Monthly Archives: December 2013

Horse Welfare 2013 – The Year in Review

Standard

2014 Christmas Horse copy© Heather Clemenceau

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

2013 certainly became the year of the adulterated horsemeat scandal!  “Filler product,” comprised of horse meat and beef, is believed to have been unwittingly sourced from Poland and Romania, and used in the manufacture of the burgers and other ready-to-eat products.  Millions of products were removed from supermarket shelves in the EU.  The impact on industry trust on consumer confidence and ultimately on ready-meal volumes has been severe, and we are still occasionally hearing of instances whereby horsemeat has infiltrated the food supply.  Promises to tighten up the traceability systems in the UK should serve as foreshadowing to other nations such as Canada,  where it seems likely that some form of traceability will be pushed on the horse owner in the distant future.

There were certainly other big stories centering on animals, and the publicity surrounding the release of “Blackfish” was perhaps the most notable one, generating massive concern over the plight of captive marine mammals. Will any of the movies produced to highlight the plight of wild and slaughterbound horses be able to achieve similar popularity in 2014?  There are “lessons learned” from the success of this movie that can be used to bring horse issues to the mainstream public….

In the U.S., there were maneuvers to open slaughterhouses in Iowa, Missouri, and New Mexico, even though these businesses have almost no chance of being profitable and may not even be able to sell their product in the EU. Thus far, they have been staved off in court, but what happens in 2014 is uncertain.  HSUS and other advocates have secured language in the House and Senate 2014 spending bills to bar USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants, but the Congress has not given final approval to the measure.  Sadly, in Canada, a 5th horse slaughter plant opened in British Columbia.  which has become the subject of strenuous protests by horse advocates in that part of the country.  The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition also brought to the forefront the issue of non-compliant transport of live horses to Japan for meat.

In New York, grassroots animal advocates put carriage horses on the media radar screen during the mayoral contest there, and recently a carriage driver was charged with animal abuse after a horse was observed by police to be lame from serious thrush.  Cruelty to Tennessee Walker Horses was brought out of the stable and into the sunlight.  Trainer Jackie McConnell was sentenced for his abuses,  and trainer Larry Wheelon was indicted.  The PAST Act, legislation to upgrade the federal law against soring, received significant support with more than 250 House members signing on to the bill. The former leader of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association came out in favour of the bill, as did other prominent leaders within the industry.

Coins offered by the Royal Canadian Mint celebrate 2014 as the Year of the Horse

Coins offered by the Royal Canadian Mint celebrate 2014 as the Year of the Horse

As most of us know, 2014 is the Year of the HorseA article on Chinese elements describes those born in the Year of the Horse as:

“Those born under the Sign of the Horse are said to be graceful, eager, impetuous, sharp, fashionable, hardworking, intelligent, friendly, cheerful and popular folks. People born in the Year of the Horse are excellent talkers, and can charm just about anyone. They are clever, kind to others, and like adventure. It is easy for them to fall in love. They are cheerful, perceptive, talented, and earthy. They like entertainment and large crowds. Horses are not comfortable with authority; they prefer to be the One in charge. They prefer a constantly changing, challenging environment. They are adventurers, scientists, poets, and politicians.”

Recent Horse Years are: 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990 and 2002. A few famous people born in the Year of the Horse: Frédéric François Chopin (1810), Davy Crockett (1786), Paul McCartney, Harrison Ford , Aretha Franklin, and Barbara Streisand (1942), Teddy Roosevelt (1858), Sir Isaac Newton (1642)  and Oprah Winfrey (1954)

Click to review highlights of the entire year on Storify:

storify 2013

Advertisements

Wildlife Ecologist Craig Downer Visits Wishing Well Sanctuary

Standard

craig downer banner copyA group of horse and other animal lovers were fortunate to meet Craig Downer and have the option to purchase his book The Wild Horse Conspiracy at Wishing Well Sanctuary in Bradford, Ontario a few months ago.  Craig has been engaged in the wild horse issue since the earliest days of the movement.  During his presentation, we learned that Craig knew Wild Horse Annie, which of course was long before the creation of the legislation enacted to supposedly protect wild horses.

THE conspiracy he refers to is of course, the alternative agenda by the various government agencies responsible for overseeing the wild horses. It’s very clear that those who are charged with the management and legal enforcement of the 1971 law, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, have a much less enlightened and progressive understanding of their charges. Of course Craig is a wildlife ecologist, and is steeped in the science associated with key elements of this issue. He has a great spiritual connection to horses and burros as well.  He has made numerous valid arguments for wild equids to remain in the western range ecosystems, and provided what is, to me, the most interesting validation for them to remain in the western landscape – fossil and DNA evidence that the evolutionary precursors of Equus caballus originated in the North American continent.

Craig DownerWe Begin Here…..

In the 19th century western expansion saw ranchers/farmers purchase parcels of land that they felt were of value. Areas where water sources, higher elevations, etc made the land less desirable they left the land to public domain. Ranchers would use lands in the public domain for grazing as well, but felt they were not valuable enough for purchase. In states like Nevada that amounted to 85% of the land base.

The late 19th century saw a shift from the ideas of expansion to one of protecting the resources on the land for the American public at large. From this came the beginnings of a National Park system (Yellowstone as a National Park in 1872) and laws created to manage the resources of the land for the general good.

In 1934 the Taylor Grazing Act was created with the intention of setting up grazing districts to be managed by the federal government. The law initially permitted 80,000,000 acres of previously unreserved public lands of the United States to be placed into grazing districts to be administered by the Department of the Interior. This created the Grazing Service. In 1946 the Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office and the Bureau of Land Management was born.  In 1971 President Nixon signed into law the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Not until the 1976 enactment of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) did the BLM have a multiple-use, sustained-yield mandate.

Along with the National Environmental Protection act, the Wilderness Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act helped form a wave of unprecedented, ecologically and species respectful laws that came into being during the 60s and 70s.

Basic Elements of Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 (WFHBA) and Other Related Acts

  1. WFHBA passed unanimously on December 15, 1971, and requires the “protection, management and control of wild free-roaming horses and burro on public lands.”
  2. Responsibility for implementing the act was delegated to this Bureau of land Management through the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service through the Secretary of Agriculture.
  3. In its preamble,  WFHBA declares that (a) wild horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West: (b) they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the nation and enrich the lives of the American people: (c) wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment or death: and (d) they are to be considered in the area where presently found as an integral part of the natural system of public lands.
  4. WFHBA stipulates criminal penalties of up to $2,000 and/or a year in jail for violating the law.  Penalties increased under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, and fines can now be as high as $100,000 and/or ten years in prison for violating WFHBA.
  5. BLM and USFS must manage wild horses and burros so as “to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands” and “at the minimum feasible level.”
  6. WFHBA defines a wild horse/burro range, or legal area, as “the amount of land necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds of wild free-roaming horses and burros…and which is devoted principally but not necessarily exclusively to their welfare in keeping with the multiple use management concepts for the public lands.”
  7. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) amended WFHBA to allow for helicopter roundups.  Earlier in 1959, the Wild Horse Annie Bill (Public Law 86-234) had prohibited the use of motor vehicles in rounding up or “hunting” wild horses and burros as well as the “pollution” or poisoning of their watering holes.  FLPMA requires the development of land use plans that incorporate sustained yield and multiple use principles.
  8. The Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978 (PRIA) also amended the WFHBA.  It required a current inventory of wild horses and burros to determine appropriate management levels, or AMLs, meaning the number of wild horses/burros sustainable by the resources of the range.  Under this law, AMLs are supposed to be adjusted according to resource availability.  The law also involved the definition of “excess” wild horses or burros for any given legal area.
  9. In 2004,  the Burns Amendment to the WFHBA facilitated disposal of wild horses and burros to slaughter buyers for horses or burros who are either over ten years of age or who have been offered unsuccessfully for adoption three times.
  10. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) also governs how the wild horses and burros are treated, as this act requires environmental assessments/environmental impact statements of any action that might have a major impact on any and all aspects of our life and world, including wild horses and burros.
  11. Code of Federal Regulations 4710.5 and 4710.6 specifically provide for the curtailment or cancellation of livestock grazing privileges on public lands in order to ensure thriving healthy herds of wild horses and burros in their legal areas.
  12. Section 6 of WFHBA authorizes cooperative agreements with landowners and state and local governments to better accomplish the goals of the act.  This allows for providing complete and unimpeded habitats for long-term viable wild horse/burro populations.
  13. Section 2(b) of WFHBA defines “wild free –roaming horses and burros” as “all unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands across the United States,” meaning BLM and USFS lands and possibly other agency lands as well.
  14. Section 3 (a) of WFHBA authorizes the designation of specific ranges on public lands as sanctuaries for the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros upon consultation with state wildlife agencies.
  15. Section 3 (d) prohibits selling any deceased wild horse or burro or part thereof, i.e., no commercialization.
  16. Section 7 authorizes creation of the wild horse and burro advisory board.
  17. Section 8 allows power of arrest by a federal employee of anyone violating WFHBA in his/her presence.
  18. Section 10 mandates a report to Congress on the wild horse and burro program every two years and also authorizes studies of wild horses and burros.
  19. Section 4 allows public officials to remove wild horses and burros that stray onto private property, but also allows private landowners to maintain wild free-roaming horses or burros on their private lands or on lands leased from the Government provided that they do so in a manner that protects them from harassment and that the animals were not wilfully removed or enticed from the public lands.  The latter must keep the federal government informed of the number of wild horses and burros so maintained.  This is an outstanding opportunity for the public t help in preserving and protecting the wild horse and burro herds at healthy population levels, i.e. to complement federal herd areas and territories.

