunters to mail in feathers and blood samples, which she tested for the disease. Counterintuitively, she says, in a bad West Nile year, only about 4 percent of hunted birds have antibodies that indicate previous West Nile infection. But in years when West Nile ebbs, up to a quarter of the hunted birds may test positive for antibodies. That’s because when the virus is hitting hard, exposed grouse don’t survive long enough to be shot by hunters in the fall.
Williams says this suggests that the virus’s true toll is likely even higher, because there’s no way to estimate how many ruffed grouse die from it before the hunting season begins.
Since 2014, states from Minnesota to Maine and North Carolina have followed Pennsylvania’s example and collected ruffed grouse blood samples. Most places register declines similar to Pennsylvania’s, but Maine, inexplicably, seems largely unaffected. This could be because most hunting—and 98 percent of the testing—takes place in the northern part of the state where the climate is generally cooler, says Kelsey Sullivan, migratory bird biologist at Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Or, he adds, it could be “that quality habitats reduce occurrence and increase the ability of grouse to withstand and diffuse the virus.” And Maine’s north woods are as close to paradise for ruffed grouse as it gets.
Lisa Williams has been pushing the importance of habitat for a while. And in 2019, she teamed up with Bob Blystone and Jeremy Diehl, geographic information system analysts at the Pennsylvania Game Commission, to develop a computer model to assess habitat quality. It’s called the Grouse Priority Area Siting Tool (G-PAST), and it can help wildlife managers identify the best and worst areas for conserving ruffed grouse.
G-PAST predicts, for example, that the Scotia Barrens—previously some of the best ruffed grouse habitat in the state—is unlikely to regain that status region-wide because of its low elevation (where mosquitoes tend to thrive), its flat terrain (conducive to standing water where mosquitoes breed), and its lack of proximity to existing grouse populations (which hold potential for repopulating the area). By contrast, G-PAST finds that parts of Susquehannock State Forest, where the terrain is higher, could serve as critical ruffed grouse sanctuaries.
With that information, the Pennsylvania Game Commission can target forest areas for management strategies such as cutting stands of older trees to encourage the new growth preferred by ruffed grouse, which will also invigorate more than 30 other species, including deer, bears, turkeys, and rattlesnakes.
Another way to help grouse is by adjusting the pressures people put on them. New Jersey has banned ruffed grouse hunting indefinitely and is working with Pennsylvania to create its own version of G-PAST. Both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have shortened their hunting seasons, and Ohio is considering doing the same. Hunters have been supportive of the measures.
“Grouse hunters are their own unique breed,” Williams says. “They’re highly passionate about the species, and they’re willing to give up their own recreation to try to help.”
Meanwhile, in coordination with hunters and other Great Lakes states, Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources, based in Saint Paul, recently started a two-year study of West Nile virus in ruffed grouse. According to Charlotte Roy, the department’s grouse project leader, the state is experiencing more frequent extreme rainfall events, which may lead to more West Nile-carrying mosquitoes.
“I think we should be aware of the impacts that we’re having on natural processes and potentially take corrective action where we can,” she says. “West Nile virus is going to be out there whether we pay attention to it or not.”
Coronavirus has been detected in animals, though there has been no confirmation that the disease can be passed to humans from them.
India’s coronavirus death toll passed that of neighbouring China on Friday, with 175 new deaths in 24 hours taking the total to 4,706, according to official data.
India, home to some of the world’s most densely populated cities and a creaking healthcare system, is emerging as a new hotspot with record jumps in new cases in recent days.
In many rural areas, farmers regularly lose crops to monkey populations and have demanded local governments intervene to check their populations.
City authorities in Delhi have used long-tailed langur monkeys to scare away smaller primates from around the Indian parliament.
