Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use: The meat industry just despises Meatless Mondays »
After working with HSUS, a school district outside of Austin, Texas, was one of many to implement Meatless Mondays this fall. While parents and students seemed pretty psyched about it, Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples — whose political campaign was bankrolled by the meat industry — didn’t exactly share their enthusiasm. He even penned a rant against the school district in the Austin American-Statesman this week. Today, the paper’s editorial board published an editorial of its own simply crushing that rant, noting that, “the near-comic rhetoric of Staples’ commentary stood as a refutation of its own argument.” You’ve really got to read the whole thing.
The San Francisco Chronicle also wrote this week about more California schools that HSUS helped implement Meatless Mondays programs.
The industry isn’t just lashing out in the school districts; it’s also doing so in the legislatures. I was glad to be on America Tonight this week discussing the meat producers’ attempt to silence whistleblowers with ag-gag bills.
And the good news is that nearly all ag-gag bills introduced in the last couple years have been killed, while more and more food companies require animal welfare improvements in their supply chains, as described in a new piece by my coworker Matt Prescott. As well, just this week, another major pork producer announced it’s abandoning gestation crates throughout its entire supply chain.
Video of the week: These pigs aren’t ready for summer to be over—they love their swimming pools!
Dog Pulls A Lassie, Saves Homeless Man »
What is it, Mole, you adorable German Shepard mix? There’s a homeless man trapped under those rocks here on Mt. Rubidoux, near Riverside, CA? He’s totally dehydrated and has been there for a week or more? You need me to come help him and call rescuers? Is that why you’re pulling on my pant leg? It better be, because this is getting annoying. Good thing I brought you hiking with me, Mole! Dogs are the best!
It’s Paul Shapiro’s weekly Animal News You Can Use! »
Want to read a great AP story about the proponents of anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bills getting part of their bodies (I’ll let you be the judge) handed to them at a legislative hearing in Nebraska yesterday? Also, the ag-friendly Bakersfield Californian editorial board slammed the supporters of a similar California bill this week, saying how they’re “amazed by the audacity of the cattle industry.”
Good week in statehouses for farm animals, with a New Jersey ag committee passing a bill to ban gestation crates and a Colorado committee doing the same on a bill to ban dairy cow tail-docking. We’ll continue working hard to further advance these bills.
There’s a fascinating story out today about a meat industry front man who admits he created a fake Facebook profile posing as an animal activist in order to criticize HSUS and encourage other animal activists to do the same.
After extensive dialogue with HSUS, Bob Evans is the latest food giant to announce it wants to phase out gestation crates. And the National Pork Board did a survey with promising results about the changing attitudes of pork producers to the gestation crate issue.
Think you’re the only one who finds promise in plant-based products? These billionaires are with you.
Finally, students! If you want “Skinny Bitch” Rory Freedman, VegNews editorial director Elizabeth Castoria, and HSUS’s Kristie Middleton to read your essay, enter HSUS’s Meatless Monday essay contest now!
Video of the week: Justin Timberlake on SNL singing about vegan eating. Words can’t describe how great it is.
Photo of the week: My cats enjoying their catio!
Welcome to protection under California’s Endangered Species Act, great white shark! »
Great whites are the scariest sharks ever, thanks to movies and television and their natural aura of gruesome death, but of course also despite the protections we already had in place for them, commercial fishing is reckless and whoops, we’re accidentally killing them so fish-eaters can eat fish.
Great whites have been off-limits to commercial and sport fishing under California law since 1994, Reuters noted. However, the fish, particularly young ones, still wind up as “bycatch” in gill-nets intended for halibut, swordfish and white sea bass off of California and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Such bycatch, also known as “incidental taking,” has been unrestricted.
But now (for a month already!), thanks to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, great whites are now protected under the state Endangered Species Act. They’re not on the Endangered Species list, but this news is progress toward that end. Save the great white! Don’t let the Pacific (completely) go to hell because a bunch of jerks are hungry for fish steaks.