(Downer, The Wild Horse Conspiracy: XI-XIII)

Why do the practices of the past continue when they have been proven to create damage to the ranges and destroy the resources required to sustain other users, including wild horses and burros?

Horse advocates know that a huge effort is being made to slaughter horses, both domestic and wild, by those that support public land ranching. They claim that it is impractical to continue paying for the wild horse and burro program. Few people would disagree with that, because the program has been mismanaged for decades – the mindset being that wild horses should be moved into holding areas instead of allowing the horses to remain where they were found.  The Interior Department has taken nearly 50,000 wild horses off their western rangelands and paid private ranchers to put them in corrals and pastures, largely in Kansas and Oklahoma. More of America’s wild horses are now in holding facilities than roaming the wild. If cattle and sheep and other species of animal must be grazed on public lands, then there is definitely an argument for managing all species appropriately on the range.

When you look at the land base and allocation of forage in comparison you see just how small the wild horse issue really is. Over 250 million acres of public land are managed for livestock grazing, while the BLM has 26.9 million acres managed for wild horses and burros in comparison.  You therefore have wild horses on about 11% of BLM land. But even with equids being allocated approximately 11% of the land, the BLM still allocates most of the forage resources to privately owned livestock; management areas may consist of the equivalent of 1,000 cows and 100 horses, and when the horse population reaches 125, the BLM says the horses are overpopulating.  The horses are seen as competitors for a resource that has been overgrazed for more than a century by cattle. Obviously, what we really have is an overpopulation of cattle and sheep on our public lands, not horses.

Not only cattle and sheep, but replacing wild equids are big game such as elk.  Also entering into the equation are oil and gas drilling, pipelines, mining, subdivision developments, dams, off-road vehicles, golf courses, among other ecologically destructive and extractive activities – those that take from the land but do not give back.  The Ruby pipeline path recently constructed across northern Nevada is now overrun with exotic cheat grass and the wild horses have nearly all been rounded up.  Previously,  the wild horses consumed these grasses, thus helping to remove one risk of fires during droughts.

In addition, permittees only pay a small percentage of fair market value, at present amounting to about 9-12%, in order to graze their livestock on the public lands.  (Downer, The Wild Horse Conspiracy: 118) This is below “market value,”  and the GAO reported that the government lost at least $123 million in order to prop up public lands livestock grazing, while real costs have been estimated as at least one-half billion dollars per year.

Salt River Foal

Photo by Kelly Blevins

Either by deliberate malfeasance or outright incompetence, the BLM also claims there are more horses than there actually are, and independent researchers such as Cindy McDonald of Las Vegas have put the numbers at less than 20,000.  Researchers such as McDonald have identified various fudge factors, especially the rate of population increase that BLM employs to overly magnify population as well as ignoring the significant mortality factors including illegal killings, fencing off of public water, over-fencing within legal herd areas, and non-Wild Horse Annie cattle guards that cause gruesome deaths in panicked horses.  Also entering into the picture here are over allocations of forage to livestock as well as double counting during census-taking.  (Downer, The Wild Horse Conspiracy: 211)

Ultimately, the BLM asked the National Academy of Sciences to complete an objective and independent review of its wild horse/burro program. The study was completed and has heavily influenced the debate. Among the Konik Wild Horsesissues covered are population control methods and the controversial question of how the BLM decides how many horses a piece of land can sustain. The sum appropriated from Congress for this was $1.5 million – enough to take down many illegal fences, secure many water sources, buy out many key grazing leases, and seriously begin a reserve design implementation for viable and naturally self-stabilizing herds.  The 436-page report found that the Bureau of Land Management has used some haphazard science in estimating herd sizes and in predicting how removal of animals would affect herd size and range conditions. The report found that the Agency also has not done well at incorporating public opinion into its decision-making.

How can it be reasonable that horses,  already living on the range,  be considered “vermin?”

One could say that many ranchers feel that they have an entitlement to use the land at a discount, an entitlement that resulted in the use of the pejorative term “welfare rancher.”  What business would not want to compete by utilizing a service at lower cost than its competitors? I suspect that the majority of ranchers feel that their domesticated animals have prima facie rights over all other species on the range.  If a rancher faces restrictions he can go to his Congressional Representative or State Legislator to represent his interest. In many states the state representative IS a rancher. In many western states the Congressional representative either is, or his family is, a rancher. In practice an agency staff person who makes a decision to restrict or terminate overuse by livestock grazing would be subject to pressure from ranchers and in many cases even from their own families. Many BLM employees live in the same communities with those they need to “manage.”  Many federal employees were born in the west with ranching or mining in their family history. So clearly, the political system supports the status quo and exerts pressure on those who challenge that status quo.

Prior to the implementation of Craig autographs copies of his book.the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and other related legislation,  the wild horses were used just as the land was, as if it were private property and not belonging to the American people. The wild horses were “harvested” and some used on the ranch. The vast majority were sold for fertilizer and dog food creating an opportunity for more personal profit from a public resource. Most people in the west know someone that profited from “mustanging” and many ranchers that hold permits today were mustangers. Since the passage of the Act inhibited profit from mustanging the animals are viewed simply as vermin by most.

In order to reap as much profit off of public land as possible all competition must be removed. As a result, the wild horse and burro herds have either been reduced to non-viable population levels or totally eliminated in most of their legal herd areas, in what constitutes nothing less than a smear campaign.  Many ranchers still resent any interference with public land grazing from the federal government.

The wild horse fulfills an ecological niche

When the horse is removed as through helicopter roundups, or killed off by man, it leaves a big gap that upsets the equilibrated life-support system.  Downer writes that “in recent times, the high rate of disappearance of large mammals from the earth’s various biomes has become alarming.  A comparison of historical (AD 1500) range maps of large mammals with their current distribution reveals that less than 21% of the terrestrial globe still contains all of the large mammals (greater than 2 kg in weight) it supported several centuries ago. “

As a major climax species, or member of the more stable,  long term, and biodiverse life community that establishes itself over time,  the horse  has helped to characterize and to assist so many of the earth’s ecosystems including by its:

1)      Grazing of grass, extensive pruning of vegetation (including forbs, shrubs, and even trees) and consequent bolstering of annual plant productivity. Wild equids eliminate dry flammable vegetation and their consequent prevention of damaging fires

2)      Successful intact seed dispersal of hundreds,  even thousands of plant species through its feces,  that also greatly build the moisture-retaining and nutrient releasing humus content of the soils

3)      Major role as a prey or scavenged species for lions, puma, wolves, bears, foxes, raptors, vultures, and smaller animals.

4)      A role as a trail breaker through dense vegetation and as a breaker of frozen snow and ice, and also as an opener of tiny seeps to create ponds thus made accessible for other smaller species during dry seasons and by its creation of natural water catchments  through its wallowing habit, particularly important in desert areas and especially during the dry seasons when cloudbursts occur (Downer, The Wild Horse Conspiracy: 109)

While factors such as drought, fire, invasion by non-native plants, and sprawl are important, livestock grazing is identified by BLM experts as the primary cause (nearly 80%) of BLM lands not meeting health standards.  Cattle grazing has a profoundly negative effect on other fauna such as desert tortoises.

The wild horse in Canada is an iconic and charismatic animal that has co-existed harmoniously with other wildlife species.  The wild horse is an animal that has enriched the First Nations people, laboured with early pioneers on the frontier, and carried Canadian soldiers through war.  They are a symbol of freedom, and no other animal is more deserving of being designated and protected as a heritage animal in Canada.

Recently in Canada, a “Feral Horse Advisory Committee” was formed with representation from several stakeholder groups, such as oil and gas, forestry, cattle ranchers, capture permit holders and hunters, that support a cull of the wild horses. The existing pockets of Equine infectious anema in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia comprise one of the arguments put forth by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for decimating the wild horses.  But if any horses are diseased, it’s more likely to be our domestic and imported horses – most horse disease surveillance in Canada is paid for by private owners, so it follows that most reportable diseases are found in privately owned and not wild horses.  Equine venereal disease was brought to North America from Europe. At one time Glanders almost exterminated imported horses, but didn’t affect Alberta’s native horses at all.  It’s also falsely claimed by this Committee that horses compete with wildlife and cattle for forage.  The government’s own study by R.E. Salter, who has a master’s degree in zoology – did not document forage or behavioural competition with either wildlife or domestic cattle.  Studies in British Columbia showed that overgrazing and erosion were caused by too many cattle and not horses. Livestock manure in and near surface water and sedimentation of the water from livestock disturbing the bed and banks of the watercourse can adversely affect water quality, simply because they exist in far greater numbers than do wild horses.

Wild horses encourage tourism in Alberta as well.  Guides and outfitters are kept in business in part by wild horses and other species of animal.  But trust the Canadian government to come up with a plan to shoot the horses. – at a FHAC meeting in early October 2013 it was suggested that possibly up to 300 permits would be issued for the 2013-14 season, which would obliterate 30% of the entire wild horse population. You have to wonder how such a small number of animals can be so deserving of being obliterated and blamed for causing so much damage and disease.