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North Carolina farmers start euthanizing 1.5 million chickens after meat plant coronavirus outbreaks
thousands of gallons of milk being dumped on dairy farms across Wisconsin. Restaurants close. We lost 50% of Earth seals over farmers air, taking big steps in rice country to beat the Corona virus closer to having to make that gut wrenching decision to euthanize some of their hogs. This is economically devastating as well as emotionally devastating a lot of farmers. The reason why we wanted to tell this story to begin with was because the pork producing industry is a very big industry in in Nebraska this whole idea pork production that we have the United States today. So finally tuned that if there isn’t any like disruption, and there it backs up everything. And when port parking plant started to shut down, there was a backup of I think they were estimated 150,000 hogs and day couldn’t go to slaughter, so that creates quite a backup. Well, what happens to those pigs? Will These producers on these farms are not finding a market to take their talks to Some people are in dire straits. They have no place to go the animals, and they’ve got to use a nice either The full grown market animal where they got to use a nice the baby pigs coming in these armors. They’ve got to make a decision on whether to either slaughter the whole just euthanize. That’s a lot of money that they have invested in those things or to slaughter up there. Kind of like they’re little piglets. That’s their money. That’s their investment as it’s going up. So if they slaughter off piglets, then they will have a gap in their revenue source. So it’s a tough decision when you run out of room and you don’t have a place to put them. There’s an extreme frustration there that you could hear from these these farmers, as they’re conveying some of their stories about, you know, uh, their situation. There’s there’s this feeling like I hate This is what we do. This is our job is to feed the nation. We’ve got the supply here, but we can’t get it to those people that need it. We’ve probably got maybe 23 weeks tops before we have start making these tough decisions. Some of these guys have 405 100,000 hogs that they have to go to market right now, some people think we’re gonna shut it off. Well, that doesn’t work in the farming business. You can’t just turn to switch off. And because you’ve got these little piglets coming along, you know, eventually if you had more time, they could slow down their production. Absolutely. You know, and they’ve done that before. They can’t just turn this thing off and then continue to stay in business. Once things get better. Industry is the holes in dire straits. We need some type of about grants or loans or even indemnification payments. If you have Teoh euthanizing animals report in the street there, there, they’ve got plans. Case of this mass slaughter. Luckily, I talked to the Nebraska Pork Producers Association representative. They said, Luckily, many of packing plants have been able to get online or partially online. This other issue compounding on this is that a lot of these farmers, also our grain farmers as well We’ve had three years of bad prices and kind of our economic times for some of these farmers because we had bloods. Recently, we’ve had severe weather. We’ve had prices for grains that have gone down. It’s a very difficult situation, putting a lot of emotional stress on these producers as well, and you could just hear in their voices. You know that that they don’t want to be armor that loses their 50 100 year arm that goes underneath. But they’re worried that this might happen, you know, because they can’t rebound of it. The other thing they really are concerned about is having to waste, you know, to kill their life stock, you know, needlessly and go to waste, especially when they see empty grocery shelves, the high priced for pain, the food lines that you’re seeing, how much or even have to pay for our food in the future when all of this thing starts to break loose, because we’re going to have probably some shortages. That’s why this is such that it is really a huge issue for everybody out there, and people should be paying attention to it. They are dumping all of their milk every day now for the rest of the week. That’s £2400 producing about 1/4 £1,000,000 of milk every day. Ford down the drain. I think customers knew that they couldn’t find milk that they normally would in the stores. But I don’t think the customers knew that there was this storm brewing with dairy farmers, especially in Wisconsin, until we started reporting about it. We’ve never seen anything like this. They’re extremely stressed. A lot of people assumed correctly that it was because so many people were rushing to the stores buying all those products. They didn’t realize that there was actually a surplus of dairy products and that the farmers were actually dumping their milk. At Thes Wisconsin Dairy farms in Wisconsin, about 90% of the milk that’s produced on farms ends up on a truck and moves to a cheese plant they have seen with the closure of hundreds of thousands of restaurants in schools and universities and destinations. But food service market will feed people through those channels, is put on pause around the country. You know, Wisconsin as kind of like a cheese state. We have so much cheese here, and I think that’s where all of the milk comes into play. In the end, these farmers didn’t have all that time to wait. They just had to do something right then and there, and that was to dump the milk. It’s delicious nutritious milk. This would have been on a store