LETTERS [April 2001]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2001:


Pit bulls

I’m a supporter of Animal People and have just read the article on the Presa Canario pit bull attacks. Such pit bull crosses are becoming a major problem:
* The number of attacks on people is increasing rapidly.
* Shelters are forced to take in more pit bulls than any other breed, taking up valuable space that could be given to gentle breeds.
* Attacks by pit bulls are causing cities to adopt bylaws restricting free run of all dogs, thus creating a hardship for owners of well-behaved dogs.
Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany have already banned the breed and I feel that we need a similar ban in this country– starting here in California!
Thank you for the wonderful work you do in bringing awareness to the public on all fronts of animal issues!

–Karin Hiller
Mill Valley, California

The Editor replies:

Among the unique risk factors associated with pit bulls are that most of those who kill or maim are highly reactive, not ill-tempered, and are so powerful that their first-ever bite can be lethal. Thus standard behavioral screening often fails to detect those who may become dangerous. However, within the U.S., attempts to ban pit bulls have had little history of legal success, and not much history of seeming to prevent deadly attacks.



Thank you for the very important and interesting information about the care of animals. We receive ANIMAL PEOPLE at the Biosphere Reserve El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar in Sonora state, México. Sometimes we post specific articles on our Visitors Center bulletin board. My personal interest is wildlife, but cats, rodents and birds I love too. I am hoping ANIMAL PEOPLE readers can help us to protect our endangered bighorn sheep (Borrego Cimarrón). Some “important” people, possibly including government officials, want to begin hunting the sheep. The law says hunting the
bighorn sheep “is possible,” but the reality is different, and the bighorn sheep population is very low.
Maybe your help can stop this non-sustainable idea.

–José A. Dávila Paulín
El Pinacate Biosphere Reserve
Speedy vegan

I am an American pro-elite inline speed skater, a sport poised to make its Olympic debut in 2004 in Athens, Greece, and have raced throughout North America and also in Europe. I will be racing in Europe for the Swiss Salomon team this year from May through August. I will then race the U.S. marathon season, September/November.

As a long-time vegan and conservationist, it is my mission to prove that one can not only survive but thrive on a plant-based diet. However, I believe that this message is best conveyed by example. I have won first place overall in the 2000 Colorado Mountain Marathon Hillclimb, first place finishes in the 1998 and 1999 Colorado In-line Marathons, and first overall in the 1998 Evan’s Front Range Salsa Classic 10-K.

I am committed to representing companies whose devotion to sustainable agriculture, providing non-genetically modified source food products, and general social consciousness is consistent with my own. One of my sponsors,
Clif Bar, makes sports nutrition bars that are vegan and GMO-free. Another, Sine Qua Non, makes an organic sprouted meal complex for use as a highly nutritious supplement.

I am seeking further sponsorship. As roller speed skating is not yet a big enough money sport to afford me a living, I welcome any assistance, financial or product, that might be available.

–Antonio Marxuach
2707 Valmont Street #101-B
Boulder, CO 80304
Phone: 303-448-9215

The Indonesian Vegan Society is badly in need of vegan magazines and other educational materials. We gladly receive used books and magazines. These items are distributed to schools and libraries in Indonesia, and are used
at public events.

Due to strict taxation and import duties in Indonesia, please put this important information on the label of any packet sent: THIS IS A CHARITABLE GIFT TO INDONESIAN NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS AND SCHOOLS. PLEASE DO NOT IMPOSE ANY TAXES.

Please also put this, in Indonesian: HADIAH, MOHON UNTUK TIDAK DIKENAKAN PAJAK.

–Vandayani Dewi Soewondo
(KTP #110577/10350)
Gg. Delima V/21
Tanjung Duren Selatan
Jakarta Barat 11470


HSI promised $$

Your March article “HSUS/HSI sets up ‘Chinese laundry’ in Hong Kong’ stated that “Jill Robinson of the Animals Asia Foundation told [Kevin] Sinclair [of the South China Morning Post] that their projects in Hong Kong and southern China were mentioned in Australian mailings by the same organization as if it had something to do with them, when it does not.”

In fact, the connection with Animals Asia Foundation is that someone in Hong Kong gave Sinclair an HSI Australia fundraising mailing which went into great detail about the rescue of farmed bears in western China, with no mention
of the people working on the rescue itself: AAF. They have since pledged about $6,500 U.S.

I am writing from Cheng-du, where we cut ex-bile farm bear #52 out of her cage this week. Our elation turned to deep shock when we found that she had actually been welded inside by someone who never anticipated her freedom. She’ll soon be on grass with the rest.

–Jill Robinson
Animals Asia Foundation
P.O. Box 82, Sai Kung Post Office
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: 852-2225
Fax 852-2791-2320
Saved dik-dik

Our latest week-long desnaring operation in Tsavo National Park yielded 142 illegal snares and a live dik-dik, whom we freed, bringing the number of snares we have removed to 2,540, and to three the number of live animals we have
rescued. This project was sponsored by IFAW East Africa.

–Josphat Nyongo
Youth for Conservation
P.O. Box 27689
Nairobi, Kenya

The phone and fax numbers you were given as contact information for the Asia for Animals symposium, to be held May 14-17 in Manila, were obsolete. My correct contact details are:

Phone: 61-29288-4944
Fax: 61-29288-4901
E-Mail: <swilson@ifaw.org>

The idea of the symposium came from a China Bear team meeting at IFAW some years ago. I have always been in great admiration of people working on animal welfare issues in Asia. They work in such difficult conditions and are often shunned by everyone around them. I feel sure this symposium will be a great opportunity for these wonderful people to share information. I hope it will give them a great morale boost too. I work closely with the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, so that is why the symposium will be held there.

We are trying very hard to get as many paying attendees from Western countries as possible. The more paid registrations we receive, the more Asian groups we can sponsor to attend. All profits will go towards sponsorship,
and we also have some money set aside in the budget to sponsor groups. I am sure you are pleased that big groups’ money is being put to good use in this case!

–Sally Wilson
IFAW Australia
Compassionate Animal Control International

G’day. I mentioned Com-passionate Animal Control Inter-national in a letter published in your January/February 2001 edition, and would like to tell you more about how CACI was formed and what we hope to achieve.

In 1998, I took a leave of absence from the Western Australia Rangers Association to travel with my wife Maureen to expand and develop our appreciation and experience regarding animal control.

After a brief visit to Singapore we arrived in the United Kingdom, where National Dog Wardens Association president Sue Bell put us in contact with other people who could assist us. Through National Canine Defence League chief executive Clarissa Baldwin, I became aware of the animal control problems afflicting Eastern Europe.

What could we do to help? The answer was simply nothing, as individuals. But what could a group of international friends do? Prob-ably quite a lot! A global association of animal control agencies seemed to be a possible solution. I raised the idea first in a presentation to the NDWA Inter-national Conference at Hartpury College in Gloucester that Sept-ember. There I met Pam Burney, animal control director for North Richland, Texas, and Karen Medi-cus,
executive director of the Austin SPCA. They asked me to go to Indianapolis in 1999 to do a presentation to the National Animal Control Association.

NACA responded favorably. Our first organizational meeting was held in Indianapolis at the June 2000 NACA conference.It was agreed that a web site would be the best way to share information with animal care and control officers arond the world.  Betsy Saul of <www.Pet-finder.com> immediately offered a site address and online support.
We began to discuss a name for this new organisation, with many suggestions crossing the table. After a lengthy discussion, Nigel Cardwell of NDWA came up with Compassionate Animal Control International. Perfect!

The founding member organizations include NDWA, NACA, and the Western Australia Rangers Association. As we progress and improve, we hope to provide as much information as possible to people involved in animal care and control around the world.

We recognise the rights of animals to a decent life, to live in peace, and to be protected from cruelty and neglect.

–Steve Elvidge
Vice President
Western Australia
Rangers Assn.
P.O. Box 334
North Beach 6920
Western Australia
Phone: 08-9448-7565
Fax: 08-9203-7565


The January/February 2001 ANIMAL PEOPLE article “Kenya update: anti-poaching gains and a shocking dispute” misidentified Care For The Wild founder Bill Jordan as a director of the Captive Animals Protection Society; Jordan had
resigned from that post in May 2000. In the same article CAPS executive director Diane Westwood was misidentified as speaking for the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust; she in fact spoke for CAPS.