Why evidence points to wild horses being here a very long time

Carlsbad horse skeleton_tonemappedThe genus “Equus” comprises modern horses, zebras and donkeys, all of which progressed about 4 million years ago (during the Pliocene era).  Only modern horses, wild asses, zebras, and donkeys survive today, but many other lineages in the horse family have become extinct over the last 50,000 years.  The Przewalski’s wild horse has never been domesticated and remains a truly wild animal today.  It is a subspecies of Equus ferus, and possesses 66 chromosomes, compared to 64 in all other horse species,  so it is morphologically a distinct animal. DNA analysis shows that the species diverted from the modern horse lineage over 100,000 years ago, and thus remains the closest living “ancient” relative to the modern horse.

As Craig Downer has pointed out, it’s largely irrelevant whether horses are indigenous to North America, or an introduced species, since they satisfy an ecological niche.  But there are basically two positions that can be considered when it comes to deciding whether horses are indigenous to North America:

1)      That a continuous lineage of horses survived in small groups in North America up until the reintroduction of European horses, or…..

2)      That horses disappeared from North America during the late Pleistocene (“Ice Age”) era – 10,000-7,000 years before present but were brought back by other cultures in pre-Columbian times.

Horses share their ancestry with rhinoceroses and tapirs.  Over 50 million years ago, horses had several odd-numbered hoofed toes and looked more like tiny rhinos or small deer than anything resembling the majestically regal horses as we know them. These small mammals gradually developed into “intermediate” horses, which were a somewhat heavier version weighing several hundred pounds.  By about 20 million years ago (during the Miocene era), these intermediate horses had adapted well to the changing environs of the open plains, and gradually developed prominent middle toes and long legs, better enabling them to follow their compulsion to graze and to quickly run from predators that could easily spot them once they ventured from the forests into the open plains.  Larger, more athletic horse-like animals made their appearance, including one called “Parahippus,” or “almost horse.” They were evolving to reach weights of around 1,000 pounds, nearing the size of modern horses. “Hippidion” then appeared, considered the most successfully evolved horse, as evidenced by its migration from North America to Africa and Eurasia.

At the end of the Pleistocene epoch, the geological period roughly spanning 12,000 to 2.5 million years ago, many of the world’s large animals, such as giant sloths, epochssaber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and mammoths, vanished from the geological record. Extinctions often seem dramatic and sudden in fossil records, but an extinction event may mean that an imperiled species survives in smaller and smaller numbers until eventually disappearing completely. Evidence suggests that some large species such as the horse became extinct in North America but persisted in small populations here and elsewhere, having crossed a land bridge into Asia.

Recent discoveries have the potential to re-write the fossil and taxonomic records, and also confirm that horses were here all along, and are a re-introduced species, rather than a new species brought to North America.

Recent revelations in the horse fossil record include:

1)      The discovery of a horse that lived 700,000 years ago in Canada’s Yukon Territory.  The DNA discovered from this ancient horse is 10 times as old as any DNA retrieved to date, and is considered to be the world’s oldest genome of any species.  An international team of researchers deciphered the genome of the horse from the Middle Pleistocene (the “Ice Ages”), along with those of a 43,000-year-old horse, a modern donkey and five contemporary domestic horse breeds. Using those data, the researchers pushed back the emergence of the ancestor of horses, zebras, asses and donkeys to about 4 million to 4.5 million years ago.

2)      Also of note was the discovery by scientists excavating an Ice Age mammoth skeleton from the Tule Springs area north of Las Vegas, Nevada, uncovered the remains of a second animal that was perhaps more Alberta Wildiesinteresting than the original find: a skull and lower jaw of an extinct horse species. Horses are not uncommon in the Tule Springs fossil record, but this one differs from all those discovered there before, according to the San Bernardino County Museum scientists. The new fossils belong to the extinct species Equus scotti, a large horse common in much of western North America during the Pleistocene Epoch. The species has never before been reported from Tule Springs or Nevada.  The site was dated to approximately 12,000 years in age, making the fossils among the youngest records of Equus scotti anywhere in North America.  And the new discovery is forcing scientists to revise their understanding of horse evolution and extinction at the end of the Ice Ages.

3)      Researchers who removed ancient DNA of horses and mammoths from permanently frozen soil in central Alaskan permafrost dated the material at between 7,600 and 10,500 years old. The findings suggest populations of these now-extinct mammals endured longer in the continental interior of North America, challenging the conventional view that these species (mammoths and horses) disappeared from the continent about between 13,000 and 15,000 years ago.

4)      Archaeologists also uncovered another nearly intact skeleton of a horse and donkey thought to have been buried ritualistically, that may have lived and died 50 years before the Spanish began their conquest of

photo by Kelly Blevins

photo by Kelly Blevins

California. The finds are significant because native North American horses were thought to have been extinct much earlier, and the remains are older than the recorded conquests by the Spanish. Radiocarbon dating of 340 years, plus or minus 40 years, puts the death of the horse sometime between 1625 and 1705. Therefore, the horses died at least 50 years before San Diego Mission de Alcala, the first of the California missions, was founded in 1769. The bones of the horses and the donkey showed no signs of having been shod, an indicator that the horses were not brought by the Spanish, who fitted their horses with iron shoes. The possibility exists that the buried equids were brought by the Spanish in an expedition that was subsequently lost to history, or the burial is evidence for domestication of the species that had not completely died out at the end of the last ice age.

5)      Scientists examined 35 equid fossils from South America, Europe, Asia, and South Africa – analysis that ultimately filled in many evolutionary gaps about equid evolution and the nature of extinct species.  A new species of wild ass was also detected on the Russian Plains and appears to be related to European fossils dating back more than 1.5 million years. Carbon dates on the bones reveal that this species was alive as recently as 50,000 years ago.  The significant of this finding is obvious – it casts doubt on the theory that horses exist in North American only by the introduction of Europeans during their colonizing expeditions of the 15th and 16th centuries.  The genetic results suggest that megafaunal extinctions at the end of the last ice age may not have been as extensive as previously believed.

6)      The species known as Equus lambei, named for Canadian paleontologist H.M. Lambe,  otherwise known as the Yukon Horse, when radiocarbon dated,  turned out to be 26,000 years old.  Equus caballus is genetically equivalent to Equus lambei, a horse, according to fossil records, that represented the most recent Equus subspecies in North America.Wild trio

7)      The FaunMap, produced and published by the Illinois State Museum of Springfield,  revealed that a number of horse fossil datings within the post-Pleistocene and pre-Columbian period that occurred well after the time at which all members of the horse family are commonly believed to have disappeared from North America.  Some of these are quite close to Columbus’ discovery of America in 1492.  In his book, Craig Downer also provides a list of Horse fossil sites.  Fossils found from the Early Holocene/Middle Holocene epoch also serve to dispel the myth of the non-native horse:

Ventana Cave Arizona:  two horses from LHOL, one from MHOL, one from HIHO*

Awatovi, Arizona: one horse from HIHO

Fort Davy Crocket, Colorado: one horse from HIHO

Kin TI’iish Colorado: one horse from LHOL

Long House Colorado: one horse from LHOL

Merina Colorado:  one horse from LHOL

Cemochechobee Georgia:  one horse from LHOL

Calf Island Massachusetts: one horse from HIHO

Blacktail Cave Montana:  one horse from MHOL

Hoffer Montana: one horse from LHOL, two horses from HIHO

Amahami North Dakota:  one horse from LHOL, one horse from HIHO

Navajo Reservoir site LA 3430, New Mexico:  two horses from LHOL

Fort Randall Historic Site South Dakota:  one horse from LHOL

H.P. Thomas, South Dakota:  one horse from HIHO, one from LHOL

Lubbock Lake Texas:  one horse from EMHO, one from MHOL, one from LHOL

Site 45AS80, Washington:  one horse from LHOL

Chief Joseph Dam Site 450K2, Washington: one horse from HIHO, one from LHOL

Chief Joseph Dam Site 450K258, Washington: one horse from LHOL, two horses from HIHO

Site 48UT370, Wyoming: one horse from MHOL

(Downer, The Wild Horse Conspiracy: 16-17)

*HIHO – High Holocene – 0-450 Years Before Present

LHOL – Late Holocene – 450- 4500 Years Before Present

MHOL – Middle Holocene – 3500- 8500 Years Before Present

EMHO – Early Holocene/Middle Holocene – 3500-10,500 Years Before Present

Some people have claimed that the pinto and paint colorations in horses were a creation by man,  although biologists know the meaning of “disruptive colouration” that occurs in many wild animals – which serves to breakWild mare and foal their outline and cause them to be less easily recognized by a predator.  This colouration has been around for a lot longer than mankind itself on our planet. Wild horses come in rainbow colours – chestnut bays and sorrels along with the roans,  and some palominos and buckskins as well,  the latter bearing the dark dorsal as well as hock stripes and often referred to as grullas.  These stripes are considered primitive, but they would be more rightly labelled as adaptive to life in the wild as they visually disrupt a horse’s outline (think of zebras), providing protection from enemies through camouflage. (Downer, The Wild Horse Conspiracy: 158)

Conclusion:

The morphological (fossil) evidence and the more recent DNA evidence points to the same conclusion: the species Equus caballus—the species encompassing all domestic horses and their wild progenitors—arose on this continent.  By contrast, there are no paleontological or genetic grounds for concluding that it is native to any other continent. A “native” species, in evolutionary terms, is defined as one that differentiated or diverged from its immediate ancestor species within a specific geographical locale. The contemporary wild horse in the United States is recently derived from lines domesticated in Europe and Asia. But those lines themselves go much further back in time, and converge on populations that lived in North America during the latter part of the Pleistocene (2.5M to 10k years ago).