shelf 24 hours from now. Um, but it’s not. It’s a heartbreaking thing for that farmer and for so many other dairy farmers, because that is just it’s it’s quality product that they worked really hard to produce, that they’re just throwing away. We’re putting all this work into it. All this pride all this time, and we’re just dumping it down. The Dream. Ryan L. B. From Golden E Dairy Farm in West Bend, Wisconsin He says that they, at the start of the month started shipping the milk out again, and at this point, they’re not dumping any more Milk Hunger Task Force and its donors to the rescue. The organization is now committing $1 million for its new Wisconsin dairy recovery program. So far, everything’s being shipped, so I’m sure he’s pretty thankful for that. It was a win win win for everybody. It’s a win for the farmers when they finally get paid for their milk. It’s a win for the producer who is battling the milk and putting people to work as well as just six people who are driving around, and it’s a win for hungry people, There is a lot less going into food service in restaurants. I’m in touch with a lot of different industries here, one of them being the rights commission. California Rights Commission represents hundreds of growers across the state, and they had mentioned that their farmers were doing something that was kind of different and unique and using techniques that ahead of the curve and used social distancing out in the field naturally, if you will. Once you get inside the tractor for disinfectant, start with steering wheel on the tractor, all the facets of the tractor from the steps that get into the into the cab, the whole wheel, all of the parts and components of the tractor. They took a lot of time rigorous minutes to wipe those things down. In addition, they do a social distancing thing where only one farmer is assigned to one tractor going from field to field. Or if somebody doesn’t show up that day. But now you know it’s looking like this is gonna be the new normal. Farmers are feeling very much integral part of the economy and of the American economic fabric farmers, farm labourers, their essential it’s tryingto keep everybody safe and healthy so we can keep them employed. Number one as an essential business and number two get our rice crop planted. But what’s interesting also is that their market has diminished dramatically because a lot of their rice goes to sushi restaurants in California and elsewhere. And because a lot of those restaurants have been closed down, they don’t have a marketplace for back. The other part of it is that if they supply rice for schools, schools have been closed down as well, so it made a very big dent on their economic bottom line. California rice contributes more than $5 billion to our economy each year and 25,000 jobs. We also are home to millions of birds, and the environmental benefits are valued well into the billions of dollars as well. So they’re hoping that in September will be able to harvest. They’re banking on the fact that by that time things will loosen up a little bit. Things will, you know when they harvest, be able to actually go to market in a much more diverse and widespread geographic area by September, a lot different than they do now way see the end product when it comes home and we’re eating it and enjoying it. You don’t always think about how it got there. Seeing how it’s made, how it’s drone and how it’s harvested is always sort of an eye opener for me and the dedication and the love of the land that people have there. It’s just a lot to milk goats in the morning and make products somewhere in between milk goats at night and then some point during the day. Pack like 15 orders to go out. The dairy industry is huge in Vermont. That’s one of the things that were known for besides maple syrup. Their entire production line changed in the matter of 24 hours. Once stay at home, order started really setting in, and restaurants started really closing down. Their day to day operations look very, very different now. They were of work. We’ve been selling over our website for probably 10 to 15 years. Blue Ledge Farm has been around for more than 20 years. They have an established website, but the online orders were dead or something that they ever focused on. It was never focused, not just because they didn’t want to, but because there wasn’t really need, for there are only getting a couple orders the week or a couple hours a month. And so they were mostly distributing to restaurants in the area. She really is relying on these online sales to get them through this time of not being so busy on their distribution end. She was recruiting help from her teenage kids while they were out of school, so they would you know you some homework throughout the day. But they would be helping her package the cheese up sis actions, finishing up her high school career. He loves tracking him like a little present. Dame goes for Ice House. They are shipping out a ton way more sales, and they thought they would have. And now that farmers markets are open in a limited capacity, I think they’re starting to balance out the in person sales versus online sales. But I think they’re still is definitely a focus on the online sales. For both of them, he’s been sitting. They are still a small scale farm they’re still trying to develop, but this really pushed them. Maybe two years into the future, But they also have to think about how can I ship this and packaging all of those different orders. Up throughout the day, one of the farmers was saying that she had gotten maybe one or two online orders a week before this, or maybe even a month before this