We have a JEER today for the Idaho BLM and their misguided and backwards decision to go forward with granting a five-year permit allowing predator-killing contests on public lands despite hundreds of thousands of public comments opposing the permit. The next competitive killing derby is now slated for January 2-4, 2015 even though the agency unlawfully relied on faulty analysis and failed to conduct a full environmental impact statement. 

A few months ago, the application for a BLM special recreation permit triggered the National Environmental Policy Act, which prohibits fast track permitting of highly controversial activities, such as this. During the NEPA process, the BLM received over 100,000 comments expressing opposition to the event, including a detailed letter from our Wildlife Law Program explaining the negative impacts wildlife hunting contests have on animals, the environment, and society as a whole. The hunting derby not only poses a huge threat to coyotes, but puts the state’s wolves in danger as well even though wolves are considered to be a ‘sensitive species’ by the BLM and are supposed to be protected by the agency. 

Killing contests have absolutely no role to play in civilized society and it is shameful that the BLM would allow these atrocities to take place on public lands, despite the outcry of thousands. It is no surprise, however, that the BLM considers the public’s opinion to be of no value…they are also responsible for the rounding-up and killing of thousands of wild horses on public lands in Nevada and Wyoming to appease the needs of cattle ranchers. We have been fighting the BLM’s reign on many fronts, including filing a petition to list wild horses as protected under the Endangered Species Act. The BLM should be working for the public majority…not the extremely small number of hunters and ranchers who support their biased opinions. 


Cheers to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for calling out the NRA on killing the proposed elephant-saving law that would have banned the sale of ivory in the United States.           

Today, not only are more elephants dying than can be born, but terrorist groups like Boko Haram use ivory to gain capital and the No. 2 retail market for elephant ivory is the U.S., despite the fact that it banned ivory imports in 1989. Because of this, President Obama proposed regulations to close a big loophole in the 1989 law, including banning the sale of ivory inside the U.S.. Despite bipartisan agreement on the issue, the NRA succeeded in blocking the bill from moving forward. Check out the video below to learn more.

We recently addressed this issue at the International Wildlife Trafficking Symposium held at Quinnipiac School of Law Nov. 8 where Michael Harris, attorney and director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program, gave a lecture which focused on shifting the burden of protecting the world’s fauna back onto developed countries, like the United States, that are the largest offenders when it comes to both legal and illegal importation of exotic species, and how the Endangered Species Act can effectively be used to end wildlife trafficking.

 

 

 

Cheers to Ketchum City Council in Idaho for passing a resolution to use non-lethal tactics to control the wolf population in September. Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas asked for the council’s support in adopting a resolution to support wildlife co-existence.

She and the councilors have taken issue with the new state Wolf Depredation Control Board, who has been given a half million dollar budget to kill wolves that clash with ranchers and hunters. 

Jonas has made it clear she wants Idaho Gov. Butch Otter to keep those efforts out of her county. She’s concerned that some pro-wolf groups have organized boycotts of Idaho.

“The initial attraction and the real core of our community is the value and the quality and the quantity of our outdoor experience,” Jonas told Northwest Public Radio.

The city of Ketchum will use the resolution to encourage the State of Idaho to adopt alternative wolf management practices. Ketchum would like the state to collaborate on a project that helps ranchers use non-lethal alternative measures against wolves, like strobe lights, electric fences and guard dogs.

Jonas told Friends of Animals on Oct. 30 that is difficult to measure the impact Ketchum’s resolution has had or may have on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which makes decisions about how to manage wildlife.

“Our regional Fish and Game commissioners and director have been made aware of our concerns both in person and in writing,” she said

“Progress is slow, but we will continue to engage Fish and Game at every opportunity on the issue of non-lethal predatory control, as well as other wildlife and habitat management issues,” she said.


When One Direction’s fourth album “Four” hits stores Nov. 17, Friends of Animals is asking fans not to buy it until band members promise not to exploit animals for entertainment ever again. The boy band’s new music video for the track “Steal My Girl” exploits a chimpanzee and lion, which is unnecessary considering the advances in computer generated imaging available to directors and producers nowadays. 

UK-based charity Wild Futures was disgusted when behind the scenes photos emerged of the boybanders playing with a monkey actor who they held on a chain lead, and so is Friends of Animals. In a letter to the band, Wild Futures asked that the band to pull the video before it premiered on Oct. 24 but the band released the video anyways.  The letter documented the suffering primates undergo in the process to becoming actors. 

“The animals are ripped from their mothers, left in isolation and can develop aggressive behavior, psychological problems and even self-harm as a result,” the letter said.

 A spokesperson for One Direction insisted: “‚ÄčNo animals were hurt in the making of the 1D video and strict guidelines were adhered to.”

What the members of One Direction and their handlers, as well as many people in Hollywood—are ignorant of is what happens to these animals before and after the video is made, not just when they are on set. 

