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Scotland’s mountain hare

March 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Since last Thursday, our petition to protect mountain hares in the Cairngorms National Park has collected over 3500 signatures, and we’ve only just started. We would love to get to 5000 today, so please take action and sign now.Last week, the mountain hare killing paused for the closed season. Shockingly, in the last few hours of the open season, a nature photographer snapped a disturbing image. An ATV packed with the dead bodies of mountain hares – scroll to the end of this email if you want to see it. A chilling reminder of what we’re up against. 

At least mountain hares are safe for the next five months. They can leap and bound across the hills, mate and breed, and graze the heather freely. Until August, when the killing can start again. Unless we come together and show we care for the mountain hare!

Here’s how one OneKind supporter, Cartoon Ralph, summarises the situation.

Mountain Hare by cartoon ralph

We believe our National Parks should be at the forefront of stopping the culls, so we’re sending a giant postcard to the Cairngorms National Park calling for an end to mountain hare culls within the Park. If you haven’t added your name to our postcard yet, then there’s still time to do it! 

Mountain hares are killed in huge numbers across Scotland by hunting parties who view it as a legitimate sport, by gamekeepers to manage land for red grouse shooting, and, to a lesser extent, to protect forestry. As it’s a free-for-all it’s hard to say how many are killed. The only official estimate is that 24,529 mountain hares were killed in one year back in 2006/07.That’s ten times more than the number of badgers killed in England’s badger culls in 2015. 

We believe that decisive leadership by the Park would not only protect mountain hare in the Cairngorms, but would be the first step towards greater protection of this iconic species across Scotland. 

TAKE ACTION NOW

The postcard will be handed in with your name on it alongside everyone else’s, sending a powerful message that we won’t stand for mass culls in our National Parks. Click here to sign the postcard now.

Please feel free to share this email with your family, friends and colleagues and encourage them to support our campaign too. 

Let the lobsters live

March 10, 2017 2 comments

I was delighted to see that Australia’s animal cruelty conviction, for cruelty to a lobster, had made the Washington Post and Canada’s National Post, even before I read the Post article right through to the utterly perfect ending. Titled, “A seafood company killed a lobster – and was convicted of animal cruelty,” Arin Greenwood’s article appears in the Thursday March 9 edition of the Washington Post on page A14. A truncated version of the same article appears on page B3 of Canada’s National Post, titled, “Claw and order; New South Wales Firm Convicted For Cruelty To Lobster.”

Greenwood relays a story, as reported in The Guardian, which says that the Nicholas Seafood Company workers were convicted, having been seen, “butchering and dismembering lobsters with a band saw, without adequately stunning or killing them.”

She writes, 

“Depending on your perspective, this might both churn the stomach and raise confusing questions. Are you behaving monstrously if you boil a live lobster – a fairly common cooking method? Could you be found guilty of animal cruelty if so?

“The answer to the second question is pretty straightforward: As things stand now, you are highly unlikely to be convicted of animal cruelty for behaving badly, even very badly, toward a lobster.”

But this case, and this article, are big steps in the right direction! 

The article tells us, “In the United States, neither fish nor crustaceans are covered under the federal Animal Welfare Act, and they are mostly exempt from state animal-cruelty laws as well.” And we learn, “Laws regarding slaughter do not cover fish – or chickens.”
Then Greenwood writes:

“Why aren’t fish, crustaceans and chickens given these legal protections? It’s not because these creatures aren’t smart or don’t experience pain. There’s good evidence that they are and that they do. Jonathan Balcombe, author of the book ‘What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins,’ said he believes fish are sentient creatures with highly complex lives and societies.

“‘Their lives matter to them,’ he said. ‘I’ve become firmly convinced they deserve equal moral consideration to all other vertebrates.’

“Balcombe said the situation with crustaceans, as opposed to vertebrate fish, is ‘less clear.’ But research has shown that crustaceans do ‘remember and learn from apparently painful events,’ and that should bring them into our moral universe, he said.

“‘Sentience is the bedrock of ethics,’ he said.”

While the truncated Canada National Post version ends on that important note, the original Washington Post version continues with quotes from Hal Herzog, the author of “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat,” and from Steve Colman of Australia’s RSPCA, who says:

“We hope this conviction will expand the circle of empathy and welfare to crustaceans and more animals that often do not evoke the same level of compassion as others. With the scientific community proving lobsters feel pain and the New South Wales legislation backing that up, we’re excited to see such progress in the space of animal welfare, and we hope that this case can be a guiding light for others.”

