A Senate Republican attack on animals menaces grizzlies, wolves in Alaska

By on March 22, 2017 with 3 Comments

I tossed and turned almost the entire night.

It wasn’t a nightmare that roiled me.

It was yesterday’s awful spectacle in the U.S. Senate.

By a 52 to 47 vote, senators approved, on a party-line vote, their colleague Dan Sullivan’s resolution to rescind a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rulemaking action that forbids the most inhumane and unsporting practices ever contemplated in the era of modern wildlife management on national wildlife refuges.

I couldn’t stop thinking about grizzly bears being chased by a plane or helicopter. The pilot dumps the hunter close to the grizzly, and the hunter shoots the magnificent animal dead. All for a trophy.

I couldn’t stop thinking about some other poor bear, just trying to gather enough food and water to survive, traipsing through a forest or on the tundra, and being snagged in a snare that’s staked to a tree or planted deep into the ground. The noose constricts, digging deeper through fur and flesh and tightening with every mighty pull. This first loss of freedom stirs every muscle to resist and every instinct to flee, but to no avail. Hours and hours pass. The cold wrestles down the quarry in a different way. The injured leg swells, the blood unable to flow past the snare. The lower limb starts to wither. The whole body is numb from the bitter cold. Fear and suffering spike. Eventually the creature gives up.

And I couldn’t stop thinking about a man killing a mother wolf and indeed the entire pack, who are easy targets as they remain close to the den site to provide for and take care of their young. The pups are anxious and excited for their return. They don’t know they’ll never again see their mother and other providers who have been killed and dragged away. The pups wait and wait, not understanding what’s unfolding. Hunger and thirst sink in. Their bodies start to break down. Organ failure sets in. Death comes.

Not a single Republican stood against the barbarism packed into H. J. Res. 69. And not one of them stood for the principle that it was Congress that vested power in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have the final say on wildlife management practices on national wildlife refuges.

Together, they enabled a putsch. An overthrow of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authority.

The federal government will pay the bill for staffing the refuge, but the state will call the shots. That means these 16 national wildlife refuges will become killing fields for trophy hunters and trappers and baiters and spring hunters. When Congress enacted the Alaska National Interests Land Conservation Act in 1980, lawmakers never imagined such a design. Their purpose in enacting ANILCA was to set aside places for the wildlife and the tourists who’d come to see them — the animals, of course, would be unharmed and no worse for it.

I am so proud of New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, himself an ardent sportsman, and Sens. Dick Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., for deconstructing the phony arguments advanced by the backers of H.J. Res. 69. If they had been arguing the case in front of a jury, they would have carried every fair-minded juror considering the evidence and honoring a standard of decency.

They eviscerated the phony states’ rights arguments advanced by their colleagues. Their phony subsistence hunting arguments. Their inaccurate representations of the views of Alaskans.

My thanks go also to the thousands of caring Americans like you who wrote and called your senators to block this disgraceful resolution. You are a credit to our society, standing up for what’s good and right about this country and about humankind itself.

But in our system of government, there are no guarantees. Right does not always prevail. We’ve had some ugly chapters in our history when southern Senators blocked civil rights bills. When lawmakers mocked women’s suffrage. We’ve gone through a lot of that in our own movement, too.

The lawmakers in Washington who voted in the majority yesterday do not represent the views of regular Americans on animal welfare or wildlife conservation. On wildlife issues at least, they are captives of special interests who want to kill wildlife for their pleasure.

But this is not the last word on the subject. It cannot be the last word.

Dust yourself off. Grieve for the victims. Tell the Republicans what you think.

Await guidance on our next move. We are developing plans. Let’s struggle on.

See how your Senators voted and tell them what you think of their vote >>

Can the humane economy continue to advance in our challenging times?

By on March 21, 2017 with 0 Comments
Can the humane economy continue to advance in our challenging times?