NWF, hunting, tax breaks, and foot fetish

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2001:

The National Wildlife Federation is the largest of 51 Virginia-based nonprofit organizations to gain a permanent reduction in local taxes under special legislation passed by the Virginia senate on February 15 and by the general assembly on March 2. The exemption, previously approved by Fairfield County, applies to a $17.4 million new NWF headquarters opened in Reston on February 13. Built on seven acres of former woodlot, the new headquarters “is as environmentally friendly a building as you can develop within a reasonable budget,” says NWF president Mark Van Putten, but Washington Post staff writer Peter Whoriskey opined on March 21 that it “looks a lot like sprawl.” NWF, a national umbrella for 49 state hunting clubs, has an annual budget and assets each totaling just over $100 million. The assets include $88 million in cash and securities.

NWF in January stepped into a less lucrative but kinkier partnership with the California art studio Willitts Designs–a
promotion called “Just The Right Shoe,” offering 111 styles of miniature porcelain women’s shoes, all for the right foot only.

After pardoning convicted poacher Alfred Whitney Brown III, 46, to enable Brown to resume professionally teaching hunting skills, as ANIMAL PEOPLE reported in January/February 2001, former U.S. President Bill Clinton also pardoned Howard Winfield Riddle, who served 10 months in jail and was fined $30,000 after he was changed in 1988 with masterminding a conspiracy to smuggle the hides of endangered pangolin anteaters from Thailand to Texas. The pangolins’ hides were to be used in costly custom-made cowboy boots.

How sonar kills whales: new theory

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2001:

Washington,  D.C.;  FRIDAY HARBOR,  Washington–Five years of rising controversy over U.S. Navy deployment of low-frequency active sonar moved toward head-on collision when Center for Whale Research founder Ken Balcomb on February 23 published details of his contention that LFA kills whales with harmonic resonance that destroys their inner ears,  while on March 19 the National Marine Fisheries Service served notice in the Federal Register  that it is almost ready to give the Navy a five-year Incidental Take permit which would allow full deployment to proceed.

The Federal Register notice opened a 45-day public comment period,  to close on May 3,  on a proposed rule to govern “Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Navy Operations of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active Sonar,”  called SURTASS-LFA for short.

The Federal Register notice explained that the U.S. Navy wants “a small take exemption under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act,  for the taking of marine mammals incidental to operation of the SURTASS-LFA sonar for a period of time not to exceed five years…There would be a maximum of four SURTASS-LFA sonar systems with a nominal maximum of two systems at sea at any one time.

“The purpose of SURTASS-LFA sonar is to provide the Navy with a reliable and dependable system for long-range detection of quieter, harder-to-find submarines,”  the often highly technical notice continued.  “Low-frequency sound travels in seawater more effectively and for greater distances,”  than the high-frequency sound used by most other sonar.

“The SURTASS-LFA sonar system would meet the Navy’s need for improved detection and tracking of new-generation submarines at a longer range,”  NMFS said.  The idea behind it would be to detect and intercept enemy submarines before they could get close enough to the U.S. to launch nuclear weapons.

“Because of the offshore nature of SURTASS-LFA sonar operations,”  NMFS said,  “the Navy does not believe that there is a potential for SURTASS-LFA sonar to result in marine mammal stranding incidents.”

But NMFS said that “the Navy plans to coordinate with worldwide marine mammal stranding networks and report any correlations between SURTASS-LFA and strandings.”




Strandings,  indicated Balcomb,  are relevant to how SURTASS-LFA harms whales only as a source of physical evidence confirming killings which he believes may occur wherever the sonar system is used.  Most of the remains of whales killed by SURTASS-LFA, Balcomb believes,  will not drift ashore.

Details of the SURTASS-LFA system have leaked out to the marine mammal protection community in bits and pieces for more than 10 years.  The scraps of information began to rouse opposition in mid-1996.

“Between August 1988 and July 1994,  the U.S. Navy conducted 22 LFA field exercises,”  Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Joel Reynolds disclosed via MARMAM,  an electronic bulletin for marine mamologists,  in September 1996.  “The Navy states that they were conducted ‘without known adverse impact on marine mammals.’ Other exercises have been conducted since then,”  Reynolds continued, citing times and places.  The Navy has concluded that no ‘takes’ by harassment or otherwise would occur from operation of LFA.  Therefore no permits have been obtained either under the Marine Mammal Protection Act or the Endangered Species Act.  Any comments?”

As previously unexplained observations of apparent relevance to the various LFA tests surfaced from all over the world, opposition to SURTASS-LFA developed.  Freedom of Information Act requests have confirmed that by mid-1997 government agencies were already receiving warnings from their senior scientists that SURTASS-LFA might be a disaster-in-the-making for whales, though no one could quite explain why the whales were harmed.

Responding to the accumulating evidence,  NMFS began requiring the Navy to seek incidental take permits for further tests.

Lawsuits and public protest greeted the Navy when tests were held off Hawaii in early 1998,  and have dogged SURTASS-LFA ever since–especially after NMFS-commissioned whale acoustics expert Darlene Ketten reported in June 2000 that Navy anti-submarine sonar tests off the northern Bahamas on March 15,  2000 may have caused 16 whales of four different species to beach themselves on the islands of Abaco,  Grand Bahamas,  and North Eleuthera during the next 48 hours.

Seven of the whales died,  including four Cuvier beaked whales and a Blainville’s dense beaked whale,  all of whom are considered extremely rare.

“I’m not ready to say the Navy did it,”  Ketten said,  but added that “The coincidence of the timing and the pattern of the stranding with the presence of Navy sonars raises a red flag.”

After the strandings,  the Navy suspended sonar tests which had been scheduled for May 2000 off the New Jersey coast.

Most of the remains of whales allegedly killed by the Bahamian testing decomposed too soon to provide definitive answers, but the Center for Whale Research, begun at Friday Harbor, Washington,  in 1976,  now has a Bahamian headquarters as well,  and founder Ken Balcomb was present when several stranded beaked whales came up nearby.  Balcomb saw fresh blood in their eyes,  inner ears, lungs,  and brain tissue.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson amplified attention to the strandings from aboard the Ocean Warrior, which was already in the vicinity en route to campaign against whaling in the Faroe Islands of the North Atlantic.


Bodies of evidence


Balcomb had already stated opposition to SURTASS-LFA in comments sent to NMFS during November 1999.  He took almost a year to study the Bahamian strandings before formally commenting again.  His February 23 statement came as an open letter to SURTASS-LFA environmental impact surveillance program manager Joseph S. Johnson, amplified via posting to MARMAM.

The Bahamian strandings,  Balcolm said,  “unequivocally demonstrated the lethality of high-powered sonars,  and provided the opportunity to understand how sonar has been inadvertently killing whales in vast expanses of ocean around the world,”  as had been suspected without anyone being able to verifiably explain the cause-and-effect links.

“The killing is largely due to resonance phenomena in the whales’ cranial airspaces that are tearing apart delicate tissues around the brains and ears,”  Balcolm argued.  “This is an entirely separate issue from [the alleged] auditory thresholds and traumas that the Navy has fixated upon.  In my earlier comments,”  Balcolm said,  “I questioned whether there might be a problem with injurious resonance,  but now I have seen the problem and can attest to the fact that there is massive injury to whales caused by sonar.”

In other words,  Balcolm contends now that the sound volume generated by SURTASS-LSA is not the problem,  contrary to most previous discussion,  which has always been confounded by awareness that many other oceanic activities–both natural and human-created–put out more loud sound.

Instead,  according to Balcolm,  the threat to whales results from the regular,  repetitive emission of sounds at a particular frequency and volume which rarely occurs in nature,  and to which whales seem to be extremely sensitive–perhaps in part because some species use modulated low-frequency sound for communication.

The problem might be compared to what happens when an opera singer uses her voice to shatter a crystal glass,  although it occurs in the opposite sound range.

“Resonance,”  Balcolm explained, “can contribute to shear forces that can be quite damaging–wings tear off airplanes,”  as occurred to several experimental aircraft in the early days of jet-powered flight,  “bridges gallop,”  like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which fell in 1938,   “and buildings collapse,”  as in some long-tremoring but otherwise mild earthquakes,  “due to unanticipated resonance phenomena which can afterward be explained by simple physics and mechanics.

