Canada: We must do better for our animals

by Anna Pippus

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2016 5:00AM EST

Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2016 10:53AM EST

Anna Pippus is a Vancouver-based lawyer and director of farmed animal
advocacy at Animal Justice

Earlier this year, 95 per cent of Canadians said
.html> it is important to ensure farmed animals are treated humanely, even
if it costs more. This is quite possibly the one issue we can actually agree
on <> . Although most Canadians eat
animals, we are united in having no appetite for animal suffering.

Animal transport regulations, in particular, have been a political
battleground for animal welfare advocates and the meat industry.

While the government does not regulate farm conditions – choosing instead to
finance and endorse industry-created codes of practice – it does get
involved in regulating transport and slaughter because of the food safety
and interprovincial trade dimensions.

If the government is going to do something, we want them to do it

But Canada’s transport regulations have been criticized
ns-farmed-animals-suffer-die/> as the worst in the Western world, lagging
behind the transport welfare laws of the European Union, Australia, New
Zealand and the United States.

Transportation is incredibly stressful. For animals that have never left the
controlled conditions of indoor modern farms, being crowded into a truck
with strangers, deprived of food and water for long periods of time, and
exposed to extreme weather is one of the worst ordeals of their abbreviated

It is so stressful, in fact, that millions of animals do not survive the
journey to the slaughterhouse. Dropping dead during transportation is so
common that law enforcement will not even investigate a truck of chickens
from an egg farm, for example, unless at least 4 per cent
<> are dead on arrival.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency this week published much-anticipated
amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations after more than a decade of
lobbying from animal welfare advocates, humane societies, veterinarians,
animal lawyers and other experts in animal protection.

The proposed regulations are disappointing, barely improving some key areas
and entirely failing to address others. A CFIA statement
<> says
98 per cent of shipments are already compliant with the new regulations – in
other words, not much is changing.

For example, exposure to extreme weather is a major source of stress, injury
and mortality. Animals are shipped <>
every day of the year, regardless of weather, which means that in open-sided
trucks they are directly exposed to that day’s precipitation, temperature,
wind and humidity at top highway speeds.

Yet the proposed regulations simply reword the old weather exposure
provision, retaining wishy-washy language that would, in practice, mean
animals will continue to be <>
transported in inadequate trucks every day regardless of weather.

There is no reason we cannot require common-sense technological improvements
and accountability for non-compliance, following in the footsteps of the
European Union. There, vehicles are required to have forced air and heating
ventilation systems that keep trucks between five and 30 degrees Celsius.
Monitoring systems must alert the driver when temperatures reach either
limit, and the data from these systems must be accessible to law

Moreover, Canada’s proposed new regulations would continue to allow animals
to be transported without access to food, water or rest for inexcusably long
periods of time, despite this being a main source of international concern.

On-board watering systems – a simple retrofit – would not be required. Pigs
and horses could be in transit for up to 28 hours; cows for up to 36 hours;
and chickens for up to 24 hours.

The proposed regulations fall short: They would not prohibit animals from
being held by their legs or thrown, even though this is a common – and
g-of-Poultry.pdf> – practice in the chicken transport industry; animals
would be overcrowded because specific, measurable, evidence-based loading
densities have not been included, as they are
ns-farmed-animals-suffer-die/> in the European Union; they are silent on
the issue of using bolt cutters to cut off animals’ nerve-filled teeth to
the gum line, a common animal management technique (yes, really
<> ); they would permit the use
of electric prods to shock
anadian-plates> injured or fearful animals to move; and driving and
transport company training and licensing requirements would remain
ineffectively weak.

Fortunately, it is not too late for the government to get its act together –
there’s a 75 day comment period
28> before these bleak regulations become law. Let’s hope they will hear
the 95 per cent of us who want to shed the dubious honour of having the
worst animal transportation standards in the Western world.

