On April 7, 2018, bloody bodies will rain from the sky. The Boonie Club of Williamstown, Vermont, has scheduled a barbaric crow shoot. In a disgusting show of pure blood lust, teams of four will compete to see who can kill the most crows, with actual cash prizes being awarded to the top killers. This horrific contest is repulsive and archaic, and we can’t let it happen.
Competitions like this only further serve to marginalize birds, who are often considered by thoughtless humans to be nothing more than flying, pooping, and noisemaking creatures, somehow not worthy of their lives. The fact is crows, and all birds, are far more than that.
Crows, like many animals, are far more intelligent than many would like us to believe. For example, crows form complex social structures and are known as the smartest of all birds. They not only use tools, but they make them too — something scientists and others had once mistakenly thought only humans could do. Crows are also capable of problem solving and complex reasoning.
Crows have been called the “most family-oriented birds in the world.” In fact, older siblings may even help their parents raise newborn chicks. This dedication and teamwork goes beyond newborn chicks and often continues with a sort of “nest assistance” type of relationship that can go on for more than half a decade.
The deep connections of crows exist beyond direct family. Neighbors have been known to hold funerals for nearby birds, while hundreds of crows have been known to attend these funerals. As with humans, attendees don’t scavenge the dead body, and crows may avoid areas near the dead crow afterwards, even if the food there is plentiful. This is especially the case if the crow died in such a way that indicates a danger to other crows, such as if the dead crow was a shooting victim.
Additionally, crows have excellent memories, recognizing other animals they have met including humans. Shooting these amazing animals is brutal and inexcusable.
We have less than a month to ensure that this hunt never comes to fruition, but it will require us to call and send letters and to share this alert widely.
Please contact Mark McCarthy, owner of Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel, who is also the president of the Boonie Club, to express your distress at such a heartless contest. Please be polite when you cite your reasons for objecting to the crow shoot. If you shop at Lenny’s in person or online, please be sure to mention it.
Please call Mark either on his personal number or at the store he owns:
Call other members of the Boonie Club while you’re at it, if you’re so inclined, but please be polite, and understand this is a hunting club, so arguments that have to do with no-one eating crows will probably carry more weight than ones against all hunting, though of course we oppose the hunting of all animals.
Send our letter to Mark.
Personalize and submit the letter below to email your comments to:
Mark McCarthy, President, Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel
By WAN –
March 19, 2018
Photos from CDFW
Wildlife officers in Northern California uncovered what is likely to be the largest raptor poaching case in the state’s history.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) made the announcement after wildlife officers assigned to Lassen County followed up on a tip and visited a private property in a town near Standish.
When nine dead raptors were found on the property owned by 67-year-old Richard Parker, a search warrant was issued.
When officers returned on March 11th with a CDFW K-9, a search of the 80-acre property resulted in the discovery of a staggering number of raptor carcasses, other dead birds and wildlife. Spent rifle casings indicated that there were more than 140 potential state and or federal violations. In addition to the original nine birds, they found 126 more birds that hunt and feed on other…
Quick, name one thing soy sauce, miso, and sake all have in common. If you said, They’re delicious, you’re not wrong. But the real answer is koji.
The common name of the fungus Aspergillus oryzae, koji is a microorganism at the heart of many traditional Asian flavors and foods. It’s also the key ingredient in a new kind of pet food announced today that its creator hopes could change the future of how animal feeds are produced.
Koji is normally cultured directly on grains like rice, which supply the starches the fungus needs to proliferate. Wild Earth co-founder Ryan Bethencourt says they put the koji straight into a beet sugar-based solution. After extraction, they press it like tofu, then slice and bake it into a final product that’s like a cheese cracker in taste and flavor.
The end goal, says Bethencourt, is to create an environmentally friendly, high-quality food for pets that’s vegan and tasty. The company plans to release their first product—a pet treat—by June, with a kibble-based food available later in 2018.
Though it’s not the first commercial vegan pet food on the market, their new koji-based product would no doubt appeal to the masses of humans who have already adopted a meat-free lifestyle: The overall market for plant-based foods that directly replace meat is already valued at $4.9 billion, and a recent analysis indicates that sales grew by 8.1 percent in 2017. (Find out how a tick bite could make you allergic to meat.)
The idea to use koji as a way to enter the plant-based pet food sector came from company co-founder Ron Shigeta, a third-generation Japanese-American and serial koji grower.
“Ron always has these kojis he’s growing everywhere, and we started to think: Could we use koji as the primary protein product rather than something just to add flavor?” Bethencourt says.
An analysis of their early koji solids showed that they were around 50 percent protein; a steak, by comparison, is around 30 percent. For fat, fiber, and other nutrients, the company plans to mix in vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potato, buckwheat, and potato flour.