“The scientific and medical literature contains numerous examples,”  Balcolm continued,  “of hemorrhagic injuries and death occurring in humans when they are inadvertently exposed to loud sound,  particularly at their lung airspace resonance frequency. Undoubtedly such damage could also be demonstrated as occurring to whales,  if they could be tested and did not sink to the bottom of the ocean when they die.

In the whales stranded after SURTASS-LFA testing in the Bahamas,  however,  “It is the volume of air in the individual pterygoid sacs and the laryngeal airspace,  not the lungs,  for which resonance should be calculated,”  Balcolm said.




“Below about 100 meters,”  Balcolm explained,  “virtually all of the air that was in the whales’ lungs at the surface is forced into laryngeal and cranial airspaces.  It has a total volume less than that of a football.  The two largest of the remaining airspaces are bilaterally adjacent to the earbones and the base of the brain. Their diminishing volume at depth is compensated for by retia mirabilia,  a vascular network extending to the middle ear.

“Envision the football-sized airspace further squeezed to the size of a ping-pong ball,”  Balcolm offered,  “with 1,500 pounds per square inch of air pressure [50 times the pressure that keeps a car tire rolling],  now tucked between the ear bulla and the skull on each side of the head,  thinly separated from a bag of blood next to it on the soft side.

“The frequencies of LFA,  and other powerful mid-frequency sonars,  match the cranial airspace resonance frequencies in these whales at the depths where they normally forage,”  Balcolm asserted.

“Now envision rapidly compressing and decompressing the ping-pong ball many times per second,  until ultimately the amplitude is exaggerated by resonance. The result is both astonishing and bloody.  Many whales died due to this sonar resonance,”  both in the Bahamas and in earlier LFA testing off Greece,  Balcolm said. “Unfortunately,   the Greek incident passed into relative obscurity,” because investigators “missed the crucial point of matching resonance in critical airspaces,  and because suitable specimens were not collected for discovering the problem.”

Balcolm necropsied four of the whales who came ashore in the Bahamas.

“All of them evidenced hemorrhage in the acoustic regions of the cranium and mandible and in tissues adjacent to airspaces around the earbones,”  Balcolm reported.

“One fresh specimen evidenced a brain hemorrhage with a direct path to the ear hemorrhage.  This same specimen [also] evidenced lung hemorrhage and laryngeal hemorrhage upon dissection. These hemorrhages are of the type reported in laboratory animals exposed to LFA at lung resonance frequency,  and they strongly corroborate the theoretical explanation of such injuries in these whales.

“I have been told,”  Balcolm added,  “that the Bahamian situation may have been complicated by oceanographic conditions and other factors that could have resulted in a surface sound duct in which most of the acoustic energy was trapped;  but I also documented that the whales stranded over an area 200 kilometers across!

“The Navy cannot reasonably mitigate the problem using visual,  active acoustic,  or passive acoustic monitoring,”  Balcolm concluded,  “nor can the Navy redesign the whales.  At best,  it can only reconsider and perhaps redesign the SURTASS-LFA system.”

Receiving Balcolm’s comments,  SURTASS-LFA environmental impact study chief Joseph A. Johnson told Bremerton Sun reporter Christopher Dunagan that he did not see how resonance could be the problem that Balcolm says it is.

Claimed Johnson,  “The frequency changes and sound levels used in LFA are not great enough to cause injury in whales,  although they may cause behavioral changes,”  and opined that LFA cannot be harming whales because blue whales and humpbacks emit sounds at similar volume and frequency.

“The Navy can throw up all kinds of theoretical reasons why it didn’t happen,”  responded Balcolm,  who was a Navy pilot for eight years before beginning his whale studies in 1976.  “But it happened.  There has to be something wrong with the theory.  I’m trying to get them to look.”

Editorial: Cheap pieces put fur back on the streets

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2001:

If you thought you saw more people wearing fur this past winter,  you probably did.  There were more fur coats on the street–and more fur used for trim,  ruffs,  liners,  and hoods.

Paradoxically,  U.S. retail fur sales were apparently flat, by dollar volume.  Much of the fur seen was actually purchased during the winter of 1999-2000,  when sales hit their highest level since crashing in 1988-1989.

Other furs may have come out of closets,  long after purchase–and some fur on the street was passed out to the indigent by PETA,  as part of an ongoing publicity gimmick with high backfire potential,  using garments donated by people who have given up fur.

But who spent the money,  when,  is beside the point.  The point is that no one should take pride in wearing garments produced by crushing animals’ legs in traps,  slowly choking them in snares, or confining them within cramped,  dark,  stinking cages throughout their lives,  prior to gassing,  poisoning,  or electrocution.

Thus the reappearance of fur deserves concern,  especially with former radio fur tout Lynne Cheney now in frequent public view as wife of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

Furriers are trying hard to bring fur garments back to social acceptability,  one scrap at a time.  Mass media for which furriers are prominent advertisers are boosting the effort.  Between the editorial copy and the ads,  for instance,  the New York Times supplement Fashions Of The Times displayed twice as much fur in fall 2000 as in fall 1998.  Fur ads also returned to prominence in New York Times daily editions,  after nearly fading from view.

The fur trade has begun to collect dividends,  as well,  from a decade of using direct subsidies to encourage young designers to return fur to fashion show runways.  Most of the fur garments appearing recently are apparently not meant to appeal to typical customers–but outlandishly dyed furs and novel uses of fur have been taken up by some rockers and rappers who affect fur as part of a “rebel” demeanor.

It is a measure of the success of the antifur movement that wearing fur today can pass for an anti-Establishment gesture–but as the rise of Lynne Cheney attests,  history has not yet retired the Old Money fur fiend Cruella DeVil to the wax museums,  alongside the blood-sucking Count Dracula.  Cruella still appears wherever people wishing to cultivate a ruthlessly privileged image gather,  and ghoulish men still trade furs for bites of her neck.

Despite all the fur on the streets,  new and old,  the fur trade is not actually doing well in economic terms.  Yet anti-fur campaigns are not doing well either,  as ANIMAL PEOPLE pointed out in April 2000,  or there would no longer be any fur on the street,  and the U.S. fur industry would not still be capable of making even the appearance of recovery.

The U.S. retail fur trade must induce new growth soon,  or go down for the count.

Like horse racing,  dog racing,  and purchasing circus tickets,  fur-wearing is a vice which by and large has not attracted the generation of Americans now in the 35-to-55 age range.  Thus far, fur has not appealed to most of the next generation,  either.

Losing appeal to the young did not matter to the fur industry during the 1970s and 1980s.  Most of the Baby Boom generation were then still well short of their peak earning years,  when fur-wearers typically buy their first fur garment.

As the Boomers entered economic independence,  meanwhile, their parents–the World War II generation–found themselves more affluent in their later earning years than any generation before them.  Raised in the deprivation and misery of the “Dirty Thirties,” they bought fur and other luxury items “as if they were going out of style.”

Hunting and trapping,  horse racing,  and greyhound racing also boomed–and,  because members of the World War II generation who had just become grandparents bought circus tickets in growing numbers,  circus attendance declined less rapidly than it had during the first decades after the advent of television.

Then,  as the World War II generation entered retirement, encountered rising medical costs,  and realized the limits of their often fixed incomes,  they bought less fur.   Hunting,  recreational trapping,  horse racing,  greyhound racing,  and circus-going also fell off.

Each was an early casualty of a generational transition in attitudes toward animals.  Each was and is vulnerable as a “non-essential” use,  i.e. not directly necessary to human well-being.  Each,  unlike pet-keeping and zoos,  involved obvious and deliberate harsh treatment of animals,  represented by whips and muzzles even if the worst abuse could be kept out of sight.

As Boomers reached peak affluence,  they bought far less fur than their parents.  They hunted and trapped less,  stopped betting on animal races,  and quit going to circuses. Today,  with the World War II generation passing on,  along with the utilitarian views of animals and nature that predominated in the long gone mostly rural America,  the fur trade has the same two possible strategies for survival as hunting,  animal racing,  and circuses.

One strategy would be to persuade the Boomers to begin to adopt pursuits they have thus far shunned:  to begin hunting in the age range when previous generations have begun to give it up,  and to begin wearing furs,  especially to animal races and the circus.