Sea otters now free to traverse the entire California coast! »
Did you know that since 1987, sea otters were federally banned from going past Point Conception in Santa Barbara County? That’s right, every time you saw a sea otter in the wilds of Southern California (except off San Nicolas Island), it was breaking the law! Are you imagining them in little raccoon-style eye masks now, because I totally am.
It gets more ridiculous: Between 1987 and 2001, authorities actually relocated—as in, physically moved—otters that strayed past the completely arbitrary boundary. And the ones that defied the law by daring to live south of that imaginary border weren’t even granted federal protection as an endangered species, despite being the same species as the otters living in the “acceptable” area!
As of Dec. 18, 2012, though, our otter pals are officially allowed to roam the California coast at will, and the U.S. government extends endangered species protection to every tricksy sea weasel swimming with us.
[Photo by Mike Baird via Flickr]
Your Vegansaurus November 2012 ballot measure voting guide! »
We used Ballotpedia to research the propositions, just like last time, but for further information you can check your local secretary of state’s site, or your preferred nonprofit political group’s voting guide (i.e., Vote411 from the League of Women Voters). Because this is Vegansaurus, we’re limiting our guide to animal-related issues.
Alabama: Amendment 1 - YES—maybe!
Why: We don’t understand the complexities of the Forever Wild Land Trust, but it seems good, and the World Wildlife Fund is for it. Alabamans who know more about the FWLT should opine.
Arizona: Prop. 120 - NO!
Why: Arizona appears to be full of jerks who think they can do whatever they want to anyone and anything within their borders, just because they’re Arizonans. This could undermine all kinds of federal protections on public lands, including those on wildlife. Shades of Prop. 109, eh guys? Quit being stupid jerks already.
Idaho: HJR 2 - NO!
Why: This amendment “forever preserve[s]” the right to “hunt, fish, and trap” in Idaho, which makes it immediately gross to us, but it would also make it more difficult both to protect the populations of the animals being hunted, fished, and trapped, and to conserve other wildlife.
Kentucky: House Bill 1 - NO!
Why: Again, guys, “mandat[ing] that hunting and fishing should never be outlawed in the state without the vote of the people” isn’t going to make there be more animals to hunt and fish.
Maine: Question 3 - YES!
Why: It appears to make it easier to buy land for protection and preservation by the state? Save the land and its wildlife!
Nebraska: Amendment 2 - NO!
Why: For the billionth time, amending a state constitution to protect your residents’ right to hunt forever and ever is ridiculous pandering to hunters. Also, “stat[ing] that public hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife” rubs us the wrong way. You gonna take up hunting cats to reduce feral populations, too? Gross.
Mountain Lion Hunting Permit Measure - NO!
Why: It sets up a fee-based lottery for mountain lion hunting permits, without limiting the number of permits or specifying recipients of the money raised by the lottery tickets. Also, we hate hunting.
North Dakota: Measure 3 - NO!
Why: It “calls for a constitutional amendment that would block any law ‘which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.’” In other words, it is a big Fuck You to any future farm animal protection legislation, through the state or federal government. This is because North Dakota is afraid of the Humane Society.
Measure 5 - YES!
Why: No, it doesn’t extend its protections far enough regarding the animals or the abuse, but it is far better than the law now. Plus it is supported by adorable North Dakotan animals, which is a weak reason, but still valid.
Oregon: Measure 81 - YES!
Why: If you’re going to allow fishing, better make it harder to overfish. Honestly, Oregon, are you looking to fish wild salmon to extinction?
Wyoming: Constitutional Amendment B - NO!
Why: This is the fourth HUNTING FOR ALL FOREVER ballot measure in this election (just like 2010!), which we find pretty gross. What are you hunters so afraid of, that you think you have to amend your state constitution to protect your right to kill (mostly) wild animals? This type of legislation is a slap in the face of every citizen without equal rights. How dare you put the rights of animal-killers ahead of any other human being? You’re all fucking jerks.