Even if koji is a quality source of protein, is it right for both dogs and cats?
Despite the growing desire by Americans to provide their pets with high quality, high protein food, no official definition exists for “high protein” for animal feeds. So veterinary nutritionist Amy Farcas follows a few rule-of-thumb guidelines: For dogs, a low-protein diet consists of 10 to 15 percent of daily calories from protein, while a typical diet is anywhere from 20 to 35 percent. Anything above 35 percent could be considered a high-protein diet.
“It’s a little arbitrary,” Farcas says. “For healthy dogs, there’s no upper limit of protein intake, meaning that as long as they also meet their dietary fat requirements, dogs can do well on a high-protein diet.”
Zach Ruiter, a Toronto-based documentary filmmaker, says his 13-year-old wirehair fox terrier, Alvie, already thrives on a mainly homemade vegan diet. He says he’d give koji a shot; Alvie loves tofu, so it wouldn’t be a stretch.
“It would be interesting to see if there are any studies done to look at health and life expectancy with various diets,” Ruiter says. “What are the overall health impacts of a vegan diet for dogs?”
Bethencourt says his company hopes to help answer that question. “It’s something we don’t have data for right now, but as you’ve seen with vegan athletes, we think that a non-meat diet will be beneficial to the animals as well, perhaps surprisingly so.”
As for fungus in Fluffy’s future, koji alone isn’t quite right for cats: as obligate carnivores, they need to eat meat to get nutrients like taurine and arachidonic acid. But “cats certainly can tolerate a certain amount of plant material in their diet, though they do have higher requirements for protein or fat than dogs or humans,” Farcas adds.
Bethencourt says his company is in the process of developing a lab-grown, meat-based cat food—made of cultured mouse cells. (Scientists have also been able to grow milk in a lab—here’s how.)
VINTAGE CAT PICTURES FROM OUR ARCHIVES
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A young girl in 1920s Volendam, Netherlands, cradles a cat in her arms as she looks guardedly at the photographer.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DONALD MCLEISH, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Three kittens cuddle in front of a giant fish tank, eyeing a very large grouper, at Marineland in 1952.
PHOTOGRAPH BY LUIS MARDEN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Siamese cats gather in their owner’s Washington, D.C., living room, drawn by kittens playing with a ball of yarn.
PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLARD CULVER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
A cat protects its territory by attacking its reflection, seen in this photo from a 1964 National Geographic.
PHOTOGRAPH BY WALTER CHANDOHA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
While teenage sailor Robin Lee Graham scrubs his boat on a beach near Darwin, Australia, his companion Avanga watches from a precarious perch nearby.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHARLES ALLMON
In this photo from a 1979 National Geographic, a cat contemplates paradise, or perhaps shoewear, from its owner’s porch in the North Shore town of Kahuku, Hawaii.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT MADDEN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
According to the 1997 National Geographic in which this photo ran, a cat’s paw pads provide traction similar to that of a ballet dancer’s rosin-coated pointe shoes.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KAREN KUEHN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
One cat relaxes while another plays in the shadows at Carnation’s Feline Nutrition Center outside Seattle, Washington.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL NICHOLS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Got milk? A cat gets a kiss from a cow on a dairy farm in Massachusetts.
PHOTOGRAPH BY IRA BLOCK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Beneath cloudy skies, a young woman lounges with her cat on a trampoline in Mentone, Texas.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JODI COBB, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
The world’s first cloned cat peeks its head out of a beaker at Texas A&M University in College Station.
PHOTOGRAPH BY RICHARD OLSENIUS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
What are you looking at? Two feral cats glare at a camera-carrying intruder in a Baltimore alley.
PHOTOGRAPH BY VINCENT J MUSI, 2010
What’s cooking? A cat sidles up to a farm woman in Breb, Romania, as she prepares food for pigs in 2013.
PHOTOGRAPH BY RENA EFFENDI, INSTITUTE
Although they’re renowned for their night vision, cats can’t compete with infrared light for piercing the darkness. This 2013 thermal image visually captures the reality of a cat’s cold nose.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TYRONE TURNER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Perhaps we love our pets mostly because they put up with us. Here, a cat’s face is lovingly framed by its owner in Mill Valley, California.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SISSE BRIMBERG, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
THE COST OF KIBBLE
In addition to being more humane, such products aim to lower the environmental impacts of feeding the world’s domestic pets. In the U.S., people share their households with 47.1 million cats and 60.2 million dogs, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey.
Those figures, and the proliferation of “premium” pet foods, prompted UCLA geographer Gregory Okin to crunch some numbers about pet food production and consumption.
“Even though animal byproducts may not be expensive, rendering them is a high-temperature process,” Okin says. He notes that the next step, kibble production, could also be energy intensive, as the formulas are squeezed through high-temperature extruders that sterilize the pet food as it’s made.
