Category Archives: Wild Animals

Bill Kit – C-246: The Modernizing Animal Protections Act

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BeynateWritten by:

Heather Clemenceau

By now,  many of us have read the details of Bill C-246 itself.  So what exactly is a “Bill Kit?”

The primary purpose of the Bill Kit is to inform other parliamentarians about the Bill in greater detail, and address some anticipated objections. This Bill Kit provides a detailed explanation of its actual effects, and includes data showing that across the country, Canadians support the three measures in the Bill – banning the importation of shark fins,  strengthening and modernizing the Criminal Code’s existing animal cruelty offences, and banning the sale of dog and cat fur in Canada.  There are several different versions of the kit; one for members of the Liberal caucus, one for opposition MPs, and one for the public,  which is presented here.

MP Erskine-Smith (@beynate) and his parliamentary assistants break the document into several sections:

  1. Background
  2. What the Bill Does Versus What the  Bill Doesn’t Do
  3. Political Support: Polls, Petitions, and Endorsements
  4. History of the Criminal Code Amendments

Canadians have been signing animal welfare petitions for decades now, demanding that the values of fairness and justice that we’re known for are applied to the protection of animals and to the punishment of animal abusers. Laws are essential to both codify and enforce positive changes for animals.  Our society is opposed to animal cruelty – our  laws need to be brought up to date to be made consistent with our shared values and this Bill will certainly accomplish that goal.  Please ask your MP to support this Bill!

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Grumpy Old Men – The Orchestrated Attack On Bill C-246

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31642869_lWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Since 1999, the Liberals have made numerous attempts to pass a much-needed update to the antiquated and inadequate animal cruelty provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada. There was Bill C-17, resurrected as Bill C-15 and then re-introduced as Bill C-15B, followed by Bill C-10, Bill C-10B, Bill C-22, Bill C-50, Bill C-274, Bill C-277 and, finally, Bill C-610. While the House of Commons has passed new animal cruelty legislation three times, those Bills were either prorogued by the government or blocked by the Senate before they made it past the finish line. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies provides an excellent overview of the Bills here.

M2Toronto-area Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, recently introduced a Private Members Bill (C-246)  – the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, to reinforce Canada’s public policy and legislative commitments to animal welfare (World Animal Protection ranks Canada’s animal welfare laws a “D” on a scale of A-G).  Only the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, and New Zealand scored “A” grades on the index.  The Bill will be debated in the House of Commons on May 9th.

Despite rampant paranoia, the law is focused on eliminating the loopholes that allow chronic hoarders, repeat abusers, puppy mill operators and dog fighting perpetrators to get off with a slap on the wrist. It would create a new offence for individuals who cause unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to an animal through gross negligence of the animal’s welfare. The Bill also sets out to achieve several key measures that are entirely reasonable and should win broad support:

  • Prohibition of dog and cat fur importation
  • Banning of shark-finning
  • Prohibitition the use of live animals in target shooting
  • Establishment of penalties for the killing and injuring a police dog
  • Prohibition of the training or breeding of animals for the purpose of fighting, as well as making it illegal to profit from dog fighting.

Enter Robert Sopuck, the Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Neepaw. Sopuck and his cabal of trigger-happy, pre-Darwinian animal killers are so paranoid that hunting Brian_Skerry_Mako_Finning(1)and fishing activities will result in cruelty charges, (I wish!) they have created numerous websites and Facebook pages to spread false information and extol the mythical virtues of hunting while proclaiming their services as absolutely necessary for controlling wildlife populations and preserving the environment. These pages feature Sopuck and others dressed up in a variety of machismo fashions, exhibiting unusual levels of arousal while carrying an arsenal of weaponry as they blast into the forests and streams to conduct their primitive rituals.

Sopuck himself proceeded to write a preposterous Toronto Sun article claiming that Erskine-Smith’s Bill will give animals human rights. Clearly channelling former Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, he writes that “Canada already has adequate measures to protect animals and prevent cruelty. Furthermore, all animal uses are covered by veterinary-approved Codes of Practise that guide what you can do with your animals.”  Those “guides” are just that.  They are meaningless because they are not laws.  And they are not “veterinary approved” either – they are the result of inputs from the agriculture industry.  How is it that Sopuck believes we have adequate protections when there are hundreds of entries in the caselaw database of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, with many of those not prosecuted successfully.  Very few animal cruelty cases are prosecuted each year in comparison to the number of cases that are investigated. It is estimated that less than 10% of cases that warrant prosecution are successfully prosecuted.

Lawyer Peter Sankoff lobs a nuclear strike at Sopuck in this deconstruction of Sopuck’s Toronto Sun article.  In the end,  Sankoff finds that virtually all of Sopuck’s claims range from the merely overstated to the downright preposterous – finding none of his claims to be accurate:

 

 

Despite the hunting propaganda which I have read on the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters website, the reality is that most modern families do not embrace hunting as either a pleasurable pastime or a family adventure. In 2010, almost 3.3 million adult anglers participated in a variety of recreational fishing activities in Canada, the majority of whom fall into the 45-64 year age range (If the downward trend in hunting continues, by the year 2050, hunters will only comprise 1% of the population).   Depending on what source you read, about 2-7% of the population are hunters; of course this doesn’t include poachers or treaty hunters who don’t require licenses.  In any case both numbers represent a significant minority of Canadians.  So you have your acknowledged 2-10% of the population righteously informing everyone else that it is only they who are picking up the tab for wildlife conservation – part time at that.

That dog doesn’t hunt, sorry.

pigeonsdeadbirdCanadians have been signing animal welfare petitions for decades now, demanding that the values of fairness and justice that we’re known for are applied to the protection of animals and to the punishment of animal abusers. Laws are essential to both codify and enforce positive changes for animals. Why should we be one of the only countries that does not yet prohibit the importation of dog and cat fur, because self-serving groups and a few old conservative politicians, who are clearly a product of Stephen Harper, are arguing against reasonable updates to an ancient law.  The fact that Sopuck and the hunting/fishing groups believe that Bill C-246 seeks the “complete elimination of animal use in Canada” indicates that none of them can read. If the Conservatives feel the Bill is “fundamentally flawed,” why don’t they draft their own Bill as they frequently threaten to do?  Their objection is based on the desire to kill animals for the sheer delight it brings them – the rest of the world will move on into the next century without them. Compassion for the natural world is the new order.

You can read the details of Nate Erskine-Smith’s Bill below:

 

Alberta Wildies: Aerial Surveys Used To Substantiate Culls Are Prone To Extreme Inaccuracy

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Spirit of the Basin by Melody Perez

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Artwork by:  Melody Perez

Whether it’s conducted for horses, bison, wolf, or deer, aerial surveys usually precede a savage end for our free-roaming,wild, and migratory animals. It usually becomes apparent that a cull is being considered whenever an aerial survey is conducted.  But the process of conducting aerial counts to justify a cull is profoundly flawed.  The scientific evidence to support arguments against the horses just isn’t there.  Counts require low flying and intensive and systematic coverage of the landscape that are more likely to motivate, and less likely to detect, horse escape behaviour.  The anti-predator behaviour of the horse (and other prey animals such as deer) is characterized by grouping together and running to escape, which compounds observers’ ability to make accurate counts, as does aircraft altitude, weather conditions, season, vegetation, and animal mobility. At least one study of wild horse behaviour in New Zealand’s Kaimanawa Mountains has shown that aerial sampling, which is then extrapolated to the entire population, can be highly inaccurate and imprecise: 

“Comparisons between the records of the counters and two observers show that, of the 136 marked horses located immediately prior to the helicopter count, 34 (25%) were counted more than once, a further 23 (17%) may have been counted more than once, and 13 horses (9.6%) were not counted. The helicopter count yielded 228 horses and was 16.9% larger than the estimate of 195.