All of this unequivocal science begs one big question: why do our government agencies still classify the wild horse as a destructive, non-native, exotic species? This mis-classification has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics.  It needs to be more widely understood that the horse’s status as a native North American species is beyond serious question. From a scientific standpoint, it is completely irrelevant that native horses died out in White horses of CamargueNorth America 10,000 years ago, or that later populations were domesticated in central Asia a few thousand years ago.  Such considerations have no bearing on their status as having originated on this continent. Reintroduction of horses to North America is, biologically, a non-event: horses were merely returned to part of their former native range, where they have since prospered because ecologically they never left. Authorities should consider the ancient horse family taken as a whole in the world today.  Its origin dates back 58 million years, to the base of the Cenozoic era (right after the age of dinosaurs).

Life’s safety net is composed of interwoven biodiversity – a great number of harmoniously, mutually related life forms.  When people thoughtlessly wipe our vast numbers of individual plants, animals, and decomposers, whole populations and even entire species – as is occurring today – we jeopardize life’s long term survival.

  1. Downer, Craig C., The Wild Horse Conspiracy (Nevada, USA: Author, 2011)

Bowmanville – Comfortably Numb?

Standard
carnival barker

© Heather Clemenceau

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

As the world now knows,  the lone Bowmanville Zoo asian elephant Limba,  has been humanely euthanized.   Animal Advocates held a memorial for her across from the zoo property on December 7th.  May she rest in peace.

As a result of our persistence in demonstrating against Limba’s circumstances at the zoo and in circuses,  activists have continually been maligned in the media and even been the subject of physical altercations on public property.  In some cases we are denied the use of public property with laughable justifications.  Just today an interesting critique of activism in general crossed my newsfeed which outlines the paradox of activism – while activists are capable of being major forces for change,  the harder we push for these changes, the more they alienate the people whose support we hope to win.  While this is true,  there are many situations where we must simply refute rampant propaganda and stop it in its tracks.

This blog has always been about presenting factually sourced information about animals we love (or my opinion supported by facts),  as a counter to deceptive propaganda techniques,  logical fallacies,  and even lies.  While the opportunity to enlighten with facts is irresistible to me,  there are also times when ridicule becomes the only defence that can be used against unintelligible propositions or personal attacks.

I think it’s important to identify who the real extremists are in this debate – the minority of people who make wild accusations and unsubstantiated claims – people who decide that ignoring us is best but then find that they cannot follow their own advice.  Reasonable, rational people who are not fact-challenged, UNDERSTAND, even if they do not ACCEPT.  No one cares if you ACCEPT our statements about the inequity of keeping elephants in Canada, only that you UNDERSTAND the response.  Blaming the messenger never changes the facts, because a fact cannot be insolent – and people really have no right to be offended merely because they don’t like or agree with said fact.  If some of you are going to argue badly,  why bother to do it at all?  Too many people on pro-parade pages are merely mimicking what rational discussion sounds like to them.

So here’s a selection of statements taken verbatim from pro-parade pages and media interviews,  and I have original screen caps (or links) for all and have altered nothing.  JUNKMILLBigTopSpelling and grammar are the original poster’s own of course. My responses follow in bold.

“Bring extra $$$, never know if you drive over a nail and get a flat….or 4.”

And with this quote we have one of the defining statements of the town – in other words, if you come to our small-minded community and we object to you, your car might just meet with an accident.

“Like almost all elephants, Limba likes snow.” 

Have “almost all elephants” been interviewed to determine their opinion of snow?  How do you even describe snow to an elephant who may never have seen it?  And what about the elephants who are on record for not actually liking snow?   Do they have the option not to be captured or bred and sent to a cold climate, like say, Alaska? In all likelihood,  elephants may not mind the snow at all,  but probably very much dislike the cold temperatures that come with it.  Studies indicate that elephants have a limited ability to adapt to wide temperature ranges, as their bodies are unable to insulate (add fat) or adjust to extremes in temperature. Elephants have evolved to live in temperate and tropical climates, and are at risk if subjected to consistently cold temperatures, as, once chilled, they are unable to gain sufficient heat to warm themselves, which is why most of them must remain confined to heated barns for the majority of the winter.

“I bet you these are the same people poisoning our dogs and mutilating our cats.”  

I googled “bowmanville cat mutilation” but nothing popped up though.  But perhaps instead of interrupting a memorial that required police intervention, you should be asking the police to look into these unsolved mutilations and poisonings.  Just a thought.

“When it is too cold out she does laps indoors to warm up first.”

Why do I picture Olivia Newton John from the video “Physical” with leg warmers in a wet sauna?

“People you need to remember “activists” are extremists. They bomb things and set things on fire and chain themselves to things drag their children out with signs around their necks in harms way etc. “ 

But we leave the tire slashin’ up to the locals……..

“that bitch limba been livin and doin the same shit for years, she an og on the block in bville, aint no bitches from peta comin and takin are nigga limba, go suck ur moms.” 

I get that, for some people, “nigga” can be a term of endearment. But I’m going to assume that “go suck ur moms” is not.

“They hope to brainwash our children.”

No, we leave that up to commie hacks like Big Bird, Ernie and Bert.

“This is about them wanting Limba to be sent to a sanctuary PAWS where other elephants reside in California where the weather is unpredictable fires everywhere and now radiation with possibility of being wiped off JUNKMILLBigTop elephantthe face of the plant.”

Yes, let’s rescue all the animals of any species who currently reside in California. In fact, animals should only live in countries where there are no natural disasters.  And I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the weather,  even in northern California,  is far more suitable for an elephant than it is in Canada.

“rich ppl and celebrities can gawk at them even spend the night with them.  Such a cruel cruel world.” 

The person making this remark was referring to the Toronto Zoo elephants who were relocated to the PAWS sanctuary.  The Bville groups on Facebook are undeniably made up of people who support private ownership of tigers and monkeys and other exotic animals, quite often from the US.  I don’t see how being viewed a few times a year is “cruel” compared to being viewed 200 days of the year and being trucked around as part of a circus.  Methinks your concern is misplaced.

“Oh yes, threatening the safety of children at a Santa Claus Parade is definitely the vision you want people to have of Bowmanville!”

For god’s sake, think of the children!  Your parade is over, you can stop marching now.

“Stalking a poor innocent town with discrimination, threats, and childish name calling.”

Stalking a town?  Bowmanville/Newcastle has a population of about 44,000 people.  I think that’d be a pretty tall order even for the most determined stalker. And no one has discriminated against the entire town.  But you don’t have a problem with people from your town who protest a MEMORIAL?  That’s actually a tactic of the Westboro Baptist Church……..

“This is ridiculous, arrogant fools, Limba had a great life.  FUCK YOU for saying differently.”

In that case,  let me reciprocate your middle finger.

“wheels on the bus go round and round.”  (Made in reference to a question about taking a bus to the memorial)

But the gears in your head need a little WD-40…..

“the protesters are actually less than a dozen people with multiple fake profiles pretending there is a lot more of them.”

This comment is laughably ironic since it’s been made by a person who uses multiple personalities on Facebook.  Thanks for destroying another irony meter; I’m really wracking up the bills on these things.

“She walks around lifts her leg and looks pretty and in return has all the necessities of life supplied to her.  In the wild if she doesn’t work she starves and dies.”

I’m glad this person made this comment,  since it allows me to factually address what are the “necessities of life” for an elephant.  Our issue has always been that Limba didn’t have all the necessities of life given to her other than basic subsistence, veterinary care,  and interaction with her keeper.  To be fair,  I think that Limba’s keeper Robert provided her with a good deal of enrichment and tried (and succeeded) in making her life better.  But there is only one picture of Limba on this page – if looking at it doesn’t make you wonder if we could do better, then you might be missing a sensitivity chip. Perhaps some elephants, if they could choose, would prefer to live in a large zoo facility rather than experience poaching and predation in the wild, but they can’t exactly tell us this.  We’ve kept animals locked in cages since early civilizations.  They were kept for the amusement of man, without consideration to the welfare of the animals, and we were either unaware or indifferent to their needs, both physical and psychological.  

The idea that a zoo is automatically the best repository for an animal is passé.  We do however, need to aggressively confront the issues concerning animals in the wild,  and we need to leave the majority of them where we found them – they make up a vast gene pool for future evolutionary processes. They supply other species with food, recycle nutrients essential to agriculture, and help generate and maintain soils. Moreover, they detoxify poisonous substances, break down organic wastes, and control potential crop pests and disease carriers.

JUNKMILLBigTop lionsOther species depend on the elephant for their survival – one example of this commensal relationship is that of the elephant and the termite. Termites need the elephant for both housing and food; termites eat elephant feces and build their mounds underneath piles of elephant feces.  Elephants also clear areas for new trees and other forms of vegetation to grow, helping to continue the life cycle for plants and other animals. They also clear paths through difficult terrain and make way for other species to relocate to different areas. When they die, the breakdown of biological matter is essential for perpetuation of the carbon/phosphorus/sulphur/oxygen/nitrogen cycles, without which life on earth would cease.   My own view is that each wild species has an inherent right to play its role in the ongoing evolution of life on earth until and unless it becomes extinct without interference by humans.  Despite the hardships experienced by animals surviving in the face of human encroachment,  we can’t achieve all the ecological benefits provided by animals by keeping them in zoos. Aside from this,  about 95% of all zoos don’t actually participate in introduction or re-introduction programs – animals they breed are usually retained for other zoos or circuses.

