ROCKPORT, Maine (AP) — The expanding market for lobsters in China is continuing to grow, with the country setting a new record for the value of its imports of the crustaceans from the United States.
An Australian seafood company was recently convicted of animal cruelty — for killing a lobster.
The legally actionable problem was not actually taking the life of the lobster. It’s that the lobster was killed in a way deemed to be unnecessarily — and illegally — brutal.
According to the Guardian’s description of what happened, workers at Nicholas Seafoods were seen by investigators “butchering and dismembering lobsters with a band saw, without adequately stunning or killing them.” The lobsters’ tails were cut from their bodies while the animals were still alive, in violation of local animal cruelty laws, and led to a conviction that may be the first of its kind in the world.
Depending on your perspective, this might both churn the stomach and raise confusing questions. Are you behaving monstrously if you boil a live lobster — a fairly common cooking method? Could you be found guilty of animal cruelty if so?
The answer to the second question is pretty straightforward: As things stand now, you are highly unlikely to be convicted of animal cruelty for behaving badly, even very badly, toward a lobster.
The Nicholas Seafoods killing took place in the Australian state of New South Wales — one of a few Australian jurisdictions to specifically include crustaceans sold for food, like lobsters, in its animal cruelty laws. The conviction was the first in that state, a local spokeswoman for the Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said. The company was fined $1,500.
It’s not unheard of for some sea critters to have legal protections. Octopuses are “honorary vertebrates” under European Union law governing the treatment of animals used in scientific research. And some advocates say they would like to see more fish gain more protection — like the 806 people who recently signed an online petition asking to include lobsters in Britain’s animal cruelty laws.
But welfare laws for lobsters and their ilk are unusual. In the United States, neither fish nor crustaceans are covered under the federal Animal Welfare Act, and they are mostly exempt from state animal cruelty laws as well. (Occasionally, a cruelty charge has been brought under state law when a pet fish is killed in a brutal way.)
“A majority of state laws protect all animals, but there are typically exemptions for hunting and fishing activities,” said Ann Chynoweth, vice president of the Humane Society of the United States’s animal cruelty campaign. “Laws regarding slaughter do not cover fish — or chickens.” (They do cover cows and pigs.)
Why aren’t fish, crustaceans and chickens given these legal protections? It’s not because these creatures aren’t smart or don’t experience pain. There’s good evidence that they are and they do. Jonathan Balcombe, author of the book “What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins,” said he believes fish are sentient creatures with highly complex lives and societies.
“Their lives matter to them,” he said. “I’ve become firmly convinced they deserve equal moral consideration to all other vertebrates.”
Balcombe said the situation with crustaceans, as opposed to vertebrate fish, is “less clear.” But research has shown that crustaceans do “remember and learn from apparently painful events,” and that should bring them into our moral universe, he said.
“Sentience is the bedrock of ethics,” he said.
Regardless of the established science or the moral reasoning, the reason dogs and cows have more legal protection than lobsters seems primarily based on our cultural associations and practices. Dogs have the most protections because people adore them and think of them as members of the family. Fish and lobsters have been given practically none, because in general people do not — though every once in a while an especially old or pretty lobster captures our rapt attention and mercy.
“This exemplifies the paradoxes and inconsistencies we see in the treatment of animals,” said Hal Herzog, a psychology professor at Western Carolina University and author of “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat.”
But according to Andrew Lurie, the Humane Society International’s senior attorney for international law and trade, even those species we love don’t get a whole lot of protection — here in the United States or elsewhere. Animal cruelty convictions in general “are rather rare worldwide,” he said.
On the other hand, consumers are beginning to demand that the animals who produce our food are kept and killed more humanely. It’s this consumer demand that, for example, is driving companies to vow to switch to eggs from cage-free hens. In November, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure banning the sale of eggs or meat from animals kept in tight confinement.
So is the Australian lobster case an oddball anomaly or a step toward a future in which more animals we eat get more protections, and when it might not be so strange for lobsters to be included in our moral and legal universe? Lurie said he is not sure. But the chief executive of the RSPCA in New South Wales said it sets a significant precedent.
“We hope this conviction will expand the circle of empathy and welfare to crustaceans and more animals that often do not evoke the same level of compassion as others,” Steve Coleman said. “With the scientific community proving lobsters feel pain, and the New South Wales legislation backing that up, we’re excited to see such progress in the space of animal welfare, and we hope that this case can be a guiding light for others.”
Still want to dine on lobster but minimize its suffering — not to mention your chances of being busted if you happen to be in Australia? The RSPCA Australia’s website recommends a few preferable methods for ending a lobster’s life. And no, boiling it alive is not one of them.
