America’s wild horses are being managed to extinction and Friends of Animals is fighting for their lives.
Six states have already lost their wild horse populations: Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. And since the passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971, wild horses have lost an additional 41 percent of their habitat.
In our fight to protect wild horses, FoA has secured 13 victories in court, ensuring that herds remain with their families on the range instead of being ripped from federal public lands through cruel roundups. All the cases have revealed that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which caters to cattle and sheep ranchers, is cutting corners and knowingly violating the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition, the agency has not been transparent about the impacts associated with forcibly drugging mares with the fertility pesticide PZP.
In 2020, the BLM quietly slipped another report to Congress outlining management and requested $116.8 million for the Wild Horse and Burro Program. The agency is calling for massive removals, permanent sterilization, sale without limitation and slaughter.
The truth is there is no evidence that there are too many wild horses on federal public lands. Upwards of 2 million cattle graze public lands, not to mention sheep, and the government has authorized thousands of oil, gas and mineral extraction projects on these areas as well, compared to a measly 79,568 wild horses. These activities, not wild horses, are damaging the environment, fragmenting wildlife habitat, and contributing to climate change.
Help us stop the BLM’s wild horse extinction plan and fight for freedom.
FLIP OFF FUR
Although historic legislation to ban the sale of fur in NYC—which Friends of Animals helped draft and get introduced—has yet to cross the finish line, there is much to be thankful for in terms of the demise of the fur industry.
While it can be a Herculean task to motivate legislatures, public backlash matters, and these days consumers want no part of the violence toward animals and the harm to the environment that is at the core of the fur industry thanks to our decades-long public awareness campaigns.
Since consumers keep designers and retailers in business, the biggest names in fashion have fallen like dominoes, one after the other, banning fur from their designs and shelves. Who can forget Donatella Versace’s quote heard round the world in 2018? “Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right,” the Italian designer said in an interview for The Economist’s 1843 magazine. Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga are the most recent to join the growing list of retailers and brands flipping off fur.
Even Canada Goose, whose parkas trimmed with coyote skins have become ubiquitous, announced in 2021 it will stop buying fur by the end of the year and cease manufacturing all fur products by the end of 2022. Macy’s became the biggest U.S. retailer to phase out the sale of animal fur in 2021.
Israel made history this summer by becoming first country to ban the fur trade and in 2019, California became the first U.S. state to enact a law banning the sale of fur products, which takes effect in 2023.
Stay tuned for our continued efforts to push NYC to flip off fur. In the meantime, you can support our anti-fur efforts by wearing our Flip off Fur t-shirt, our anti-fur buttons, sharing our brochure and making a donation.
BANNING TROPHY HUNTING
It is shameful that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits to import the parts of lions, elephants, leopards, giraffes, rhinos and other species from Africa, where so-called conservation programs fail to meet accepted standards for transparency, scientific management and effectiveness.
At least 1.2 million animals were legally killed by American hunters and sent to the U.S. as trophies between 2005-2014. From 2005 to 2014, 159,144 animals were imported into New York as trophies—including 1,541 lions; 1,130 elephants and 83 pairs of tusks; 1,169 leopards, and 110 white rhinos. In Connecticut, where FoA is headquartered, hunters travelled to Africa and killed 39 lions and one giraffe between 2005-2016 and imported their trophies.
To protect these majestic species, FoA drafted legislation in Connecticut and New York, which is the largest importer of trophies in the nation, that would ban the possession, sale, or import of these trophies. Africa’s majestic animals are on the decline. The population of African elephants, lions, giraffes, rhinos, leopards and black and white rhinos are declining at an alarming rate and federal protections are not strong enough. States must step in to do more to save these majestic, sentient beings including banning the import and sale of hunting trophies of their body parts.
Because of our efforts, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed the Big 5 African Trophies Act into law in 2021, preventing Connecticut trophy hunters from selling the body parts of the Big 5. We worked for five years to deliver this setback to the trophy hunting industry and to help protect these magnificent ecosystem engineers. The legislation is working its way through the New York legislature.
Friends of Animals also filed a rulemaking petition with USFWS in 2021 to stop the importation of all sport-hunted “trophies” of threatened and endangered animals. FWS hasn’t responded yet. If the agency denies the petition, then FoA can challenge it in court.
If the goal of the Endangered Species Act is conservation of species, US regulations should not grant a loophole legalizing the slaughter of the most vulnerable among them and then add insult to injury by permitting the glorification of the killing through the importation of their dismembered body parts. Permitting individuals to display lion and leopard heads or mount elephant tusks on the walls of their homes undermines the message that we should be protecting these imperiled species.
ENDING THE NYC CARRIAGE HORSE TRADE
Friends of Animals has monitored, criticized and agitated against the carriage horse trade in New York City for decades.
Owners, drivers and some tourists justify the industry because it’s “a tradition,” saying horses have been pulling carriages through Central Park since it opened in 1858.
Tradition doesn’t make animal abuse acceptable. FoA had a front-row seat to the nose-to-tailpipe existence of NYC carriage horses when we had a Columbus Circle office, and it our long-standing ties to NYC and to the many FoA members who live there continues to fuel our efforts to pass legislation that would abolish this inhumane practice industry for good.
While there have been lame attempts to regulate the industry, FoA has always remained steadfast that you cannot regulate atrocities. We have never wavered from calling for a full ban and for the horses to be released by their owners to accredited sanctuaries.
In 2019, New York City’s horse-drawn carriage lines were moved out of busy midtown traffic and restricted to Central Park, however the horses still must travel alongside vehicular traffic on busy streets to get to the park.
Horses are also prohibited from being worked when the air temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, or whenever the air temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or above and the equine heat index is 150 or above. Equine heat index is defined as the sum of the air temperature, in degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity at a particular point in time.
Still carriage horses are collapsing, spooking and getting into accidents in NYC.
Horses, who are prey animals and prone to spooking inside and outside Central Park, should not be forced to pull heavy carriages loaded with people among dense traffic, exhaust fumes, street construction and honking horns, with taxis and buses speeding by.
What’s more, NYC carriage horses are robbed of their so-called daily turnout, which horse experts deem necessary for their well-being. Studies link pasture time to stronger bones, better respiratory health, reduced colic risk and lower stress levels. Turnout gives horses a chance to fill their need for social contact with other horses—such as mutual grooming.
Horses exploited by the NYC carriage horse industry— who typically work for nine hours each working day and are unable to flourish in their own way—will never flourish until the industry is banned and they are released to a qualified sanctuary.
We support a transition of the industry to electric carriages without horses, as other metropolitan areas around the world have successfully done.
CLOSING WILD ANIMAL MEAT MARKETS
We are urging Congress to approve legislation that would shut down global commercial wildlife markets and help stop the spread of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.
Three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals. They are transmitted from animals to other hosts to humans or directly to humans after contact via slaughterhouses, hunting, poaching and trade in wildlife wet markets. These diseases have killed more than 32 million humans.
FoA has written international officials at the United Nations, World Health Organization and Congressional representatives urging the closure of these markets. We are supporting a bill introduced by Senator Corey Booker that would direct the State Department to work with international partners to shut down commercial wildlife markets and stop the associated wildlife trade, end the import, export and sale of live wildlife for human consumption in the U.S. and phase out demand for wildlife as a food source.
We will continue to work to gain support of the measure from the Biden-Harris administration.
FoA is working on a local, state and national level to ban the use of pesticides, such as glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, on public lands and working to encourage organic methods on private property.
Pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides and rodenticides, put pollinators, birds, amphibians and other wildlife in harm’s way. Studies show that the use of professionally applied pesticides is associated with a 70 percent higher risk of canine malignant lymphoma. Many pesticides are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms as well as being toxic to bees, birds and other pollinators.
Roundup, the most popular weed killer in the world, has as its most active ingredients glyphosate and 2,4-D. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate in 2015 as a “probable carcinogenic to humans’’ and concluded that the chemical likely causes a range of cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, renal cancers, skin cancers and pancreatic cancer.
FoA supported the groundbreaking New York City bill that bans the use of toxic pesticides in city parks. We are grateful to NYC Council members Ben Kallos and Carlina Rivera for introducing the bill and to our members who acted in 2020 when we asked them to support the legislation and help move it forward.
The bill authorizes the use of only biological pesticides (except in the case of some applicable exemptions) and bans all city agencies from spraying highly toxic pesticides, such as glyphosate, which was one of the city’s most heavily used liquid herbicide. Roundup was sprayed 1,365 times in 2013, according to a NYC Health Department report.
In 2019, a jury in Oakland, California awarded a couple $2 billion in damages after finding that sustained exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer led to their cancer diagnoses. Other juries have reached similar verdicts.
PROTECTING HORSESHOE CRABS
In June 2021, Friends of Animals called for emergency ban on the harvest of horseshoe crabs from along Connecticut’s shoreline. The plea to state legislators was in response to clear evidence that the adult spawning populations of this ancient and vital species are declining to precariously low levels.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which oversees management of the species on the East Coast, has downgraded the stocks of horseshoe crabs in the New York Region, which includes Long Island Sound, in each of the past three assessments, from Good in 2009 to Neutral in 2013 to Poor in 2019.
“I would support a complete ban on harvest for bait fishery in Connecticut,” said Dr. Jennifer H. Mattei, a biology professor at Sacred Heart University who heads up Project Limulus to count and track horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound.
Each year, Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection issues 15 commercial licenses for the killing of horseshoe crabs from May 22 through July 7, excluding weekends and several closed localized areas along the shoreline. The licenses allow the hand harvest of up to 500 horseshoe crabs per day, as well as a limit of 25 crabs per day by commercial trawling. The bulk of Connecticut’s horseshoe crab cull is sold as bait, used to catch whelk and American eel, itself a depleted species.
The proposed legislation banning the hand harvest of horseshoe crabs from Connecticut waters, which Friends of Animals helped draft, is of pressing concern, given the species’ importance to the health of the Long Island Sound ecosystem as well as to a number of species of migratory shorebirds, including the imperiled red knot, who depend on the horseshoe crab’s eggs to fuel their yearly journeys from the Southern Hemisphere to breeding grounds in the Arctic.
In 2021, FoA helped form the Connecticut Coalition to Protect Black Bears with a number of other prominent animal and environmental advocacy groups because of misleading information circulating about black bears, including that they need to be managed with a bear hunt.
Through educational outreach and legislative advocacy, the coalition promotes proven non-lethal strategies that allow people and Connecticut’s native black bears to co-exist. The group’s first webinar, “Becoming Bear Aware in Connecticut: Learn how to keep bears wild and people safe,” can be watched here.
Read FoA’s most recent op-ed about black bears here.
Learn about communities that manage residents’ behavior and prove that symbiotic relationships with these magnificent mammals are possible here.
You can purchase our black bear brochure here.