Editorial: Lassitude on attitude

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:

Beginning on page one of this edition, ANIMAL PEOPLE compares Chinese attitudes about animals, as recently surveyed by professional pollsters, to the attitudes of Americans, voiced in similar surveys done in the United States.

Readers with our own penchant for tracking statistics may notice that in order to find surveys which asked Americans essentially the same questions, we had to use data gathered on 27 different occasions by 22 different polling agencies––and though some of the questions were asked just a few months ago, others were most recently asked 17 years ago.

There were some questions we could find no match for. Hired by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Animals Asia Foundation, and the Hong Kong SPCA, the Chinese pollsters asked not only about issues and practices indigenous to China, but also about forms of animal use and abuse which might be imported, to see what might take hold if allowed the opportunity. Bullfighting and circuses were of particular interest, because entrepreneurs have already brought both bullfights and western-style circuses to the Chinese mainland. Incredibly, though we combed more than six feet of files documenting U.S. activism over animal use in entertainment, we found no indication that anyone here has ever really tried to find out what Americans think about animal spectacles in any kind of detail. All the existing data allows us to say with certainty is that Americans mostly approve of well-managed zoos and overwhelmingly disapprove of cockfighting. Where Americans stand on bullfighting, circuses, and rodeo––which combines aspects of both––is presently measured only by television ratings and gate receipts.

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From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:

DENVER––The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on January 13 reversed a 1997 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William Downes that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act by reintroducing 66 wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996 as an “experimental, non-essential” population.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho affiliates held that the “experimental, non-essential” status illegally reduced protection of wild wolves already in the area, and that therefore the reintroduced wolves and their progeny should be removed.

The verdict enabled the Fish and Wildlife Service to proceed with the scheduled reintroduction of grizzly bears to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area northwest of Yellowstone. Five grizzlies a year would be released into the wilderness over a five-year span.

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Panel set to draft feral hit list

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:

WASHINGTON D.C.––Cruelty is of no concern to the Invasive Species Council, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt signified on January 26, excluding humane representation from a 32-member Invasive Species Advisory Committee named to help direct the federal war on feral wildlife.

There was no room on ISAC, as the advisory committee is called, for anyone from any of the more than 10,000 U.S. organizations formed to prevent cruelty to animals, whose donor base includes one household in four, and may be larger than the constituency who elected President Bill Clinton.

But there was room for a representative from Monsanto––a leading maker of the pesticides used in ever-growing volume against alleged “invasive species,” and coincidentally a leader in creating and introducing new species via genetic engineering.

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From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:

NASHVILLE, MUNCIE, KALAMAZOO, FLINT––Missing dog reports reminiscent of the bad old days of roundups for laboratory use flooded animal shelter telephone lines and Internet chat boards between Thanksgiving 1999 and mid-January 2000 in at least three midwestern and southern regions linked by Interstate Highways 64, 65, and 69.

The first burst of theft reports fitting the pattern came in Maury County, Tennessee, south of Nashville. Almost all of the missing animals were reportedly purebreds.

After Christmas came 30 alleged thefts in southwestern Indiana.

“Red flags started going up,” said Evansville Courier & Press staff writer Judy Davis, when Gibson County Animal Services director Cindy Hyneman realized that, ‘All of the dogs’ descriptions matched––large, shorthaired, friendly dogs.’”

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Invasions created the Mara, Serengetti vista

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000

KEEKORAK, Kenya––The Masai Mara National Park in southwestern Kenya and the Serengetti National Park of northwestern Tanzania together offer one of the world’s great wildlife viewing venues, punctuated by the spring and fall migrations of the wildebeests, in herds of thousands.

Yet if the bioxenophobes who dominate the conservation establishment were philosophically consistent, the great wildlife parks would represent an ecological horror show: almost all of the charismatic megafauna whom the world beats paths to see were once invasive species.

Elephants would be especially reviled––as they are, by many botanists––because their habit of breaking down trees tends to keep the savannah from evolving back into the dry forest it apparently was once, before they came.

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Fighting fur on the air

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:

NEW YORK – – U . S . retail fur sales soared 30% 1999, says the Fur Information Council.

Receipts for the year rose to $1.57 billion––the most since 1988, when sales peaked at $1.85 billion. Adjusting for inflation, however, 1999 sales came to only 60% of the 1988 figure.

Other economic indicators hint that the retail surge may have resulted chiefly from heavy discounting to dump a fur glut caused by the 1998 devaluation of the Russian ruble, which brought the collapse of Russian demand for imported pelts.

Illinois wild fur exports to Russia, for instance, fell from $3 million worth in the winter of 1996-1997 to just $1 million worth in 1998-1999.

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From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:

The Humane Society of Utah, working with Best Friends and other shelters in a concerted drive to make Utah a no-kill state, in 1999 placed 68% of the dogs it received and 61% of cats. Director Gene Baierschmidt told Douglas D. Palmer of the Desert News that the humane society killed 35,000 animals in 1975, but cut the toll to 2,500 in 1999, achieving a 21% reduction from 1998, and aims to go even lower.

The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society on February 1 became the third major shelter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to join a pact to make Pittsburgh a nokill city within five years. The A n i m a l Rescue League and Washington Area Humane Society announced their commitments to no-kill in late 1999. The Alleghany County shelter killing rate is 15.8 animals per 1,000 residents, low enough to suggest that the goal is realistic.

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Shelter killing: how low can you go?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:

SAN FRANCISCO––”Total dog and cat euthanasias dropped below 3,000 for the first time in San Francisco history,” SF/SPCA president Ed Sayres told ANIMAL PEOPLE on January 20.

The 1999 toll ended at 2,916, Sayres said––2,834 at the city Department of Animal Care and Control, and 82 at the SF/SPCA.

And in San Francisco, “euthanasia” really means what the dictionary says it does: a death administered to relieve pain and suffering. Healthy dogs and cats have not been killed in San Francisco since 1994, when Sayres’ predecessor Richard Avanzino negotiated the Adoption Pact with the SF/DACC, to guarantee a home to every healthy dog or cat whom the SF/DACC cannot rehome or place.

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Kindness: where east meets west

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2000:

HONG KONG, BEIJING– – Beijing TV electrified China as the millennium changed with a rare western-style investigative expose of pet theft for the dog-andcat meat markets.

Foreign correspondents swiftly amplified the revealed atrocities. Yet, in a nation where man biting dog is scarcely news to anyone, most missed the breaking edge of the story.

“By fair means and foul, predatory traders are getting their hands on Russian dogs and packing them off by the busload across the border to China to supply a booming demand there,” wrote Baltimore Sun foreign staff reporter Will Englund from Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

“Thousands of animals have been taken out of Siberia,” Englund continued, “in a business that is ruthless, dishonest, and violent––and is breaking the hearts of Russia’s dog lovers. Local gangs buy some dogs and steal others.”

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