Untamed Longing by Melody PerezIn addition, counts that are made only once a year for 2-3 days are not generally considered to be a robust form of wildlife management when compared to counts done 3 times a year, such as in the spring after what is often a harsh winter, after the foals are born, and before a capture is being considered.   Reliable methods to estimate wild horse populations should be important to Alberta Environment & Parks (formerly  Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development – ESRD)  because otherwise they will continue to make programmatic decisions that aren’t supported by science.  A single aerial census is not terribly useful since the horses are pretty scarce and elusive when spread out over 6 million acres, which results in a weak inference about horses that are neither abundant nor widespread in the Equine Zones. Not only is the aerial count slipshod because it is only one sample, E&P doesn’t know how many horses are too many.    E&P allow the “Feral Horse Advisory Committee,” with representation from several stakeholder groups, such as oil and gas, forestry, cattle ranchers, capture permit holders and hunters, (groups with a vested interest in removing wild horses) input into culls.

By most accounts there are somewhere between 850-980 wild horses currently grazing a vast area close to six million acres in 6 Cimmaron stallion of the Sand Wash Basin in Colorado by Melody Perezequine zones in Alberta Canada.  The cattle being grazed consist in numbers about 10 times the number of equids in the 6 zones.

It is falsely claimed by E&D that wild horses have no predators.  These wild horses, like all other ungulates, do have natural predators.  If not, why then would the E&P (ESRD) advertise on their website hunting and trapping licence for cougars, wolves and bears?  It’s also falsely claimed by the Feral Horse Advisory Committee that horses compete with wildlife and cattle for forage.  If so,  how many skinny cattle come off the range each year?  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.

The New Zealand Study On Aerial Surveillance:

Burro Baby Blues by Melody PerezBy the grace of (insert the deity of your choice), a cull was not held this year. The decision to cull any of these horses should not lie in the interpretation that they are feral rather than wild; feral is a human construct that serves only to stigmatize the horses.

You only have to look at these horses to see that they are almost evolving into a distinct breed, rather like the Canadian horse.  They deserve heritage status and advocates should demand that “managing” these unique and iconic herds be conducted using a biological basis which should never include inputs from groups that seek to eliminate them.

There should be a ban on selling captured horses to slaughterhouses (in part because there is not six months worth of drug history on any of them) therefore those doing so should be heavily fined.

 

 

 

 

Contact:

Minister Shannon Phillips
323 Legislature Building
10800 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
Canada T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427-2391
Email: AEP.Minister@gov.ab.ca

Short Hills Deer Hunt Supporters – Taking Refuge In Lies

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The sheer size of these vehicles means that they are incompatible with the ecosphere of a park.

The sheer size of these vehicles means that they are incompatible with the ecosphere of a park. Consider that there may be 20-30 of these trucks driving around the park each day of the hunt.  There are no limits on the number of hunters or vehicles in the park on any hunt day.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photos by: Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Nothing like putting things in perspective.

Throughout the 2015 Short Hills Park deer slaughter, hunt supporters collectively jumped on the martyrdom bandwagon. Spurious claims of racism and abuse of hunt supporters are all ridiculous and cannot stand the barest scrutiny. The complainants, who include Brock University students, native hunt supporters, Food Not Bombs, HALT (Hamilton/Halton Animal Liberation Team), and Christian Peacemaker Teams, are consistently unable to support a single slanderous claim of their own making with a photograph or video of abuse or misbehaviour by the hunt protesters. At the start of the hunt several of them finally decided to go for the whole loaf and slandered us on CFBU Brock University Student Radio. And when confronted about the accusations, the student radio organizers hastily yanked the program.

Evidently not one of these counter protesters can grasp the significance of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote above. There is no person or culture that is or should be immune to critique – the charge of racism against those who are opposed to the hunt is just an updated, politically correct version of the cry of blasphemy – a fashionable position for those who want to mask their role as censors. My view is that criticism of the deer hunt or the hunters can never be off limits. In addition, this particular issue invites scrutiny because the counter protesters make claims that are put before the public that they urge the public to accept, via the student radio program and various social media channels. Left unchecked, these false claims equate the anti-hunting position with racism, while the narratives of others are hushed, creating an unmanageable template for the future. To our knowledge, no organizers of the student radio program asked for proof from these students, nor did they attempt to contact anyone from the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance for a rebuttal. The original broadcast is gone, but a copy is presented here and annotated with the most objectional statements:

Listen to the CFBU Brock University Student Radio Show:

 

 

1:34“It’s a spiritual hunt, they use every part of the deer.” (this does not explain the bag of deer skins nor the deer heart and other body parts found in the park immediately after the 2014 hunt.  And they certainly don’t use the deer who have been injured and escaped to die a lingering death).

2:50“It’s a bit of a mixed bag of protesters.”  (The most unintentionally ironic and laughable sound bite of each hunt. Lather, rinse, and repeat).

3:48“Their [anti-hunt] signs read all sorts of derogatory comments, derogatory language, quite a hostile and intense experience last year.” (Amazingly, no one supporting the hunt has presented any photographic or video evidence of derogatory comments or language at any hunt at Short Hills – because they never happened and don’t exist. Mouths open, lies come out).

4:19 – “It was a very aggressive time, folks would jump into the backs of the vehicles, people were spat on, antennas were broken, people opened the doors to get into the cars, children were intimidated.” (Once again, where is the evidence? Why did the police not remove or charge any of the anti-hunt protesters? Everything at the hunt is videotaped by the OPP/Niagara Regional Police, and this is the age of smart phones – evidence,  if it exists,  is easy enough to capture. Have any of these infantile, flower-child idealists noticed that the demonstrators they refer to are virtually all middle-aged and well-educated professional people, mostly women, who would never consider leaping into a truck bed, snapping off an antenna, or yanking open a door with two or more hunters inside the vehicle with unencased weapons? (personally,  my Ninja days are long over – it’s been several years since I could leap into the bed of a truck and wrestle hunters with my bare  hands, while ripping off an antenna with my teeth). Spitting is an assault, and such records, if they actually existed, would be trivially easy to source through FOIA requests. I have never even seen children at either of the protests I’ve attended (if you’re old enough to smoke, you are not a child). This particular segment of the audio is the most fanciful invention yet. One can only wonder what inaccurate generalizations will be made next year if there is a hunt).

5:26“The more supporters were there, the more the protest would de-escalate.” (Of course, when you make shit up, the reality that you actually see at the hunt gives the impression that the peacemakers have actually accomplished something when they have in fact done nothing).

6:40“The peace food table will be provided by community members.” (Yes, and they ask for the public’s donations in order to feed themselves).

The hunters and their supporters all use Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook to convince the public that the anti-hunt demonstrators are hostile and violent. Of course, anyone with critical thinking skills would start to wonder why the scant photos they do provide do not support the subtext.

 

Food Not Bombs, the organizers of the “peace food table,” carries with it a profound history of social unrest. The group may even be on the FBI’s domestic terrorist watch. Food Not Bombs serves almost exclusively vegan food (no meat, dairy or other animal products (at least when it’s convenient), in an attempt to show their stance towards nonviolence against animals. However,  they seem to have little difficulty with the serving of venison at the “peace food table.”

As it turns out, the “peacemakers” charged with protecting the hunters from the protesters might not be so peaceable after all. The Christian Peacemaker Teams’ Twitter feed about the protest also perpetuated numerous overtly false or misleading statements about the protesters. A religious extremist group with

Poaching is now a regular occurrence on the outskirts of the park. Drive by the perimeter and you can easily see trucks parked, and sometimes you can see the hunters in full camo emerging

Poaching is now a regular occurrence on the outskirts of the park. Drive by the perimeter and you can easily see trucks parked, and sometimes you can see the hunters in full camo emerging. Does hunting in the park contribute to poaching by others? Does it create a sense of entitlement in non-First Nations hunters?

