At The HSUS, we care about whales, seals, tigers, and other big, charismatic creatures. But we also care about hummingbirds, prairie dogs, and chickens, special in their own right. They all have a beating heart and an interest in avoiding pain and suffering.
We’ve created some good news and positive outcomes for creatures great and small these last couple of days. Thanks to the work of our litigation and marine mammal protection teams, The HSUS successfully blocked plans to kill up to 85 sea lions each year in Washington and Oregon. State and federal officials had their sights set on killing the sea lions because some of them eat salmon, as they funnel through the Bonneville Dam.
Yet research on salmon mortality shows the sea lions only take 3 to 4 percent of the salmon, while fishermen take four times as many. The real culprits in salmon killing are the dams themselves, and we’re tired of seeing the sea lions made into scapegoats for the substantial, and largely unaddressed, human-caused toll on the region's salmon populations. The state and federal plans did not comply with the law, and our legal efforts will continue until the program is abandoned once and for all.
Our litigation team also scored a big win for chickens and the residents of a rural community in the Central Valley of California. For years, the people of French Camp have had the quality of their lives upended because of the waste emitted from a factory farm with more than 600,000 laying hens jammed into small cages. Yesterday, the community gained some measure of justice. A federal jury ruled the facility is a nuisance under state law and awarded $544,000 in damages to neighbors of this facility, which produces 133,000 pounds of chicken waste every day. It's a great success in the effort to make factory farming interests accountable for their inhumane and environmentally destructive practices.
Meanwhile, a hundred miles north, our animal fighting team was working with the Butte County Sheriff’s Office to raid a large cockfighting operation with international ties. And in Texas, state lawmakers passed a bill to make it a crime to possess fighting birds or to be a spectator at a cockfight. Our investigations unit has infiltrated 20 or so cockfighting rings throughout the state in the last year, showing lawmakers that they’ve got a substantial underground industry and that it’s time to close gaps in the state’s animal fighting law. This has been a major battle for us for years, and now the legislation is off to Gov. Perry, who we hope will sign the bill in quick order.