About Exposing the Big Game

Jim Robertson

“Get To Hoofin It”: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

“Get To Hoofin It”: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States


By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns

Probably everyone reading this knows the feeling of going to the computer each day, clicking on email, and experiencing that knot of dread as the messages unfold with their sad and terrible stories about animals, the horrible and endlessly ingenious ways and reasons that our species has for making animals suffer and die, which includes stripping them of their dignity.

If it’s bad enough knowing what the institutions and entities that we expect to hurt animals are doing to them, there is added despair involved in knowing what is being done to animals by organizations calling themselves “humane,” “anticruelty” and the like. It is monstrous seeing our language of care and respect degraded into completely opposite meanings. A perfect example is this:

Get to Hoofin it: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

“We support farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals, and act in accordance with the basic ethic of compassion to sentient creatures.”
– The Humane Society of the United States

Most people know enough by now about the realities of animal farming, regardless of scale or label, to envision at least some of the details of what farmers and ranchers actually do to animals, versus verbalizations about “proper care” and “basic ethic of compassion.”

What these abstractions express and perpetuate in this context is alienation from actual animals. What they demonstrate is lack of respect for animals, indeed mockery of the very idea of “respecting” them. No one who truly respects animals, respects their dignity, feels with and for them, and wishes them joy in life supports “farming” them, because animal farming is about degrading animals meanly to the level of their genitals and their genes, mutilating their body parts, destroying their family life, controlling every aspect of their lives including culling (killing) them as one pleases when they are deemed not “productive” enough to keep feeding, and ultimately murdering them.

How can anyone claiming to respect animals promote a view of them as “dinner”?

Will a call to “Respect Your Dinner” advance your empathy and respect for animals as they lie slaughtered on your plate in barbecue sauce? Maybe the code word here is “basic.” Basic ethic of compassion = lowest possible level. In any case, compassion has nothing to do with the business and consumption of animal products. Its purpose is to gain customers and subvert consciences, to the extent that a conscience exists toward animals made into meals and blessed over in this condition even by their, uh, advocates. Like “humane,” the word compassion in this context is a mockery of both the animals and the meaning of words, including the word advocacy. It is the final gut punch to those we’re supposed to be advocating for.

Click on each animal photograph in this link for more information:

For more commentary, see pattrice jones here:

Peaceful Prairie here:

James McWilliams here:

Hen being slaughtered Basic ethic of compassion in action.

Fighting to Stop Namibia’s Seal Slaughter

Meet the ‘Extreme Conservationists’ Fighting to Stop Namibia’s Seal
Slaughter In the new Pivot series ‘The Operatives,’ Pete Bethune and his
commando team pursue environmental criminals around the world.
August 15, 2014 By Todd Woody
When veteran conservationist Pete Bethune steps off the elevator at
TakePart’s Los Angeles headquarters dressed in camouflage, a military-style
rucksack slung across his back, he looks likes he’s ready to parachute into
some remote locale to do battle with poachers and other environmental
Which he is.
The 49-year-old tattooed New Zealander leads a team of conservationist
commandos in The Operatives, a new television series that premieres Sunday
on Pivot, the television network owned by Participant Media, TakePart’s
parent company.
Bethune gained fame in 2010 when he commanded the Ady Gill, a high-tech
trimaran that was part of a Sea Shepherd fleet trying to stop Japanese
whaling ships in the Southern Ocean. A Japanese boat rammed the Ady Gill,
and when Bethune boarded the whaler he was arrested. Taken to Japan, Bethune
was jailed for five months before being released and deported.
Now he’s back with a team that travels the world to confront eco-villains
poaching protected wildlife, fishing in marine sanctuaries, and illegally
mining for gold in rainforests home to endangered animals such as the
“We got environmental criminals pillaging the world as we speak, and we’re
going to take them on,” says Bethune.
He calls it “extreme conservation.”
The first episode of The Operatives takes the team to the West African
country of Namibia, where local men club to death more than 80,000 baby Cape
fur seals each year.
The Namibian government claims the seal cull is needed to protect fish
stocks. But environmentalists argue there’s another motive: The pelts of the
dead seal pups are exported to make clothing.
In 2006, for instance, Namibia set the cull quota at 85,000 seals, according
to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“This high harvest level has been retained despite several years with very
high mortality levels for pups along with many thousands of adult deaths in
Namibia,” the IUCN states in a report.
Namibia and Canada are the only countries that permit the clubbing to death
of baby seals.
Environmentalists estimate that the fur trade brings at most $500,000 to
Namibia. Tourism, on the other hand, is worth $681 million annually,
according to the government. Among the attractions that lure tourists:
the country’s wildlife, including fur seals.
To Kill or Not to Kill? New Hope in the Fight to Save Baby Seals
While the IUCN says that there have been reports that fur seals have had
some impact on fishing, it noted that many seals also die after being
entangled in fishing lines or are illegally shot by fishermen.
In the first The Operatives episode, Bethune and his team travel overland
from South Africa to Namibia. They take an inflatable boat down the coast
under cover of darkness and then swim to shore through shark-infested
waters. Why the subterfuge? The cull they want to document is taking place
on the site of a diamond mine, and the operatives must sneak onto the beach
and avoid capture to film the carnage.
We won’t reveal any spoilers, but it’s extreme viewing. Check out the
preview below
Video at link:

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Killing wildlife should be understood as an addiction

Exposing the Big Game:

“The world is biophysically finite, yet hunters are recruiting more young people and women into trapping, hounding, torturing and killing our wildlife. The general public, taught to be disengaged and powerless, is purposefully disconnected from the death culture silencing our woods and waterways.

Originally posted on Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife:

53ee7241f10b5.preview-300The most important thing to develop in young people from grade school to their mid-20’s is empathy.” — James Catterall, UCLA Center for Culture, Brain and Development

If professor James Catterall is correct — that empathy is the most important value to teach— why are we allowing the Department of Natural Resources, a state agency, into our middle and high schools and trade schools to teach young people recreational torture and killing of innocent wildlife?

The DNR, funded on killing licenses, staffed by killing proponents, allied with its hunter/trapper/hounder clientele, wants its power base expanded and secured against the majority of us. They know the best way to do that is their legislated 12-member recruitment team going after kids. Addict them early and keep them long.

On a hunting website, a hunter recalls. “I was 13 years old when I started hunting with my dad. I still remember my first…

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Good news at least temporarily for Idaho wolves in part of Idaho

Originally posted on Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife:


Idaho Suspends Wilderness Wolf-Killing Plan in Face of Court Challenge

By Defenders of Wildlife

17 August 14

Faced with a legal challenge by conservationists and an imminent hearing before a federal appeals court, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (“IDFG”) has abandoned its plan to resume a professional wolf-killing program in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the coming winter.

In a sworn statement submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on July 24, 2014, IDFG Wildlife Bureau Chief Jeff Gould stated that IDFG “will not conduct any agency control actions for wolves within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness before November 1, 2015.” IDFG had previously advised the court that the program could resume as early as December 1, 2014.

A professional hunter-trapper hired by IDFG killed nine wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness last winter and state officials in…

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Save (most of) the whales: Greenpeace now supports Inuit hunting, but Native groups still wary

Originally posted on National Post | News:

On Aug. 3, six boats carrying hunters from Clyde River, Nunavut, converged on a pregnant bowhead whale and, in a dramatic 90-minute struggle that saw explosions, a flurry of harpoon thrusts and the loss of one of the boats, the 60-metre-long animal was brought to heel.

It was the community’s first whale hunt in more than 100 years, and exuberant locals were still peeling muktuk (fatty skin) off the whale’s hulking carcass when congratulations flowed in from one of the most unlikely sources imaginable: Greenpeace.

The group whose name is synonymous with Save the Whales put out a press release to “honour” the people of Clyde River for taking out a mammal still considered endangered in parts of the Arctic.

“Greenpeace respects the rights of Clyde River and other indigenous communities to sustainable, traditional hunting and fishing,” said Greenpeace Arctic campaigner Farrah Khan in a statement.

Ansgar Walk / Wikimedia

Ansgar Walk / Wikimedia

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Response to massive cormorant kill

Painting Courtesy Barry Kent MacKay

Painting Courtesy Barry Kent MacKay


Comment period still open, until the 19th…send to e-mail address shown:

Sondra Ruckwardt U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, District, Portland Attn: CENWP-PM-E/Double-crested Cormorant draft EIS P.O. Box 2946 Portland, Oregon 97208-2946 USA. cormor…@usace.army.mil Response to Double-crested Cormorant Management P

Response to Double-crested Cormorant Management Plan to

 Reduce Predation of Juvenile Salmonids in the Columbia River Estuary


by Barry K. MacKay Aug 16

I am writing on behalf of Born Free USA in response to the “Double-crested Cormorant Management Plan to Reduce Predation of Juvenile Salmonids in the Columbia River Estuary”, hereafter referred to as “the Plan”.   We oppose the “Preferred Alternative”.