Rendered Uninhabitable by Heat — It’s Not Just Sudan, Parts From North Africa to the Middle East are Under the Gun


“North Africa is already hot and is strongly increasing in temperature. At some point in this century, part of the region will become uninhabitable.”Dr. Johannes Lilieveld

“The number of climate refugees could increase dramatically in future. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia have calculated that the Middle East and North Africa could become so hot that human habitability is compromised.”The Max Planck Institute


Heatwaves so hot that it’s impossible to perform any activity outdoors without threat of injury or worse. Raging dust storms that make the very air unbreathable. Massive droughts that wreck agricultural productivity and biodiversity altogether. Sections of Africa and the Middle East are currently getting a taste of these new, dangerous climate conditions. But their frequency could increase by five fold or more over the next 30-40 years — threatening harm, government collapse, and…

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Rebounding California gray wolf holds onto protection

SF Chronicle

December 7, 2016

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The California gray wolves will keep their endangered species protections even once the rebounding animal hits a population of at least 50, state wildlife officials said Wednesday.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife published its plan for managing wolves late Tuesday, setting its policy for the species that is making a comeback to the state after it was killed off in the 1920s.

“Wolves returning to the state was inevitable,” said Charlton Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in a statement. “It’s an exciting ecological story, and this plan represents the path forward to manage wolves.”

The plan marks a shift in course, dropping language from an earlier draft that directed officials to remove wolves from the list of animals protected once they reached the critical mass.

Wolves in California were hunted to extinction nearly a century ago, but a lone wolf called OR-7 crossed the northern border from Oregon in 2011. OR-7 and his mate have had a litter for each of the last three years, and cameras caught another family pack in Northern California, but it hasn’t been spotted in several months, wildlife advocates say. Officials say it’s hard to say how many wolves roam the state today, but their numbers remain small.

In response, state officials in 2014 granted the wolf protections under the state’s endangered species act, despite opposition from hunting and livestock groups who fear the predator will kill deer and valuable cattle. Under California’s protections, gray wolves can’t be killed or hunted.

U.S. law also protects wolves in most of the nation, except for Idaho, Montana and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah, but there is a pending proposal to strip federal protections from most of the Lower 48 states, including California.

Kirk Wilbur of the California Cattlemen’s Association said ranchers in California are prohibited from taking meaningful steps against the predator that kills their livestock. They can’t throw a rock in their general direction — let alone shoot one that’s killing cattle, he said.

“The options are very limited to the way a rancher can protect his livestock,” Wilbur said. “That can be absolutely devastating for a rancher who is a small business owner.”

Wolf advocates, however, praise the plan. Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity said wolves are in the early stage of making a historic comeback, and it’s too soon to consider stripping away protections.

“It’s one of those conservation moments you don’t know if you’re going to get in your lifetime,” she said. “We’re getting it in California, and it’s really exciting.”

For 2016, Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations are Rising at the Fastest Rate Ever Seen


“The MMCO [Middle Miocene Climate Optimum] was ushered in by CO2 levels jumping abruptly from around 400ppm to 500 ppm, with global temperatures warming by about 4°C  and sea levels rising about 40m (130 feet) as the Antarctic ice sheet declined substantially and suddenly. ” — Skeptical Science


(Fossil fuel carbon emissions are about 100 times that of volcanoes during any given year. And so much heat trapping carbon dumped into the atmosphere is forcing the world’s climate to rapidly change. Image source: The Union of Concerned Scientists.)

Human beings have never seen atmospheric CO2 values that are so high as they are today. They significantly predate our species — even preceding our distant relative Australopithecus by about 7 million years. And weather and climate conditions to which we are not adapted — either as individuals or as a civilizations — are well on the…

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A Forgotten Step in Saving African Wildlife: Protecting the Rangers

Trump’s pick to head the EPA? A man who’s suing it.


Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has tried to block rules reducing pollution and protecting water.