“Maybe if [koji] is made in a highly energy-intensive way, and using certain materials, it’s possible that it’s no better than meat in terms of environmental impact,” Okin says. But the product needs to come to market with a scaled-up production process before anyone can do a real comparison.
PROTEIN FOR PEOPLE?
Koji could also be a useful solution for challenging dietary circumstances among people, Bethencourt notes. For example, the fungus-based protein could be suitable in developing countries where food spoilage is a real concern, or for use as non-perishable, high-quality food sources for remotely deployed soldiers.
Okin says conventional dog food could already meet those needs, given its protein content, but he muses on the potential for koji as a more palatable alternative.
“If there’s a takeaway here, why aren’t we taking this stuff and thinking about how to feed it to humans?” he asks. “There are people all over the world who need protein. Here you’ve got this shelf-stable, long-lived potential emergency food. You could use it for people. Or you could feed it to dogs.”
A common raven, Corvus corax principalis, pictured at the Los Angeles Zoo. Though they share many similarities, ravens and crows differ in some physiological features and social behaviors.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK
An American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos, at the Sutton Avian Research Center. There are around 40 distinct species of crow.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK
A Congo grey parrot, Psittacus erithacus erithacus, pictured at the Dallas Zoo. African grey parrots are famous mimics.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK
Citron crested cockatoos, Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata, pictured at Jurong Bird Park. These members of the parrot family are mainly found in Australia and several Pacific islands.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK
An adult male great-tailed grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus, perches on a branch on Coiba Island, Panama. 10 different species of this highly social bird live throughout North and South America.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF MAURITZEN
By Amelia Stymacks
Until the 21st century, birds were largely dismissed as simpletons. How smart can you be with a brain the size of a nut?
And yet the more we study bird intelligence, the more those assumptions are breaking down. Studies have shown, for instance, that crows make tools, ravens solve puzzles, and parrots boast a diverse vocabulary.
But what actually qualifies a bird as smart? The definition should be broader than it is, scientists say.
“Being able to fly to Argentina, come back, and land in the same bush—we don’t value that intelligence in a lot of other organisms,” says Kevin McGowan, an expert on crows at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. “We’ve restricted the playing field to things we think only we can do.”
But if we’re talking about standard intelligence—ie. mimicking human speech or solving problems—“it always comes down to parrots and corvids,” McGowan says.
Members of the corvid family (songbirds including ravens, crows, jays, and magpies, to name a few) are among the most intelligent birds, though common ravens may have the edge on tackling tough problems, according to McGowan.
In the simple experiment, scientists taught the birds how a tool can help them access a piece of food. When offered a selection of objects almost 24 hours later, the ravens selected that specific tool again—and performed the task to get their treat.
“Monkeys have not been able to solve tasks like this,” Mathias Osvath, a researcher at Sweden’s Lund University, said in a previous interview.
While crows do nearly as well as ravens solving intelligence tests, McGowan stresses that crows have an uncanny memory for human faces—and can remember if that particular person is a threat.
“They seem to have a good sense that every person is different and that they need to approach them differently.”
“The crows around here, they know my face,” says McGowan. While at first the birds living near the lab seemed to dislike McGowan for approaching their nests, they love him now that he’s started leaving the birds healthy treats. (Read more about how ravens hold grudges against humans.)
“They know my car, they know my walk, they know me 10 miles away from where they’ve ever encountered me before. They’re just amazing that way.”
Almost universally, the crows responded by scolding the people—and even alerting other crows in the vicinity. When the researchers returned weeks later wearing the same masks, but empty-handed, the crows continued to harass them and were wary of the area for days after. (Read: “Do Crows Hold Funerals for Their Dead?”)
AFRICAN GREY PARROTS
While many species of parrots have a penchant for human speech, the African grey parrot is the most accomplished.
“There’s a lot going on in those little walnut brains of theirs,” says McGowan. “And they live so long that they can amass a lot of intelligence and a lot of memories.”
In the 1950s, Harvard comparative psychologist Irene Pepperberg began teaching an African grey parrot, Alex, English sounds. Before he died prematurely in 2007, Alex mastered roughly a hundred words, could use them in context, and even grasped the concepts of same, different, and zero.
Now Pepperberg is working with another African grey, Griffin, at Harvard University. Griffin can label shapes and colors, and is working on the concept of zero.
Cockatoos are the first animal observed making musical instruments.
When courting, male palm cockatoos of Australia use twigs and seed pods to create drumsticks. Each male has a unique musical style—a rhythm of his own that he creates by beating the tools against hollow trees.
Though palm cockatoos don’t dance while drumming, other species have exhibited a gift for boogying to a beat.
Snowball’s performance is a delight to watch, but it also helped scientists discover that birds can follow a beat. By speeding the song up and down, they determined that Snowball actually does have a sense of tempo and rhythm.