The other strategy would be to convince Generation X that the pro-animal attitudes strong among the Boomers are quaint artifacts of the Xers’ parents’ era.

Neither will be an easy sell.  Boomers are now of an age where attitudes,  values,  and patterns of behavior rarely change direction.  Xers,  now in the 15-to-35 age range,  have thus far accepted pro-animal values to a far greater extent than Boomers ever did.

Boomers eat less meat than their parents;  Xers are more than twice as likely to become fully vegetarian,  or even vegan.  Boomers hunt at only half the level of their parents;  Xers barely hunt at all.  Boomers bought circus tickets once,  on average,  during their children’s childhood;  Xers attended only when their grandparents–or parents  once–took them.  Boomers may have been to a horse  or greyhound race.  Xers have rarely bothered with either.

Most important as regards fur,  five states with strong concentrations of Boomers and Xers have passed anti-leghold trapping initiatives within the past eight years:  Arizona,  California, Massachusetts,  Oregon,  and Washington.

Demographics indicate that a frontal assault on the attitudes of the two largest generations of American consumers will probably not succeed–unless animal protection organizations completely fail to respond in an effective manner.  Lynne Cheney and other prominent fur-wearers may encourage the relatively few Boomers and Xers who are not put off by fur to buy and wear more of it,  but the Cheney influence can be countered and contained if animal defenders resume reminding the public just what is wrong with fur in the first place.

In April 2000,  ANIMAL PEOPLE pointed toward the soaring fur sales of 1999-2000 and reminded the animal protection community for the umpteenth time that the Humane Society of the U.S. had dismantled its hugely successful “Shame of Fur” campaign of 1988-1991 almost as if intending to allow fur to make a comeback.  ANIMAL PEOPLE also noted that Friends of Animals’ anti-fur themes had drifted from the hard-hitting “Get a feel for fur–slam your hand in a car door” slogan of the late 1980s to near complete obscurity.

Later in 2000,  Coalition Against the Fur Trade founder J.P. Goodwin noted that PETA campaigns,  on fur and other topics,  have recently also veered far off message.

“It’s time to say no to pie throwing,  manure dumping,  and naked models,”  Goodwin opined,  “and get back to talking about animals.”

FoA earlier this year dusted off “Get a feel for fur–slam your hand in a car door.”  HSUS brought back the “Shame of Fur,” and introduced a parallel campaign about the violence inherent in killing karakul sheep so that furriers can use the pelts of their aborted fetuses to make so-called “broadtail.”

Burned repeatedly by models who first attacked fur and then endorsed it,  after the fur trade offered more money,  PETA got burned again in February 2001 by rapper/designer Sean “Puffy” Combs. Renouncing fur upon learning that PETA planned to protest against the debut of his collection,  Combs prominently exhibited fur when the protesters stayed home.

To the extent that fur is back,  it is mostly back by stealth,  reappearing in bits and pieces,  in places where furriers hope no one will say much to those who wear the odd scrap,  until ubiquity overcomes inhibition and–in theory–complete fur coats return to vogue.

This strategy wouldn’t work,  and couldn’t begin to work,  if fur was still expensive,  as it would be if the supply side of the trade had collapsed in step with demand.

Instead,  global ranched mink production fell from 41.7 million pelts in 1988 to 25 million in 1993,  then edged back up to 28.5 million by 1998,  as breeders anticipated new markets developing in Asia and eastern Europe.

Economic and political turmoil thwarted that notion.  Mink coats have since glutted the U.S. market.  Prices tell the story. From 1979 through 1988,  the average list price of a mink coat in New York City was close to $7,250.   It fell to $6,290 in 1993–and was $4,737 last winter.  Actual sale prices averaged $2,902 in 1993, $2,041 in 1995-1996,  and just $1,558 in 2000-2001.  The glut depressed the price of wild-trapped furs,  too,  which listed at an average of $5,499 on Thanksgiving 2000,  but by Valentine’s Day fell to $1,428.

Steep discounting has always been standard in the fur trade, especially toward the end of winter,  but the recent discounts have run half again deeper than usual.


Put a “Tiger” in New York


Fur is everywhere because fur is cheap.  Fur is cheap because fur is in oversupply.  Fur is going to get cheaper still during the next year or two,  as the oversupply grows,  along with economic pressure on brokers and auction houses to dump the glut before it decomposes.

Mink breeders may be cutting back,  but Louisiana, emphasizing “greenspeak” about invasive species,  is still trying to revive nutria trapping.  New Zealand,  encouraged by the World Wildlife Fund,  wants to kill an estimated 60 to 90 million feral brush possums and dump their pelts on the world market.

Placating out-of-work fishers,  who seek someone else to blame for fished-out seas,  Russia in March authorized the massacre of 76,000 baby harp seals on the ice of the White Sea.  The Namibian sealing quota is reportedly to be sharply increased,  from 40,000 last year,  and the quota in Atlantic Canada remains at 275,000, near an all-time high–even though the Canadian government cannot document the sale of 49% of the 1.9 million seal pelts taken since 1982,  according to International Marine Mammal Associaton scientistJanice Hannah.

The IMMA is a subsidiary of the International Fund for Animal Welfare,  whose Canadian office chief,  Rick Smith,  suspects the surplus may have been dumped in landfills.

Canadian seal pelts rarely enter the U.S.,  but their global availability,  in competition with other kinds of fur,  helps to hold all fur prices down.

That will mean more use of fur wherever it can be used without adding enough to the price of a garment ($25) that labeling laws require it to be identified–unless consumers are induced to balk with further reminders that animals suffered horribly for cuffs and ruffs,  too.

J.P. Goodwin is right that effective antifur campaigns need to focus on animals:  even if people who might be induced to wear fur by low prices do not themselves care about animal suffering,  they mostly will care what others think about them for doing it.

Along the way,  ubiquitous cheap fur requires more effective and efficient campaign tactics.  Masing demonstrators eats time and energy,  to uncertain effect;  Boomers in midlife and Xers with increasing career and family duties don’t have time for that.  Civil disobedience,  effective against bad public policy,  rarely

influences consumer choice.  Vandalism backfires.  Picketing and tabling are effective where public access is a right,  not a conditional privilege,  and where most of the traffic walks,  but do not work well at malls accessed mainly by car.

In this edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE,  SHARK founder Steve Hindi’s introduces his “Put a Tiger in New York” campaign,  hoping to raise the funds to replicate his “Tiger” TV van and station one in each major U.S. metropolitan area–beginning with New York City.

More than 80% of the furs sold in the U.S. are sold in the greater New York region.  The “Tiger” is made-to-order for antifur campaigning there.  It is a spectacular rolling demonstration, requiring just one driver to turn thousands of heads.  It is as effective inching along in   Fifth Avenue or Long Island Expressway traffic as anywhere else.

What it can do is display stark wall-sized real-life video of trapped animals and animals being killed on fur farms directly to the public,  with illuminated digital captions.  Screens facing in all four directions mean the images cannot be missed.  As SHARK owns the first truck,  and the technology to build more,  it is not competing with commercial advertisers and station owners’ mercantile considerations:  it broadcasts the message at will.

Contributing to putting a “Tiger” in New York is the most promising investment that animal protection donors can make this year to counter cheap fur–and it will be just as effective in advancing any other campaign which must be taken to the public.

The address is c/o SHARK,  P.O. Box 28,  Geneva,  IL  60134.

Seeking the bear truth about World Society work in India

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2001:

LONDON, NEW DELHI–“A major story should come out on the World Society for the Protection of Animals, especially the campaign on behalf of dancing bears,” wrote Maneka Gandhi on March 4 to ANIMAL PEOPLE publisher Kim Bartlett.

The WSPA web site was full of pages describing relief work in India after the January 26 earthquake that shattered the Kutch region of Gujarat–but Mrs. Gandhi, the Indian federal minister for social justice and empowerment, did not have praise in mind. “Ask WSPA president Andrew Dickson how much money they have collected from the bear campaign,” suggested Mrs. Gandhi.

To build and operate a 30-acre bear sanctuary in India, Mrs. Gandhi said, “WSPA finally coughed up, after four years of
haranguing them, the miniscule sum of $24,000. This was after they had collected more than a million pounds for the [promised] bear centers of Pakistan and India. Even this money came only when I wrote an official letter of complaint to the Charities Commissioner in Britain and he instituted an inquiry.