President-elect Trump has announced his pick for head for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. The twist? Pruitt is currently suing the agency he’ll soon lead. He has helped lead the battle against key climate-change initiatives such as the Clean Power Plan, which 29 state attorneys-general are contesting. Pruitt and other attorneys-general are also suing the agency over a rule regulating methane emissions from oil and gas production, as well as over other rules meant to curb mercury and arsenic emissions, reduce smog, and protect streams and wetlands.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Gage Skidmore
Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
Gage Skidmore

Pruitt joins Oklahoma GOP senators James Inhofe and Tom Coburn in questioning the need to act on climate change. In an op-ed in The National Review earlier this year, Pruitt wrote that the debate is “far from settled” and called the Clean Power Plan an example of “advancing the climate-change agenda by any means necessary.” In 2014, he sent the EPA a letter claiming that the agency had greatly overestimated the air pollution produced by natural gas drilling in Oklahoma. The New York Times later reported that the letter was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of the biggest energy companies in the state – and that Pruitt and a dozen other Republican attorneys general had teamed up with energy companies to push back against what they saw as regulatory excesses by Obama.

Oil wells on a rural road around sunset in Northern Oklahoma.
Clinton Steeds

Pruitt’s pro-energy stance and aggressive fights against federal regulations helped him get the nod. “You are going to want to have someone who has had state experience, who really understands the issues and has had to deal with an overreaching EPA as a federal agency,” George “David” Banks, executive vice president of the American Council for Capital Formation, told E&E News in September.

Environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife immediately denounced the “absolute wrong choice” of Pruitt to lead the 15,000-employee agency. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., wrote in a press release that “he’s bragged about suing, trashing and manipulating the agency he’s now supposed to lead.” And the American Sustainable Business Councilstated in a press release that “Pruitt’s selection signals a rollback of policies that have stimulated innovation and progress. In addition to clean energy, clean water and chemical regulation are under threat as a result of preferential treatment these regulated industries are expected to receive.”

Arctic Air Temperatures are Set to Hit 35 to 55 F Above Average by Thursday — Out of Season Sea Ice Melt Possible, Again


“It looks like a triple whammy – a warm ocean, a warm atmosphere, and a wind pattern all working against the ice in the Arctic.”NSIDC director Mark Serreze.

“Unfortunately, Arctic sea ice extent growth has once again slowed this week…”Zack Labe

“Huge surface air temperature anomalies over the Arctic this working week… over 25C warmer than average in parts.” — James Warner


This year, it’s a challenge to find a time when the Arctic Ocean has ever represented anything resembling normalcy. Record low sea ice extent values have occurred for more than 50 percent of days measured. And well above average temperatures have invaded the Arctic during winter, spring, and fall. With another huge wave of ridiculous warmth building up over eastern Siberia this week, the hits just keep on coming.

Major Warming Over Siberia, Chukchi and East Siberian Seas 

The present big…

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Leonardo DiCaprio, Trump talk climate change

(CNN) Leonardo DiCaprio met with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday to discuss climate change — adding to the mixed signals from the President-elect on the environment.

