Hell & high water hit Down Under

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2009:
MELBOURNE–Dozens of fast-spreading bushfires, many of them
believed to have been set by arsonists, killed countless animals
and hundreds of humans who tried to save their homes and animals in
drought-stricken northeastern Victoria state, Australia during the
first weekend of February 2009.
Among the first 181 known human fatalities were five
prominent animal advocates and two young sisters who tried
unsuccessfully to evacuate their horses [see page 18]. More than 200
rural Australians were missing in a burned region larger than
Luxembourg, pending searches of rubble that remained smouldering for
as long as a week.

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Rescuing greyhounds from the most remote track in the world

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2009:
HAGNATA, Guam; BOSTON– Between the depressed U.S. economy
and the passage of an initiative ban on greyhound racing in
Massachusetts after January 1, 2010, greyhound rescuers expected a
winter of tracks closing and ex-racing dogs needing homes.
But few expected to be coordinating a major rescue on the
Pacific island of Guam –among the most remote of U.S. territories,
and until November 6, 2008 the most isolated outpost of greyhound
racing in the world.
Like the Wonderland and Raynham tracks in Massachusetts, the
32-year-old Guam Greyhound Track was killed at the ballot box–but
indirectly. The Guam Greyhound Track drew 250 to 300 people per night
in recent years, down from 800 per night in 1990, reported Steve
Limtiaco of Pacific Daily News. The track on November 4, 2008 asked
Guam voters to approve a proposition which would have enabled the
facility to build a $30 million convention center and expand into
casino gambling. When the proposition was defeated, track owner
John Baldwin halted dog racing and listed the property for sale at
$15.9 million.

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Live cattle exports from Down Under to Egypt resume–new fatwa may help

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2008:

CAIRO, CANBERRA–Austral-ian agriculture
minister Tony Burke on May 9, 2008 authorized
resumption of live cattle exports to Egypt.
Previous agriculture minister Peter
McGuarin on February 26, 2006 suspended cattle
exports to Egypt, after the Australian edition
of the television magazine show 60 Minutes aired
video of abuses at the Bassetin slaughterhouse
near Cairo.
Taken in January 2006 by Animals
Australia investigator Lyn White, the video
showed workers poking out the eyes of cattle and
cutting their leg tendons before subjecting them
to a version of hallal slaughter that clearly
flunked the goal of the animals not suffering.

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Queensland is air-gunning 10,000 brumbies

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2007:
BRISBANE–The government of Queensland, Australia is already
well advanced in a scheme to massacre wild horses on an unprecedented
“More than 10,000 brumbies will be slaughtered in Queensland
in a massive cull the State Government has tried to hide,” revealed
Brisbane Courier-Mail reporter Des Houghton on November 9, 2007.
“Documents obtained by the Courier-Mail show fears of a
public outcry led to high-level talks on how to conceal one of
world’s largest animal culls,” wrote Houghton. “Earlier this year,
then-environment minister Lindy Nelson-Carr told former premier Peter
Beattie that the killing ‘has the potential to precipitate vocal
opposition from small special-interest groups with strong inflexible

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Greenpeace says “Eat roos.”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2007:
VICTORIA–Greenpeace Aust-ralia on October 10, 2007 endorsed
slaughtering kangaroos instead of cattle as a purported way to fight
global warming.
The argument for eating kangaroos was prominently featured in
the Greenpeace Australia press release promoting Paths to a
Low-Carbon Future, a Greenpeace-commissioned report released on
October 10 and made available for downloading from the top of the
Greenpeace Australia web site.
Kangaroos were actually mentioned in only two sentences of
the 30-page report, but the press release mention– which omitted
half the context–won mentions of Paths to a Low-Carbon Future in
more than 200 newspapers worldwide within the next 24 hours.
Wrote report author Mark Diesendorf at the bottom of page 16,
“This report proposes to reduce beef consumption by 20%, as this
agricultural sector makes the biggest contribution to Australia’s
methane emissions. This could be accomplished by shifting to
kangaroo meat and/or lower-meat diets.”

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Animals Australia seeks to bring livestock transporters to justice

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2007:

MELBOURNE, SYDNEY–Ob-taining Australian Quarantine &
Inspection Service reports on five 2006 shipments of live sheep and
cattle to the Middle East through the national Freedom of Information
Act, Animals Australia on August 22 charged two shippers with
violating the Western Australia Animal Welfare Act.
Animals Australia executive director Glynis Oogjes warned
that live exports from Tasmania might “be a potential breach of the
Tasmanian Animal Welfare Act,” and asked the Australian Government
to prosecute live exporters for “numerous examples of breaches of the
Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock,” documented by the
AQIS reports.
“We provided the material to the Melbourne Age, and it is in
the paper,” Oogjes e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE. “Full details of the
high mortality shipments are now available on the Animals Australia
website,” Oogjes added.
“The AQIS reports on the two worst incidents–the deaths of
1,683 sheep during a shipment from Tasmania to the Middle East in
February 2006, and 247 cattle enroute to the Middle East in October
2006–reveal non-compliance with live export standards,” Oogjes

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RSPCA of Australia offers beer for cane toads

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2007:
SYDNEY–” Hops for hoppers plan likely to croak,” the Sydney
Morning Herald headlined on February 27, 2007.
A year after the Royal SPCA of Australia began offering cane
toad hunters a free beer for every toad delivered to RSPCA shelters
alive, the offer has reportedly had few takers–while hunters
continue to club cane toads, shoot them, spear them, and sometimes
lick them, to get a potentially lethal high from a poison they
secret that has reputed psychadelic effects.
Native to the Amazon rain forest, 101 cane toads were
released in Queensland in 1935 to combat cane beetles, native to
Australia, who were attacking sugar cane crops. Ignoring the cane
beetles, cane toads instead became the most successful predators of
mosquito larvae Down Under.

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When the cat is away…

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2007:
SYDNEY–Seven years after exterminators in June 2000 killed
the last feral cats on Macquarie Island, an Australian possession
within the Antarctic Circle, the island’s feral rabbit population
has soared from about 10,000 when the cat-killing began in the
mid-1980s to an estimated 100,000. “Rabbits are destroying Macquarie
Island’s fragile vegetation, causing erosion and exposure, which
threatens its seabirds,” University of Tasmania geographer Jenny
Scott warned in a report commissioned by Birds Australia.
The Australian federal government and state government of
Tasmania are now disputing over which is to pay the $15 million
(Australian) estimated cost of killing all the rabbits. “The last
supply boat of this season leaves Hobart in early April, so the two
sides need to come to a cost-sharing arrangement and get their people
and equipment on that boat,” World Wildlife Fund representative
Julie Kirkwood told Nick Squires of the South China Morning Post.
The plan to kill the rabbits is also supported by the
Australian Green Party.

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Cane toads are champion skeeter eaters

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2007:
SYDNEY–The 1935 introduction of African cane toads to
Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji was not quite the ecological
disaster that cane toad foes claim, Sydney University biologists
Rick Shine and Mattias Hagman have discovered.
While cane toads did not control the sugar cane-eating
insects that they were supposed to devour, and have voraciously
consumed some small Australian wildlife, especially goanna lizards,
Shine and Hagman discovered through a series of controlled
experiments that cane toad tadpoles are exceptionally capable
predators of mosquito larvae.

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