“So someone is caring for a socially awkward elephant that enjoys the company of people that was previously abused and your going to protest it.”

Once again, please refer to the lone picture of Limba in this blog post.  While I am glad Limba had a companion who was devoted to her and who loved her, we need to ask ourselves whether she needed to be shipped across the country for circuses, weddings, winery events and so forth.  I’m sure she enjoyed being with Robert, but perhaps she did not enjoy these other things? Even animals that are not adequately socialized with their own species have a need to be present as part of a group. Female elephants stay together in family units.  There are numerous pictures of Limba with other elephants and even if she was not a dominant animal in a herd environment,  humans cannot replace that social order. She seemed to be friends with another elephant – Tarra.  It has also been shown that elephants are capable of self-recognition, which is exceedingly rare in the animal kingdom.

“How many of you protesters keep wild animals in your homes? I bet most of you have either cats or dogs.  A shame that you would force a beautiful creature like a cat or dog to live in doors captive unable to roam free and be happy.”

Where I live there are bylaws against allowing animals to foam free.  And if you look up above, there’s a person complaining that someone is mutilating and poisoning dogs and cats in Bville, so it seems like letting them roam is not a particularly good idea. I don’t advise keeping actual wild animals in anyone’s home either – you only have to look to the IKEA monkey affair as an example of why that doesn’t have the potential to work out so well legally or practically.

And in the event that the o-post was sarcasm,  let me just say that there are vast differences between tamed wild animals and domesticated animals. Geneticist George Price, of Price’s Theorem fame, defined domestication as a process by which population of animals becomes adapted to man and the environment as a result of genetic mutation, neurochemical changes, and environmentally induced developmental changes. In long-term selection experiments designed to study the consequences of selection for the “tame” domesticated type of behaviour, Belyaev et al. (1981) studied foxes reared for their fur. The red fox (Vulpes fulva) has been raised on seminatural fur farms for over 100 years and was selected for fur traits and not behavioural traits. The objective of this experiment was to breed animals similar in behaviour to the domestic dog. By selecting and breeding the tamest individuals, 20 years later the experiment succeeded in turning wild foxes into tame “dogs.”

While Price and Belyaev were refining the principles of conditioning on animals, ethology – the study of the way genes are modified during evolution to deal with particular environments, was a developing science. Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen cataloged the behaviour of many animals in their natural environments. Together they developed the ethogram. An ethogram is a complete listing of all the behaviours that an animal performs in its natural environment. It includes both innate and learned behaviours – hard-wired programs versus experience and learning. People intent on insisting that Limba was a social misfit who had no interest in other elephants don’t seem to know or wish to acknowledge that even animals with large, complex brains are still governed by innate behaviour patterns. As these studies have shown, instantaneous pets are not created via short-term human influence, regardless of whether dog or elephant is the subject matter.

“You people are freaks!”

Name-calling and mocking are behaviours individuals exhibit when they lack the skills needed to handle a particular situation and are utterly out of ideas. Bertrand Russell also said that the problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but the wiser people are so full of doubts.

“is it ok if I start a thread about how you beat up school kids I don’t have proof.”

I guess that the moral to be taken from this comment is that if you can’t win an argument on its merits, then make something up.

“They are going to attack Limba so that some one gets hurt!  They are now setting sights on the camels, so be forewarned!” Does it make sense to claim they are all about the well being of Limba and then they threaten to scare and instigate her into running amok?”

Do you have monsters under your bed?  I mean, with all this fear mongering?  It’s more than a touch unreasonable.  No animal advocate would ever try to spook an elephant, and of course there’s that pesky little matter of proof of any such statement being made by our group, which seems to escape so many pro-parade people. 

circus elephant and evil clown

© Heather Clemenceau

“My daughter was excited to see Limba in the parade.  How am I supposed to explain to her that city council are a bunch of pricks?”

Some parade-goers were concerned about how to explain protesters’ signs to their kids.  They claimed that it would be awkward and the kids might be scared, but what would really be awkward is the discomfort the parents would experience.  Because the parents took Limba to Applefest and allowed their kids to ride around on her back, but they didn’t notice she had diarrhea, some of them now feel bad when they were told that Limba was sick, because guilt is now setting in.  But if you can’t handle kids seeing signs,  which might make them aware that there are some members of society willing to speak up for others,  then how can you explain that council are pricks?  I don’t know either, but good luck.

“We should go for a beer after the parade.  Bring the blonde tart with you.”

The more I see your posts, the more I realize I’m in need of some sort of prophylactic.

“I’ll see all you protesters there on Saturday, I’ll be the one spraying you with the water guns so you better bring an umbrella.”

And you better bring $500 bucks so that the lawyer you normally use for traffic court can help you make bail.

“I watched one of their so called meetings, it took place in someones mothers basement….the two girls looked like they didn’t have a brain between them….”  and

“Do you have a boyfriend or husband?  Because if so, he needs to put a muzzle on you.” 

Sexism and the occasional anti-female post rear their ugly heads on the pro-parade Facebook pages.  If you were paying attention to the video discussion,  you would have noticed that at least one of the “girls” had a masters degree in a biological field.  Somewhat surprisingly, the latter statement is made by a woman who doesn’t realize how misogynist her remarks are. But consider the message – women (or feminists) might want to reconsider speaking out and if not, we’ll get the “manosphere” to keep you in line.

“southern Ontario is the same distance from the North Pole as Northern California.”

How about comparing the temperature between Vietnam (Limba’s birthplace) and Bowmanville?  This isn’t difficult.  I can tell you that the temperature in Vietnam never gets close to 0 degrees C.

“I see all the people who want limba out of the parade are cowards…..I would copy all thenames and pictures of these people put them on a poster and put in everyones door, and postoffice and every store window, on every pole in town, so the people will know who these cowards, idiots are, and if there car gets flat tires, egged, broken mirror, or spray painted.  They all would be unsolved cases.  Make them uncomfortable in Bomanville, store keepers can and should refuse to serve them, refuse to sell them things, such as food etc.  If they need to stay in hotels, motels, refuse them.”

I think that was what one of the pro-zoo people was actually starting to do, when Don Corleone started photographing cars belonging to the memorial participants.  Maybe our faces will all start appearing on milk cartons in the near future.  But when the police were called to respond to an assault, they instead made us move our cars,  because it might have a negative effect on the grass……no wonder there are unsolved dog poisonings and cat mutilations in Btown……. As a result of this extreme concern for grass in a parking lot,  I can only surmise that once it was realized there were chalk writings and stray rose petals on the sidewalk, the town’s hazmat emergency response team arrived with their MSDS sheets to deal with these hazards and subsequent hazardous waste disposal.

Circque Macabre - Girl in cage

© Heather Clemenceau

“I’m really hoping that this protesting stuff doesn’t ruin the spirit of Christmas.”

Yeah, it would really suck if concern for a sick animal got in the way of your party time.

“Retards more like, they need to get jobs and do something productive.”

The hallmark of a feeble mind unable to express itself in any effective manner.  When I see the term “retards” used I have to wonder about the person who made the statement.  Do they not realize that there are many mothers who find this term terribly hurtful?  The term “retard” can also be taken to apply to those who have had a stroke affecting their speech, the hard of hearing, and people who have cognitive difficulties. What’s also surprising was the fact that 8 people liked this post – and it was allowed to stand on the pro-parade page.  You’d think someone from that group would step up and enlighten this person, but it didn’t happen.  I guess it’s hard to enlighten somebody else when you don’t know right from wrong either.

“My uncle lost his life so that we could have Santa Claus parades.”

Because that’s what WWII was all about.

“This is their idiot plan + Stampede the animals by shouting on megaphones, wildly waving signs and rushing the animals.  The animals get spooked.  Because of the recent Darwin the IKEA monkey decision any wild animal running around outside of the zoo is “owned” by whoever catches it.  I bet they will try to make Limba spook and grab her by the trunk!”

I hate to throw shade on your statements but none of that ever happened.  I know you were hoping to work everyone into a frenzy over this, but you set yourself up for a colossal failure.  I hope people go back and read your comments and realize how foolish they were in hindsight.  You’re like a bad psychic that can’t get a single prediction correct,  and now your comments are circling the drain.

“Do you realize how thick their skin is?  They might feel pressure from the hook being pressed against them but they certainly don’t feel pain from it.”

At first I thought this guy was initially writing about the pro-parade people, but he was actually referring to elephants themselves.  In most areas, the elephant’s skin may be 2.5 to 3 cms thick, but in other areas it is fairly thin.  Thickness of the skin shouldn’t be confused with sensitivity though – their skin has rich nerve endings and like most animals who are bothered excessively by flies – elephants also notice every fly that lands on them, so they will surely feel a bullhook.

“Well I have seen them in action on a number of occasions and there is nothing peaceful about them.”

So says the person who was thrown out of the IKEA monkey trial at the Oshawa courthouse for being disruptive. That fringe should be on a surrey.  Watch that fringe and see how it flutters.

“Last summer, a bunch of them took photos of anyone entering the zoo, yelled insults at them and posted their photos all over the Internet.”