“However,” Mrs. Gandhi added, “they got away scot-free. The Charities Commission said that while WSPA had collected $1.6 million or thereabouts,” from mailings about dancing bears in India and elsewhere, “according to their charter they could spend it on anything, not just the bear sanctuaries. So that is all we got. They, in turn, got to come to India and stay in fine hotels at least three times a year, have cocktail parties, travel all over, and lament the corruption of India and the impossibility of doing anything here. They told me that they could not set up anything here because Indians are dishonest! This, from people who are getting huge salaries on our bear account! Anyway, the bear shelter is coming up,” Mrs. Gandhi acknowledged, “but very slowly, because WSPA has washed its hands of providing further funding and disappeared.”

Mrs. Gandhi charged that the Indian experience reflects a global pattern. “WSPA collected a large amount for the bears in Ecuador,” Mrs. Gandhi said. “Then they sent an Australian expert and another person to Ecuador several times. They traveled all over South America. Ultimately they did not build a rescue center, or give money to any local groups to build one, as they found everyone was too corrupt. The same thing happened in Pakistan. They have sent
photographers over the years to take pathetic pictures to use in collecting money–but no rescue center. They claim to have rescued some bears in Turkey,” Mrs. Gandhi continued, “but I found that it was a government-funded effort. They also claim to have a few bears in a sanctuary in Thailand. This needs to be checked out. Our ambassador there has never heard of it.”

Long delay

The ANIMAL PEOPLE files affirm that WSPA mailings and press releases have repeatedly promised since 1993 that rescue centers would be built in Pakistan and India, as well as Greece, Hungary, Turkey, and Thailand, to house bears confiscated from abusive traveling shows.

The 1993 WSPA materials refer to a directive Mrs. Gandhi issued in 1990, when she was federal minister for environment and forests, ordering that in compliance with the Wildlife Act of 1972, all bears and other large carnivores should be confiscated from traveling shows and placed in sanctuaries. Like much of the Wildlife Act itself, the 1990 directive went ignored until late 1999, as Mrs. Gandhi lost her office in 1991, and was ousted from the then-ruling Congress Party for forcefully denouncing corruption.

Re-elected to the Indian Parliament as an independent, Mrs. Gandhi was not able to compel enforcement until after the Hindu nationalist Bharitiya Janata party toppled 51 years of Congress rule in 1998 and invited her to join the ruling coalition.WSPA mailings and press releases during those years asserted that bears were not being confiscated and sent to sanctuaries because no sanctuaries existed.

There are still no bear sanctuaries funded by WSPA up and running in India. In the interim, however, many other organizations have started sanctuaries in India, and while at least one attempts by a U.S. citizen to start a sanctuary collapsed due to alleged corruption involving Indian trustees, projects begun and directed from within India, by Indians, have been much more successful.

The Compassionate Crusaders Trust, of Calcutta, for instance, had barely formed when WSPA first promised to build a bear sanctuary in India. The Compassionate Crusaders now have two sanctuaries up and running, described by ANIMAL PEOPLE in January/February 2001, and also manage a variety of other animal welfare projects.

“WSPA needs to be asked what they have spent on the bear campaigns in travel, staff hired, and advertising,” Mrs. Gandhi opined, “as well as asking about the number of shelters built, the number of bears rescued, and where they are.” ANIMAL PEOPLE detailed Mrs. Gandhi’s allegations to WSPA president Andrew Dickson on March 5, asking by e-mail, “Can you furnish a financial accounting for the WSPA ‘Libearty’ campaign, detailing expenditures and receipts, so as to document that the funds raised in the name of various projects are in fact being spent to advance those projects?”

Responded Dickson, “Any responsible person in animal welfare knows these allegations are complete rubbish and can easily be proved to be rubbish.” But he provided no data. ANIMAL PEOPLE asked Dickson two more times for the “Libearty” cumulative balance sheet. None was ever forthcoming. However, WSPA operations director Trevor Wheeler responded for Dickson on March 12. “Mrs. Gandhi made the same allegations to the Charity Commission here in London,” Wheeler confirmed, “and as a result, WSPA had a formal visit from the Charities Commission. WSPA was
completely exonerated. The construction of the sanctuary and first year running costs will amount to approximately $120,000. In addition to this, we have costs associated with WSPA personnel travelling to the sanctuary, bear confiscation costs, transportation of the bears within India, and veterinary costs. The statement that these costs only amount to 1.5% of funds raised by WSPA on this issue,” as Mrs. Gandhi’s math suggested, “would indicate that WSPA would have raised over $10 million” for bear projects, “which is quite ridiculous,” Wheeler asserted, “given
that our total income from all sources last year was $12 million.” “If you should wish to see our audited accounts,” Wheeler concluded, “you can apply for a copy to our office in Boston.”

In fact, ANIMAL PEOPLE already had copies of the most recent WSPA accountability documents filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the British Charities Commission. They actually show combined U.S. and British income of $15.7 million, with about two-thirds coming from the U.S. The U.S. filings do not show any separate accounting for the bear projects. The British documents show the availability in 1997 and 1998 of about $283,000 in restricted funds raised for the bear projects. Bear projects spending by the British branch in 1997 totalled $286,400, falling to $174,400 in 1998.

The numbers do not distinguish between “project support and directly attributable fundraising costs,” says a footnote. Neither is there any indication of the volume of non-dedicated funds received in response to bear-oriented appeals.
Said Mrs. Gandhi of Wheeler’s reply, “This is rubbish. For instance, the money spent on the bears is only $24,000. But they have claimed that they have paid for the first year’s running costs as well. The money from WSPA is not enough to even cover the building of the moat, much less the running costs when the whole sanctuary is built.”

Further, Mrs. Gandhi said, “Not one rupee has been spent on confiscating, transporting, and veterinary costs–because in six years not a single animal has been confiscated, transported, or medically treated. “If you look at each country’s achievement,” Mrs. Gandhi reiterated, “you will see what they have done–absolutely nothing, and it is always the country’s fault. You will get the same report from animal groups in Pakistan, Ecuador, Thailand, and Turkey,” Mrs. Gandhi said.

Pakistan intrigue

ANIMAL PEOPLE had already asked WSPA about the bear projects it claims to be sponsoring in other nations. “The sanctuary in Pakistan has been ready for months to receive bears,” Wheeler said. “Due to a lack of co-operation from
local government offices within Pakistan, the [planned] confiscations were unable to go ahead.” However, Wheeler added, “We are confident that the completed sanctuary will soon be home to a number of confiscated bears who have been used in bear-baiting. On March 8,” Wheeler went on, “a WSPA team was dispatched to liase with the government of Pakistan to commence the confiscation program.”

More about that surfaced in the March 26 edition of the London Independent. Wrote news correspondent Meriel Beattie, from Kund, Pakistan, “WSPA fieldworkers said a team of journalists from the [London] Daily Mail arrived in Pakistan two weeks ago, to follow WSPA’s ongoing campaign to save fighting bears [baited by dogs in public spectacles] and suitable cubs, and transfer them to the WSPA sanctuary. However, when it seemed as if no official rescue would take place before their deadline, the Mail journalists inquired about buying a bear from gypsies near Islamabad.

Said John Joseph, WSPA regional manager for Asia, “If people just come into the country and start brandishing a checkbook and buying animals illegally and then try to pass them to us, and we accept those animals, it will blow any credibility we have with the Pakistani authorities. We’ve always been against any sort of purchasing. It sets a precedent that animals have a value. All it will do is increase the amount of illegal trade in these animals in
the long run.”

Added Beattie, “The bear the Mail chose to ‘rescue’ was a dancing bear, which did not fit the charity’s criteria,” for the
sanctuary of only accepting baited bears–although dancing bears are the focus of the WSPA bear campaign elsewhere. When WSPA fieldworkers refused to cooperate,” Beattie charged, “the charity was warned by its head office that the Mail would criticize it in print for refusing to cooperate in a rescue.” Beattie said the Mail, the arch-rival of The Independent, did not return her calls. The alleged bear purchase apparently did not take place–but Pakistani forest officials finally brought WSPA their first bear, a two-year-old reportedly confiscated in Kashmir. She was not a
fighting bear either, Beattie said.