As the title suggests, the Plan is designed to enhance smolt survival by killing a large number of cormorants.   The Plan discusses a multiplicity of anthropogenic factors influencing smolt survival, but then has simply scapegoated cormorants – one species in a complex ecosystem.  The Plan assumes that if more smolt leave the Estuary, more adults will return to spawn thereby enhancing the salmon populations.  Our position is that this approach – based on the assumption that each predator removed results in an increase in the species equal to the number of individuals not consumed – reflects a long outdated approach to ecology and wildlife management in which no positive role is assigned to the predator.  But in fact, in a naturally-evolved predator-prey relationship, it is the number of prey that determine the number of predators.

Recent media coverage, reporting on the current presence of cormorants and other predators, suggests that the numbers of Sockeye and Chinook  Salmon taken in 2013 broke all previous records.  Yet, there appears to be no empirical evidence provided in the plan that demonstrates having the largest take of two Salmonid species is related to having a large cormorant population which the Plan alleges is having a deleterious effect?

While the Plan examines the various Salmonid populations in the Columbia River, showing  some populations increasing and some in decline, it fails to identify what Salmonid populations cormorants feed on and whether the consumption enhances, reduces or has no significant effect on the overall carrying capacity of the River for the different Salmonid populations.

I argue that such a simplistic approach to a complex system will have ecological consequences not considered in the Plan and with no guarantee that the Plan’s assumed outcome will indeed become a reality.

There are multiple human activities that affect Salmon, including fish farming, an increase in numbers of sea lice within the oceanic environment, acidification, dams and the results of various forms of land use.  The singular and accumulative effects of these impacts are not well understood.  Nor is there any real consideration of the need to modify such activities to mitigate negative impacts on Salmonids and other species.  Instead, simplistically, blame is attributed to the cormorants.  Given the enormity of the anthropogenic  changes to the river ecosystem, the simplistic notion that more salmon leaving the estuary means more salmon returning and the singular blame of one (or a few) predatory species reduces the credibility of the Plan and calls into question the management approach.

Wildlife managers tend, too often, to operate under the inherent assumption that when apex predators are reduced or removed from a region, prey species of concern will not be consumed and will survive and be part of and contribute to their respective populations.  This assumption is not based on empirical evidence or peer reviewed science but is presented as a “logical assumption”.

Dating back over a century, study after study has demonstrated that Double-crested Cormorants are rarely responsible for declines in fish species, exclusive of highly contrived situations, such as a diurnal hatchery release, or when the fish are confined by some construction.  In most cases the species of fish that are of concern typically are “game” or “commercial” species, or “forage” fish they consume (see, for example: http://www.aou.org/committees/docs/ConservationAddn) since they are of the greatest interest to commercial fishers and anglers.  Indeed, the Columbia River Estuary appears to be an example of an ecosystem that sustains a large cormorant population where at least two Salmonid species, the Sockeye and Chinook  Salmon populations are currently on the increase.

Yet cormorants are, for a variety of reasons, irresistibly attractive as scapegoats, and “traditional” reasons for blaming them are often complex, as discussed by Linda Wires in her book, The Double-crested Cormorant: Plight of a Feathered Pariah (Yale University Press, 2014) and by Richard King, in his book, The Devil’s Cormorant A Natural History (University of New Hampshire Press, 2013).

Wildlife managers single out the Double-crested Cormorant as the “villain” with no consideration of its role as an apex predator.  No weight is given to the possibility that Cormorants can enhance or maintain fish species by removing ill or genetically compromised fish, predators and competitors, or even contribute to ecological health by transferring nutriment from aquatic to terrestrial environments as is true of “sea” birds generally.  It seems likely that the species has had a role in making newly emerged islands more fertile, thus enhancing biodiversity.