This is such a vague phrase – “all over the internet.”  Problem is that if called upon to find these alleged pictures, nobody can point them out, despite them being “all over the internet.”  A lack of evidence is in itself, evidence.  And to put this in the appropriate context, several people associated with the IKEA monkey trial and their so-called documentary (probably being produced on an 3G iPhone) deliberately came to the zoo when they knew there was a protest going on.  If anyone was videotaped or photographed, it was on public property and it occurred in order to document that they sought to follow animal advocates and harass us and not the other way around.  And besides,  there are numerous examples whereby animal advocates have had their photos  stolen and appropriated.  In this blog post,  I’ve included several comments from the “Darwin IKEA Monkey hoard,”  a group of people who harassed a primate sanctuary before and after the trial ended badly for them.  None of these people had even heard of Limba before they started trailing animal advocates around at protests and following our postings and movements on Facebook.

“Here is an idea.  If you know who these people are, start boycotting their businesses.  Since they are trying to shut down the Bowmanville Zoo,  let’s see how they enjoy it when people are aware of where they work and suddenly information flyers are handed out to people (on the public sidewalk) who enter their work place?  Something to the effect of, “Did you know that this person is an activist who wants to shut down the Bowmanville Zoo?”

elephant ears

© Heather Clemenceau

This is truly one of the dumbest ideas yet; it’s safe to say that, at the fountain of knowledge,  this person only gargled.  If people actually tried to carry this out, they would probably be charged with mischief at the very least.  And it quite often has the opposite effect.  Each protester is a private individual, unlike the zoo, which is a public entity, and Michael Hackenberger, whom it could be argued is a public figure.

No one protests in front of Michael Hackenberger’s private home, his kids’ school, or at his wife’s veterinary clinic because there is this concept called privacy.  Recall the famously cringe-worthy video of the woman who spent eight minutes berating Dunkin’ Donuts employees, ending in a racist epithet — which she posted online herself because she thought she had been slighted for not receiving a receipt. Not surprisingly, the internet response to her video was to shame her, which, suffice to say, was not the reason she made the video in the first place. Any rights of free speech were never intended to be authorization for people to “indict”, “try”, “judge” and pass sentence on any individual.  This poster really ought to try reading the Constitution and if that is too long for them, then just read section 2(c).

“Dimwits!  Police can look on their FB pages and see the anarchist symbols plastered all over, make a list and prepare to arrest them on parade day.”

But police won’t be doing any of that.  Because there is no “Facebook Butthurt” division that you can call up to report Facebook insults.  If there were, I know a few people who would be shuffled away and put on a thorazine drip right now.  Even if someone had an anarchist symbol on their Facebook page, it’s not grounds for arrest, unless perhaps you lived during the time of the Gulag.

“I saw the threats they were making on their facebook page, and hoping police had their guns ready.  Have police contact them personally and tell them they are not welcome.  Have them charged for uttering threats!”

There’s a serious hole in your argument – no threats were uttered.  Anyone I’ve asked to show proof of all these threats can’t come up with a single link.  Maybe you’ve been watching too many westerns – the sheriffs in those days did sometimes ask people not to pass through town.

“OK, let me get this straight…The ARA has taken over the zoos page and making threats?!”

No, but there is a page entitled “Bowmanville Zoological Park – Free Limba.”  I suggest reading the entire title before assuming that animal advocates hacked into the BZoo page.

“I am an animal lover……..Why don’t you just give the Bowmanville Zoo the benefit of the doubt?”

Usually when someone starts off with the phrase “I am an animal lover,” you know what follows will often reveal them to be anything but.

“vegan athiest has his hypocritical gang of protesters should have been arrested for harassment, stalkin, trespassing.  No one cares what they have to say and they are not welcome in Bowmanville (or Toronto too) What is the point of protesting when non one wants to hear their anarchist crap.  Careful when they are around your cars, a bunch of zoo supporters had our cars keyed and nasty notes on the windshield.  One supporter was punched in the eye by the leader of the anarchists 6 months ago.  Another who writes their terrorist blog brought a knife, syringe, and vials of unknown liquid to a fundraiser and told security she wanted to see a bunch of us in person.  Beware – they really are dangerous.  Be careful, they photograph you and your cars and plan who to target at the next protest.  They are violent.  They do commit property damage too.  My office was vandalized by them the night before I planned to present a petition to their leader at ZooCheck.” 

Normally our friend from the IKEA monkey trial likes to drop names, but didn’t do it for this post, because even she knows that it’s totally batshit cray-cray.  Your office vandalized?  Got a police report? How about a police report for an assault?  Why don’t you scan those notes you said were left on your vehicles and post them online?  Must be the only things you haven’t posted…..A knife, syringe and vials of unknown liquid? You fell asleep after eating too many spicy nachos while watching Dexter and hallucinated the whole thing, right?  And if I’m the “terrorist blogger” you mention,  I can only wonder how your security team let me get away from a fundraiser with a knife,  syringe,  and vials of unknown liquid.  I must be some kind of ninja!  And of course,  there’s no police report for this either.  And you missed your date with Zoocheck because they found out that you and your crackpot friends were coming to the library to harass them,  so they changed the date of their presentation and kept it on the down-low, so you and your friends showed up at the library with your signs ON THE WRONG DAY. Caveat – don’t use these people for party-planning.

“I watched a video one person made sneaking around fences on the zoo property and the person was talking almost hysterical and excited in hopes of finding some type of animal abuse,  they were really looking forward to it,  it was really disturbing,  of course they found no abuse,  but they were still so excited they videotaped……..nothing.”

You left a comment on my blog about this video that I made,  but I never published it because it was whack.  Were you referring to me and my video,  published in this blog?  I called you out (anonymously) and posted your comment in that blog as well.  The video is not at all about me skulking around looking for abuse.  I stated clearly that I was observing to see if the giraffes were spooked by the megaphone being used during a protest.  I spoke to Michael Hackenberger about the giraffes and their enclosure and that’s it.  It was completely by accident that he happened to be there and spoke to me.  Of course the video revealed nothing because there was no drama  – the giraffes did not even notice the megaphone.  But you just got busted again making shit up, Drama Llama!  

“You’ve got to breed your females or they get uterine cancer.”

This statement originated from an interview given by Michael Hackenberger after Limba’s death.  This seems to be a justification for captive breeding programs for elephants which incidentally, do nothing to re-populate wild elephant herds, but only reproduce elephants for zoos or circuses. Statements that elephants must be bred in order to avoid cancer are,  in my opinion,  meant to strengthen Hackenberger’s position with pro-circus followers and also  give him a platform on which to promote this uncertain claim about Limba’s cancer to the general public.  

What’s interesting is that there are virtually no studies on reproductive cancers with elephants, perhaps because it’s not that common – most of them don’t live long enough in captivity to develop cancers anyway.  On Pubmed, there are only 7 studies that mention uterine cancer or cancer of the uterus or other reproductive disorders in elephants,  so not really very much is known about cancer in elephants,  much less cancers that involve the reproductive system.  And anyway, what we know about cancer in elephants is that it is really rare.  So how can we conclude that breeding prevents cancer?  If we can apply any data from other species of animals,  we know that spaying reduces the incidences of mammary tumours,  so it follows that some types of cancers may be avoided by NOT breeding. And one piece of the data puzzle that is lacking about Limba’s cancer is whether uterine cancer and the other tumors found via necropsy are primary or secondary to the mass near the spleen that was found approximately one month before she died. If the uterine cancer is secondary, then the theory that breeding prevents cancer would seem to have been refuted.

sad limba

Photo of Limba taken while she was travelling with a circus. Most rational people will look at this photo and realize that this is not right. RIP See Petition here

Now that I’m done refuting the pro-parade positions,  I want to ask the advocacy community to realize that we have also made some unfair and negative comments – lest the reader think the pro-parade people are the only ones guilty of bad behaviour,  I’d like to ask that people refrain from making agitating or derogatory comments to and about Limba’s keeper Robert, who loved her dearly and must be in terrible pain.  Whatever injustices happened to Limba in the past cannot be righted by unfair, negative commentary to and about Robert today or in the future. If you watch videos or look at pictures of their interaction,  Limba moves toward Robert and he always looks toward her with a loving,  benevolent look.  Robert has been a very dedicated care-giver to Limba, and it’s sad to see pictures of him reliving their walks, making painstaking observations about her presence along their pathways.  Seeing evidence of her everywhere is no doubt profoundly difficult.  Hopefully he will find the peace that he needs to eventually move forward with his life.  Both Robert and Limba are better for having known each other.

final circus

© Heather Clemenceau

Cruel Intentions? “Bloodless” Bullfights Still Cruel to Animals

Standard

bullfight3Written by:  Heather Clemenceau,  with commentary by Kimberly Spiegel. Artwork represents traditional bullfighting,  not bloodless bullfighting but has been included here as handcoloured vintage postcards.

In the Toronto area, animal advocates have noticed that so-called “bloodless” bullfights (corrida incruenta) seem to be on the increase.  Members of the Portuguese community defend the practice as a “benign” ritual that is part of a celebration of their cultural heritage.  In 2009, California animal advocates urged Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley to press charges against a company that was staging the bullfights as part of the Festa da Bola, a three-day celebration of Portuguese culture. A humane officer working with the group Animal Cruelty Investigations reported that bull fighters were seeing using “long wooden sticks with several-inch sharpened nails on the end to stab, torment and infuriate the bulls.”  The bulls do not necessarily spend the rest of the lives in pastures: as Jose Avila, editor of the Modesto-based Portuguese Tribune, says in the LA Times, the next stop for some bulls is the slaughterhouse.