on it all of a sudden was 40 to 50 orders, and that’s a huge production change for them. It’s more like the squeaky wheel gets the grease kind. Uh, once I was just squeaking about enough. It’s been good to force us into some things that we wanted to do, but we’re low on the totem pole. So as difficult as this time is for a lot of these farms. And like I said, the amount of work that they’re taking on is incredible. You know, they’re also trying to find a silver lining, a swell of saying, Hey, we never got to focus on our website before he had a plan to do this maybe a couple years down the line. But we can do this right now, Blue allege, actually has its own farm stand. I mentioned in the story and they said that they’ve been getting a lot of business from there as well, where people could just drive up. And it’s an honor system where you can pick up whatever you want from their stand and you just put money in a bucket or an envelope or something, and then you can leave. So it’s a no contact business similar to online, where you’re not in contact with anybody. But that one, at least isn’t person. And so it was a really nice reminder for her of why she got into the business to begin with. And she thinks that will change the future of their business. She thinks their business will steer more locally instead of the big distribution like they were originally thinking about. We kind of had lost touch with that a little bit that direct consumer relationship, and it’s been really nice to be reminded of that
North Carolina farmers start euthanizing 1.5 million chickens after meat plant coronavirus outbreaks
Video above: Farming in turmoil due to coronavirusCoronavirus outbreaks at meat processing plants are forcing North Carolina farmers to euthanize 1.5 million chickens, according to a state official.Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Reardon told The News & Observer that this is the first time during the pandemic that North Carolina farmers have had to euthanize their animals. Roughly a third of the 1.5 million chickens already had been killed, Reardon said.Agriculture officials said Thursday that 2,006 workers in 26 processing plants across the state have tested positive for coronavirus. Workers and their advocates said the meat industry was slow to provide protective equipment and take other coronavirus-related safety measures.Chicken and hog farmers in other states also have been euthanizing millions of animals during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, for example, the Baltimore Sun reported that coronavirus-related staffing shortages at chicken processing plants will lead farms in Maryland and Delaware to destroy nearly 2 million chickens.North Carolina hog farmers have not taken steps to euthanize their animals, Reardon said.
RALEIGH, N.C. —
Video above: Farming in turmoil due to coronavirus
Coronavirus outbreaks at meat processing plants are forcing North Carolina farmers to euthanize 1.5 million chickens, according to a state official.
Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Reardon told The News & Observer that this is the first time during the pandemic that North Carolina farmers have had to euthanize their animals. Roughly a third of the 1.5 million chickens already had been killed, Reardon said.
Agriculture officials said Thursday that 2,006 workers in 26 processing plants across the state have tested positive for coronavirus. Workers and their advocates said the meat industry was slow to provide protective equipment and take other coronavirus-related safety measures.
Chicken and hog farmers in other states also have been euthanizing millions of animals during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, for example, the Baltimore Sun reported that coronavirus-related staffing shortages at chicken processing plants will lead farms in Maryland and Delaware to destroy nearly 2 million chickens.
North Carolina hog farmers have not taken steps to euthanize their animals, Reardon said.
By national rural reporter Kath Sullivan. 5-6 minutes
An exemption to live export laws intended to improve animal welfare could be granted before the laws come into effect, allowing more than 50,000 Australian sheep to sail to the Middle East during the northern summer.
About 56,000 sheep are ready to be loaded on a ship with six crew infected by COVID-19.
The ship won’t be cleaned or loaded in time to sail before exports to the Middle East stop on June 1 to protect animals from heat stress.
The Agriculture Minister says an independent regulator could allow the shipment to go ahead.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has told the ABC the Al Kuwait, docked at Fremantle with at least six crew infected with COVID-19, won’t be cleaned or loaded in time to sail by June 1, when the three-and-a-half-month ban on sheep exports comes into effect.
“It will miss the deadline of 1 June for the moratorium on the northern summer exports, but there’s an exemption in the legislation for the independent regulator to grant approval for that ship to sail after 1 June, particularly in light of these circumstances,” Mr Littleproud said.
“But that would be at the discretion of the independent regulator, not me.”
In March, the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environmentannounced a ban on live sheep exports to the Middle East from June 1 to September 14, due to the increased risk of heat stress.
“The changes will see improved animal welfare with a focus on conditions to manage the risk of heat stress during the northern hemisphere summer,” the department said at the time.
About 56,000 sheep are ready for loading on the Al Kuwait.