“We presented the President-elect and his advisors with a framework … that details how to unleash a major economic revival across the United States that is centered on investments in sustainable infrastructure,” Terry Tamminen, CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, said in a statement. “Our conversation focused on how to create millions of secure, American jobs in the construction and operation of commercial and residential clean, renewable energy generation.
DiCaprio’s meeting with Trump only added to the mixed messages coming out of Trump Tower, particularly on the issue of climate change.
On the same day of his meeting with DiCaprio, Trump tapped Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt — a climate change denier — to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is an opponent of many of the Obama EPA’s environmental regulations, and sued the agency over its regulations of power plants in his capacity as attorney general.
Coupled with Trump’s own history of climate change skepticism, environmentalists see dim prospects for action that scientists say is necessary to avert the most devastating consequences of climate change. Trump has called climate change a “hoax” but in a recent interview allowed for the possibility that human activity may be contributing to global warming.
Trump held a separate meeting this week with another high-profile environmental activist — former Vice President Al Gore, who has also championed the fight against climate change in his career after politics.
DiCaprio has used his celebrity to champion environmental causes. He emphasized the threat of climate change in his 2016 Academy Awards acceptance speech — “Climate change is real, it is happening right now,” he said — and produced a documentary on the subject, titled “Before the Flood,” which was released this year. According to “The Independent,” DiCaprio gave Ivanka Trump a copy of the documentary at the meeting.
The statement from his foundation added that “climate change is bigger than politics, and the disastrous effects on our planet and our civilization will continue regardless of what party holds majorities in Congress or occupies the White House.”
And according to the foundation, there may be another meeting.
“The President-elect expressed his desire for a follow up meeting in January, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with the incoming administration as we work to stop the dangerous march of climate change, while putting millions of people to work at the same time,” Tamminen said in the statement.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the DiCaprio meeting.
How drastic might Trump’s climate change policy changes be? A report released in Novemberby the International Energy Agency (IEA) outlines two key scenarios for emissions and global warming in the coming decades.
The first scenario assumes world leaders keep the promises made in Paris last year at the United Nation’s COP21 summit. The agreement between more than 175 countries introduced environmentally friendly policies to slow the increase in emissions and global warming.
The second scenario assumes no real action is taken and agreements are brushed aside, resulting in a 36% surge in carbon dioxide emissions by 2040, nearly three times the increase expected under the first scenario. While that would be a nightmare for environmentalists, it’s unlikely that all Paris signatories would abandon their pledges.
Still, according to a recent United Nations Environment report, the world is still heading for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius this century, even with the Paris pledges.

Kangaroo puncher keeps zoo job despite animal rights group complaints

Paul Henry

An Australian man caught on camera punching a kangaroo in the face has been criticised for his actions, after it was revealed he is a zookeeper.

Greig ‘Goo’ Tonkins became an internet star after the clip came to light, which shows him rescuing his dog Max from a kangaroo’s headlock by firing a brutal right hook at its snout.

The footage was filmed in Euabalong, New South Wales back in June during a boar-hunting trip for a friend with terminal cancer who has since died.

After the video was shared around the world, animal rights groups condemned Mr Tonkins’ actions.

They’re calling for him to lose his job as an elephant keeper at Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told Australian Regional Media that Mr Tonkins should not be “made out to be a national hero”, but rather prosecuted.

“Punching a kangaroo in the face is neither brave nor funny,” the group said.

Mr Tonkins also drew derision from the Humane Society International Australia, who said their efforts to rescue circus elephants in India is undermined if “we can’t even look after our own species here”.

“It is very disturbing of someone of this character has a position [at Western Plains Zoo]. They would have no trouble filling it with someone who respects animals,” they said.

The zoo disagrees, however, and says Mr Tonkins’ job is safe.

“Mr Tonkins is an experienced zookeeper and during his six years at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has always followed Taronga’s best practice approach to animal care and welfare,” said a zoo spokesperson.

“We continue to work with Mr Tonkins on his conduct in regards to this incident.”

Matthew Amor, a friend of Mr Tonkins’ who also attended the hunting trip, said their deceased mate “would be looking down from up there [heaven] and laughing” at the media furore.

“It was funny because [Mr Tonkins] is the most placid bloke. We laughed at him for chucking such a s**t punch,” Mr Amor told


Glacier Bay Monitoring Program reveals possible Blob related temperature effects later than other areas in the Gulf of Alaska

Alaska “Blob” Tracker

“…..Glacier Bay didn’t strongly “feel” The Blob in the first couple summers after its onset (2014-2015). But last year’s El Nino seems to have exacerbated ocean warming, and at least in the main lower trunk of Glacier Bay mid-summer water temperatures have been significantly warmer in 2016.”

For more on this story, visit NPS Glacier Bay.

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