In our Winter 2013-14 edition of Action Line, we reveal that when the American Humane Association’s says “No Animals Were Harmed,” the flimsy basis for judging the treatment of animals on films only entails the actual filming that happens in front of them, not the lengthy cruel training, housing or living conditions of animals, nor do they have an opinion on infant chimps being taken from their mothers prematurely. 

Bob Ingersoll, a primatologist who appears in the documentary Project Nim, said in the Action Line article that he is disgusted that real chimps are still used in film and said that with current computer graphics technology, “No animals need to be exploited in films, ever again.”  He denounced what trainers do to get animals to act, which is withholding affection and reassurance, something you’d never do to an infant.  “It’s wrong and creates long term psychological damage.  Chimps don’t naturally withhold affection and reassurance like that long term; they have a tiff and get over it quickly,” he said.

Plus when owners are training the chimps, the only contact they want is chimp to trainer, keeping the young chimps apart.  The long term damage that is done results in negative and neurotic behaviors and an inability to socially interact with other chimps.

What’s particularly frustrating about the ignorance of the band, the production company and director in the case of this music video is the use of animals does nothing to explain or enhance the storyline of the video. Plus there are excellent examples of the usage of CGI in cinema today that they could have referenced if they felt they absolutely couldn’t tell their story without an image of a chimpanzee or lion. 

For example director Darren Aronofsky used computer-generated images instead of animals in this year's biblical flood epic Noah.  Aronofsky said the easiest and most humane way to show the biblical animal kingdom he envisioned was through visual effects. “It was quickly apparent that working with live animals would be dangerous for them,” Aronofsky said in a statement. “It was also morally ambiguous considering we were making a film about the first naturalist, Noah, who saved and cared for all the varied species on the planet.”

One Direction should take some direction from Mr. Aronofsky.

Tell band members to promise never to use animals in a video again on their Facebook page  and on Twitter.

You can also contact Production Company Fulwell 73 and tell them to use CGI, not animal actors, in upcoming work. Email: contact@fulwell73.co.uk


We have a cheer today as Norway announces it has slashed a $1.8 million subsidy for seal hunting from next year’s budget, perhaps driving an end to this bloody business once and for all. Despite the fact that seal hunting was banned by the EU in 2009, the industry was still going strong in Norway, with an estimated 11,980 seals caught by Norwegian boats this year… which have had to rely heavily on government subsidies. 

The cut is historic as seal hunting has persisted in Norway under the guise of being a “unique hunting tradition.” Commercial anglers are lamenting this budget cut that would finally put a stop to this cruel industry, but animal rights protestors are celebrating. 

Siri Martinsen from the Norwegian animal rights group, NOAH explains: “The seal hunting subsidies are a typical example of tax payers' money being used in a meaningless way. One has paid for the seals to be killed, paid for their skin to be sold, and in some cases also paid for their skin to be destroyed.”

We are happy to finally see Norway evolve to join the growing list of countries that have completely banned the horrific seal hunting industry and hope that it sends a message to countries like Canada and Denmark, who still bolster this cruel and bloody business.

 

Cheers to the sixth graders at Watkinson School in Hartford, Conn., and their English teacher Fran Stoffer, for their activism to raise awareness of the plight of circus animals. 

Inspired by their summer reading selection, When the Circus Came to Town, by Polly Horvath, Watkinson's sixth graders researched circus animals and did not like what they found: Circus animals are mistreated and suffer horrible abuses. With input from Friends of Animals, the students decided to create a petition about banning circuses with animal acts to send with letters to Connecticut mayors; write letters to Gov. Malloy; make an all-school announcement to educate others about what is really occurring under the big tent; and compose op-ed pieces to send to newspapers. Here is one of the op-ed pieces that appears on the school’s website: 

“Over the summer, the sixth-grade class read When the Circus Came to Town, by Polly Horvath, and it inspired us to do research about circus animals. We learned about what really goes on after hours at the circus. We learned that circus animals are treated horribly behind the scenes. They live in cramped cages with hardly any room, and it’s not like they are very sanitary at all. They have to eat, drink, sleep, and get rid of their wastes all in the same place. How would you like to live in a cage like that? You probably wouldn’t. And if that’s not bad enough, they have to stay in their cages while the circus moves from place to place. They can go up to 100+ hours on the road at once. If it gets hot, they don’t have a way to get cool because there’s no air conditioning. And if it gets cold, they could freeze to death because they have no heating. The animals don’t get to exercise like they would in the wild; they have to learn tricks instead. They get hit, whipped and tortured if they don’t do them right. We felt bad for the animals in the circus because they do not deserve to be treated that way. So, we decided to do something. We all came up with different ideas: 

•We made an announcement at our all-school meeting

•We created a petition to send with letters to mayors of the following towns: Hartford, New Haven, New Britain, Bridgeport, Waterbury and Danbury

•We wrote a letter to the Governor

We worked so hard to share with people the important problems behind the wonderful entertainment called the circus because we believe the circus is great, but it is better without animals.”

 

Friends of Animals is thrilled that the students at Watkinson School appreciate and respect animals the way we do.