Mennonite roots (they preach non-violence, but lying is apparently OK), they are best known for offering themselves as human shields for Saddam Hussain in 2005 after the invasion of Iraq. Their purpose was to disable the US military – what they accomplished was something entirely different. About a half-dozen of the Peacemakers ended-up getting kidnapped by guerilla Iraqi soldiers – one was eventually killed,  because war is a serious business best left to professional soldiers. They had to be rescued, putting soldiers at-risk with a dangerous mission. They were also accused of not initially expressing gratitude towards the soldiers who freed them (I guess they’re so anti-war, they resent being rescued). So, are the Christian Peacemakers, a group whose funding comes in part from the Mennonites, a religious or a political group? The Canada Revenue Agency warned the Mennonite church about their political activities back in 2012 when they reminded them that it’s not acceptable for a charitable organization to engage in political activities. Aside from this,  the Mennonites themselves are hardly known for compassion towards animals – they,  along with the Amish,  are big time puppymillers and some work as kill buyers,  supplying horses for the cruel equine slaughter industry.

Damage to the park is proof positive that the hunting activity does not preserve the area and is hardly low impact. Anyone who engages in unethical hunting practices, which includes leaving huge six inch ruts where none previously existed, undoubtedly merits opprobrium. Indeed, it was Paleo-Indians who helped hunt mega-fauna like the mammoth to extinction, the Maori in New Zealand who exterminated the flightless moa, and pre-historic Pacific Islanders who extirpated more than a thousand species of birds. These are not racist statements but statements of fact. Neither is this statement meant to detract from the thousands of species extinctions caused by all of us collectively. As human beings, this is a reflection on all of us as a species; it’s one of our defining, less endearing traits. And this makes our determination to preserve the park all that more urgent.

If our objections to the hunt reflect a skewed world-view, should it not be possible to critique our philosophy without going to the trouble of lying?

 

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“We cannot have peace among men whose hearts find delight in killing any living creature.”

~ Rachel Carson ~

 

Stop Being Spun By Outrageous, Fake, Click-Bait Petitions!

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The internet has a long tradition of baiting and misleading the inattentive.  There are now so many fake petitions on the internet and Facebook that we can hardly debunk all of it.  So I’m rounding up the most recent and egregious examples of fake animal petitions with outright false info and misleading headlines that I hope you won’t share.  YouSignAnimals,  Petitionhub,  Kim’s Petitions, Signatures4Life,  and Best Animal Petitions (and  many others that have morphed into prominence) are probably all getting money  for clicks or money for valid email addresses.   At the very least, they often give the impression that there are no laws or animal activists fighting for the rights of animals in countries around the world.

Initially, I signed these as well, and although I can’t prove it, the recent influxes to my email account of Bank phishing spam and “lawyers” acting on behalf of wealthy Nigerian princes *may* be tied to the harvesting of my email.  Anyone have a similar observation? How to stop this endless circle-jerk?  I’ve also left Facebook groups where the majority of posts consist of circulating these bogus petitions.

Lies, Damn Lies, And Viral Content

YouSignAnimals internet domain was registered in August 2014, and they often brag about victories for animals that occurred BEFORE they even registered their domain name or had a presence on Facebook. They give animal advocates the false impression that these petitions serve any useful purpose.

Here are some examples of victories claimed by these groups and their counterparts.  In some cases it’s difficult to provide backup for the claims on the original petitions because they are removed from the internet within a few weeks after launch.

Example #1 – Reinstatement Of Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant

Recall the facts surrounding the suspension of Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant from British Columbia – he refused to kill two orphaned bear cubs.  YouSignAnimals claims that their petition was responsible for him being reinstated to his original job.  Unfortunately he did not get his initial job back; the latest news was that the conservation officer was transferred to another office, according to an article from August 28, 2015.   The ONLY petition quoted in the media which did make a difference, which may have afforded Mr. Casavant a paid suspension, was the one on Change.org  with over 300K signatures.  This is the petition with real targets that went straight in the mail boxes of officials in British Columbia.  How can YouSignAnimals, who seem to have removed all references to Mr. Casavant, show that their petition made any difference?

Example #2 – Cat Killer Michael Patrick Stackhouse

Cat killer Michael Patrick Stackhouse, admitted to stomping on a cat that he had thrown into the street, and killed it in front of children and neighbours. He rejected a plea deal that would have reduced his sentence if he plead guilty to a charge of animal cruelty causing death. He was sentenced in November 2014, three months after YouSignAnimals.org was registered as a domain.  Although there are a few articles in the media, none of them mention any petition which might have influenced the outcome. Most petitions targeting Police/Prosecutors/Judges are being written long after these cases are being deferred to justice and basically ask them to do what they are already doing based on the local laws. So there is no evidence that YouSignAnimals or its counterparts had any influence on the outcome here as they have claimed.

Example #3 – Rescue Of Raju The Abused Elephant

Raju is another example of a victory falsely claimed by YouSignAnimals.  For years, international organizations and foundations fought hard to achieve this victory.  Some 30 police officers became involved in the rescue, and along with a determined team from the Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura (ECCC) they were finally able to free him.  Here is a petition from Change.org with almost 500,000 signatures.  The Care2 community was also responsible for over 75,000 signatures to free Raju. So let’s please give credit where credit is due.

Example #4 – Dog Fighting In MDAS Shelter

YouSignAnimals presented a petition claiming that the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter (MDAS) staff were willingly allowing dogs to fight each other, right inside the facility. The petition accused Director Alex Munoz and Chief of Operations Kathleen Labrada of fighting the dogs as well as poor medical care, and falsification of public records. This too was a blatant fraud, accusing innocent people of dog fighting. These graphic and shocking pictures are not even taken from MDAS, but are from the Hesperia Animal Shelter.  Once again there is a Change.org petition that relays the actual facts. Someone at YouSignAnimals has been scavenging pictures from all over the internet and using them to create fictitious stories to post to their advantage to get you to give up your email.

Example #5 – Pet Tattooing In New York

YouSignAnimals again credited itself with victory against dog tattooing and piercing in New York in 2015.  But success had already been declared in December 2014 and the story was widely covered in the media including the New York Post and Time.  “It’s simply cruel,” said Assembly member Linda Rosenthal in the New York Post. The Manhattan Democrat sponsored the legislation. It was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A Care2 Petition with over 200,000 signatures had a live target and may have had some influence as well.

Example #6 – Brazilian Ban On Cosmetic Tests With Animals

YouSignAnimals claimed victory for the Brazil ban on cosmetic testing for animals. The only problem was that the Cruelty-Free Brazil campaign welcomed passage of Bill 6602/13 to ban testing – in June 2014 – two whole months before YouSignAnimals was even registered as a domain on the internet!

To perpetuate these petitions,  one person created all of these Facebook pages – he goes by the name of Nigel Cameron (most likely an alias).  Some of these sites don’t even contain petitions,  but readers are asked to “support these adoptions by adding your name to our list.”  Seriously?  Ask yourself how that is supposed to help animals – it helps Nigel Cameron,  or whoever he really is,  grab your email address!

Example #7 -Texas shelter EUTHANIZES all animals because they didn’t want to come in over the holidays!

Yousignanimals claimed that the Hamilton Texas animal shelter announced on their Facebook page that animals at the shelter had been euthanized because employees were unwilling to come and take care of them during the holidays.  Of course this is a flat-out lie too,  and a google search of the image used in the petition reveals that it is at least 5 years old and not representative of this shelter at all.  As a result,  people are spamming their Facebook page with negative comments!