The Al Kuwait was expected to export 56,000 Australian sheep to the Middle East before a ban on sailing comes into effect on June 1.(Supplied: Rural Export and Trading, WA)
Mr Littleproud said they were in good health and distanced himself from a potential exemption, saying the independent regulator would need to make a quick decision about allowing the exports to take place.
“We don’t want to see this go too deep into June, but there’s a decision for the independent regulator,” Mr Littleproud said.
“I won’t be making a recommendation or making any of my personal views known to the independent regulator — that would be inappropriate,” he said.
“It is up to them to make their determination, that’s what the Australian public would expect. They’d expect that the live sheep that go into the Middle East do that in a safe way.”
‘Difficult to return sheep to paddocks’
Mr Littleproud said there were now “limited options” for dealing with the sheep.
“Those sheep have passed through biosecurity and it would be difficult for them to enter back into paddocks around Western Australia,” he said.
“The boat needs a deep clean and we have to work through the welfare of the crew and understand that and work with the company to see if other crew can take over.
“If that’s the case, that’ll evolve over the coming days.”
Mr Littleproud estimated a shipment of live sheep could be worth up to $12 million.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced sweeping changes to the live export sector following a review by the Department of Agriculture.(ABC News: Sean Davey)
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which led calls to ban live exports, said alternative markets for the sheep should be found after slaughter at West Australian abattoirs.
“Under no circumstances should exemptions from regulations prohibiting the export of sheep between 1 June and 14 September be granted to accommodate this consignment,” said the RSPCA in a statement.
“This would subject the sheep to unacceptable levels of heat stress and [possibly] death due to extreme heat and humidity in Middle Eastern waters at this time of year.”
Sheep ‘well cared for’
State-based lobby group WA Farmers said there was no cause for animal welfare concerns.
“The stock due for departure are being well cared for,” WA Farmers spokesman David Slade said.
“They have access to ample feed and water, with the livestock being held in the usual feedlots. They are regularly monitored by livestock personnel including vets and stock handlers.”
The Al Kuwait’s owners, Rural Export and Trading, WA issued a statement saying it would work closely with WA health authorities following the detection of COVID-19 on the vessel, but made no mention of the livestock.
Earlier this month it issued a statement that said it was disappointed by the Government’s new regulations prohibiting shipments of live sheep to the Middle East over the northern summer.
“Animal welfare is part of good business and has always been a company focus with significant investments in the vessel fleet, feedlot infrastructure and abattoirs which are world class,” it said at the time.
American actor turned environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged his support for a gorilla conservation park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Virunga National Park needs $2 million (€1.8 million) in funding to stay afloat after suffering an attack in April of this year. A suspected Rwandan militia group allegedly killed 12 park rangers in the ambush. Ever since, the lack of security patrols has put the endangered mountain gorilla population at even greater risk.
“Virunga urgently needs funds to protect the endangered mountain gorilla population, to provide support to the rangers and the families of rangers who have fallen in the line of duty, and to help deliver essential disease prevention efforts,” the actor told BBC News.
“I had the great honour of meeting and supporting Virunga’s courageous team in their fight against illegal oil drilling in 2013,” he said.
DiCaprio has announced that he is donating towards the Virunga Fund via his organisation Earth Alliance. In a recent Instagram post, he wrote, “The future of Virunga hangs in the balance as it deals with the impacts of Ebola and COVID-19, and now this recent attack.”https://www.instagram.com/p/CAVVjUdlaR1/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=12&wp=743&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.euronews.com&rp=%2Fliving%2F2020%2F05%2F19%2Fleonardo-dicaprio-saves-gorilla-park-by-donating-to-1-8-million-fund#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A2905%2C%22ls%22%3A1164%2C%22le%22%3A1183%7D
Other contributors to the fund include the Emerson Collective, Global Wildlife Conservation and the European Commission.
Why save Virunga National Park?
Virunga National Park is the oldest nature reserve in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world and home to the endangered mountain gorilla. In total, the park provides a habitat for several hundred species of birds, reptiles and mammals.
Two active volcanoes located in the park, Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira, have helped shape its unique ecosystem. Over 3,000 species of flora and fauna have been recorded so far, including animals like the blue-headed tree agama, the African elephant and the golden monkey, which is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
There are fewer than 1,200 mountain gorillas left in the world
The Gorilla Organization is a UK-based charity working to protect our closest living relatives. Today, there are fewer than 1,200 mountain gorillas left in the world, so the charity encourages the public to adopt a gorilla for £3 a month to help save them from the threat of extinction.