As Animal Cruelty Investigations says in the LA Times, ”No animal should ever be made to suffer for so-called entertainment.” Bulls in any sort of fighting, “bloodless” or not, endure plenty in the ring, with people throwing darts and running at them, the noise from the audience and more. How “ethical” and “humane” can such a practice be?  Is it really possible to make something that is inhumane (traditional corrida or bullfight) and make it acceptable to the masses or non-invasive to animals?  Can it ever be said that even teasing an animal is humane?  In my opinion, bloodless bullfights are merely another form of staged animal fight, either between man and bull or between horse/coriador and bull.  Animal fighting of any sort should be banned.  The padding on a bull’s back is only an inch to an inch-and-a-half deep. It will hurt the bull. Is it enough to kill the bull? No. Is it enough to torment the bull and make him mad? Yes.

For cruelty to occur two elements are needed: that unnecessary suffering is caused to an animal, and that those who cause it keep on causing it even though they are free to stop doing it. To deliberately and repeatedly cause suffering, even psychological suffering in the case of “bloodless” bullfights – for entertainment, while ignoring pain of the victim, is an act not only of cruelty but of torture.

Paul Gallo tweets

It seems that Mr. Gallo loves to take things out-of-context and off-topic, in an effort to promote his radio show.

Please read biologist Kimberly Spiegel’s letter below  and petition to stop a bloodless bullfight event being held this weekend in Jackson, Mississippi. Kimberly was also interviewed by ultra-conservative radio station Supertalk Mississippi host Paul Gallo on December 3rd.  Listen below to the broadcast, where the host shamelessly baits Kimberly and takes the interview off topic into a discussion on religion and then closes out the interview with an ad hoc advertisement for hamburgers and BBQ – Nice!.  Kimberly has also appeared in this blog as the author of a letter to Bowmanville Zoological Park Director Michael Hackenberger,  asking for the release of now deceased asian elephant Limba.

“To Pete Castorena:

I know you know who I am by now. Please know that none of what I am doing is in any way a personal attack on your culture, your business, or your livelihood. I apologize for any stress we may have caused you, but please know that I am guided by my conscience and I have to speak out against something that I believe is wrong.

Myself, and many others, have a system of belief in which we think it’s ethically wrong to do something to an animal that we would not do to a human, because all sentient life should be respected. As you have clearly stated, the bulls will not be killed at this event, and I do appreciate your efforts in trying to make this “sport” more humane, but why not find other ways to celebrate your culture? Why must you exploit animals in which humans are the only ones who gain? Owning slaves was once part of our American culture, until we became morally evolved and realized it was not ethical. Do you think culture is really a defensible argument for continuing to do something that exploits animals? Anybody can use culture as an excuse to do something immoral, it is not justifiable and history proves that.

Bullfighting is not a sport. A sport is something in which both parties have agreed to participate. Bulls belong in pastures eating grass, they do not belong in arenas being provoked into defending themselves against a human. As a biologist, I know something of animal behavior, and the bulls are not going to know that this event is not meant to harm them, their fear will be very real. All animals feel fear, it is instinctual and is an evolutionary adaptation. Empathy is putting yourself in their position and imagining how it would feel if you were in their place. So please take a minute to see it from their eyes, not understanding what is going on and why they are out of their natural setting, how frightening that would be.

What I am concerned about is the psychological suffering the bulls will experience through stress and fear. I was watching a youtube video of a bloodless bullfight to see what it looks like and in it I saw the bull with its tongue out looking very distressed. I have spoken with someone who owns bulls and is familiar with them. They stress easily and they also do not have the means of cooling their bodies as humans and horses do by sweating, and they also do not have tongues like dogs in which they can pant and cool themselves. They get overheated with little exercise. If you care about animals, why would you cause them this kind of suffering? How can you still call it humane? This is also not art. Art is meant to uplift and inspire others, this lowers us as humans.

I have read an article from a similar event in California in which the bulls were harmed because the Velcro padding was only an inch and a half thick which was not enough to protect them from the spears and they were bullfightactually being stabbed and were bleeding. How can you ensure this will not happen to these bulls? If it does, what sort of veterinary care will they receive? What happens to the bulls at the end of the show? Please also note the poll at the end of the article in which 65% of people agree this form of bullfighting is animal exploitation. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/05/animal-activists-cry-foul-over-bloodless-bullfighting-event-in-artesia.html.

Of course the matadors will be in danger also, and I wouldn’t want to see them get hurt either, but they made that choice to put themselves in that position, the bulls had no choice.

Everyone’s mission should be to protect weak ones, may they be animals or humans. This kind of activity shouldn’t be supported if we consider ourselves as humane beings. As Milan Kundera said “True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which is deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.”

I received several comments on my petition from fellow Mississippi residents I would like to share. Deborah in Jackson wrote, “As a clinical social worker, I have strong concerns about an event that celebrates torture and cruelty – even simulated with rubber sticks. There is a well documented connection between animal cruelty and violence. Any event in which the crowd cheers (simulated) abuse of an animal is not an event that should be brought to this state and our community.”

Julie from Flowood wrote, “We have enough animal cruelty in this state with pit bull fighting! We are trying to get MS people to respect life!! We don’t need any more violence or even a simulation of it!”

Matthew in Jackson, “Encouraging bullfighting promotes other acts such as dog fighting and cock fighting. Such acts are cruel and lack a sense of compassion that is needed in society, and further encourages such acts as fight rings occurring in Jackson schools.”

bullfight2

Bloodless bullfights, if they feature the use of horses, can still cause horrific injuries even though the bull’s horns would be capped. Can anyone honestly state that they feel that a capped bull’s horns are harmless if striking a human or another animal with all the force that the bull can muster?

Errol in Flora wrote, “Why are we still teaching our children these violent practices? Why can’t we show peace during a time of worldwide unrest?”

Carol in Jackson wrote, “Animals should not be enslaved to perform for humans! Some traditions need to be rethought!”

Karen in Cleveland wrote, “Even if the bull isn’t killed in this form of “entertainment” it is cruel and will cause the bull much distress. If humans want violent entertainment they should stick to cage fighting and leave all animals out of their sick amusements.”

I hope I have at least made you think about this issue from the other perspective, and shown you how much more beautiful it is to have love, compassion, and respect for all animals and that we should be caring for them. Thank you for your time.”

You can sign Kimberly’s petition “Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau : Cancel the Mississippi Bullfighting Event Dec.7th Jackson, MS” here.

Human Casualties in the Long War for Horses

Standard

watercolour_flowers_version_02_05

Despite many dedicated people fighting horse slaughter,  horses continue to be dumped at auction by irresponsible breeders/owners, and are trucked for long distances.  Horses endure terrible conditions in feedlots and continue to be inhumanely stunned now at 5 Canadian plants.  They are live shipped 2 or more in a flimsy container to Asia. Years of cruelty investigations have made it absolutely clear: the CFIA and other agencies have largely given a free pass to those who abuse horses and disrespect the food chain. No feeling person could help but be heartbroken.  But in the absence of people who are willing to speak out,  horses would undoubtedly suffer even more at the hands of such people.

The killing goes on. Canadian laws continue to be broken and the CFIA continues to deny or deflect responsibility. We, as Canadians, have an opportunity to speak out against this. MP Alex Atamanenko will be bringing Bill C-322 forward for debate in the House.  This Private Members’ Bill will be added to the Order of Precedence in early 2014. We need all of our supporters in full force lobbying their MPs before the bill is debated.

For those of us who have been involved in speaking out against slaughter for years,  the toll can be great.  Who among us cannot relate to Belinda Lyall’s letter below,  describing the pain many of us feel when trying to understand why,  despite our best efforts and many more people becoming involved in the movement,  slaughter continues in much the same form as it did years ago…..

“I will not repeat myself here about the issues of drugs in horsemeat and the abuse of horses. Rather I would like to discuss the consequences this industry is taking on the health of individual Canadians.

I’m sure you have probably never given thought to how this issue is affecting hundreds of people who have been fighting for years to end horse slaughter in Canada, and are suffering a huge personal toll because of it. I can tell you that I for one am greatly compromised from witnessing firsthand the appalling abuse of horses due to the slaughter industry. But the worst of it is the way the CFIA has dismissed all accountability towards citizens who report animal welfare violations.

When I personally witnessed the illegal loading of a shipment of horses to slaughter, including several full-term, pregnant wild mares, the CFIA gave my name and home phone # to the auction owners. The auction then called me and threatened to sue for defamation, and then sent a registered letter banning me from the property. This is how the CFIA “takes appropriate action” to deal with public complaints about animal welfare. This happened ten years ago, but nothing has changed.

The CFIA has been repeatedly documented being negligent in implementing their own policies over and over again. After each offense they merely respond with a form letter stating that problems have been “taken care of.” Problems have not been taken care of. Due to the nature of the horse it would not be possible for problems to be taken care of, since assembly line commercial horse slaughter and the manner in which the horses are killed could never be humane.

wild stallionsSo I would like to describe to you what it is like to be fighting this issue day in and out, with visions of horses trembling with terror as they approach the stun box; horses being shot multiple times and still not stunned; foals and old blind horses and wild horses being electrically prodded up the steep slippery metal ramp to the second floor of a double decker cattle liner and packed on a truck for a journey that could last 52 hours without food or water, in blistering heat or freezing cold; horses raised to trust people waiting in the slaughter corral at auctions, reaching over the fence to nuzzle people passing by; horses so ill they can barely stand brought into the sale ring at auctions to be purchased by kill buyers while irresponsible owners are monetarily rewarded for dropping them off; mares giving birth in filthy, crowded slaughter feedlots, to be killed soon afterwards, along with their day-old foals; overfed, foundered horses in pain given no care whatsoever; groups of foals weaned too young shivering in the cold and mud of slaughter feedlots with no shelter from the elements. Then the horrors of the killing itself, which you can view for yourself on the links to videos attached below.

Bouvry video summary,  Part I of III

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition Investigation – Chambers of Carnage

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition Investigation – Pasture to Plate

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition Footage Index – Bouvry Exports

This report documents environmental, humane, and food safety violations at Natural Valley Meats, which was eventually shut down.

What’s it like to know and witness this? And to know that the Government funds this industry with taxpayer dollars, only in order to profit a small number of corrupt business owners? And to know that I will never sell my horses for fear that they could end up going to slaughter? And to know that slaughter leads to people holding on to horses they can no longer afford to keep for the same reason? And to know that slaughter does not prevent cases of abuse like the recent one in Kamloops, BC? To know that slaughter perpetuates overbreeding year after year, bringing more unwanted horses into the world and delaying any policies to improve conditions for horses? And to know that the CFIA is lying, falsifying documents, and doing everything in their power to protect the owners of slaughterhouses and prevent the public from knowing what really goes on?

I’ll tell you what it’s like. At least once a day I am suddenly physically overcome with a shaking weakness. My knees buckle and I fall to the floor and sob uncontrollably for five to ten minutes. Some nights I can’t sleep at all. I no longer participate in most activities, because there is too much to do to try to stop this abusive, horrific industry and make people aware of Bill C-322. As I write this tears pour down my cheeks. I’ve been on the computer since 6 AM. It’s now after 12 PM and I’m not dressed yet. There’s too much to do and time for this Bill is running out. My daughter is also suffering, as I’m not able to do as many things with her. I know others who’ve “gone down” for days at a time. They are unable to work, sleep, and they became physically ill. And this fight has been going on for over a decade. When is it going to stop?

I’d like to ask you, is it “healthy” for a person to have a complete emotional breakdown, once, twice, sometimes several times a day? Is it “healthy” to put one’s personal life on hold to try tofighting stallions with grasses copy do the Government’s job? Is it “healthy” to have your valid concerns dismissed over and over again with empty words copied from the CFIA’s webpage, about how “the Government would never tolerate inhumane treatment of animals,” when you have just witnessed video of horses being shot repeatedly in the face scrambling to their feet, desperately fighting for their lives, only to be shot again and again, until finally someone can get a chain around their leg and hang them upside down to begin butchering them alive? Is it healthy to be haunted by these visions, knowing that as I write to you horses are lined up, shaking with fear in the kill line? Is it healthy to be distraught most of the day because no animal deserves to be treated this way? Is it healthy to feel disgust, anger and disrespect for my own country? Mostly I’d like to know, am I going to wake up and still feel this way ten years from now, because the Government cares more about protecting an industry that profits fewer than 50 individuals than listening to the concerns of over 2/3 of the population that wants horse slaughter banned?

I hope you can provide some valid answers to my questions, for the benefit of myself and hundreds of others. If not, I see no other recourse than to launch a class action suit against the CFIA and the Government of Canada for negligence in implementing policy to ensure the humane treatment of horses; for negligence in implementing policy to prevent banned substances from entering the food chain; and for negligence in addressing the suffering this is inflicting on thousands of Canadian citizens.

Regarding the meat issue: please do not reply that random checks ensure that horsemeat is safe. Random checks are designed to test for faults in a system where animals are all raised, fed, housed, and cared for in a uniform environment. Horses don’t have a system, so a “safety” program designed to check a system does not apply to horses.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.”

Sincerely,

Belinda Lyall

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Kill Buyers – Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come for You?

Standard

Voltaire, Make my Enemies Ridiculous........

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

This has been a most difficult blog post to write.  I have watched it many times and cried many tears,  especially after adding the Brian Eno soundtrack (from The Lovely Bones) The horses being transported in this video are likely already dead.

You are watching the dash cam of an anti-slaughter advocate, recording the “Roping J” rig with a load of horses heading eastbound on the 401 highway towards Richelieu slaughterhouse in Quebec on November 27, 2013.  The video was taken on the 401 eastbound between London and Woodstock Ontario.  Jeron/Jeroslav Gold is the owner of Roping J Ranch in Fairhaven, Michigan.  He’s a large scale kill buyer who gets many of his horses from traders in Ohio, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Kentucky. Animals Angels reported on the collecting facility in Fairhaven, where the outdoor pen was full of horses and the Roping J truck was backed up to the loading ramp.  Gold typically drives up to Canada through the Port Huron border crossing, which is about 1 1/2 hours west from where this rig was filmed.

The original audio track has been removed to preserve the anonymity of the supporter. It has been replaced by a transcript of the driver’s original comments.  As the supporter’s car approaches Gold’s rig in the centre lane, you can see clearly that he has attached a horse’s tail above the latch.  The trailer has been seen and photographed on previous occasions with this odious “middle finger salute” to animal lovers.  It’s a real tail, and he quite often positions it to appear as though a horse is jammed into the hinge or latch.   What’s new this time is that there appears to be an actual horse tail jammed in the door at the bottom right side above the door hinge.  It is visible from multiple angles in the video.  Also notice from the video that the driver of the rig appears to have noticed that his information is being taken, as he encroaches into the driving lane where our videographer is driving.  The person who mocks horse lovers by flying a horse tail “flag” and who tries to squeeze the videographer in their own lane is the type of person that is going to be signing off on documents stating the horses are drug free, while putting adulterated meat into the food chain. This is the type of person that we allow control and input into the food chain,  someone who is perhaps close to the furthest end of the spectrum of immorality.

Richelieu

vpn

Notice that the video was shot late in the afternoon – we can see this via the long shadows of the vehicles travelling eastbound – it is perhaps after 4 pm.  From somewhere between London and Woodstock Ontario, it’s just il_fullxfull.470063523_ajwjunder 9 hours until the driver reaches Massueville QC (excluding stops) and about 8 hours to St. Andre-Avellin, so the horses would arrive very late the same day or possibly the next day. The earliest he could possibly arrive would be 11 pm if he went to St. Andre-Avellin (Les viands de la petite nations slaughterhouse) and even later if he went to Massueville as expected (Richelieu slaughterhouse).  What time did he expect to get there?

There wouldn’t be an inspector at the plant at this time – they only work regular hours.  And they can no longer unload the trailers without inspectors present, so the horses will have had to spend the night on the trailer until the next morning.

Transcript:

:40   – US DOT 289445

:50   – Got the whole Roping J Ranch Michigan US DOT Number 289445  KYU 243688

Ontario 158517965

Quebec 5841037

1:21  – Michigan Trailer License B675540

2:20 –  Truck begins to encroach into driving lane – driver aware that his information is being taken and is squeezing the driver in their own lane?

2:25  – Truck moves back into its own lane and weaves slightly after doing so

A very comprehensively written article by 13 Investigates followed slaughter bound horses journey from the Shipshewana auction in Indiana,  near the Michigan border, where Gold purchased almost all the horses offered for sale.  He was also quoted in A Toronto Life article about the horsemeat trade in Canada, arguing: “There is an end life for everything. I’d like to know what people want to do with all these horses that nobody wants. I’d like somebody to answer that. [Every day] I see…horses mistreated, skinny, didn’t have proper care and there’s nobody to take care of them. Who’s going to take care of them?”

“I killed every one of those f—ing horses, over 120 of them, if they only knew. I only have five left and the ones that you have. Every one of them is dead. I don’t even know their names and there wasn’t a goddamn thing they could do about it…” ~ Kelsey Lefever

"La Palette", horsemeat, protest, "Toronto restaurant" , "french restaurant" , horse

Circle of Death – This is where some of Gold’s “product” ends up – at La Palette in Toronto,  where horse advocates have held dozens of protests.  Here is co-owner Shamez Amlani (on the left) arguing with protester.

This is not how you do end-of-life.  Can’t you give horses “mistreated, skinny” horses a humane death without eating them? And I bet there are no skinny horses on Gold’s trailer.  The USDA reports 92% of horses going to slaughter are in good condition and able to live healthy and productive lives. The existence of horse slaughter actually hinders rescue efforts, as rescuers are routinely outbid at auctions by people like Jeron Gold, seeking healthy animals that bring the best price per pound.

Gold’s driving is perhaps typical for kill buyers – in the video One Horse’s Last Steps, which has over 50,000 views, you can plainly see the driver run over a curb and swerve into the curb lane a number of time with a load of horses. And yet another tail can be seen caught in the door.

We will fight you until our dying breath is taken, just like Mary Nash did.  Please support these currently active programs:

Final horse postcard

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition – Latest Postcard Campaign (click to follow link)

Animals' Angels - Light the Sky

Animals’ Angels – Light the Sky – December 7th (click to follow link)