The nineteenth century lethal approach to wildlife management, however politically expedient, did not then and does not now effectively resolve the concern for the decline in some species, in this case a decline in specific Salmonid at the smolt stage.  Such management approaches divert resources from efforts which, while perhaps more complex to explain, are more likely to actually work.

The decline in some Columbia River Salmonids has coincided with the decline in a variety of fish and other species of wildlife native to the region, including a variety of other seabird species.  The species involved are diverse.   But they do share a common food source, the herring (Clupea) and other small oceanic fish species such as Sand Lances (Ammodytes).

According to Iain McKechnie, a coastal archaeologist with the University of British Columbia, the archaeological record indicates that for the past 7,000 years herring population levels have been robust and steady, but now are in decline.  Herring are consumed by seabird populations including wintering loons, Western Grebes and other species that may nest in salt or fresh water, leading to the theory that, depending on the species, their decline is at least to a variable degree the result of documented and unprecedented declines in herring populations, and those of other small fish species that occurred in the region in much greater numbers than now

But the system is far more complicated than that.  For example, one of the Alcids that is increasingly rare, the Marbled Murrelet, is famous for being Old Growth forest dependent.   Thus a decline in Old Growth forests is generally cited as a causative factor in the decline in Marbled Murrelet.  This is not to suggest that the decline in Old Growth forest habitat is the only factor contributing to the decline in murrrelets, since it also apparently has a high dependence on viable herring stocks.

What is overlooked, I fear, is the effect not only of the loss of Old Growth forest on Salmonids but also the loss of all forests in the vast, Columbia River drainage, including the Snake River.  This river is 1,240 in lenth, fed by networks of other lakes, ponds, artesian wells, rivers and streams, which in turn are fed by variable amounts of precipitation and snow and glacial melt, themselves influenced by suites of other factors ranging from local to global in scope.

I mention these variables to emphasize the changing and dynamic nature of the environment and to demonstrate that no single factor can be attributed to the decline in Salmonids but that it involves s suite of interacting factors.

For example, when I visited the upper reaches of the Columbia River basin last year, I noted that the trees in the region have been influenced by heavy infestations of Mountain Pine Beetle which are considered “natural processes”.  Parks Canada writes, “Mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopk., hereafter referred to as MPB) and fire are major natural disturbance agents for lodgepole pine ecosystems in western North America”.  This natural disturbance potentially impacts the ecosystems, including the Columbia River and may contribute to a suite of factors that impact the Salmonid populations.

Numerous other influences contribute to Salmonid survival during the sea-going stage, including a large variety of anthropogenic factors, many of relatively recent origin.  Among these one of outstanding concern is fish farming.  Areas of concern about salmon farming include the risk of escaped domestic fish interbreeding with wild Salmonids, the transference of disease associated with such contrived and intensive concentrations of fish, and the presence of artificially enhanced population sizes of sea lice (see http://www.farmedanddangerous.org/scientific-case/sea-lice-research/).

There is a relatively new potential threats as we can see from the fates of other species.  In nearby Puget Sound, north of the Columbia delta, the production of oyster larvae went from a peak of 7 billion in the 2006 – 07 season to less than a third as many by 2009, with similar catastrophic declines in shellfish up and down the coast.   These coincide with indications of stunted growth in Alaskan king and tanner crabs.  Evidence suggests the cause is likely increased acidification of the water.   A senior scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the University of Washington, Richard A. Feely, has predicted that in about 36 years some fifty to 70 percent of the water will be corrosive (see http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/PDF/feel2899/feel2899.pdf).

Such acidification will destroy the ability of small marine organisms with calcium-based shells or other calcium-dependent physiological components to survive, which, in turn, can deplete the foundation of food chains that end up with Salmonids, as well as whales, seals, cormorants and other species that may or may not be scapegoated.

The degree to which smolt survival is key to ultimate population goals is similarly unclear from the Plan.  It is of particular concern as it is not only smolt survival that contributes to the fishery, but also other events in the marine environment.   Positive fisheries management, which has resulted in the declines in fishery catch, seems to have led to increased populations of Salmonid populations overall.

The Plan’s calculations on smolt survival in the lower Columbia lacks empirically derived estimates. The estimates in the Plan are based on unpublished, non-peer-reviewed and non-accessible data.  Why would the authors of the Plan not access the arguably more reliable data set, provided by Passive Integrated Transponder tags (PIT tags)?

