Uncertain times for hunter/conservationists

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
Commerce Department inspector general Todd Zinser in early
March 2009 sent an administrative subpoena to the National Wildlife
Federation, demanding documents that would identify whoever leaked
information to the NWF about the plans of the George W. Bush
administration to weaken the Endangered Species Act with
administrative rules changes introduced just before leaving office.
The leak helped the NWF and other Endangered Species Act defenders to
ensure that reversing the rules changes is a high priority for the
Barack Obama administration. Zinser, appointed by Bush in November
2007, issued the unusual subpoena at request of Senator James Inhofe
of Oklahoma, the senior Republican on the U.S. Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works. The leaked documents “were not marked
sensitive, secret or otherwise confidential or classified,”
reported Associated Press writer Pete Yost.

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Chimp attack wins attention of lawmakers

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
WASHINGTON D.C–Boosted by the February 16, 2009 rampage of
a longtime pet chimpanzee named Travis in Stamford, Connecticut,
the Captive Primate Safety Act on February 24, 2009 cleared the U.S.
House of Representatives by a vote of 323-95 and returned to the U.S.
“The bill will ban interstate commerce in apes, monkeys,
lemurs, marmosets, and other nonhuman primates for the pet trade,”
explained Humane Society Legislative Fund director Mike Markarian.
“A number of states and communities already prohibit private
ownership of primates as pets, but the patchwork of local laws and
the interstate nature of the primate pet trade call out for a federal
response. The Senate bill passed the Environment and Public Works
Committee in July 2008,” Markarian continued, “and has been
awaiting further action. Identical legislation passed the Senate
unanimously in 2006.” Charla Nash, 55, “lost her hands, nose,
lips and eyelids and may be blind and suffering brain damage” after
Travis attacked her at the home of her friend Sandra Herold, 70,”
reported Associated Press writer Dave Collins on March 17, 2009.
Receiving treatment at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where the first
U.S. face transplant surgery was performed, Nash remained in
critical condition.

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Alaska suspends shooting wolves from the air

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
FAIRBANKS– The Alaska Department of Fish
& Game on March 19, 2009 suspended shooting
wolves from a helicopter, after killing 84
wolves in five days to try to increase the
numbers of caribou and moose accessible to human
hunters in the Fortymile region.
Currently numbering about 40,000, the
Fortymile caribou herd reputedly stretched from
Fairbanks to White-horse, and included about
568,000 caribou in 1920, when first surveyed.
Subsequent counts have never found more then
46,000, and the 1975 count fell below 4,000,
but the Department of Fish & Game continues to
try to increase the herd to 60,000.

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Obama bans slaughtering downed cattle, but judge overturns California downer law

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:

WASHINGTON D.C.–U.S. President Barack Obama in his weekly
video and radio address to the nation on March 14, 2009 announced
that the U.S. would reinforce and make permanent a ban on killing
downed cattle at federally inspected meat plants.
“As part of our commitment to public health, our Agriculture
Department is closing a loophole in the system to ensure that
diseased cows don’t find their way into the food supply,” Obama said.
Newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the
ban “a step forward for both food safety and the standards for humane
treatment of animals.”

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Teaching young people to kill

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
BISMARCK–The North Dakota Senate on March 19, 2008 voted
47-0 for a bill to allow “apprentice hunters” aged at least 16 to
hunt without taking a safety course first, if accompanied by a
hunter at least 18 years old who has taken the state safety course.
The move to ease the rules for youth hunters followed a
national legislative trend promoted by wildlife agencies and the gun
lobby, in hopes of rekindling youth interest in hunting. Hunting
license sales have fallen steadily throughout the U.S. for nearly 30
years, with the steepest decline among teens.

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Indian animal advocates beaten

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
AHMEDABAD, THRISSUR– The Kerala Elephant Lovers’
Association on March 24, 2009 asked the Indian federal government to
investigate the ambush beating of Thrissur SPCA senior inspector E.R.
Jayan. Jayan was allegedly assaulted by four men on March 19 after
responding to a false report that an elephant was being abused.
Jayan was attacked two weeks after Animal Lovers Emergency
Rescue Team founder Sandra Jhala, 53, of Ahmedabad, “suffered
multiple fractures, cuts and bruises after men went into her yard
and attacked dogs kept there,” reported the Times of India on March
3, 2009. Beaten when she intervened, “Jhala received more than 50
stitches on her head and has five fractures on her left hand,”
elaborated Roshan Kumar of the investigative newspaper DNA.

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Is diplomacy making gains against Japanese whaling?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
ROME–Some International Whaling Commission insiders believe
the IWC is close to brokering a deal that would allow the Japanese
government to end so-called “research whaling” without losing
political credibility.
Others believe Japanese actions against whaling opponents
show that the Japanese government believes it has the upper hand and
can force the IWC to reopen commercial whaling, after a 23-year
After initially refusing to honor the 1986 commercial whaling
moratorium, Japan in 1988 accepted the moratorium but began killing
whales in the name of “scientific research,” continuing to sell
whale meat. The 2009 self-allocated Japanese “research” quota
includes 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales.

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Pilot charged with killing hunt follower

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
COVENTRY–Heating technician, hunting opponent, and
gyrocopter pilot Bryan Griffiths, 54, of Bedworth, Warwickshire,
has been held by police since March 9, 2009 on a charge of murdering
hunt follower Trevor Morse, 48, of Alderminster, Warwickshire.
“Morse died of head injuries after he was struck by the
gyrocopter’s propeller at Long Marston airfield, near
Stratford-upon-Avon,” reported the London Times. “Magistrates in
Nuneaton, Warwickshire, were told that a witness videotaped the
incident, and the moments before it. The court was told that
Griffiths was a member of an anti-hunt animal rights campaign and
worked as a volunteer hunt monitor, liaising closely with police.
Warwickshire Police said that a second man arrested on suspicion of
murder was released on police bail pending further inquiries.”
“A gyrocopter had been following us for a couple of weeks and
we had made a formal complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority 10
days ago,” Warwickshire Hunt joint master Sam Butler told BBC News.
Summarized Lucy Bannerman and Valerie Elliott of the London
Times, “It is believed that Morse went with a friend to the airfield
to try to discover who piloted the gyrocopter. He and a woman were
believed to have approached the aircraft as it was refuelling.”

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11.5 years for dog attack

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
SEATTLE–Travis Dean Cunningham, 36, of SeaTac,
Washington, on March 13, 2009 was sentenced to serve 11.5 years in
prison for allowing his two pit bull terriers to maul a 72-year-old
woman, illegal possession of a firearm, and parole violations.
Cunningham reportedly had four prior felony convictions. The
Cunningham sentence is the longest known to ANIMAL PEOPLE in a
non-fatal dog attack case. Former attorney Margaret Knoller is
serving 15 years to life in California for the fatal mauling of
neighbor Diane Whipple in January 2001.

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