The latest news about FoA’s advocacy and achievements
FoA drafts bill prohibiting import, possession, sale or transport of ‘Big 5’ African species
A bill drafted by Michael Harris, director of FoA’s Wildlife Law Program, that would ban the import, possession, sale or transportation in New York of the African elephant, lion, leopard, white rhino and black rhino, was introduced by NY State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens) in April.
“I am hopeful today that New York will be a trailblazer among the United States as we lead the fight against importation of these animals, placing an outright ban on importing, possessing, selling and transporting these animals,” Avella said at a press conference. “Hopefully this legislation, if enacted in New York, will send a message to every other state and the federal government, that the practices are inappropriate and that we are going to stop the importation of these body parts through New York.”
Avella explained that the already minimal populations of the African Big 5 are threatened every day by illegal poaching and legal sport hunting and are facing extinction. There is growing scientific evidence that the legal trade of trophy-hunted species actually enables the illegal poaching by reducing the stigma associated with killing these animals and by providing poachers a legal market to launder their contraband.
“The ban eliminates much of the incentive to continue hunting these animals overseas and shipping their remains off to buyers in New York with a high price tag,” Avella said.
During the press conference Edita Birnkrant, campaigns director for FoA, pointed out that Dan Ashe, the director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife, acknowledged that Americans make up a disproportionate number of those who continue to travel to Africa to hunt these animals.
“Sadly, too many Americans continue to see sport-hunting as romantic, or for that matter as ethical,” she said. “Until we can get national bans put in place to reduce the number of sport-hunted African Big 5 species brought into this country, it is vital that state’s like New York, where a large number of these trophies are imported into because JFK is a major point of entry from Africa, take action on their own.”
If the bill becomes law—anyone violating the law could face up to two years in prison.
NMFS considers ESA listing for common thresher shark thanks to FoA’s legal petition
A legal petition from Friends of Animals provides substantial scientific and commercial evidence that the common thresher shark requires the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), according to The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which made the announcement in March. The agency will begin a status review for the species and must decide whether it warrants ESA listing by the end of August 2015.
“We are happy that NMFS is recognizing the threats to the thresher shark and hope the agency moves forward quickly to ensure protections for these amazing creatures,” said Jenni Barnes, staff attorney at Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “An ESA listing would prohibit the import and export of common thresher shark products, which would place a freeze on the fin market trade for common threshers. Similar bans on the fin market trade in several U.S. states indicate that such a measure is much more effective for shark conservation than just a ban on finning.”
Friends of Animals’ August 2014 petition sought ESA protection for the common thresher shark. Thresher sharks face unprecedented threats to their survival, all caused by humans. The common thresher’s fin is highly sought after for commercial exploitation. Common thresher sharks are the third most targeted catch in countries outside of the United States. In the Americas, threshers are often caught as bycatch, and unlikely to be released because threshers have high commercial value and may even be sold for higher prices than the swordfish that many gillnet fisheries are designed to catch.
FoA presents panel about wild horses at prestigious environmental law conference
Attendees of the 33rd annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon School of Law in Eugene packed into Friends of Animals’ panel discussion on “Can the law save America’s wild horses” on March 7th, eager to hear about the scientific, legal and political implications of protecting wild horses in America.
Edita Birnkrant, FoA’s campaigns director, kicked off the discussion by dispelling the myths promoted by ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management that wild horses are non-native animals who damage the land and who are overpopulated. She also explained why FoA filed a legal petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list North America’s wild horses as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, which would halt further exploitation of the species, including brutal roundups and the forced drugging of the mares with the fertility control drug PZP.
Wildlife ecologist and author of the Wild Horse Conspiracy, Craig Downer, engaged attendees with his personal knowledge of Nevada’s Pine Nut Herd, as he’s been observing them since he was a boy and they inspired him to become a wildlife ecologist. He also talked about North American wild horses’ native species status and how reserve design would let them reoccupy their full legal Herd Areas as outlined in the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 (WHBA). Reserve design involves utilizing natural and/or artificial barriers, natural predators, as well as community-involving buffer zones. Once available habitat is filled, the horse/burro, as a climax species, limit their own population as density-dependent controls are triggered.
Also discussed were the shortcomings of the WHBA; it doesn’t protect wild horse habitat and it gives authority to the BLM to label wild horses on public lands as “excess,” opening the door to their removal and/or slaughter, and the negative long-term side effects of PZP, including foal births out of season, sterilization of mares after multiple use and behavioral changes that can affect the health of the herd.
A Tale of Dog Biscuits
by Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals
As a food activist, I’ve authored two vegan cookbooks for Friends of Animals—Dining with Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine, and The Best of Vegan Cooking. Friends began asking me if I had a third book in me, and after noodling with the idea for a bit, decided no one had published a beautifully designed, intriguing dog biscuit cookbook.
