CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1998:
Twenty years ago the Yoplait division of General Mills began selling yoghurt in conical
cups which foraging animals, especially skunks, sometimes got stuck on their heads.
After wildlife rehabilitators identified 14 such cases in 1997, General Mills redesigned the
cups. Modified to enable animals to extricate themselves, the new cups are now in stores.
That didn’t satify Animal Protection Institute staffer Camilla Fox, who according to
Los Angeles Times staff writer Susan Abram, recently ripped General Mills “for testing the
new container on a simulated model of a skunk-sized animal,” instead of on real skunks.
“You can’t test this on a real animal because that would be cruel,” responded
General Mills spokesperson Jack Sheeham, apparently better getting the point of decades of
humanitarian protest against animal use in product testing.
We have praised Fox for her handling of several previous campaigns, but this time
her ethical inconsistency and inability to say thanks won her and API the ANIMAL PEOPLE
“Head-In-A-Jar Award” for self-defeating tactics.
But perhaps Fox and API should also get a gracious recovery award. Hoping to
encourage some attention to priorities, we pointed out to General Mills on July 22 that projections
of the Dr. Splatt and Strah Poll roadkill counts, published annually in ANIMAL PEOP
L E, indicate that more than 80 million wild mammals and birds including nine million
skunks are killed each year in preventable animal/car collisions. We offered General Mills the
use of our free behavior-based species-specific roadkill prevention tip sheet (available at our
web site or via fax or e-mail) in hopes they might share some of the tips via cereal boxes.
We haven’t yet heard back from General Mills––but on July 28 freelance writer
Mark Braunstein called to tell us that API had agreed to publish the tip sheet as a sidebar to
one of his articles on roadkills, forthcoming in the API magazine Mainstream.
The Humane Society of the U.S. on July 5 claimed our “Let’s Work Together
Award for Movement Unity,” when former HSUS representative Ken Johnson and HSUS
southeast regional representative Laura Bevan allegedly collaborated to evict the United
Animal Nations Emergency Animal Rescue Service team of 70 trained volunteers––and the
217 animals in their care––from a temporary evacuation shelter UAN-EARS had established in
Putnam County, Florida, to handle the pets and livestock of people fleeing forest fires.
UAN-EARS disaster relief coordinator Terri Crisp said her veteran crew had worked
closely and comfortably with local officials, and had done what it was supposed to do to get a
mandatory state-issued task number, but were refused a number and were excluded on purported
behalf of the Florida-based Disaster Animal Response Team. Johnson and Bevan
reportedly helped form DART. But Elise Matthes of DART told ANIMAL PEOPLE she was
unaware of any conflict with UAN-EARS.
HSUS attorney Aaron Medlock, campaign director for the ProPAW anti-trapping
ballot initiative in California, won our “Caught-In-A-Trap Award” on July 15 when according
to the Palo Alto Daily News he said research biologists opposing a ban on leghold traps
should snare coyotes and bobcats instead, in connection with a California Department of
Transportation study whose aim, in part, is to prevent traffic accidents. Snares are, however,
no more humane; the ProPAW initiative would also ban the use of snares for sport or commerce;
and the initiative exempts “government employees or their duly authorized agents,” at
all levels, if “the otherwise prohibited padded-jaw leghold trap is the only method available to
protect human health or safety.” That would appear to include the researchers––plus most of
the so-called nuisance wildlife trappers who do most of the trapping in California, under public
contracts to prevent alleged health and safety hazards.
The exemption is so broad, indeed, that it also wins HSUS the “ P u b l i c
Grandstanding Award for Chiefly Symbolic Legislation.”