It’s fitting, it seems, that on the launch day of the paperback version of The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers Are Transforming the Lives of Animals in bookstores, Burger King and Tim Horton’s announced new policies concerning the welfare of chickens raised in meat production. These major food retailers are announcing new space . . . 

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An attempted overthrow of our national wildlife refuge system

By on March 20, 2017 with 11 Comments
An attempted overthrow of our national wildlife refuge system

Let’s be very clear. The resolution advanced by Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan to allow unconscionable methods of hunting grizzly bears and wolves on national wildlife refuges in the state is an attack on the entire national wildlife refuge system. Sen. Sullivan wants to give the Alaska Board of Game carte blanche to allow the most . . . 

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Gulliver’s travails underscore urgency of lead ammo ban

By on March 17, 2017 with 2 Comments
Gulliver’s travails underscore urgency of lead ammo ban

Gulliver’s chances didn’t seem high when a caring person saw him fall from a tree and called animal control. A beautiful bald eagle, Gulliver was the victim of acute lead poisoning. Gulliver couldn’t stand or even hold his head up. His bloodwork showed a lead level of 94.2, startlingly higher than the normal level of . . . 

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Arkansas poised to enact draconian ag-gag measure

By on March 16, 2017 with 8 Comments
Arkansas poised to enact draconian ag-gag measure

The attack on animals – and the people who defend them – isn’t just happening on the federal level. It’s happening in some important states, too. The Arkansas Senate yesterday approved a controversial state “ag-gag” bill that allows employers in Arkansas to sue workers who expose cruelty at their workplaces. It had passed the House . . . 

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HSUS 2016 annual report: Transformational progress for orcas and elephants, farm and lab animals, and others

By on March 15, 2017 with 2 Comments
HSUS 2016 annual report: Transformational progress for orcas and elephants, farm and lab animals, and others

Today, we officially release our 2016 annual report. I hope you’ll read and take pride in the progress we are making across such a wide range of issues and challenges. Below, I’ve closely reproduced my President’s essay from the report. I’m proud to note that thanks to you, we grew our net assets by nearly . . . 

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Alaskans say no to using aircraft, cruel traps to kill grizzlies on national wildlife refuges

By on March 14, 2017 with 7 Comments
Alaskans say no to using aircraft, cruel traps to kill grizzlies on national wildlife refuges

When we worked to outlaw cockfighting in the last U.S. state where it was legal, we knew that the people of Louisiana didn’t support the practice and had their own aspirations of banning such blood spectacles in their state. The politicians there had it wrong for years, somehow convincing themselves that there was strong support . . . 

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The United States needs a federal anti-cruelty statute

By on March 13, 2017 with 4 Comments
The United States needs a federal anti-cruelty statute

I’ll get to that matter, but some background first. In 2014, South Dakota became the 50th state to adopt felony-level penalties for malicious cruelty. That action puts an exclamation point on the notion that opposition to the worst forms of cruelty is a universal value in the United States and that people who commit such . . . 

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Airplane-aided hunting, contest killing, ag-gag, tigers in the backyard, and dogs in hot cars flare up in legislative debates across the nation

By on March 10, 2017 with 2 Comments
Airplane-aided hunting, contest killing, ag-gag, tigers in the backyard, and dogs in hot cars flare up in legislative debates across the nation

Legislative activity is furious at the federal and state level. This week, lawmakers introduced three new animal protection bills (banning the sale of dog and cat meat in the United States, creating a federal anti-cruelty statute, and outlawing the sale of shark fins). Next week, the U.S. Senate may take up H.J. Res. 69, or . . . 

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Animal protection is neither right nor left – but forward

By on March 9, 2017 with 0 Comments
Animal protection is neither right nor left – but forward

A couple months ago, former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura adopted a puppy from the SPCA of Texas. In a Facebook post announcing the arrival of Freddy Bush, the 43rd president advocated for adoption: “If you could use a little extra joy in your life, consider adopting a pet from an animal . . . 

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