Turkey, Ecuador

Of the WSPA bear project in Turkey, Wheeler explained, “Following a meeting with the Director General from the Ministry of Forestry in Ankara, it was agreed that the Turkish government would adopt full financial and management responsibility of the sanctuary from January 1, 2001. So it would be true to say that since that date, the major support for that project comes from the Turkish government. Previously, the majority of funding was provided by WSPA. In 1993 WSPA funded the construction of a veterinary rescue center for Turkish bears,” Wheeler said. “WSPA then funded construction of the bear sanctuary, opened in 1995. Since 1995,” Wheeler claimed, “WSPA has funded veterinary costs, feeding costs, staff salaries, development and improvement costs, and further construction.

“As with all of the WSPA-supported bear sanctuaries,” Wheeler continued, WSPA agreed to cover the construction of the sanctuary and first-year running costs, after which “the government would accept the ongoing financial and managerial responsibilities. In the case of Turkey, due to budgetary constraints of the government, WSPA financed the sanctuary for a further five years.

“The project in Ecuador commenced in 1994,” Wheeling explained further. “WSPA funded the confiscation of a number of illegally owned spectacled bear cubs and their veterinary treatment. Four years ago, WSPA funded the transfer of three bears into a reserve in Ecuador and last year a further three bears were taken to another reserve in the country. We had intended to build a full-scale sanctuary in Ecuador some years ago, and received a donation from The Body Shop in New Zealand of around $50,000 for this purpose,” Wheeler said. “After months of negotiation, the Ecuadoran government failed to provide a suitable site. With the full endorsement of The Body Shop, this money was used to construct a sanctuary in Hungary to re-home abused ex circus, zoo, and film bears,” opened in 1998.

Southeast Asia

At Banglamung, Thailand, Wheeler said, “WSPA funded the first bear sanctuary in the nation, to house 40-plus confiscated Asiatic black bears, which were held in very poor condition in a government compound. During 1999, WSPA funded the construction of two further sanctuaries,” one at Banlamung, which “is now home to a number of sun bears,” and the other, “for a small number of Asiatic black bears, at a separate location in northern Thailand called Salween.”

Wheeler’s account of the work in Thailand paralleled a description of Free the Bears Fund work in Cambodia that ANIMAL PEOPLE had just received from Free the Bears representative Karon Church. “Despite the fact that keeping or poaching bears is illegal in Cambodia,” Church wrote, “Free the Bears Fund was quick to realize that national wildlife legislation could not be enforced if no facility to house confiscated bears exists.”

Therefore, working with the Cambodian Wildlife Protection Office, Free the Bears Fund overseas project direct David Ware in 1997 built the first of three bear enclosures at the Phnom Tamao Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Rescue Center. “The following year saw the construction of a sun bear nursery to house cubs who had either been orphaned or were abandoned by their mothers,” Church wrote.

“Until 2000,” Church continued, “confiscated Asiatic black bears were housed with the sun bears. However, their growing numbers and tendency to strip the vegetation necessitated building their own enclosure. Designed by Fund volunteer Matt Jeffrey, this enclosure adjoins and is interconnected to the other pair of sun bear enclosures. Like the others, it is equipped with native vegetation, pools, night dens, and play equipment to provide much needed mental stimulation.”

ANIMAL PEOPLE wondered whether there was any relationship between the WSPA project in Thailand and the Free the Bears Fund work in Cambodia. Responded Free the Bears Fund founder Mary Hutton, “We have also established a sanctuary for bears within the grounds of the Lopburi Zoo in Thailand. This sanctuary was designed, built, and
financed entirely with Free the Bears Fund money. It was built during 1997 and opened in 1998. WSPA had absolutely no involvement with this project.”

But David Ware of Free the Bears Fund affirmed that WSPA had funded a “large Asiatic bear enclosure at Banlamung” and a sanctuary “in the north” known to him as Om Goi, “through a local nonprofit organization called the Thai Society for the Conservation of Wild Animals.”

Cows and character

“It is interesting,” fumed WSPA president Andrew Dickson, while refusing to provide the cumulative balance sheet on the bear projects which ANIMAL PEOPLE three times requested, “that Mrs. Gandhi has made no comment about the fact that WSPA has had a team of three staff in the earthquake zone in India for the last four weeks, bringing food and medicines to nearly 20,000 cattle in affected farming communities. Without our help these animals would have starved to death, with disastrous effect on these poor people.”

An internal “Summary of Green Fodder Distribution” shared by Wheeler indicated that WSPA from February 10 through March 18 actually fed 5,935 cattle at eight gaushalas. The 167 truckloads of fodder supplied, the WSPA internal document stated, were enough “to feed approximately 2,250 animals on a daily basis.”Thus WSPA provided just under half of the animals’ recommended diet, at cost of about $36,740 total.

That was considerable–but at least five India-based animal protection organizations known to ANIMAL PEOPLE reportedly sent more, including Mrs. Gandhi’s own organization, People For Animals. Meanwhile, Mrs. Gandhi faxed to ANIMAL PEOPLE a copy of a February 8 letter from Andrew Dickson to Kartick Sayanarayan and Geeta Sheshamani of Wildlife S.O.S.–“the very organisation,” acknowledged Wheeler, “that is managing the WSPA-funded construction
of the bear sanctuary in India.”

Wrote Dickson, “I am appalled by what appears to be an attempt by you to collect money from both the Brooke Animal Hospital and WSPA for the same activities. These are: 1) Your initial trip to the disaster area at a cost of nearly $5,000. You attempted to get this money paid by WSPA despite the fact that Brooke had already agreed to fund you for this to the sum of $5,000. 2) Your proposal for a second visit, including the expenses of two veterinarians and animal food at a total of nearly $10,000. WSPA agreed to pay this without knowing that Brooke had also agreed to fund a similar project plus your air travel and expenses during the same period. It was only due to a telephone conversation among Rick Butson of Brooke, Trevor Wheeler, and myself, that we realized you had approached both societies for basically the same activities.

“Since neither society was told from the outset of the involvement of the other,” Dickson said, “I can only assume that
the additional $15,000 you would have received would not have been utilized for the intended purpose of helping stricken animals in the wake of this national tragedy. “We expect you to honor agreements to complete the bear
sanctuary,” Dickson finished, “but in light of this saga, any future collaboration between us is highly unlikely.”

Despite that letter, WSPA press officer Jonathan Owen just one day later announced to ANIMAL PEOPLE by e-mail that, “WSPA has established a mobile wildlife rescue unit to deal with injured or trapped animals. The mobile unit is run by Wildlife S.O.S.,” whose application for WSPA funding had actually just been denied. Away working in the earthquake zone, Sayanarayan and Sheshamani did not learn that Dickson had axed their funding until February 26.

“We have now worked with WSPA on various projects for five or six years, and WSPA has never found reason to accuse us of dishonesty or a lack of commitment and integrity,” Sayanarayan responded. “For relief work in Gujarat, Trevor Wheeler had already informed us that WSPA would be working through the Animal Help Foundation in Ahmedabad,” as was done; however, Sayanarayan continued, it was unclear whether WSPA might also fund work by
Wildlife S.O.S.

In any event, Sayanarayan explained, “From the very start, Rick Butson of the Brooke Hospital was aware that we would be requesting WSPA to help in the earthquake relief work, and he was happy to coordinate with WSPA. For the record, at the time of our requesting funding from you, neither organization had actually funded us. We had indeed borrowed the money,” in order to get started, in hopes that both the Brooke and WSPA might contribute something.

“In view of the distrust between our organizations and in view of the fact that the supervision and construction of the bear rescue facility, including the liaison work to obtain permits and a site were all done by us on our own time without seeking a consultancy fee from WSPA,” Satyanarayan concluded, “the belated recognition from WSPA of my hard work in the form of a consultancy fee of $2,000 sent to my account” at some recent date “is neither acceptable nor necessary. I shall be donating this amount into the bear facility fund of Wildlife S.O.S., and the contract with WSPA
stands null and void. However, we will complete the construction of the bear rescue facility as per our agreement. Contrary to your strong and malicious accusation of greed, we are dedicated to doing something about the Indian sloth bear problems. We can and will achieve what we have set out to do, with or without WSPA.”

[Wildlife S.O.S. is located at D-210, Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India; telephone 91-11-462-1939; fax 91-11-464-4231; <wsos@del3.vsnl.net.in>.] More about Free the Bears Fund

It was with great interest that I read the article “Tapping the wells of kindness in China and southern Asia” in the January/ February 2001 edition of Animal People. It is encouraging to note that cultural beliefs ingrained over many generations are slowly bending to the concept that animals are no longer simply a food source devoid of feelings, but are sentient creatures worthy of respect.

To this end I wish to share the success of the Western Australian-based charity Free the Bears Fund, founded by Mary Hutton in 1995. We have campaigned extensively for the protection of bears worldwide, but our success within Cambodia is especially noteworthy. Cambodia has endured enormous political strife over the years and yet, despite extreme poverty, has from the beginning been enthusiastic and cooperative toward us.

Both bears native to Cambodia, the sun bear and the Asiatic black bear, are endangered, as victims of habitat destruction, poaching, and illegal trade. They have been the focus of widespread attention since Free the Bears Fund alerted the world to their plight in the restaurants and markets of Phnom Penh.

We have placed many bears in the rescue facilities we have created within the Phnom Tamao Zoological Gardens, and we have relocated six Cambodian sun bears, confiscated from restaurants, to Australian zoos. But we acknowledge that these habitats are only an intermediate solution to the problem of illegal wildlife trade. Native habitat must also be secured.

Free the Bears Fund aims to assist indigenous communities to seek alternative, sustainable relationships with bears, and puts emphasis on improving human as well as animal welfare. We are aware that the people of Cambodia need financially sustainable alternatives to poaching, and that unless this is provided, poaching will not decrease.
Emulating projects already undertaken throughout the game parks of southern and eastern Africa, Thailand and Russia, Free the Bears Fund hopes to develop a Protected Areas Ranger program in Cambodia. We aim to integrate daily initiatives such as anti-poaching patrols, medium-term objectives including education and financial sustainability for indigenous communities, and our long term goal of preserving bio-diversity and facilitating the repopulation of endangered species.
We shall be happy to provide further particulars to ANIMAL PEOPLE readers.

–Karon Church
Free the Bears Fund
5 Laga Court
Stirling, W.A. 6021

Cannibalism, sacrifice, and hunting in National Parks

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2001:


FLAGSTAFF,  Arizona–As many as 40 newly hatched golden eagles and redtailed hawks may be stolen fron nests within the Wupatki National Monument north of Flagstaff this spring for sacrifices originating out of some of the nastiest known history in North America.

The eagles are the sacred totems of the Navajo;  redtails are the totems of their traditional allies,  the Apache.

For approximately 1,000 years the ancestors of the modern-day Navajo and Apache treated the Pueblo civilization built by the Hopi and related tribes like a larder.

During droughts betwen roughly 1080 and 1580,  Navajo and Apache raiders often stole Pueblo corn,  massacred Pueblo adults, and cannibalized the children.

In between,  the Navajo and Apache terrorized the Pueblo tribes for amusement.

Cannibalism faded out but frequent raids continued long after the Spanish conquered what remained of the Pueblo civilization and converted the survivors–nominally–to Catholicism.

Unable to distinguish one tribe from another,  Spanish garrisons at times retaliated for Navajo and Apache mayhem inflicted on remote missions by killing any Pueblo people who remained nearby.

Kit Carson and the U.S. Cavalry finally stopped the murderous cycle in 1863-1864 by poisoning and shooting all the Navajo sheep. Starved into submission, the former Navajo raiders waited out the U.S. Civil War in concentration camps.  They were then given new sheep,  of Old World breeds,  and moved to the fringes of Hopi land in the Four Corners area,  where Arizona,  Colorado,  New Mexi-co, and Utah meet.  There–with Navajos surrounding the less numerous Hopi–the tribes have uneasily coexisted ever since.

Historically the Pueblo tribes were far more numerous,  more affluent,  and much more technologically advanced than the Navajo and Apache, yet seemed perennially unable to mount effective self-defense.  The Hopi,  however,  evolved a religious ritual which mocked the Navajo and Apache by attacking their totems.

Each spring,  Hopi men would raid the nests of cliff-dwelling golden eagles and redtails,  steal the hatchlings,  leave gifts in their places,  and bring the hatchlings home to raise as tethered captives.  In midsummer,  just before the young birds became capable of flight,  they were ceremonially smothered to death in corn meal, plucked,  and buried.  The feathers were used in connection with special prayers and to costume kachina dolls.  Eagles and eagle feathers were most highly prized.

The Hopi have continued the ritual despite sporadic efforts of missionaries and U.S. government agencies to repress it.

The sacrifices seemed to be history from the 1962 passage of the Bald Eagle Protection Act,  which also protected golden eagles and was superseded by the Endangered Species Act,  until 1994,  after both bald eagles and golden eagles were downlisted from “endangered” to “threatened” status.

But few eagles’ nests were left on Hopi territory.  When Hopi attacked eagles’ nests on Navajo land near Indian Wells,  Arizona, in 1995,  1996,  and 1999,  Navajo police tried to protect the eaglets.  Intertribal friction flared.

Then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt bought time by allowing the Hopi to capture eaglets on National Forest land–but the largest concentrations of eagles’ nests in the Four Corners area were within the Wupatki National Monument, near Flagstaff.

Removing eagles from “threatened” status coincidental with the sacrificial ceremonies in July 1999,  Babbitt in November 1999 proposed allowing the Hopi to capture eaglets from the National Monument.  The Wupatki National Monument had been officially off limits since 1924.  The Babbitt proposal accordingly required a regulatory breach in the Organic Act of 1916,  which created the National Park Service and has protected wildlife within National Parks and National Monuments ever since.

On January 22,  2001,  days before leaving office,  Babbitt published the proposed regulatory amendment,  to take effect in late March,  after a 60-day public comment period.  The amendment is vigorously opposed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility,  humane organizations,  and many Navajo leaders,  and could be cancelled by Interior Secretary Gail Norton or President George W. Bush.

The amendment  is reportedly favored,  however,  by religious freedom advocates including Christian fundamentalist Bush supporters; 22 Indian tribes which also claim hunting,  fishing,  and trapping rights within National Parks;  and sport hunters and trappers who see the amendment as an opening to gaining access to National Park land.


Feather merchants


Eagle feathers are ceremonially important to many tribes, including the Navajo.  Most tribes obtain feathers from the National Eagle Repository near Denver,  which collects and parcels out feathers from dead eagles found by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Applicants wait up to three years for coveted back and tail feathers.

The delay,  combined with growing interest in traditional Native American religion,  has created a substantial market for poached feathers.  At least 31 illegal feather merchants have been prosecuted since 1994,  including Antonio Alvarez,  25,  of Lac du Flambeau,  Wisconsin,  who drew five months in prison and five months in a halfway house on January 11 for hiding an eagle carcass at his girlfriend’s home on the Lac du Flambeau reservation,  and Gilbert George Walks,  38,  of Crow Agency,  Montana,  who on March 8 pleaded guilty to selling 17 feet,  a wing,  and a tail from bald eagles.

Former President Bill Clinton on his last day in office reversed one of the best-known convictions,  however,  pardoning Peggy A. Bargon of Monticello,  Illinois,  who was charged in 1995 after presenting a “dream-catcher” made from eagle,  owl,  and wild turkey feathers to former First Lady Hilary Clinton,  who is now a U.S. Senator from New York.

Founding the Navajo Zoo at Window Rock,  New Mexico,  in 1963 to house a bear who could not be returned to the wild,  the Navajo Museum subsequently accepted eagles and other birds donated by wildlife agencies,  and enabled Navajo shamen to bypass the National Eagle Repository by giving them fallen feathers.

The future of the seven-acre zoo was jeopardized in January 1999 when former Navajo tribal president Milton Bluehouse ordered–on his last day in office–that it be closed and the animals be released.  Bluehouse said that two Navajo women had seen deities in a vision,  who told them that keeping the animals prisoner was blasphemy,  even though most arrived at the zoo after suffering injuries that would inhibit their survival in the wild.  Others have never lived in the wild.

Bluehouse’s successor,  Kelsey Begaye,  allowed the zoo to remain open for the remainder of the lives of the animals,  but declared that it should not be expanded.

As the controversy subsided,  the Zuni tribe opened a similar facility for non-releasable eagles and other birds at Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico.

The Zuni are the largest of the surviving Pueblo tribes.  The Zuni of Jemez,  and Acoma Pueblos sparked global protest led by United Poultry Concerns and Animal Protection of New Mexico in 1995, after the All Indian Pueblo Council and New Mexico Department of Tourism promoted their spring “rooster pulls” as a visitor attraction.  Introduced by the Spanish in the late 16th century, “rooster pulls” are a contest in which a rooster is buried to his neck,  after which riders try to pluck him from the earth by the head.

The pulls occur on the feast days of St. John and St. James. Formerly practiced in other pueblos too,  they are believed to continue in Jemez and Acoma as private events.



Watson in Galapagos

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2001:

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS,  Ecuador– “After assisting at the clean-up of a January oil spill,  on March 7 the Sea Shepherd International patrol boat Sirenian,”  under captain Paul Watson, “became the first foreign-flagged vessel to be allowed to patrol in the Galapagos Marine Reserve,” Sea Shepherd marine liaison officer Sean O’Hearn announced on March 18.

“In five days,”  O’Hearn continued,  “working with the Galapagos National Park Service,  the Sirenian apprehended three commercial fishing vessels inside the Marine Reserve,  and a fourth was seized by a Park Service patrol vessel.”

Boarding one of the fishing boats,  the Dilsum,  O’Hearn said the Sea Shepherds “found 300 sharks who had just been caught inside the 40-mile protected area.  While the inspection was taking place, a second boat,  the Gaviota,  was spotted trying to flee.  Only after the Sirenian fired a warning shot and rammed into the Gaviota did it surrender.”

A Galapagos National Park Service patrol vessel meanwhile caught the San Antonia–whose crew included one Sergeant Calderon, of the Ecuadoran Navy.

“Elements of the Ecuadoran military immediately ordered two of the ships released without investigation,  fine,  or forfeiture,” O’Hearn said.

“It certainly looks to us as if the Ecuadoran Navy is bought by the fishing industry,”  added Watson.

The Sea Shepherds were more optimistic of winning a prosecution against the captain and owners of the Costa Rican longliner Puntarenas,  reportedly nabbed on March 22 while in possession of at least 40 illegally caught sharks and a large quantity of shark fins.


Did British intelligence spy on Royal Society for the Protection of Birds?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2001:

LONDON–BBC television journalist Julian Pettifer recently received an anonymous letter advising him that he and five other people linked with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had been investigated by MI5,  the top British military intelligence service–and the findings had been shared with a senior executive of the Tesco supermarket chain,  reported Nick Fielding of the London Times on March 11.

Pettifer was formerly president of the RSPB,  chartered by Queen Victoria and claiming more than a million active members,  but resigned in July 2000 when a BBC expose of pollution risks associated with salmon farming caused salmon farmers to demand that Tesco halt sponsorship of a habitat preservation plan for the fast-declining skylark.

Tesco contributed about $480,000 to the project,  1997-2000, but is no longer involved.

Both Tesco and MI5 denied spying on Pettifer and the others–but both Pettifer and Fielding believe the information in the letter is authentic and that the source is a whistleblower within MI5.

Legislative updates

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2001:


WASHINGTON D.C.;  State Capitols–U.S. Senator Wayne Allard,  DVM (R-Colorado) and Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota),  chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus,  on March 15 reintroduced a bill they pursued in 2000 to ban interstate transport of gamecocks.

The bill, which has 36 Senate  co-sponsors,  would allow the 47 states which have outlawed cockfighting to crack down on suspected cockfighters who claim to raise roosters strictly for sale to the three states–Louisiana,  New Mexico,  and Oklahoma–where cockfighting is still legal.

The 2000 edition of the bill eventually had 60 Senate cosponsors and more than 200 cosponsors in the House, and easily cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee,  but Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) never brought it to the full Senate floor.

Allard said the reintroduced bill is endorsed by both Lott and House Majority Whip Don Nickles (R-Okla.)

In Oklahoma,  where the state supreme court is to rule on the validity of a petition to place a proposed cockfighting ban on the 2002 ballot,  the state senate on March 2002 passed a bill by Frank Shurden (D-Henryetta) to protect cockfighting,  hunting,  fishing, and rodeo with a state constitutional amendment.  If the bill also clears the state house,  and if the petition for the cockfighting ban

wins state supreme court approval,  both propositions would be on the 2002 ballot.  The anti-cockfighting measure was to be on the 2000 ballot,  but was delayed after the Oklahoma Gamefowl Breeders Association charged that 43,305 signatures were improperly gathered.

Kansas cockfighters on March 20 killed a bill by state senator David Haley (D-Kansas City) to create a felony cruelty penalty.  A companion bill had cleared the Kansas house one day earlier.  Also on March 20,  the Arkansas house judiciary committee killed a felony cruelty penalty bill by Jim Wood (D-Tupelo),  which was vehemently opposed by the Farm Bureau Federation.

A proposed Minnesota felony cruelty bill introduced by Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley) on February 22 cleared the state senate crime prevention committee,  and state representative James Clark (R-New Ulm) introduce a state house companion bill on February 23,  but a scheduled senate floor vote was indefinitely postponed on February 26 after senators Bob Lessard (IP-Intl. Falls) and Charlie Berg (R-Chokio) objected that it could apply to killing cats.  Berg,  a

trapper,  told fellow senate members that when he catches a cat,  “I practice my marksmanship.”

Bills to create felony cruelty penalties were also introduced in Nevada and Maine.  The Nevada bill was upstaged,  however,  when assembly member Tom Collins (D-North Las Vegas) introduced a bill which would prevent any local government from adopting animal-related legislation more stringent than the state laws.   Collins claimed the bill was meant to prevent animal activists from banning rodeos and cricuses,  but critics including Doug Trenner of the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society say it could undo locally appropriate animal control legislation.

The Maine felony cruelty bill was among a flurry of animal-related proposed legislation,  also including an attempt by representative Christopher Muse (D-Portland) to ban elephants from traveling circuses,  killed in committee on March 22;  a still pending bill to increase dog owners’ economic responsibility for injuries their dogs do to other people,  to enable victims to recover treatment costs without having to resort to lawsuit;  an anti-bestiality bill;  and a pair of bills to criminalize the use of threats against animals to terrorize people.  Animal abuse and threats against animals made to intimidate people are already criminalized under the anti-stalking laws of at least 40 states.

The biggest state legislative victory for animal protection of the early spring came in Mississippi,  where newly elected governor Ronnie Musgrove promptly signed into law a bill by senator Ron Farris to enable law enforcement agencies to seize animals in cases of suspected cruelty or neglect.  In Defense of Animals’

Mississippi project coordinator Doll Stanley credited passage of the bill to the work of Mississippi Animal Wel-fare Alliance secretary Marie Taylor.

Legislative brawls are brewing in California over AB 161,  SB 236,  and AB 1336,  which would bring breeders of two or more litters per year under state laws pertaining to pet dealers;  establish statewide pet licensing and microchipping,  and require that all dogs and cats be microchipped and licensed before any transfer;  and prohibit dealers and stores from selling unsterilized dogs and cats.

Introduced by assembly member Jack O’Connell (D-Santa Barbara),  for

Animal Legis-lative Activist Network founder Richard G. McLellan, M.D.,   SB 236  exempts feral cats who are under care of “registered” rescue groups.


United Kingdom


The British House of Lords –as expected–on March 26 overturned the ban on foxhunting which was passed by the House of Commons in January,  and also rejected a compromise bill which would have left the matter up to local councils.

Norman Baker,  spokesperson for the British Liberal Democrat party,  on March 12 announced that the party platform for an election campaign expected in late summer or early fall,  will “include the creation of an Animal Protection Commission,  headed by a Department of the Environment,  Transport,  and the Regions minister,  to enforce standards in the treatment of animals. We will extend the size and powers of the Home Office Inspector-ate and encourage more, and more unannounced,  inspections of establishments that engage in animal experimentation,”  Baker pledged.  The Liberal Democrats are the third largest British political party,  holding 3% of the seats in the House of Commons.


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