So that’s FoA’s forthcoming book: a dog biscuit recipe cookbook that promises to thrill your dogs (testing the recipes resulted in a number of devoted canine fans) and enchant one’s dog-loving friends. The cookbook will be printed in time for holiday gift guides in August 2015. We expect it to be a hit, as the dog treat industry leaves something to be desired.
Dogs were the first domesticated animals, and after they became human companions, their meals became scavenged scraps from the dinner table. By 1895, a biscuit for dogs was developed from a mixture of vegetables, grains, beetroot and remnants of meat, and these were fed to show dogs in the United States as their primary food. By 1907, an American inventor launched the idea of making dog biscuits in the shape of a bone – the only way his dog would eat them – and a year later, they became known as Milk-Bones.
Today, Milk Bone “crunchy” biscuits are scary –full of rendered products from animal tissues and bone (diseased or not), animal by-products, sugar, artificial color (includes Red 40), and chemical preservatives like BHA and BHT, which the World Health Organization has named as suspected cancer-causing compounds. Also, the state of California has identified BHA as a possible carcinogen.
Most commercial dog biscuits lack moisture and contain chemical preservatives for shelf-life. Other, more costly, naturally preserved pet treats like Buddy Biscuits or Mr. Barkey’s Vegetarian Dog Biscuits are priced at $6 – $8 per pound and include natural preservatives labeled as mixed tocopherols – derived from palm, soybean, cottonseed, corn or other oils – excluding most vegetable oils. These mixed tocopherols achieve a shelf-life for ingredients of approximately one year. However, palm oil production is pushing orangutans to extinction.
In the 1980s, a Friends of Animals member devoted to her bull terriers developed a homemade dog, cat and horse cookie line. These treats were packaged in adorable bags, and shoppers at our re-sale shop in Connecticut would look for them as training rewards or desserts on a regular basis. Some biscuits were in heart-shapes, and all were full of natural ingredients, but without preservatives they had a limited shelf life since stores weren’t refrigerating them.
Would you believe dog treat sales in the U.S. were $2.6 billion a year in 2013? Unfortunately, today most American dogs are overweight, likely due to too little exercise and copious amounts of high calorie food. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Our two dogs compel us to take more walks and move around. Of course they get fired up over food and frequent dog treats. But by making a variety of healthy, delectable biscuits you can spare dogs the troubling ingredients found in most commercial treats, and the icing on the biscuit…you can also save money.
When I started writing and testing the recipes, such as Peanut Butter Carob Chip Biscuits, which I made with bulldog shape cookie cutters, not only were our dogs giving them high fives, Instagram followers pressed me to let them pre-order five to six copies of the cookbook for gift giving!
Stay tuned to our official announcement and sale of the forthcoming cookbook in the Fall 2015 Action Line.
By Nicole Rivard
While in Nevada in late February for our wild horse rally at the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Tri Resource Advisory Council meeting, Friends of Animals also ventured out to the Virginia Range and Pine Nut Range to see some of the wild horses we saved from being rounded up, removed or forcibly drugged with the fertility pesticide PZP. In late March the BLM officially conceded and cancelled the roundup of Nevada’s beloved Pine Nut Herd following our Feb. 11 court victory.
We are more energized than ever to protect wild horses following that victory and seeing wild horses roaming free in Nevada. Our definition of wild means no human exploitation and manipulation. Humans should not be managing wild horses by keeping them in small “herd areas,” or limiting their population through culling or administering PZP.
At press time we filed a legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency to cancel the registration of PZP for wild horses. The Humane Society registration was granted by the Environmental Protection Agency based on a limited number of scientific reviews regarding the efficacy of the drug. However those studies did not adequately consider the biological, social and behavioral effects the drug can have on wild horses, which have been the focus of newer research.
FoA has also commissioned wildlife ecologist Craig Downer, a native of Nevada, to conduct a three-month field research project in the Pine Nut Range. His assessment of the wild horses and ecosystem combined with habitat evaluation will bolster any future legal intervention for the Pine Nut Herd by FoA’s Wildlife Law Program.
Lastly, since BLM asked for comments regarding a proposed roundup of horses in the Pryor Mountain herd management area this month, we planned on delivering ones they couldn’t ignore in person at the Billings, Montana Field Office. Check our website, www.friendsofanimals.org and Facebook page to stay abreast of all our efforts to protect wild horses.
“I thank whatever gods may be . . .”
On Oct. 12, 2012, I was returning home from work with my black lab Shyla. As we entered the 70 mph curve just before turning off the main highway, I saw a medium-sized black and white dog emerge from the national forest where we live and attempt to cross the road. I quickly slowed, and as we passed by I could see he was old with matted hair. I pulled over and jumped out of the truck, knowing more traffic would soon arrive. I yelled and waved for him to come over, and he walked the center line in my direction. I did not yet know he was deaf. I heard cars coming but the curve blocked my view. I scooped him up in my arms and headed to the truck as a vehicle whizzed by. At that point, I realized he had lost an encounter with a skunk. I lowered the tailgate and lifted his fragrant body into the truck bed under the canopy. I drove the last few miles home thinking, “What just happened?”
The next morning we stopped by the vet clinic. He was chipped, and I called the owner within minutes. She explained that she had lived alone on the ranch just south of my cabin, but age forced her to move into town 40 miles away. She had already been there three months and claimed to have driven out to the ranch once or twice a week to feed him. He had wandered the national forest the entire time and was now just above starvation weight. We met several days later and she officially gave me the dog. I also learned more about his past, which matched what the vets had found.
“For my unconquerable soul.”
He was a Karelian bear dog, and they estimated his age at 12 years. He was dying from an oral infection, so two weeks later the vets pulled six teeth. The others were either missing or broken. His left knee was damaged and had not healed properly, and he was deaf from a shotgun blast next to his head. He was put on a month of antibiotics to keep him alive, and over the next week he slept 18 – 20 hours each day. I kept looking to see if he was still breathing. He didn’t urinate for three days, despite drinking water, so apparently his kidneys had been shutting down. The vets didn’t know if he would live or not.
After several weeks of uncertainty, his personality suddenly sprang to life. He pranced, twirled, play bowed and even sat on his abdomen and beat his arms on the floor when excited. He was hilarious. I named him Highway.
“I am the master of my fate:”
Since the beginning, Shyla and I have been Highway’s source of reassurance, and a bond of trust quickly developed. At work he often peered around the corner to see where I was then go back to his pad and sleep. During lunch we went for walks to build up his strength, and I saw then some of his limitations. He trotted stiffly because of his old and damaged knees, and ran by pushing off with both legs simultaneously. Yet he seemed to see more than his cataracts indicated, like when dogs walked by. He went from zero to bonkers when he saw them, a response that undoubtedly helped to fend off predators in the forest. I also found that if I clapped loudly enough within a few feet of him he could hear it. Now I use hand signals and clapping so we can wander the property at home without a leash.
By the end of the first year, he still had not gained much weight. I found out why on Nov. 4, 2013. He spewed blood and mucous everywhere while defecating. Then the vomiting began. Within 24 hours he had almost died from dehydration and was put on IVs for three straight days. Although the vets had prevented disaster, they weren’t interested in finding the cause.
Highway continued to deteriorate over the next two months and stomach issues now contributed. As in human medicine, not all doctors are caring, and sometimes bravado is substituted for knowledge. Highway lost more and more weight, and I looked desperately for a vet who was compassionate and good at diagnostics. Then one day I found her. She saved his life. With diligent care and persistence, we discovered that chronic inflammation throughout the GI tract was causing the stomach issues. Antibiotics and steroids help, and I cook every meal for him, which includes increased fiber content. For animals with such disparate needs, perseverance from everyone is required.
“I am the captain of my soul.”
Since Highway’s arrival, death has been a frequent visitor. It seems to negotiate with him the date of his final release. It’s patient, always knowing the inevitable outcome. He responds by fighting when he must, but continues to enjoy each day. He knows now a life of contentment, rather than pain and suffering. When I first found him he ate wood, dirt, plants, feces—anything to stay alive — another result of his abuse by neglect. A year later, it apparently triggered an immune response in his GI tract, the source of chronic inflammation. It could be fatal someday but he has finally gained weight.
This past February, his current vet reevaluated his age to be about 17 years, given his weakening hindquarters and thickening cataracts. I have since upgraded his life journey from remarkable to astonishing. Now when he stares at me I look into his eyes and wonder, “Who are you? What planet are you from?”
I know the end will come soon, although he remains serene, joyful and play bows every day. We get back what we give: I provided the pathway, and Highway chose life. He has made it clear that until his body undergoes complete and catastrophic failure, he will remain here with us.
Jay Mallonee has studied a variety of animals since 1977, from wolves to whales. His research on wolves began in 1992, and he has written extensively about them in his scientific publications, magazines, newspapers and on his website (www.wolfandwildlifestudies.com). Jay also wrote the book Timber – A Perfect Life, an account of his 16-year relationship with a profound canine companion. *The headers in the article above are lines from the poem Invictus – Latin for “unconquered.”