Embassy Against Animal Abuse

Nigel Cameron Against Animal Abuse

Petition Hub

YouSign Petitions

Yousign.org

Online Shelter

Kim’s Petitions

Animal Rights Warriors

Best Animal Petitions

Stop Cruelty Towards Animals

Animals Petitions

247 Animal Petitions

Signatures 4 Life

DailyPetition

Sensational Stories Have A Tendency To Spread Faster Than The Truth…

While many of these petitions outline abuses that actually happened,  they are sometimes years old (ancient technology used to capture the videos is a clue).  In other cases,  the facts have been altered or there are fact-based petitions receiving wider circulation on the internet with live rather than obscure targets or no targets at all.  How can we expose these imposters once and for all?

In addition, all these sites are hosted on Godaddy, which is owned by a trophy hunter (Bob Parsons) who not only killed an elephant and bragged about it, but is a “valuable”member of Safari Club International.  I don’t definitively know what they are doing with our emails but I’m sure they wouldn’t go to all this trouble unless they were making money from the suffering of animals and the naiveté of people.  Consider that while animal advocates are wasting time signing and forwarding completely fictitious petitions,  real, active petitions are ignored.  Some animal pages on Facebook contain little else beyond these fake petitions and if the administrators of these pages are going to allow these petitions, then animal advocates should leave the groups and join more productive pages. Virtually all the complaints I’ve made about these petitions have fallen on deaf ears.

So far,  the snowballing viral effect of fake petitions seems to be sufficient to crush debunking voices. Please consider whether there is a legitimate petition already available with more power and credibility next time you see a YouSignAnimals or PetitionHub/Kim’s Petitions (who is Kim anyway?)  Even if there are no other active petitions available, in many cases the facts are completely wrong or the case is years old and already resolved (but resuscitated for email harvesting).

I’m sure there are dozens if not hundreds more examples where Nigel Cameron has claimed responsibility for victories for animals.  It is unacceptable for these sites to crown themselves with victories achieved with so much hard work by major international, national and local organizations, associations, foundations, grassroots rescuers, etc, which they do not even have the decency to mention.

 

New Toronto Eatery “Parcae” Offering Horsemeat And Other Cruel Specialties

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Banksy slaughterhouseWritten By:  Heather Clemenceau

As an Anglophone from Quebec, it’s sometimes second nature to make fun of Quebecois chefs who not only make endorsements for eating horse in particular, but also promote other rather disgusting, gross, or cruelly derived animal products that may also be unsustainable examples of conspicuous overconsumption. Toronto restaurants are well known for flouting food safety regulations for the sake of flavour – raw horse and pork are readily available, even though Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act, frowns on raw meat in general, and requires that pork in particular must be served well-done.

The Templar Hotel has a new resto – Parcae, serving horse, bone marrow, sea urchin, and other notably and unapologetically cruel foods. The restaurant follows the “nose to tail,” method of preparing their cuisine, which has been said to include “everything but the oink.” Naturally, places such as this appeal to nihilistic gastromaniacs who like to patronize restaurants based on Instagram pics. Somewhat interestingly, the restaurant has a connection to M. Wells in NYC, which became infamous for trying to add horse tartare to its menu in 2012 (but did not do so after a huge outcry that included demonstrations). The chef at M. Wells, Hugue Dufour, is a Quebecker who worked at Au Pied de Cochon, where current Parcae sous chef Joseph Awad also discovered his métier. Just as corporate sponsors love to see their logos on t-shirts, there are potentially great business opportunities for individuals or groups to attach their names to these individual entrees, so I’ve decided to match up some of the most notorious brand owners and celebrities (real or not) for the most appropriate endorsements. Bon Appétit!

What’s On The Menu:

Horse Carpaccio

horse-carpaccioSuggested Sponsor – Merck

Suggested Spokesperson – The Geico Caveman

Carpaccio is thinly-sliced horsemeat served raw. I wonder if Parcae charges extra for pharmacologically active horsemeat containing veterinary residues that are barely screened-for by the CFIA? What wines are complementary with trichinosis? Cruelty issues aside, we should all refuse to eat any meal where there’s the remotest possibility that we may end up with parasites winding through our viscera (this is why I never get invited out to restaurants anymore – I’ve become a food safety asshole). Foodies who embrace the new and the outré, might also embrace a dose of trich as well, since it’s an acknowledged fact that horses on occasion carry trichinella spiralis, the parasite that causes the disease, which occurs with some commonality in France, where horsemeat is often consumed raw. That’s why I’m suggesting this is a sponsorship Merck might be interested in, since they manufacture Mectizan,  the human version of Ivermectin wormers we are all using on our horses.  You might need some if you’ve eaten a horse with trich. And our postmodern spokesperson, the Geico Caveman, would no doubt have eaten some raw meat, at least before the invention of fire.  At least cavemen knew how to progress beyond the Paleozoic era…..

 Chicken Leg

chicken-legSuggested Sponsor – The TV show “Fear Factor”

Suggested Spokesperson – “Kill It And Grill It” Author and avid predator, Ted Nugent

Points for creativity? Cuisine of the foot proves that the zombie apocalypse is real. Please pass the beans… Fear Factor once featured an episode of chicken foot and rat bobbing that resulted in at least a couple of people bowing out, if I recall correctly. The TV show would make a great sponsor, since they regularly featured animal abuse. Nugent, whose most enjoyable experiences in life seem to involve annoying all the right people, is our eloquent spokesperson here – he once slammed a chicken to death on his reality show “Wanted: Dead or Alive.”

Deep Fried Lamb Brains

deep-fried-lamb-brainsSuggested Sponsor – Boston Scientific

Suggested Spokesperson – Heart Attack Grill

Sorry foodies – eating brains won’t make you smart! Consuming the brain and other nerve tissue of animals may be hazardous to health. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other prion diseases aren’t killed by the cooking process either. And too many deep-fried foods and a heart attack can’t be far behind. Enter the Boston Scientific Corporation: It has sold over a billion dollars worth of coronary stents since just 2009. The CPR inducting, defibrillating, Vegas-based Heart Attack Grill makes no bones about the danger its offerings pose to customers – their tagline is “Once you arrive you will have put on a hospital gown….” Better hope that sexy nurse at the next table isn’t just dressed up for Halloween!

Grilled Branzino

grilled-branzinoSuggested Sponsor – Fergus Henderson – Author of “The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating”

Suggested Spokesperson – Anthony Bourdain

This particular offering looks like another a finalist for the “Cruellest Entrée” category. The chef who thought this one up was probably trying to represent it stylistically as ikizukuri, (another tradition that deserves no respect) where fish are seared in a pan and then eaten alive. First off let me say that even when I was a meat eater, I could never have overcome the mental barrier involved in eating something that was looking back at me on the plate. Fergus Henderson’s book suggests recipes with a Sweeney Todd’s list of ingredients including quarts of pigs blood, lamb hearts, lamb tongues and pigs tails, which are all parts which usually go to the pet food plants. Anthony Bourdain, renowned chef-author-famous-TV-bourbon-swilling-former-coke-addict, should stand up and personally endorse this entrée without hesitation. I once read an article where he described eating the still-beating heart from a snake. Bourdain looks like death warmed-over, quite frankly, so it’s a fitting match.

Braised Octopus with Bone Marrow

braised-octopusSuggested Sponsor – Bear Grylls

Suggested Spokesperson – Fred Flintstone

What a great big blessed matrimony of cruelty! Cephalopods are such intelligent creatures who use tools and have adaptive behaviours, but it shouldn’t take expressed human-like self-awareness to remove an animal from your menu. Since bones were certainly around during the Paleolithic period, and hence, are available for inclusion into the Paleo diet, I’ve chosen Fred Flintstone as the spokesperson.  Despite not having any dairy,  grains,  sugar,  legumes,  potatoes, processed oils,  or any other food grown after agriculture started,  Fred is still overweight and at least a 40 on the BMI scale. People who eat bone marrow frequently describe sucking the last bits of marrow out of the bones, so obviously, this isn’t a first-date kind of food (not that anybody should eat it otherwise. IMO).  It also brings out the food preparation OCD in me because I believe that one should be cautious about eating parts of cows that may carry BSE.  FSIS in the US considers these risky body parts to be the brain, tonsils, spinal cord, parts of the nervous system, and part of the small intestine.  In the past oxtails have been suspect, therefore so too is bone marrow.  There is some confusion about bone marrow because it has been reported to potentially carry the infection. Our suggested sponsor Bear Grylls is not only notable for eating virtually anything from spiders to grubs to worms, but to giving himself an enema with fetid water just to keep himself hydrated. No fear.