They are building a ‘Gorilla safe zone’ in the DR of Congo basin rainforest by planting millions of trees. This is to help local communities and stop them entering the national parks where the last wild gorillas can survive.
Show captionMadrid’s Las Ventas bullring is deserted, following the cancellation of the 2020 bullfighting season due to the coronavirus lockdown. Photograph: JuanJo Martin/EPABullfighting
For months the ranchers had laid the groundwork; grazing and exercising a select crop of half-tonne fighting bulls to be transported to arenas and festivals across the country. Then – just as Spain’s bullfighting season was set to kick off – the country was plunged into lockdown.
“It was dreadful,” said Victorino Martín, a second-generation breeder of fighting bulls. “The coronavirus came at the worst possible moment.”
The lockdown brought the bullfighting sector to a standstill as Spanish authorities scrambled to control one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks, with more than 26,000 lives claimed. Weeks later, though urban hotspots like Madrid and Barcelona remain under lockdown, elsewhere measures have eased, and industries ranging from travel to car manufacturing have turned to the government for help in navigating Spain’s new normal.
No request has been as controversial as that made by the bullfighting sector. Long reviled by animal rights campaigners who see it as cruel and outdated, bullfighting’s fight for survival has triggered a fierce debate over its future in Spanish society.
“The bullfighting sector is – and will be – one of the most affected by the dramatic situation that we’re living through,” bullfighter Cayetano Rivera said recently on social media, after dozens of events, including Pamplona’s running of the bulls, were cancelled.
Bullfighter Cayetano Rivera in the ring in Jaen, southern Spain, in October 2019. Photograph: SALAS/EPA
With the virus threatening to wipe out much of the season, which runs until October, he appealed to Spaniards to consider the tens of thousands of people thrown out of work as the industry struggles. “We can’t forget the many people and families who depend, either directly or indirectly, on the bullfighting world to live.”
The estimated loss of income so far is at least €700m (£797m), said Martín, who also heads the Fundación del Toro de Lidia, which was created in 2015 to defend the industry. “Even more concerning is that we don’t know when we’ll be able to restart our activities,” he said. “Meanwhile, the animals continue to eat. You have to take care of them and the employees.”
The industry is in discussions with television networks about broadcasting bullfights behind closed doors – a measure Martín hopes could help the beleaguered industry.
But with little chance that crowds will be allowed to return to the streets for bull fiestas or into arenas for bullfights, he was steeling himself for his worst-case scenario: cancellation of the entire season. “What industry could survive a year and a half without any income and still cover its costs?”
Animal rights activists protest against bullfights before the San Fermin annual running of the bulls in Pamplona in 2018. Photograph: Pablo Blázquez Domínguez/Getty Images
A handful of ranchers have already given up, he said. “There are breeders that have slaughtered all of their animals … I know there was a week where more than 400 were killed.”
The economics of that make little sense, as it can cost up to €5,000 to rear a bull while the slaughterhouse pays €500, he noted. But for those who have bulls that will outgrow the strict age limits on bullfighting and street festivals if they are not used this year, it is one of the few options.
The Unión de Criadores de Toros, which represents the interests of some 345 breeders of fighting bulls, estimates that more than 7,000 bulls had been raised for this year’s season.
The industry has turned to the Spanish government for help, outlining a list of requests that include a rollback of the sales tax on fighting bulls and grants to help breeders. “We want them to treat us as they would any other cultural industry,” said Martín, citing the economic spinoffs for hotels, restaurants and bars generated by events.
Their request has been met with stiff opposition. More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition urging the government not to use public funds to prop up bullfighting.
“It’s outrageous – particularly at this moment, when there are families that don’t have enough to eat and hospitals that have been decimated by cutbacks,” said Aïda Gascón of AnimaNaturalis, an animal rights group that is one of the organisations behind the petition. “Public funds should not be used to promote and pay for spectacles based on the abuse and mistreatment of animals.”