Though corvids and parrots get most of the credit for being brainy, McGowan says, “There are sleeper birds out there” that we haven’t fully appreciated.
Great-tailed grackles, for instance, belong to the same family as blackbirds and orioles—a group not often considered particularly smart.
According to the study, published in 2016 in PeerJ, the grackles were given puzzles containing food as a prize. Not only did they learn to solve the problem, when the rules of the puzzle changed, the birds nimbly adapted their strategies.
What’s more, each grackle approached the puzzle in a different way, demonstrating individual styles of thinking—a quality they share with us humans.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the cartoon at the top right hand corner on page 4 of the March 14, 2018edition ofthe Methow Valley News is worth at least that many–depending on how it’s interpreted. In case you missed it, the drawing featured a wide-eyed, fearful pig, fish, cow, goat, bear, deer and other allegedly delectable and destroy-able beings on a cracker, being shoveled into the gaping mouth of a ginormous human head.
Though it’s caption was, “Bite of the Methow,” it seemed to symbolize the ‘Bite of Humanity,’ as in the chunk that meat-eating is taking out of this once vibrant planet.
If you can’t find it in yourself to care about cruelty issues, you might at least consider your food choices in regards to the fact that animal agriculture is the “third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, after the energy and industrial sectors,” according to “The Case for a Carbon Tax on Beef” by Richard Conniff in theNew York Times, March 17, 2018.
And asChatham House, an influential British think tank, points out, livestock production is responsible for more greenhouse gas “ than the emissions produced from powering all the world’s road vehicles, trains, ships and airplanes combined.” Conniff adds, “including grazing, the business of making meat occupies about three-quarters of the agricultural land on the planet.”
Call it food for thought, but what you eat is actually affecting our weather these days.
Make no mistake; though my last name is Robertson, I’m no relation to those imposters from that stupid “reality” TV show, “Duck Dynasty” whose ugly mugs grace the front of a new line of T-shirts for sale at Wal Mart.
How do I know they’re ugly when I don’t get cable and have only seen their show once, for less than a minute? It’s true you can’t really tell what they look like under all that facial hair, but like I said, I saw their show once—for almost a minute. That’s all it took to see how ugly they are on the inside.
Before I realized what I’d stumbled upon and could flip the channel away from the enticing ignorance, I was forced to endure a tactless, feeble joke about roadkill and the approving chortles that followed.
The attitude toward wildlife exhibited by the “cast” of Douche Dynasty is an insult to the…
The shaggy Texas Rock Band successfully sued the “cast” members of Duck Dynasty for ID theft today, claiming the faux “reality” cable TV show was cashing-in on a look the furry guitarist made famous in the 1970s.
Top donated their $100 million settlement to an anti-duck hunting group which plans to put Ducks Unlimited out of business and purchase land where ducks and geese are actually protected—from hunters.
This timeline of extinctions is an historical account of species that have become extinct during the time that modern humans have occupied the earth.
The following is a selective list made by sampling a very small proportion, mostly mammals, of some of the well-known extinct species in the recent history. For a more elaborate list see Lists of extinct animals. The vast majority of extinctions, though, are thought to be undocumented. According to the species-area theory and based on upper-bound estimating, the present rate of extinction may be up to 140,000 species per year. See Holocene extinction for more information.
I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, you can’t really be a wolf advocate or an elk advocate, or any kind of advocate for the environment, and continue to eat beef. That message was driven home by a new Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department elk “management” proposal which includes reducing the numbers of not only elk, but also of wolves (who, logically, could have done some of the “management” for them) near Yellowstone National Park, all in the name of safeguarding cattle from the negligible threat of brucellosis—a disease which, in the past hundred years, has come full circle from livestock to wildlife and now back to livestock.
So far, it’s been the bison migrating out of Yellowstone during hard winters who have suffered the brunt of the rancher’s brucellosis paranoia. “Solutions” have included “hazing” bison back into the park and creating holding areas outside the park to warehouse bison…
On September 26th 2013, just in time for “National Hunting and Fishing Day,” Sally Jewell, our new (and allegedly improved) Secretary of the Interior announced a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to expand hunting opportunities throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System. The plan would open up hunting on six refuges currently free from armed ambush and expand existing hunting and fishing on another 20 “refuges.” The new rule would also modify existing regulations for over 75 additional refuges and wetland “management” districts.
The proposal is yet another nod to the “hunter’s rights” movement that has been sweeping the nation.
But what about the wildlife’s right to a true refuge, free from human hunting? Oh that’s right, animals don’t have rights, only humans—even including hunters—do. It is such an arrogant and absurd notion that sport hunters—arguably the lowest creatures to ever crawl out of the primordial ooze—have rights, while…