The following questions must be asked:  If the purpose of the Plan is to enhance smolt survival, which smolt species are targeted for enhancement?  Where are the scientific papers that demonstrate a carrying capacity of the river and estuary that can support a greater number of smolts and adults should they return as the Plan assumes?  Given that there are other Salmonid predators such as terns, sea lions etc, why focus on cormorants?   Indeed, are all opportunistic piscivorous species common in the region to be targeted.

There is a vast range in the amount of consumption of Salmonid smolts by cormorants in the Columbia River from year to year (see http://www.birdresearchnw.org/final%20esi%20dcco%20benefits%20analysis.pdf ) and yet fish biomass per cormorant, times the number of cormorants, is presumably more consistent.  Thus opportunistic consumption would be tied to availability.  The fewer smolt consumed, the more of other fish species which may be displacing competitors or predators of smolts.

As in any opportunistic predator-prey interaction, it is important for wildlife managers to know what species are consumed when smolt consumption is lower to make up the equivalent aquatic biomass consumed.

It appears, at the very least, to be possible that within a given population size of cormorants, consumption by the birds of predatory or competitive species within the overall Salmonid smolt habitat adjoining the Sand Island colony may be at least neutral, and possibly positive, in affecting Salmonid smolt survival.  Certainly the range of species documented as being consumed by cormorants is vast, with numbers of individuals of given species determined by accessibility, thus availability.

The positive role of predators was very poorly, if at all, understood in the 19th century.   We should do better in the 21st.

And yet I read that cormorant predation of smolt is comparable to the number of smolt lost to a dam.  This contention totally ignores the difference between impacts of man-made devices such as dams on species verses natural ecological processes.  Cormorant consumption of smolt is far more, and differently, selective, with said selectivity possibly benefiting smolt survival overall.  Losses from dams are far more random than losses to predation by any species.

As well, the authors of the Plan admit that reduction of nesting cormorants may be counterbalanced by arrival of more Double-crested Cormorants, with no particularly significant decrease in the amount of consumption of whatever the cormorant is preying upon.

Cormorants prey on individual smolts, on individuals of species that would prey upon smolts, on individuals of species that would compete with smolts for resources, and on individuals of species whose presence or absence would have a neutral effect on smolt survival.   That’s inevitable.

I would further argue that what cormorants prey upon and in what number would also be a function of the number and availability of smolts relative to other species and that there remains an unanswered question as to what has been or is the limiting factor in cormorant numbers.  Removing cormorants from the nesting site would not reduce consumption of whatever is being consumed.  If it is food availability that limits cormorant numbers, there should be some indication of it (and none is given) as demonstrated by such indicators as reduced cormorant recruitment, a decline in mean weight of adult birds, etc.

Thus reducing nest site carrying capacity, as proposed, literally by making nesting a fatal option for a percentage of the cormorant population, will not necessarily, or even likely, reduce cormorant predation of any species (smolt, smolt competitors, smolt predators, or neutral species) any time soon, or ever, given the likelihood of compensatory mortality and subsequent immigration from other locations, which will counterbalance the losses from management action.

Such a Draconian action as the massive destruction of so many individuals of a native species is completely unsupportable given that cormorants have never been demonstrated to be responsible for, nor even implicated in, the loss of a single fish species or significant population of a single fish species anywhere.

Many government regimes talk about “sustainable” consumption of renewable resources, and then proceed to do no such thing.  The current take of Columbia River Salmonid species by commercial or recreational fishers cannot be called “sustainable” so long as it is deemed necessary to augment the population with the addition of hatchery-raised smolts .  The “average” number of Chinook Salmon sub-yearlings released into the environment may annually be around 75,000,000 (half way between the low of 50,000,000 and the high of 100,000,000 given).

What is more to the point, though, is the admission that even  though some Salmonid species numbers are on the rise, there has been a steady decline in Salmonids overall “since the late 19th century”, due to various anthropogenic factors that are, as we indicate above, increasing, both in number and in kind.  Thus what Salmonids are experiencing is not different, in kind, than the losses of herring and other species in the Pacific region, as indicated above.   The loss of major Salmonid stocks from the Okanagan River system, for example, had nothing whatsoever to do with cormorants (or Caspian Terns, sealions or other Pinnipeds, Orcas, mergansers or other natural predators).