Similar petitions have been launched in Portugal and France, where the local bullfighting industries have also asked for government help. “Bullfighting is facing the most critical moment of its existence,” the petition noted. “We have a unique opportunity … to build a world without bullfighting.”
The assertion is borne out by Spain’s last economic crisis, which saw cash-strapped municipalities shift funds away from festivals involving bulls. In 2007, one year before the financial crash, Spain held 3,651 events featuring bulls. Just over a decade later, this number had more than halved, with 1,521 such events held in 2018.
Spain’s economic minister, Nadia Calviño, predicts that Spain’s GDP could shrink by 9.2% this year and animal rights groups are pushing for bullfighting to be cut off from public funding.
“What we’re looking for is the total abolition of this practice of torturing animals as a form of spectacle,” said Gascón. “One way to do that is to choke off their subsidies … it wouldn’t get rid of the industry completely but it would reduce it to 5% or 10% of what we have today.”
The simple answer is no. It’s understandable that many of us are feeling concerned about the possibility of contracting coronavirus, but to turn our attention towards dogs would be entirely misguided.
Just last month, heartbreaking images of pet dogs and cats emerged from China’s Hubei Province – their eyes glazed over, their bodies lying lifeless on the pavements, some surrounded by a pool of their own blood. The fear of catching the virus had terrified their owners, believing their pets could be carriers – they were thrown from the windows of the high-rise tower blocks. People’s fears were leading to cruel and unnecessary loss of life.
While not common, some authorities have reported pets being killed (either by force or humanely euthanized) or abandoned as a precaution. Thankfully, this doesn’t appear to be the common response, and most people realize this is a completely unnecessary reaction to the coronavirus rumor mill.
Coronavirus is frequently being compared to the SARS outbreak of 2003 as it bears striking similarities. Just like with SARS, there were also fears that pets could spread the disease. By the end of the epidemic, just eight cats and a dog tested positive for the virus, but no animal was ever found to transmit the disease to humans.
Now, the world is turning its attention to Hong Kong, where an elderly, 17-year-old Pomeranian dog has tested ‘weak positive’ for coronavirus. A dog of this age might typically be quite vulnerable to infections, yet it is still showing no signs of disease relating to COVID-19. Experts will be monitoring the dog and will be repeating the test in the coming days, although more tests need to be done.
To put it into perspective, consider that there are around 750 million dogs living in the world, mostly alongside people, and of all these, just one single dog, has tested weakly positive for coronavirus. This is an extremely rare and isolated case. We need to prevent a knee-jerk reaction to our canine companions, preventing any drastic measures.
It’s still early days, and experts are unsure how the disease interacts with other animals. There have been questions on whether the dog has actually contracted the disease, or just that the virus is being harbored in its body. After all, the dog was in close proximity to its owner, who does have the disease. For a dog to contract coronavirus, the disease will have had to mutate to enable it to latch on to dog cells. Right now, we don’t know for sure if this is the case, so this example tells us very little.
It’s also important to consider that the genes of dogs are very different from the genes of humans. While it looks as though the coronavirus might have originated in a bat, it’s a mystery how the virus jumped from bats to humans, and if there was another animal in the middle, bridging this gap.
Even if this case does show that the virus can jump to dogs, we don’t know enough at this stage about its possible transmission to other dogs, animals or even back to humans again. Take distemper, canine parvovirus, and heartworms for example – these are all examples of infections that cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans due to the differences in our genetic make-up among other things.
Pets are great companions and they shouldn’t pay the price of our fear by being abandoned or cruelly mistreated. We’re urging people to continue to protect their pets by trying to avoid crowded places for dog walks and keeping their time outdoors to a minimum where possible until we know more about the transmission of the coronavirus. This should also serve as an important reminder to be a responsible pet owner by microchipping, vaccinating and neutering your animals. For pets belonging to a household with COVID-19 infections, we recommend pets are also placed in quarantined facilities where possible or kept isolated from other animals at least.
Our message is clear – we need to look after our animals and not panic. There is no evidence showing that pets can be the source of infection of coronavirus. All around the world, dogs improve and add value to our lives. They keep us company, protect homes and livestock, and can learn to do extraordinary tasks – so let’s make sure we keep them, and ourselves, protected.
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard