LETTERS Jan-February 2011

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  January/February 2011:


Bushmeat poaching

Merritt Clifton’s article “Looking the wrong way for causes of bushmeat poaching & predator loss,”  which appeared in the September 2010 issue of ANIMAL PEOPLE,  was nothing short of brilliant.  The scope,  coverage and details of the subject were superb. My fervent admiration to you.

–Lionel Friedberg
Woodland Hills,  California

Editor’s note:
Born in South Africa, later working from Zambia,  Canada, and the U.S.,  Lionel Friedberg has produced documentaries and television broadcasts, often about animals,  for nearly 50 years. He is also author of a history of apartheid and colonialism in Africa.

Brian May of Queen

Brian May,  guitar virtuoso for the famous rock band Queen, whose recent award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare was reported in the October 2010 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE,  was arguably the most proactive animal person during  2010 in the U.K.  This very articulate,  compelling and erudite man used his celebrity,  money and writing skills to fight to prevent badgers and hedgehogs from being viciously culled.  He saved many hedgehogs from death.  May is also combating the proposed repeal of the Hunting Act,  a goal of the Conservative Party,  which heads the coalition now governing the U.K. This would allow the resumption of legally hunting wildlife with dogs. May has also ardently denounced the heinous mistreatment of so-called “food animals.”  In 2010 Brian May personified compassion in action.

–Brien Comerford
Glenview,  Illinois

Live frogs & turtles sold to be eaten

In March 2010,  to protect California natural resources,  the California Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously to direct the Department of Fish & Game to cease issuing permits to import live frogs and turtles for human consumption.  This culminated a 15-year struggle.   The commission received nearly 4,000 letters supporting the ban.  Two months later,   pressured by market interests chiefly in San Francisco’s Chinatown,  and by half a dozen misguided legislators playing “the race card,”  two commission members tried unsuccessfully to reverse the new policy  The other three commissioners held firm.  Then,  in September 2010,   Department of Fish & Game director John McCamman announced that the department would continue to issue the permits on a month-to-month basis. California annually imports some two million American bullfrogs and an estimated 300,000-400,000 freshwater turtles for sale in live markets.  The frogs are commercially raised in Taiwan. The turtles are taken from the wild in states east of the Rockies, depleting local populations.   We have had some 25 necropsies done on frogs and turtles from live markets in San Francisco,  Los Angeles,  Oakland and Sacramento, which have discovered that every animal sampled was infected with diseases including salmonella,  E. coli,  pasturella,  giardia, blood parasites,  even a case of malaria –though it is illegal to sell diseased animals for human consumption.  According to one 2010 study, 62% of the market frogs tested positive for the dreaded chytrid fungus,  which has caused the extinction of some 200 species of amphibians worldwide in the past 15 years.

We hope incoming Governor Jerry Brown will take this matter more seriously than did Governor Schwarzenegger and his appointees. If not,  legislation is in order.

–Eric Mills,  coordinator
Action for Animals
P.O. Box 20184
Oakland,  CA  94620

Temple Grandin’s view of the GAP standards

Below is a list of how the Global Animal Partnership Step 1 standards compare to those of the agricultural  industry.

Pigs:  better than the industry,  since gestation crates are banned.
Beef:  slightly better than about half the cattle industry. Two-thirds of the animal’s life must be on range.
Chicken for slaughter:  same as industry–not the National Chicken Council Standards,  but well run large standard commercial chicken houses that I have toured.  These chicken houses had low ammonia levels and dry litter.
Laying hens:  no standards yet.
Items written above only apply to conditions on the farm. They do not apply to transport or slaughter.

–Temple Grandin
Grandin Livestock Systems
Fort Collins,  Colorado

Advancing discussion of animal welfare

I haven’t had time to read and thoughtfully compare the Global Animal Partnership,  Humane Farm Animal Care,  and Animal Welfare Approved certification plans,  but my impression is that that this is advancing the discussion of humane practices in livestock keeping.  The competing standards and certifications are confusing, and the consumer is likely to make assumptions based on labeling that may not be justified,  as ANIMAL PEOPLE president Kim Bartlett anticipates.

However, this is a complicated and entrenched issue.  Getting people talking and thinking about it is an important step.

My experience with National Chicken Council standards is that they are carefully written so that any facility can justify its poultry practices.  Industry self-regulation has not resulted in humane treatment for birds or responsible management for personnel.

As Temple Grandin wrote in her book, Animals Make Us Human, “Chicken welfare is so poor that I can’t talk only about the core emotions in this chapter.  I have to talk about chickens’ physical welfare as well.”

I have concern about infighting among organizations.  My hope is that even if organizations reach different conclusions for their own recommendations,  they not view each other as The Enemy,  but find ways to focus on improving animal welfare as the goal.  Perhaps partnership with environmental organizations,  acting to clean up and prevent pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations,  is possible.

–Christine Heinrichs
Cambria,  California

Editor’s note:

Christine Heinrichs is author of How To Raise Chickens, published by Voyageur Press in 2007.

PASA & WPA condemn return of parrots to dealer

The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance and the World Parrot Trust have called on international law enforcement agencies to intervene following the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s seizure of over 490 African grey parrots from a sanctuary to return the birds to a dealer.

These parrots were the survivors among 523 who were confiscated in September 2010 by the Congolese wildlife authority and local government officials,  and taken to the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Center in South Kivu.  The WPT worked with PASA and Lwiro to rehabilitate these parrots,  and constructed spacious enclosures to speed the recovery.  More than 400 birds were judged fit to be released back into the wild.

But the DR Congo’s Ministry of Environment ordered the parrots seized on November 22.  The parrots were then flown back to Kinshasa and the original dealer.

–Doug Cress,  executive director
Pan African Sanctuary Alliance
P.O. Box 86645
Portland,  OR  97206
Phone:  503-238-8077

Wild horses

I go back to helping get signatures for Wild Horse Annie, have my own wild mustangs,  and have fought for them for many years. I want you know that I am extremely disappointed in Animal People’s coverage of the fate of our wild horses.

More than 40,000 wild horses await their fate,  but there was nothing in the last two issues of Animal People covering this.  The BLM has been rounding up wild horses to extinction in the past two years.

The gathers are much crueler,  with more deaths and injuries, often being done at the worst time of the year for the horses. Hundreds of horses have died in the last 18 months from the BLM not even following its own protocol.  CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen mentioned “the shoddy way in which the Bureau of Land Management treated wild horses out West,  to the benefit of corporate interests,”  as part of the third most under-reported legal news stories of 2010.

–Shelley McKee
Pataskala,  Ohio

Editor’s note:

The two previous editions of ANIMAL PEOPLE did include articles about the efforts of philanthropist Madeline Pickens and then-New Mexico governor Bill Richardson to start privately funded sanctuaries to accommodate some of the wild horses whom the BLM has removed from the range as alleged surplus.  The Pickens plan is still evolving,  but Richardson on December 15,  2010,  two weeks before leaving office,  announced that his proposal to spend $2.8 million in federal economic stimulus funding to create a wild horse sanctuary had become “unfeasible.”

Civet coffee fad

Re “Coffee fad revives civet farming,”  in the November/December 2010 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE,  and “‘Cat poop coffee’ comes to Calgary,”  published in the Calgary Sun the same day I saw your article,  what will people do next?

I don’t think any responsible person would support this product knowing how animals have been made to suffer to produce it.

This is one of the most unnatural,  cruel things we could do–and why???

In a world where most of us pay premium for organic shade-grown free trade coffees that don’t exploit humans or harm birds,  I can’t believe anyone would purchase and support this.  We will spread the word far and wide.  Thanks for the education.

–Bill Bruce,  Director,  Animal & Bylaw Services
The City of Calgary, POB 2100,  Station M, Calgary,  Alberta
Canada  T2P 2M5
Phone:  403-268-5811
Fax:  403-268-4927


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