And then, after letting us know where we can find out how “to dine on lobster but minimize its suffering,” Greenwood ends with,

“Or you could avoid all these questions and let the lobsters live.”

On line, there is an extra phrase, so the ending reads, “Or — just a friendly suggestion here — you could avoid all these questions and let the lobsters live.”

Friendly indeed!

You’ll find that Washington Post article on line at http://tinyurl.com/z27f6r4 

You’ll find the truncated but still superb version that appeared in today’s National Post (Canada) at http://tinyurl.com/j4u2t7k 

Canadians can respond to the latter, making the suggestion that got left out of the shortened piece, though please don’t use Greenwood’s exact words. Letters species — fish and chickens, for example, are specifically mentioned in the article. 

The Washington Post takes letters at letters@WashPost.com and Canada’s National Post takes them at letters@nationalpost.com   

Always include your full name, address, and telephone number when sending a letter to the editor. 

PETA sues department of agriculture 

February 14, 2017 Leave a comment

hqdefaultPETA, a coalition of other organizations and Harvard Animal Law & Policy Fellow Delcianna Winders just filed a lawsuit this morning in U.S. district court. Hitting the “delete” key on inspection reports and other documents was illegal, the suit argues, and the agency must reinstate every one of them and add all new records in the future.

We’re not going to let the feds get away with hiding abuse at roadside zoos, laboratories, circuses, and other facilities that exploit animals!

America’s failing power infrastructure 

February 9, 2017 Leave a comment

3172927459President Trump will soon present a draft budget to Congress—a key step in implementing the administration’s agenda and signaling policy priorities. President Trump has vowed to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, a promise we believe needs to include modernizing our nation’s electricity grid. Our grid, the powerlines and power stations that deliver our electricity, was designed decades ago, and it’s still primarily focused on large, centralized, fossil fuel-fired power plants. Tell the White House that rebuilding America’s infrastructure should include modernizing our nation’s outdated, inefficient electricity grid and funding the critical projects, programs, and agencies that will move our country to a renewable energy future.

Tilikum can now be at peace

January 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Tilikum, the orca who killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Branchau, and two other people over the course of his life, and who was made famous by the film “Blackfish,” died yesterday, Friday, January 7. The news is in hundreds of papers today, probably including yours. Most of the stories share perfunctory details, including Tilikum’s long battle with a respiratory illness, and some quote SeaWorld’s web site lines of his having died “surrounded by the trainers, care staff and veterinarians that provided him around-the-clock world-class care,” and the company’s suggestion that he was old for an orca. I will point out two stories of note:Though the Scottish Daily Mail coverage is standard, the copywriter who chose the heading seems to have strong feelings on the issue; the article is titled, “Free at last: Captive killer orca dies.” (Page 11 – unavailable online except to subscribers.) If I have Scottish subscribers who read DawnWatch regularly I would love to know it, and I hope their letters to the editor will acknowledge that touching headline.
The Christian Science Monitor, a highly respected paper, non religious, that is now published daily on line, and weekly via a print magazine, took a tone different from most media outlets, and a wider outlook. It’s article, by David Iaconangelo, is titled, “Tilikum legacy: How one orca changed SeaWorld; The orca whale, profiled in the 2013 documentary ‘Blackfish,’ became a symbol of the cruelty of captivity for animal-rights activists and much of the public.” Sharing much of the information in the standard Associated Press coverage, Iaconangelo went further:

“The orca’s story was often a tragic one, involving three human deaths in three separate incidents. The film that documented those incidents, ‘Blackfish,’ stoked a movement that questioned the ethics of keeping wild animals in captivity – a movement that is likely to outlive Tilikum.”

Note that he refers to “wild animals in captivity” rather than only orcas.

He writes, “SeaWorld’s decision to end its orca breeding program shows that shifting public attitudes around animal welfare can and do influence how businesses treat animals, conservationists say.”

And importantly, though he shares SeaWorld’s suggestion that age 36 is “about typical” for an orca death, his report ends with this line:
“His death comes the same week as the death of 105-year-old ‘Granny,’ a once-captive killer whale later freed in waters off of Vancouver and tracked by scientists, whose data eventually served as the underpinnings of endangered species classification.”

You’ll find the full story on line at http://tinyurl.com/ztzkhyx and I hope you will share it widely.