Historically there were some ten to sixteen million Salmonids breeding in the Columbia River system.  With fewer than two million anadromous Salmonids (not all Salmonids are anadromous) returning to spawn currently, there are millions not accounted for.

When Salmonids fail to recover after the killing of thousands of cormorants what other natural predator will be targeted as a causative factor impacting the Columbia River Salmonds?  We can only speculate, and the Plan does not even do that.   It is not as if fish declines only occur where there are cormorants.  Freshwater  Atlantic Salmon, once found in Lake Ontario, were completely exterminated when cormorants were absent from the environment.  There is certainly no dearth of candidate causations for Salmonid decline, and fish stock decline of species that are not eaten by cormorants are certainly widespread and widely documented.

In Toronto, near where I am based, we have the largest Double-crested Cormorant colony in eastern North America, and it is managed, but without any lethal culling. While the Plan states non-lethal procedures to reduce cormorant smolt predation have been tried and failed, the Plan does not acknowledge that the killing of cormorants in other jurisdictions has also been tried and failed.  The Plan is lacking in any scientific studies showing that cormorants negatively impact the fish biomass.

Because I do not think a case for reducing cormorants has been made in the first instance, I am reluctant to advocate for dispersal procedures, since I would prefer to focus on preventing known anthropogenic detriments to fish stock declines.   That said, hazing techniques to prevent establishment of nesting (or, in other terms, to lower the capacity of the environment in question to accommodate nests) does work and has the added advantage of being relatively humane and possibly of not removing non-target species (such as Brandt’s Cormorants).   Hazing also has the benefit of being socially more acceptable, because it is more humane, than culling.  Uet there is no indication in the Plan that a well-thought out hazing regime has been adequately tried.

I have long witnessed a scenario, now at play in the Plan, whereby a wildlife management agency assures itself that simply by removing “X” number of cormorants from a breeding colony (with “X” always being a significant percentage of the number present) a reduction to “Y” will occur, with “Y” always being a number that meets whatever the objective is, usually either to protect a given fish stock or age class within a given fish stock, and/or vegetation at risk, and/or other species dependent on that vegetation within the colony.   It never works because the population is fluid and other birds will simply replace those removed, making culling a permanent management strategy.

Lastly, I would like to address the Plan’s concern over the perceived threat of the Double-crested Cormorant to the local, endangered subspecies of the Horned Lark.  After a life devoted professionally and otherwise to an appreciation of wild birds and dedicated to their survival, with species always valued over individual, I’m naturally concerned about the survival of an endangered local race of the Horned Lark.   I believe that endangered species legislation in both our countries is correct and valid to the degree that it addresses survival at the taxon level, thus giving the subspecies consideration equal to that of the species.  The last thing I would want would be to champion a common species at the expense of an endangered species or subspecies.

But I think it is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that the activities of Double-crested Cormorants, in any way have a negative impact on the strigata race of the Horned Lark.  There is nothing about the habitat requirements of the lark, which all literature sources I have referenced suggest are similar to the several subspecies I am familiar with, including those that nest in my home province of Ontario.   In fact, I respectfully suggest that it discredits the document overall to imply that the Horned Lark is at risk from the presence of the Sand Island cormorant colony, or would be compromised by hazing and other non-lethal, non-culling procedures.

I strongly urge rejection of the “Preferred Alternative” as the case that reducing the number of cormorants on Sand Island will result in enhanced Salmonid smolt survival has not been made.  Do not scapegoat the cormorants for the excesses of our own species.


Barry Kent MacKay

Senior Programme Associate

Born Free USA

Pro-wolf hunt measure passes Michigan Senate

copyrighted wolf in river


By Jonathan Oosting

LANSING, MI — Michigan’s Republican-led Senate on Wednesday approved controversial legislation that could pave the way for future wolf hunting seasons despite two wolf protection proposals set to appear on the November ballot.

The initiated bill was sent to the state Legislature last month by Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management, a hunting and conservation coalition that collected an estimated 297,000 valid signatures in a statewide petition drive.

State senators returned from summer recess to vote on various legislation, including the wolf hunt measure. It was approved in a 23-10 vote, mostly along party lines, and now heads to the House for further consideration.

The measure is similar to — and actually seeks to re-enact — recent laws that first designated the gray wolf as a game animal and gave the Natural Resource Commission the authority to add new species to the list. Both laws were suspended pending outcome of voter referendums this fall.

Supporters say the commission, comprised of seven members appointed by the governor, is best suited to consider scientific rationale for new game species or hunts. The NRC approved the state’s first-ever wolf season last year.

“It’s not about eliminating wolves,” said state Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, whose district includes wolf habitat in the eastern Upper Peninsula. “It’s about a balanced ecosystem, and it’s about providing scientific management.”

The Senate did not have to vote on the pro-hunt bill. Rejection or inaction would send the measure to the statewide ballot, where it would compete with the two anti-wolf hunt proposals.

Approval by the state House, which is set to reconvene for voting on August 27, would render those ballot proposals moot. The initiated legislation also includes a $1 million appropriation to battle invasive species, which may make it immune from future referendum.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a coalition funded primarily by the Humane Society of the United States, organized two successful petition drives in a bid to prevent wolf hunting. The group’s first effort was rebuffed by the Legislature, which passed a second law when the first was suspended.

Several Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, urged Republican leadership to send the measure to the ballot, arguing that approval would disenfranchise voters who had signed the anti-hunt petitions.

“I’m not going to debate the merits of wolf hunting, because I really shouldn’t have to. There are initiatives supporting both sides of the argument that are intended to let the people decide.” Whitmer said.

“But I do think we should be debating why the desires of people who want to kill wolves outweigh those who do not. Because that’s what this is all about.”

Sen. Tom Casperson, who sponsored both wolf hunt laws facing referendum this fall, questioned why the Humane Society was focused on Michigan and suggested its true aim is to take away all hunting privileges, which the group denies.

“The sportsmen decided to do the initiative, and it’s within their right to do it,” he said, referencing the third petition drive that sent the measure to the Legislature.

Michigan’s wolf population grew dramatically in the 1990s and early 2000s, prompting removal from both state and federal endangered species lists. There are now an estimated 636 wolves in the Upper Peninsula.

Supporters say that wolf hunts are an effective population-control tool for limiting attacks on livestock and pets, arguments bolstered by recent news that wolves had killed five hunting dogs in the span of three days, along with a cow.

Twenty-two wolves were legally killed in a hunt that ran from mid-November through December in three zones of the Upper Peninsula, about half the number that the state had hoped for.

An MLive.com investigation found government half-truths, falsehoods and livestock numbers skewed by a single farmer distorted some arguments for the inaugural hunt.

Politicians “can’t be trusted on this issue, but the voters can be trusted, and should be allowed to hear the arguments from both sides and make an informed judgment this November,” said Jill Fritz of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

“We call on House members to end this abuse of power, and restore respect for the democratic process by letting the people vote.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources sold 1,200 wolf hunting licenses last year, generating roughly $120,000 for the Game and Fish Protection Fund, according to the non-partisan House Fiscal Agency.

The $1 million appropriation proposed in the new bill would be drawn from the state’s general fund. The measure would also extend a provision of the 2013 law that gave free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses to active military members.

Animal “personhood” rights?

Originally posted on Our Compass:

This short documentary follows the lawyer Steven Wise’s effort to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans.

Video Credit By Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker on Publish Date April 23, 2014.



How does a thing become a person? In December 2013, the lawyer Steven Wise showed the world how, with a little legal jujitsu, an animal can transition from a thing without rights to a person with legal protections. This Op-Doc video follows Mr. Wise on his path to filing the first-ever lawsuits in the United States demanding limited “personhood” rights for certain animals, on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.

Mr. Wise (who is also the subject of The New York Times Magazine’s cover story this Sunday) has spent more than 30 years developing his strategy for attaining animal personhood rights. After he started…

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Climate: Melting Antarctic ice sheets likely to become big factor in sea level rise sooner than thought

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

‘Official’ IPCC sea level estimates may be too low


Antarctica ice is becoming a bigger factor in global sea level rise. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Although Antarctica’s vast ice sheets are only a small factor in global sea level rise right now, that’s likely to change in coming decades, scientists said after a new analysis of ocean temperatures around the frozen continent.

“If greenhouse gases continue to rise as before, ice discharge from Antarctica could raise the global ocean by an additional 1 to 37 centimeters in this century already,” says lead author Anders Levermann, with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Now this is a big range – which is exactly why we call it a risk: Science needs to be clear about the uncertainty, so that decision makers at the coast and in coastal megacities like Shanghai or New York can consider…

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