Good luck, compatriots! Please, get out there and vote!
[Photo by Jocelyn Augustino for Obama for America via Flickr]
2012 election: What’s up with California’s Proposition 37? »
That said, actually voting can be terribly confusing, especially here in California, land of the endless ballot propositions! There are always so many, and they are not all as straightforward as 2008’s beloved Prop. 2. This year we’ve got 11, some directly contradicting others ON THE SAME BALLOT, WHY.
KQED’s Calfornia Report recently reported on Prop. 37, “Genetically Engineered Foods Labeling Initiative Statute,” as part of its series on all 11 of California’s 2012 ballot initiatives. Here’s the latest report, by science reporter Amy Standen:
… Proposition 37 is bad politics. Dragging ill-informed and uninterested consumers into a dirty political fight and expecting them to make “conscientious” consumer decisions is not the way to spur social progress. And spreading misinformation isn’t going to help that. If Proposition 37 is how the food movement will prove itself, count me out.
[Photo by Nuclear Winter via Flickr]
California climate change could put the pika on the endangered species list »
Pikas are related to rabbits. They’re about the size of hamsters, with no tails and round Mickey Mouse ears. They live in rock piles at high elevations, and are adapted to cold temperatures. When it gets too hot, they hide out under the rocks. So [ecologist Joseph] Stewart is trying to figure out if pikas don’t do well in the heat, what will happen to them as the climate continues to warm.
"They’ve been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act because of climate change," he explains to the students. "But when the Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed that petition, they pretty much said that we don’t know enough about how pikas are doing. We need more data."
KQED’s Quest had a neat story this week about local middle school students learning practical science while helping ecologists study the Pika, which could be the first species in California “to be listed as threatened primarily because of climate change. If the state starts protecting animals because of climate change, things that affect the climate, like new fossil-fuel power plants or clearcut logging projects, could be slowed.”
It’s interesting. And cool to hear kids learn about science. Read (or listen! Radio!) at KQED.
[Photo by Chris & Lara Pawluk via Flickr]
Go to Sacramento next Tuesday (free transportation!) to support biggest animal protection bill of the year! »
This is from the good people at HSUS! There’s still time to plan this into your schedule so please come to Sacramento to help bears and bobcats!
Just a reminder that on Tuesday April 24, one of the biggest animal protection bills of the year, Senate Bill 1221, is up for a vote in committee. This bill would prohibit the cruelty of bear and bobcat hounding—an unnecessary and unsporting practice where packs of hounds chase down bears and bobcats. This cruel practice is still legal here in California, despite the fact that it is criminalized in the majority of states. We really hope that you’ll be able to attend this hearing to show your support for this important bill! The fate of bills like this one can literally be decided by the number of people who show up to a hearing. We’re sure the opposition will be there; we hope you can be there.
The hearing will be held at the State Capitol 11th and L Streets Sacramento, CA 95814. If you need help with transportation from the Bay Area, please contact Elise Traub at email@example.com. Elise is organizing carpools and rides to Sacramento. The hearing will be from 7:30 AM - 10:30 AM, and if you can attend, please RSVP.
If you can’t attend the hearing, please call ALL members of the Senate Natural Resources committee BEFORE APRIL 24 and urge an AYE on SB 1221. You can say “Hi, my name is _____________ and I live in California. I know Sen ______ is going to be voting on SB 1221 in committee soon and I want to urge him/her to represent the view of 83% of California voters by supporting SB 1221. Thank you.” It’ll only take a few minutes!
If you happen to live in any of these Senator’s districts (find out here!), be sure to emphasize that you are a constituent.
Senator Fran Pavley (Chair) (916) 651-4023
Senator Doug La Malfa (Vice Chair) (916) 651-4004
Senator Anthony Cannella (916) 651-4012
Senator Noreen Evans (916) 651-4002
Senator Jean Fuller (916) 651-4018
Senator Christine Kehoe (916) 651-4039
Senator Alex Padilla (916) 651-4020
Senator Joe Simitian (916) 651-4011
Senator Lois Wolk (916) 651-4005
OK! Everyone call and/or go! Let’s do this for the animals!!!
Guest post: Support California’s foie gras ban! »
On July 1, the production and sale of foie gras will be illegal in the state of California.
There is only one foie gras farm in California, Sonoma Foie Gras. This place is a factory farm and a total nightmare for the animals that are tortured there. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
In 2011, I was one of the Animal Protection and Rescue League’s (APRL) undercover investigators inside Sonoma Foie Gras. We documented horrific conditions. The ducks were absolutely TERRIFIED of humans. There were ducks that could not get up, and ducks that had difficulty standing walking and breathing. All of the ducks were panting, which is a sign of extreme stress. They were covered in their own waste, blood, and regurgitated feed. There were dead ducks inside the pens and ducks that were on the verge of death. We saw trashcans that were filled with dead ducks, thrown away like garbage. You can watch footage of our undercover investigation here.
Most people don’t support this cruel treatment of animals anymore. In the state of California, only about 300 restaurants are continuing to serve foie gras (less than 1 percent of all restaurants). Foie gras production is supported by only a handful of chefs who lack the creative vision to create delicacies that aren’t produced by extreme animal cruelty. Not only are these chefs continuing to serve foie gras, in spite of the impending ban, a small (but vocal) minority are holding foie gras benefit dinners and raising funds to try to overturn the foie gras ban. A couple of these chefs have even been so bold as to say that they’ll defy it. They’re acting like little children throwing a temper tantrum.
Opponents of the ban have given a lot of false information to the media lately. A few chefs have stated that they’ve been to foie gras farms and have seen ducks running up to be fed! Are you kidding me? The ducks at Sonoma Foie Gras were TERRIFED at the very sight of humans!
Foie gras supporters have also stated that ducks would naturally gorge themselves. However, the particular breed of duck—a hybrid of Muscovy and Peking—used for foie gras production is not a migrating species, and these ducks would not gorge themselves. Moreover, even migratory ducks certainly wouldn’t gorge themselves to the point of organ failure, as is done in foie gras production. If ducks gorge themselves naturally, there shouldn’t be a need to force feed them, and there shouldn’t be a problem with a law against force-feeding.
Ban opponents claim to be working on a “humane” way of producing foie gras, but they’ve had eight years to come up with an alternative to force-feeding and they’ve come up with nada.
The San Francisco City Council, along with eight other city councils, including L.A. and San Diego, have passed resolutions calling on restaurants to stop serving foie gras. In that vein, I’ve started a campaign, United For Animals’ Foie Gras Fight, along with my fellow undercover investigators, to get foie gras cruelty out of the Bay Area! We’ve been organizing protests at Bay Area restaurants (mainly in San Francisco) that are serving foie gras and holding these ridiculous benefit dinners.
We have two recent victories under our belt: BayWolf Restaurant in Oakland (which removed foie gras from the menu four days after we protested there), and Taj Campton Place (which removed foie gras from the menu a few days before our scheduled protest). We need to keep the pressure on the restaurants that are continuing to serve foie gras.
The media have taken an interest in our cause, and have been sending crews to report on our protests, in which we seek to educate the public about the cruelty involved in foie gras production. We’ve recently done interviews with KTVU-2, NBC-3, CBS-5, and ABC-7.
If you would like to become involved in our campaign, and take a stand for the ducks that are tortured for this cruel delicacy, please check out our Facebook page, where you can find our upcoming events and links to our media coverage. You can also email me. We provide all of the signs, banners and leaflets. All you have to do is show up! It’s super easy and effective.
Dana Portnoy spends most of her “spare” time volunteering at Animal Place and Harvest Home Sanctuaries, baking treats for vegan bake sales, running half-marathons (to raise money for animals) and attending and organizing protests. She lives in the Bay Area with three rescued cats, who pretty much rule her life.