The Christian Science Monitor only prints and shares letters that are in response to articles in its weekly magazine. It seems likely, however, that a daily online story that gets a lot of positive feedback is more likely to end up in that weekly print magazine, so I encourage you, via the website, to leave a positive comment on the story. You can do that at http://tinyurl.com/h4pnadb

Even more importantly, as your local paper has surely covered Tilikum’s death, (or can, via you) and you are highly likely to be published in your local paper, please take a few minutes, on behalf of poor Tilikum and all of the other animals who suffer in captivity for human entertainment, and send a letter in their honor to your editor. The Christian Science Monitor story provides a nice guide of sorts for letters that look at the wider issues.

It’s easy to find the email address for a letter to the editor. Just go to your local paper’s website and scroll to the bottom of the page where you will usually see a small “contact us” tab, which will include contact information including that for letters to the editor. If you can’t find it anywhere on the website you could just call the paper and ask for the email address, get it in about thirty seconds, and store it for later regular use. Or you could ask me for help finding the address. I am also always happy to help edit letters to the editor of your paper — until you get the hang of making them short, to the point, and heartfelt on your own.

Always include your full name, address and phone number when sending a letter to the editor.

Vegan

January 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Today: The Los Angeles Times carries an op-ed from our friends at the Good Food Institute, about the dairy industry’s attempt to own the word “milk.” And the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Food Section cover story is about an increase in the number of men going vegan!The Los Angeles Times op-ed, by Emily Byrd, is titled “Can you call soy milk ‘milk’?” (Page A11.) As with her piece, last year, on the attacks on clean meat, Byrd uses a light manner including some laugh-out-loud lines to make an important point.

She opens with:

“About once a week, I pick up a half gallon of soy milk from the market. I do this of my own free will, fully cognizant of what I’m buying. But 32 members of the House of Representatives worry that consumers like me are confused by the word ‘milk’ on the label; they think we’re laboring under the false impression that the carton contains dairy from a cow.”

She lets us know, “Whatever lawmakers may say, they’re trying to protect the dairy industry, not consumers.” And we learn that while the dairy industry struggles, the dairy alternative industry thrives.

Check out the fun Los Angeles Times op-ed at http://tinyurl.com/gu7mu7n, share it widely, and please send a letter to the editor using the op-ed as a launching pad for any point you wish to make on government subsidies, healthy eating, or on what happens to cows so that humans can drink their milk.

That’s unless you live in Philadelphia, or are a man doing wonderfully on a vegan diet, in which case I hope you will respond to the delightful Philadelphia Inquirer Food Section cover story on men going vegan. (Or why not respond quickly to both? I know some of you resolved to do even more for animals in 2017, right?)

The article, by Elisa Ludwig, is titled “Vegan eating: More men are going animal-free.” (Page F01.)

It tells us that “a Vegetarian Resource Group poll in 2011 found that more men reported never eating animal products (3 percent of men polled vs. 2 percent of women), and that demographic shift is evident at some of the area’s restaurants offering plant-based options.”

We read:

“Vedge and V Street owner Rich Landau reports that he now sees about 60 percent men coming in – as opposed to the random boyfriends accompanying skinny vegan women he used to see years ago at his previous restaurant Horizons.”

His wife and business partner, Kate Jacoby says, “People are not as strict or as judgmental about veganism as they used to be. That makes it feel much more inclusive, and we’re not scaring off people. We’re inviting everyone in.”

Yes!

Inviting, is the tone of the whole article. It’s at http://tinyurl.com/ho62gsa . Please share it widely, and don’t miss the opportunity to send a letter to the editor about your reasons for being vegan. As animals are not the focus of the article, you may wish to make them the focus of your letter.

The Los Angeles Times takes letter at letters@latimes.com

The Philadelphia Inquirer takes letters at inquirer.letters@phillynews.com and asks that they be under 150 words.

Always include your full name, address and phone number (for verification not publication).

Why climate policy will never change

December 29, 2016 1 comment

First, harass climate scientists and politicize their research. Next, denounce lawmakers who call for climate action. Then slash funding for climate science—because it’s too “politicized.”Those are the words of Trump senior adviser Bob Walker, head of the NASA transition team. He wants to eliminate NASA’s funding for earth science and research.¹ Yep, you read that right.
Even forgetting climate change, NASA’s earth science research is crucial to billions of dollars of economic activity, improving weather forecasts, helping farmers measure soil moisture, helping predict the spread of disease, and more.² Gutting it would have permanent implications.

This disregard for science is visible throughout Trump’s transition team. That’s why we need to be more ready than ever to fight back—to protect science, to advocate for scientists, to defend the victories we’ve won together.