Clams Guanciale

clamsSuggested Sponsor – Flickr’s Food Porn Group

Suggested Spokesperson – The Journal Obesity

A hyper-concentration of fat in one dish. Guanciale is pork “cheek” or “jowl,” which gives new meaning to the term “your food has a face.” Bivalves serve as incredibly useful water filtration systems, and we should leave them in the ocean. They are often deployed in lakes where there is heavy pollution and bacterial counts. nutrients, and algae. Depending on where they have been living and what they’ve been filtering, bivalves can cause various toxic reactions in humans eating them. The typical method for cooking claims is to boil or steam them alive – hardly humane since studies have shown that clams, crabs, prawns, lobsters, and other crustaceans remember pain and avoid it in future. It really is time for shellfish, mollusc, and crustacean empathy.

Urchin with Sturgeon Cartilage

urchin-with-sturgeonSuggested Sponsor – Top Chef star and acid-reflux spokesperson Spike Mendelsohn

Suggested Spokesperson – Gordon Ramsay

Whoever decided that sturgeon cartilage was a thing? And I wonder what person looked at a sea urchin and decided to try to eat it? I watched videos of people picking urchins off of the coast at the beach, and cutting them open with scissors, and my heart just sank! Why it is necessary to add two more animals to the food chain?  We must collectively resist the foodie movement, which has played a role in normalizing horsemeat, foie gras, as well as popularizing other non-traditional animals or worse – the consumption of non-inspected meat or live animals, as popularized by wanna-be-known-for-sumthin’ chefs. Sea urchin and urchin roe have been in demand in Japan for many years, partially due to the belief that eating the sex glands makes one sexually potent. Like practically anything else the Japanese over-consume, there is now serious question whether the sea urchin population is being decimated as a result. “F” Word’s Gordon Ramsay is the selected spokesperson since he likes his uni (the Japanese term for urchin) with scrambled eggs.

Romanesco Guanciale

romanescoSuggested Sponsor – Total Gym

Suggested Spokesperson – Paula Deen

When I first looked at this I was challenged to understand what I was seeing. To me, it looks like a cat had barfed up a few pine cones or marijuana buds. Once again the chefs are using pig cheek.  Apparently pig cheek is very fatty as well, just like other cuts of bacon. This is another recipe that makes my arteries cry. Butter evangelist Paula Deen, famous for the super unhealthy Krispy Kreme burger, should endorse this one, because unhealthy eating has also made her arteries (and pancreas) cry. Total Gym sponsorship,  self-explanatory.

Food has replaced drugs in the aging food-fancier’s pantheon of pleasure. How about we just go back to a green salad with a tomato or two?  But if we did that what would happen to the celebrity chefs? Oh yeah, they might just go back to cooking decent food instead.  I’m ready for this cruel macho eating to finally go away – along with the restaurants and chefs responsible for it.

I doubt any foodies reading this will be tangentially distracted by the concept of any suffering they might inflict. Of course, it’s critical to the jejune gourmand that he/she be able to eat not only in an elitist fashion that may be cruel, but one that he also cannot truly afford. These foodies and their priests rationalize consuming foods that must be acquired and slaughtered in the most brutal fashion, almost to a sadistic degree.  Apparently greed and indifference to suffering are secondary values over the rightness of being able to gorge oneself. It truly leads one to beg the question, what is to be the next oral fixation?

If you’d like to send a polite,  fact-based communication to Parcae,  you may reach them:

On Twitter@parcae348

On FacebookParcae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosed Short Hills Park Hunting Documents Continue To Disprove MNR Rhetoric

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deer-postcard-copyWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau, with files from the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

The fractious first two days of the Short Hills hunt saw the life drained out of 18 deer on Saturday and 8 on Sunday. One deer was wounded on the first day and finally put out of its misery on the second day. The protesters maintained their composure despite the “rent-a-crowd” anti-protest protesters who have taken the low road by roughing up a demonstrator on November 14th. Despite the letter sent to Niagara Regional Police Services board by the Animal Alliance of Canada, there were two more incidences of unsecured weaponry by the hunters. The misconduct continued when a hunter’s vehicle made contact and pushed an anti-hunt protester while the MNR and OPP looked on distractedly, a demonstrator’s car was scratched, and a discarded sign was deliberately stuck to the side of an anti-hunt protester’s car. I’m sure that the police video will ferret out the culprit(s) responsible, since the entire demonstration is video taped all day long by the OPP and Niagara Regional Police.

With over 100 hunters entering the park in only two days, this hunt now bears more than a passing resemblance to the despised Florida bear hunt that left many young animals without their mothers. And like the Florida hunt, there are no limits on the number, sex, or age of the deer who will be killed – Short Hills park hunters are told they need not be “biased” in selecting an animal to kill based on age, giving free rein to the human tendency to exterminate everything that lacks a human face.  The Short Hills Wildlife Alliance continues to make good use of Access-To-Information documents, – the latest information shows that a high percentage of deer killed in previous hunts (2013 and 2014) were lactating females or were immature and under 1 year of age.

The Protocol Agreement – A Non-Binding,  Feel-Good Piece of Creative Writing

Yes – it’s exists, but after reading it one wonders why they even bothered to draft it at all. The word “harvest” or a variation of it was used 144 times in the above Protocol of 3,077 words. Of course, the hunting industry doesn’t like the word “kill” because it exposes the lie that animals die peacefully after being shot or otherwise tortured. Merely using the word “kill” also infers that there is no management of the hunt, while the term “harvest” has pleasant connotations of the nostalgic gathering of a crop that is planted and cultivated by continuous hard labour.   Of course, the hunters do nothing resembling care of this “crop.” Neither are the hunters collecting rainwater for irrigation or ripening turnips, although the hunt does bring to mind the image of a combine harvester and a crop of living animals that are simply mowed down. It’s just another level of duplicity used to get the public on board with having arrows fly through the park. Shame on the so-called animal rights activists who embrace this linguistic trickery…

 

 

From the Protocol:

Friendship is the new commandment here, where nothing is binding on the hunters and there are no penalties for non-compliance.  The designated hunt days can change at any time, which hardly seems safe given the number of entry points for the park and the lack of notice. Indeed, there’s not much that the hunters have to comply with at all – there is no “bag limit” on the number of deer that are to be killed and no limit to the number of hunters allowed in the park. And according to the MNR, securing bows is voluntary when convenient and therefore almost an afterthought (It is actually a requirement of the Fish and Wildlife Act).

“In the interests of safety, when possible, all archery equipment should be unloaded and encased outside of the harvest hours or when outside the harvest zone.”

The protocol goes on to state that if permission to enter private property is denied by the property owner (in order to kill a wounded deer), it will be the responsibility of the property owner to dispose of the deer.  Why should a homeowner take responsibility and liability for a hunter to hunt on their property?  What is the plan in the event the homeowner isn’t home or doesn’t wish to allow access? Why should the homeowner bear the burden of euthanasia and deadstock removal if the deer is still alive and suffering? The suggestion that the homeowners must take ownership of wounded deer wouldn’t withstand any legal litmus test. The fact that the MNR have to include such language for the eventuality of wounded deer on private property (which has already occurred) is proof hunting in a park that boundaries an urban area is not appropriate.

MNRF and Haudenosaunee monitoring and observation have concluded that the deer population at Short Hills is significantly larger than the Park’s ecosystem can support in a balanced way. The biological diversity of the Park is being impacted.

Where is the substantiation for this claim? All deer examined in post-mortems appear to be of healthy weight and are apparently free of parasites and pathological conditions (at least none are mentioned in the access-to-information documents obtained by Short Hills Wildlife Alliance). What surveillance have the Haudenosaunee conducted of their own volition?

Both the Haudenosaunee and MNRF will provide first aid supplies. Each MNRF vehicle will carry a first aid kit. A first aid station will be maintained at the Park’s work centre on 1st Street Louth.”

Bandaids and Chapstick – clearly useful for those soft-tissue injuries you’ll suffer when the MNR tries to run you down. Bizarrely though, the MNR Protocol identifies a major safety concern as the “presence off a large number of people at or near the Pelham Road entrance…” Outside of the hunt itself, the other principal risks come from rage-o-holic MNR agents and rogue counter-protesters who attempt physical intimidation or participate in causing vehicular damage. On the other hand,  the anti-hunt protesters have maintained their composure – who among the them is going to get into an altercation with hunters who have unsecured weapons anyway?

Access-To-Information Data Reveal Many Immature Deer Harvested Killed

The observational data collected in two previous hunts is extremely useful for refuting several claims by the MNR that there is overpopulation in the park, or that there is great concern over the spread of Lyme disease. While Lyme surveillance is important and ongoing, there seems to be little risk with the disease in this geographical area, an observation that is supported by the fact that current surveillance programs have not identified Short Hills as an area of heightened risk.  Nor did the post-mortems indicate the presence of ticks or internal parasites.

Post Mortem Stats:

  • 52 deer examined before or after field dressing, by MNR staff
  • 13 of these deer were fawns
  • 12 deer weighed 90 lbs or less
  • Oldest deer estimated by be 7.5 years of age
  • Youngest deer estimated to be “0” age
  • Smallest deer was 66 lbs (about the weight of the average golden retriever)
  • 45% of does were in various stages of lactation
  • Several deer were close to or over 200 lbs.
  • No ticks were observed

Age and weight are very important data points because they provide an index of population size relative to the habitat carrying capacity. In the wild, deer usually live no more than 10 years. The Wood god kills rabbitsaverage age of the deer in the MNR’s data is lowered considerably due to the killing of fawns that otherwise would have lived a few more years.  The age of the oldest deer is a good indication that there is a desirable apex predator/prey balance in the park. In most species of deer, lactation, which is the most energetically demanding component of maternal care, continues for about 80-100 days after birth, which occurs in May/June. It continues until the next rut. Lactation data provides evidence that the doe raised one or more fawns and is an indicator of good overall reproductive health in the herd (versus starvation).  The Protocol describes the deer as an important source of food for the hunters, but how hungry do you have to be that you can’t walk away from a 66 lb fawn? This fawn, along with some of the others, was most likely born in May or June of this year. This baby and her mother were probably both snuffed-out while standing together.

The MNR has offered several insipid excuses for the Short Hills hunt – population control, deer in over-abundance, and most recently now Lyme disease, but have provided no evidence for any of it. In fact, the MNR’s own empirical data disproves their bogus rhetoric. Even if the deer are at or over their biological carrying capacity, a hunt will temporarily reduce their numbers but will leave more food per deer, causing more twins and triplets to be born next year.

If either the MNR or the hunters think there are too many deer and the deer are going to starve to death, they should stop increasing the number of deer. Hunting is necessary – for hunters – so they can increase the population of deer for subsequent hunts. And it’s obscene that over 100 hunters have entered the park in only two days and that 25% of the deer killed in previous hunts are probably animals that were only born a few months earlier. Maybe the MNR tally of the casualties should have included the babies of those does who were still lactating……

 

 

A Park In Peril – Another Deer Hunt Scheduled for Short Hills

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Hunter snoozes and loses

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau,  with files from the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

The parks of Canada are available to all Canadians for their benefit, education and enjoyment, and all parks should be maintained and made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of current and future generations. However, in about two weeks, the Ministry of Natural Resources will once again host the annual fishing derby at Marineland deer hunting at Short Hills Provincial Park, even though hunting is illegal at all other times. On the proposed dates of November 14, 15, 19, 20, 28, and the 29th, the Ministry will allow the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to break virtually all of the rules posted in the park for a ceremonial hunt.

Animal advocates, conservationists, and residents in area the do not believe that hunting is an appropriate activity for a provincial park. Hunting in the park is incompatible with the conservation goals of maintaining species as risk adjacent to areas such as the Golden Horseshoe, which are intensely developed. The Short Hills area contains some of the most extensive natural areas in the Golden Horseshoe, with the highest percentages of forest cover.

The park is part of an environmentally significant area known as the Fonthill Kame Moraine, home to shrubs and herbaceous species not found in other parts of Canada. The largest forest tracts and wetland areas also provide suitable habitat for breeding stock and locally rare birds, reptiles and amphibians. While the deer themselves are not an endangered species, the MNR seems to want the public at large to believe that the relatively small number of animals surveyed in the park are more damaging than climate change and need to be culled on an annual basis. Under the guise of “conservation,” the Ministry has made many unsubstantiated claims that these culls are beneficial to wildlife survival and the environment, which does not explain why there are rules for using the park under regular daily circumstances. According to the MNR themselves, more than 50 of the animals, plants, and lichens found Niagara parks are considered rare and are either threatened endangered. From a conservation biology standpoint, the wildlife in parks are not protected if it is permissible to shoot them.

One of the main objections to the hunt continues to be safety, since past experience has shown that periodically hunters do not adhere to the boundaries established by the MNR, or the Short Hills signboundaries are ambiguous. Prior meetings with the MNR along with Access-To-Information documents have made it abundantly clear that there has never been a signed or agreed-upon safety protocol. The MNR has not even made a quasi-legitimate attempt to limit the number of hunters in the park at any time. These same ATI requests clearly show that hunters breached the buffer zones outside the hunt area and that members of the public were in the park during the hunt.  Despite claims by the MNR that the hunters have never trespassed on private property adjacent to the park, the Ministry have resorted to paying a surveying company more than $3,000 to survey the boundary between private property and the park, another cost to be born by the taxpayers. The most serious accusation of lax security protocols involved unsecured firearms being transported outside of the immediate hunting area; these hunters mingled with hunt observers and crossed the road to their vehicles while their firearms were unencased. Haudenosaunee native Paul Williams, lawyer for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy has stated that:

“…the Haudenosaunee law will only allow a hunt if it’s safe,” something he believes is possible using traditional methods. Williams has said that the 1990 Supreme Court decision (The Sparrow Ruling) upheld these rights and hunting can only be limited by a provincial law that is purely aimed at safety. The Supreme Court Decision in R. v. Sparrow was the first Supreme Court of Canada decision which applied s. 35, of the Constitution Act,  which states  that “the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.” In the foundational Sparrow ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that First Nations have an Aboriginal right, as defined in the Constitution, to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes and that right takes priority over all others, after conservation and safety. The court also ruled that an aboriginal right is not an absolute right and that governments may encroach upon this if they show a compelling and substantial legislative objective while respecting their fiduciary relationship towards the aboriginal people. The result of this decision is, on the one hand, that the aboriginal peoples have priority when it comes to hunting, fishing, trapping, or gathering for food purposes and on the other hand, that governments can regulate these activities for wildlife conservation or public safety reasons.

Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance of Canada, recently appeared before the Niagara Police Board to address the observations that some hunters carried unencased firearms outside the park in areas within the jurisdiction of the Niagara Regional Police.  Liz formally presented this information with the purpose of having any subsequent violations addressed by the NRP, since public safety is ostensibly the goal of all involved with the hunt. What’s surprising is that both the MNR and the Niagara Regional Police, despite photographing and videotaping all aspects of the protest and the hunters entering and departing the Pelham Rd. entrance of the park, no one seemed to notice this security breach, which is in contravention of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Read Liz White’s letter to Niagara Regional Police Services Board below:

Public interest measures have to take precedence over hunting rights, since the park is not the only location where hunting for aboriginal ceremonial purposes can take place. Already, a substantial number of hectares of public land in Ontario are available for hunting. Numerous other more remote areas, not boundaried by private property, were proposed and are, by most accounts, suitable alternatives to hunting semi-tame deer in a public park located in an ecologically sensitive area. Parks are seen as peaceful getaways to appreciate and value nature – not places for SUVs,  ATVs,  and certainly not unsecured firearms.

 

Call to Action:

Please write to:

Deb Morton, Executive Director

Regional Municipality of Niagara Police Services Board

68 Church Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 3C6

Office: (905) 688-3911 x5170 / Mobile: 905-329-7814 / Fax: (905) 688-0036

Email: deb.morton@niagarapolice.ca

Bowmanville Zoo’s New Zebra Highlights Equine Disease Surveillance Concerns

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Zorro in his first Canadian home. He is a Plains/Burchell's Zebra. Health records and a Coggins test for EIA were done when he was imported to Ontario.

Zorro in his first Canadian home. He is a Plains/Burchell’s Zebra. Health records and a Coggins test for EIA were done when he was imported to Ontario in 2012.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

It’s no secret that the Bowmanville Zoo is on the receiving end of more negative publicity after Zoo Director Michael Hackenberger muttered some expletives at his mini-horse riding baboon Austin after the primate didn’t follow his “script” during a live television show. Hackenberger later apologized for his utterances after the TV show expressed its displeasure with his lack of impulse control towards his animals.

But the Alberta branch of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement have inadvertently put the Bowmanville Zoo in the spotlight again when they seized a tame Burchell’s Zebra named “Zorro” from a farm in Alberta, where he is a prohibited animal, and gave him to the Zoo while they were in town supplying animals for “Whoop-Up Days” in Alberta. Not only did Fish and Wildlife confound the issue with Zorro’s previous owners in a long chain of custody disagreement, they apparently did not test him for Equine Infectious Anemia before giving him to the zoo.

Timeline of Events

  1. June 2012 – Zorro imported to Canada
  2. February 2015 – Zorro sold to Newmarket, Ontario equine rescue/breeder who did not take possession of him immediately. He then spent some months at a different facility in Ontario
  3. July 2015 – Zorro flipped to new Alberta owner by the rescue
  4. August 2015 – Zorro seized by Fish and Wildlife Enforcement as a prohibited animal
  5. August 2015 – An offer was made by Fish and Wildlife Enforcement to return Zorro to his last owner in Ontario, who refused to accept him. He was then offered back to the owners of the farm who imported him, who agreed to take him. After arrangements were made, F&WE wrote back that they would be giving him to the Bowmanville Zoo, as “this  facility is CAZA accredited and we feel confident that they have the ability to provide the care for this animal.”
  6. August 2015 – The zebra was picked-up August 23rd

At one time earlier in the email chain Fish and Wildlife Enforcement proposed that Zorro be relocated to the Calgary Zoo, but something changed their minds. Did the decision have anything to do

Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch (to original Ontario owner on August 19th) – “A zoo in Ontario will be taking Zorro. They want a human friendly animal and we will be picking Zorro up at no cost.”

Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch wrote (to original Ontario owner on August 19th) – “A zoo in Ontario will be taking Zorro. They want a human friendly animal and we will be picking Zorro up at no cost.”

with the fact that the Bowmanville Zoo was touring in Alberta at the time and had available space in their trailer?

Ignoring all the issues with private ownership of exotic animals, the most concerning to me is the fact that Fish and Wildlife Enforcement (and probably other branches of the Alberta government) did not have concerns about shipping an equid to Ontario without testing for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), a disease which while rare, is devastating to horse owners when it does invade their barns, since equids must be permanently quarantined in a building with vigilant insect control (the vectors that spread the disease are flies and other insects that bite an infected horse before transferring it to another) or humanely euthanized. Also commonly called “swamp fever,” EIA is caused by a retrovirus, similar to the human HIV.  There is currently no vaccine against the virus, and once infected an equine carries the virus for the rest of its life.  Episodes of more severe signs can occur even years after the initial infection, and during these episodes an infected animal poses the greatest threat to other horses because the viral load in the bloodstream is very high with greater potential for being spread to other animals.

Fish And Wildlife Enforcment Branch (to former Ontario owner on August 17) “It is paramount that we establish the risk factor, if any, to Alberta’s Equine and Cattle industries…”

 

From the picture I can’t tell whether Zorro is completely partitioned off from the cats. Megaphones from across the street during zoo protests are stressful, but travelling with predators is not?

From the picture I can’t tell whether Zorro is completely partitioned off from the cats. The zoo complains that megaphones from across the street during protests are stressful, but travelling with predators is not?

The test for EIA is generally referred to as a Coggins test, although a more accurate ELISA-type test is lately being used to test for the disease, which is most frequently found in Saskatchewan and Alberta. In those provinces there’s a reservoir of infected horses that are still not being identified, and could continue to perpetuate the infection.

OMAFRA fact sheet on EIA

“Equine infectious anemia (EIA) ….. is a potentially fatal disease caused by a virus that can infect all types of equines, including horses, mules, zebras and donkeys. In most cases, the disease begins with an acute phase of illness, followed by chronic cyclical symptoms, which continue throughout the remainder of the horse’s life. Some horses do not show any symptoms but can still be a source of infection for other animals. EIA occurs throughout Ontario and is an ongoing concern for horse owners in the province.”

Control Measures in Canada

  • To conduct EIA testing in Canada, a veterinarian must be federally accredited and send samples only to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)-approved labs.
  • It is required by law that all suspected cases of EIA be immediately reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which investigates all reported cases. In Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) may at times provide assistance with the response.
  • If a horse is confirmed to have EIA, it may either be placed under a permanent CFIA quarantine (if it doesn’t have any symptoms) or ordered destroyed with paid compensation.
  • The CFIA also requires mandatory testing of imported horses and has strict regulations on import of animals and animal products.

Worms and Germs Blog – “EIA testing is required prior to travel to many places and prior to participating in many competitions or shows.  Regular testing of animals that travel frequently helps to identify infected animals more quickly.”

 

At this point in time testing for EIA is a voluntary program administered by the CFIA, but horse owners in Alberta and Saskatchewan are often cautioned to avoid proximity to horses of unknown

Zebras are preyed upon by Lions, Leopards, Hyenas and African Wild Dogs, along with numerous other large carnivores such as Crocodiles when they are crossing rivers or drinking. Hopefully he was fully partitioned off from the lions and tigers with a solid barricade.

This is the trailer Zorro travelled in after he was seized. Zebras are preyed upon by lions, leopards, hyenas and african wild dogs, along with numerous other large carnivores such as crocodiles when they are crossing rivers or drinking. Hopefully Zorro was fully partitioned off from the lions and tigers with a solid barricade so he would not be caused anxiety while on the long trip to Ontario.

EIA status.  This can be tough to do if your horse (or zebra) goes to shows where EIA testing is not mandatory. But with the current problems out west (or anywhere else that EIA may be circulating) testing for EIA prior to moving horses to other provinces is something that should be strongly promoted. This is especially important as the prairies are seeing the highest number of EIA cases in years, with many new cases emerging each year on different properties.

While the Fish and Wildlife people insist in emails that Zorro is a concern for the cattle and equine industry (which is not a frivolous concern) they don’t mention EIA in any emails to former owners of Zorro, nor do they evidently have any concern about the ONTARIO equine industry when they return him without any apparent Coggins test. Was he tested at all before embarking to Ontario? If so when? According to his Alberta owner, no one came to her farm to stick him with a needle at any point, and he was loaded directly on a trailer bound for Ontario with other animals.  It is a bit after-the-fact to be testing him once he’s arrived at the zoo isn’t it?  Rather like shutting the barn door after the horse has already escaped….According to CAZA (Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums) testing for EIA appears in their Accreditation Standards documentation, and equids must be quarantined, as a “best practice.”

I think it is very unlikely that Zorro has been exposed to EIA. He’s a good weight and looks very healthy in fact.  However, complacency is what contributes to the transmission of disease. The zoo equines as well as the horse industry should not be overlooked. I’ve always been required to provide a negative Coggins test even when changing barns within Ontario, because barn owners know that it could devastate their businesses if all the horses had to be destroyed.

It’s rather hypocritical for any level of the Alberta government to express concern only for their cattle and equines (by asking for vet records from previous owners),  but not show any basic common sense when sending Zorro to Ontario where we also have equines.  In any case,  veterinary records from 2012 wouldn’t prove much,  and are completely outdated.  Coggins is good for six months only.  Equines travelling from Alberta and Saskatchewan should automatically be tested before being transferred to the eastern provinces, IMO.

 

Who Will Stand For The Cold Creek Wild Horses?

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The Nevada Legislature is trying to exclude wild horses and burros from the definition of wildlife. That will allow them to also exclude wild horses and burros from water rights.

The Nevada Legislature is trying to exclude wild horses and burros from the definition of wildlife. That will allow them to also exclude wild horses and burros from water rights.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

There’s an old saying, It’s better to help a friend a week too early rather than a day too late.” There are different variations on that theme, and I’ve most often seen it used when people are trying to determine when to euthanize a beloved pet. But a few days ago I was reminded of it in the context of the Cold Creek wild horses in Nevada, where at least some of the group are starving,  including mares and foals. An ensuing debate (whether to help the horses or take no action) raises some ethical and philosophical issues about our idyllic view of nature free from human (and BLM) interference. For instance, is it acceptable to feed these wild horses on compassionate and moral grounds, or do we prefer a laissez-faire management policy that would subject horses and burros to starvation by letting Mother Nature work her will?

You can see from the pics that the worst of these horses would probably rate a 1 or a 2 on the Henneke scale.  Some wild horse advocates have proposed that the starvation death of the horses is preferable to a round-up by the BLM, which they believe may be prompted by a Cold Creek resident’s letter that has been circulating about the condition of the horses. The volunteer-based America’s Wild Horse Advocates have suggested that the original letter writer was intent on creating drama in order that the horses would be removed from Cold Creek. If you read the letter, which is included here, you may agree that the writer of the letter seems hopeful that a roundup will not occur, because the horses are too weak to survive it, and suggests a coordinated effort to help the horses on the ground where they stand. Avoiding the involvement of the BLM seems to be a motivating factor in the decision by the AWHA to wait until fall to determine what, if any action should be taken, while continuing to negotiate for PZP darting.

The original letter does not strike me as that written by someone determined to remove the horses from the area, so I would not say that AWHA has really made that case successfully. The  initial

Original email written by a resident of Cold Creek (click to embiggen)

Original email written by a resident of Cold Creek (click to embiggen)

response by the group to the letter of concern seems quite dismissive of the horses’ condition, referring to them merely as “thin” and to the initial letter writer as some sort of busybody who wants to get rid of the horses. The wild horse advocate makes several untenable claims about the condition of the horses and admonishes people who have expressed concern about the horses as “bleeding hearts.” Here are some of the claims:

“The lower bands will fill out in the fall. If they don’t, AWHA will take care of it.”

Emaciated mares with foals are being fed (at least at the time photos were taken), despite assertions that it is illegal to do so. Being fed by well-meaning people does mean that they will come down to the road for handouts, risking accidents with vehicles. Not only that, abrupt or inappropriate re-feeding can cause metabolic abnormalities leading multi-organ failure and death.

Emaciated mares with foals are being fed (at least at the time photos were taken), despite assertions that it is illegal to do so. Being fed by well-meaning people does mean that they will come down to the road for handouts, risking accidents with vehicles. Not only that, abrupt or inappropriate re-feeding can cause metabolic abnormalities leading multi-organ failure and death.

These horses need more than “filling out,” let’s be honest. I have to admit I’m gobsmacked by the suggestion that the horses are not starving, but merely “thin.”  A horse that has lost 50 percent of its body weight has a poor prognosis for survival. How will it be taken care of? If feeding is illegal, how will the situation be resolved? If they can be fed somehow in the fall, why not do it now, since they critically need it and before they decline even further? And it’s already too late for anyone to suggest that we should not interfere with nature, something we’ve done since the very 1st day when we started fencing horses off in pockets of land.  We already hold interventions for wild animals – vaccination programs against diseases such as rabies or tuberculosis have been implemented for decades, and in national parks, starving animals are sometimes provided with additional food so that they may survive.   Proposed growth suppression projects via PZP will all come too late for any horse who is a literal bone rack.

“It’s called Natural Selection” and “It’s survival of the fittest”

It’s neither “natural selection” nor “survival of the fittest,” at least not from a biological perspective. Modern society interprets “survival of the fittest” to mean that only the strong survive. We often think of evolution in terms of a winner take all competition between the weak and the strong.  The individuals that survive are not always the strongest, fastest, or smartest – the individuals who survive are those who have variations better suited to their environment and as a result, leave behind more offspring than individuals that are less well adapted. Natural selection is a process that generates or guides adaptations (traits) over evolutionary time. For a trait to be shaped by natural selection it must be genetic and heritable. Natural selection is a mechanism of evolution, and it is not about survival in the short term in a sample population of 250 animals, as longevity in the short term and adaptation over generational time (a really long period of time!) are not the same things. The effects of natural selection are barely perceptible, except over long periods of time, so the starvation of one generation of a herd of horses is not an example of natural selection.

The majority of wild animals of any species die well before they reach maximum lifespan, but horses are at a greater disadvantage than many other species.

The majority of wild animals of any species die well before they reach maximum lifespan, but horses are at a greater disadvantage than many other species.

“All in all, an honourable death…preferable to dying in captivity”

I agree that the horses should not be gathered, and probably wouldn’t survive it anyway. When the horse is removed as through helicopter roundups, or is killed off by man, it leaves a big gap that upsets the equilibrated life-support system benefiting other wild populations. Wild horses are also a climax species, helping to sustain other ecosystems through the grazing of grass, pruning of vegetation, and consequent bolstering of annual plant productivity. Since wild horses are already being lost to roundups, slaughter, and most recently to fire, why not do more than stand around watching them starve?

To sum up: there are three possible courses of action for these horses.

  1. No intervention. The horses would either somehow gain weight on their own, or they would be allowed to starve to death
  2. Euthanasia – if they cannot regain weight, or no one is prepared to supplement them, then for some of the worst cases, euthanasia is justifiable on welfare grounds
  3. Feeding – Is welfare better served by feeding rather than doing nothing? It is also justifiable if the horses won’t likely survive otherwise.

If we believe that appropriate action should be option #3, then intervention should take place immediately before welfare declines even further.

Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.

Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.

I don’t know what the solution is beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t even know how it is legally or logistically workable.  But I absolutely do not believe that starvation should be the preferred outcome here.

What is really upsetting about this is that when it comes to an animal’s suffering it seems that supposedly intelligent and highly qualified individuals cannot use their logic and experience gained over the years to show compassion to a suffering animal. How many times do we tell pro-slaughters that starvation and slaughter are not the only two options? From an ethical standpoint, I believe that it is both appropriate and even necessary to intervene to help ensure that the wild horses retain their proper place in the landscape.

 

 

Letters Explain the Group’s Rationale for their Position on PZP and Feeding: