vegansaurus!

03/07/2013

Welcome to protection under California’s Endangered Species Act, great white shark!  »

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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.

[Story via Ken Layne’s animal beat. Photo by KQED Quest via Flickr]

10/03/2012

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]

04/18/2011

Wolves to be removed from endangered species lists in five states. Go USA!  »

[PBS special: Hunting Wolves, Saving Wolves. Shows both sides of the argument. Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!]

It’s official: in 50-some days, five states are set to take gray wolves off the endangered species list. This is the first time Congress has removed a species from the endangered list. This is not good. You would hope that an animal’s being removed from the endangered species list would mean that the species* had rebounded something fierce—that’s not the case here. The wolf population has recovered a lot from near extinction but that’s not why the wolves are being de-listed. In this case, politics triumphs over science. The Northern Rockies has something like 1,700 wolves and they are just making it too darn hard to hunt. The federal government has relinquished control and the individual states will now “manage” the wolf population on their own. I totally trust a bunch of hunters to manage an endangered species. There are a few super-duper legitimate restrictions; for example, under the new deal, Montana, who currently has a little less than 600 wolves, would have to keep a minimum of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. That sounds totally reasonable—75 percent of the species could be wiped out. It’s like, how few can we keep around so that we can rebuild the species once we deplete it again?

The whole thing is depraved. The way they went about it is just as bad as the motivation behind the de-listing. They slipped it into the budget agreement and it’s total bullshit. Why is that legal? And we can’t have realistically expected the President to refuse to sign the budget and shut down the government for wolves. Fucking Congress. I wasn’t aware of this because I’m not that into right-wing politics but according to the Washington Post, “The endangered act has long been reviled by conservatives who see it as a hindrance to economic development.” Damn endangered species, always getting in the way of making money. I’m sure the conservatives are super excited now that they no longer have to go through the usual channels with regards to endangered species—congress has got their back.

Like I said last week, this sets a terrible precedent for other endangered species. Bison and grizzles are already in danger. I just hope there’s not a budget agreement next time polar bears get too rowdy. 

If you want to help, check out Defenders of Wildlife, Earth Justice and the Humane Society.

*I don’t generally like this word but I’ve used it because that’s the word the government uses and you know what I mean.

03/09/2011

Hello, friends! It’s WTF Wednesday!  »

You guys, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. Between having to finish my last-ever (and incidentally most comprehensive) presentation for school and cracking a filling because I was chewing gum too hard, I have been barely able to stand. Then as soon as I was a little bit less overwhelmed, I started running a fever. Isn’t that just the worst? I mean I appreciate that my body is a complex and sophisticated system that recognizes when it is safer for me to turn the stress I have been feeling into an amazing bout with the flu/cold/plague, but it doesn’t really do anything to make me feel better. As soon as I’m done getting gray hair from every single project I have to do and think that I can settle in for some serious knitting/a Golden Girls marathon, my body turns against me and makes it so that I am either too hot or too cold or that my muscles get so sore that I can’t sit in one place for a long period of time. This is war! Fortunately for my body, the only way I know how to go to war on it is by consuming large amounts of Parma, which I put on everything (to Allen's extreme chagrin, because he is delusional and does not enjoy it!), and swigging bottle after bottle of ginger ale. “Man,” you must be thinking, “Mark is pretty sick so he is probably not going to take us on a tour of horrors that he has found on the internet.” WRONG! I am miserable, so you will be miserable. Buckle in and let’s see what horrible things are happening this week.

Modern science has discovered that animals, specifically chickens, can feel pain. I did not realize that this needed scientific testing, but I suppose not everyone is as trusting as I am. Not only can chickens feel pain, but they can show empathy for the pain of other chickens. NO DOY, but good for you, science. Because I am trusting, I am going to imagine that these experiments were mostly harmless and that the chickens have now been found wonderful sanctuary homes. What I am less than pleased with is that since this news has come out, people have been showing how awesome it is to write cruel things on the internet.

What is it with people? I mean, as soon as you write anything about animals feeling pain they come out to talk about how delicious the animals are or leave comments like “I am going to have a chicken bacon sandwich later today. UMAD?” Just google anything about “chickens feeling pain” and you will find that the comments run from the classic “Humans are meant to eat meat!” to the perplexing “If I can’t have meat, what am I going to eat?” to the sensitive “Chickens feeling pain just makes them more delicious.” I don’t get it. It’s not like the news of the study says “DO NOT EAT CHICKEN!” but many people seem to immediately see anything that describes of evidence of animals feeling pain to a direct attack on their precious need to murder and swallow animals that are not human/adorable. Why? If you’re going to get that angry about an article like this, then perhaps you should check out your own food and guilt issues. In addition, I would suggest you not fuck with chickens because they are related to the T. Rex, and the T. Rex used to fuck some shit up, OK?

The next two stories come to us from Tim, who sends me links all the time, and who I presume is incredibly handsome and intelligent. In fact, he’s even got Allen jealous. Allen never sends me links. Anyway, the theme here is: PEOPLE SUCK. A LOT. Consider this: Dozens of sick and dead animals were found in the condemned home of an elderly disabled woman living in Long Island. There’s no mention of how authorities found out about what was going on (I imagine the condemned part had a lot to do with it), but the house was filthy, malodorous, and stuffed with suffering animals. Here’s my question, though: This woman is elderly, disabled, and living in a condemned house. Why was no one checking on her? I get that what she did was horrible, but people don’t hoard animals for fun, it is a psychological illness. I am outraged at the fact that there are dead and suffering animals, of course, but why are the authorities choosing to charge (and possibly jail) this woman as well as make her pay for the clean-up. If she is elderly, disabled, and living in a condemned home, I highly doubt that she is going to be able to come up with the cash. What are we going to do then? Force her to take a job or pay it off in jail? I just wish that we would look at this on a larger level and start thinking about prevention as opposed to punishment. What kind of group could be formed to assist people in such situations? Perhaps an animal rights organization could start a project that included home visits? I’m the first person to want repercussions, but this woman isn’t Michael Vick, and she certainly isn’t Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.

Brian Schweitzer, you may be thinking, who is he? Well wonder, no more. This charmer wants to go against the Endangered Species Act and shoot whole packs of wolves in order to help citizens, “to protect their property and to continue to enjoy Montana’s cherished wildlife heritage and traditions.” I apologize for being dense, but aren’t wolves wildlife? How would shooting the wildlife help Montana’s citizens enjoy the wildlife? It seems really counter-intuitive to me. You can’t really enjoy wildlife if the wildlife is actually just the corpses of said wildlife. I dislike Brian Schweitzer for many reasons, and one of them is definitely the fact that I have just used the word wildlife about a million times. Another is that he wants to kill the wolves that eat elk because they are taking the elk (which they are eating for SURVIVAL REASONS) from the hunters who would otherwise be shooting them. How does this even make sense? How is this person in any position of power? Can anyone answer these questions?

That’s it for me. I’m going back to bed and see if I can sleep this cold/flu/plague off. Send me links for next week and have a happy Wednesday!

Chicken picture from Animal Place (adopt one! or take a chicken care class, too!)

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