Stunning the lobster in an electrified bath is better, the organization says, as is chilling the lobster in a saltwater ice slurry, then “rapidly cutting through the center-line of the head, thorax (chest) and abdomen with a large, sharp knife” before the lobster regains its version of consciousness.
Or — just a friendly suggestion here — you could avoid all these questions and let the lobsters live.
(Warning: Contains Graphic Images)
On February 21, 2017 Crow, Cindy and I were on patrol in the afternoon heading up Jardine Road when we came upon two bull bison grazing beside the road. We stopped for a few moments to admire them. We also had severe reservations on their safety.
We continued to drive up Jardine Road to one of the lookout points and were checking on recent remains of bison kills. We heard five gunshots and our hearts sank.
It took about ten minutes to drive down Jardine Road and discover what we had feared. There were no hunting vehicles present, but we saw three teenagers and one younger boy situated about 50 yards up an incline from the road. They were busy gutting one of the bulls.
We then spotted the other bull only 15 yards from the road. Cindy thought it was still breathing and Crow confirmed. Crow and Cindy immediately walked up to the teenagers to tell them this bull was still alive.
The teenagers came down to the suffering bull with knives in their hands and immediately proceeded to stab him in the neck. The bull immediately jumped to his knees and everyone scattered. The bull fell down, but was actively moving its legs and head.
The teenagers once again proceeded to stab him in the neck several more times.
He fought for his life as they stabbed him, raising his legs and hindquarters toward the sky in a desperate attempt to get away from his attackers.
The teenagers were giving up.
Then the adult hunters arrived. One of the hunters walked up to the struggling bull and shot it.
The three of us are incredibly distraught at having to witness such a horrendous scene. I am certain that we will never forget the experience.
These two magnificent bulls had spent their lives living within Yellowstone. They lived their lives grazing and strolling along the rivers and roads of the park. They had become immune to vehicles and people. They lacked a fear mechanism that would allow them to avoid or defend themselves from such a brutal attack. When these two magnificent bison migrated across the park boundary, they were just strolling along a road and grazing like they always did. Hunters then pulled-up in a truck and shot them from a few yards away. This murder continued with the brutal stabbing and final slaughter of one of them. There is no skill to this type of “hunting,” which is really nothing more than a slaughter.
Witnessing this brutality makes me wonder how many other bison have succumbed to a similar death.
With the Buffalo,
Larry A. Lyons
HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS – A Harris County teenager was arrested Tuesday after allegedly killing a bald eagle in a north Harris County neighborhood.
Orlando David Delgado, 17, is charged with a hunting misdemeanor. Killing a bald eagle is normally a federal crime, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute Delgado because of his age.
Delgado bonded out of jail on Wednesday.
A resident called the Harris County Sheriff’s Office after finding the dead eagle behind his home, which runs along White Oak Bayou.
The man told deputies he had seen three males near the tree where the eagle nested and one of them had a rifle.
While waiting for deputies, the man said the three males came back, pulled a feather from the eagle’s body and drove away in a white pickup truck.
Thanks to a tip from a mail carrier, Deputy A. Ebrahim found the truck a block away in front of Delgado’s home.
Investigators say Delgado admitted he shot the eagle with a high-powered Gammo pellet rifle. The first shot did not kill the federally protected bird, so he shot it several more times.
Neighbors are upset and heartbroken after hearing the news.
“It really hurts my stomach, it’s like a family member,” said Monette Villegas.
Villegas and her family watched the bird for years, along with another eagle they believed was his mate.
The family named the birds, Steve and Mary.
One of them is now memorialized with a stuffed animal eagle the family brought to the tree on Wednesday.
“Steve I kind of made up out of nowhere,” said Albert Villegas. “Mary, my mom gave me the idea because of America.”
(© 2017 KHOU)
BROCKPORT, N.Y. — They crouched and hid, using the gray, rainy skies and fallow fields as camouflage. They scurried across well-traveled roads, up barren trees and perhaps even toward the border with Canada. They used their wits, their two extra legs and — yes — their bushy tails to fend off their pursuers.
And yet, it was not the squirrels but the hunters who triumphed here on Saturday during the annual Squirrel Slam, a decade-old fund-raising event that has drawn the ire of animal lovers and environmentalists.
The slam and its former host and beneficiary — a volunteer fire department in the nearby town of Holley in western New York — are the subject of a lawsuit filed in state court by Lauren Sheive, a squirrel aficionado who claims there has not been a proper review of its environmental effect.
In particular, Ms. Sheive and her lawyers allege that the slam — which is held on the last Saturday of February during squirrel-hunting season — is particularly damaging to the arboreal rodents because the key to winning the one-day contest is to bag the heaviest squirrels; that is, those that might be pregnant.
“Since it is baby time, the moms will be fatter and larger,” according to an affidavit submitted by Ms. Sheive, who lives in Williamson, N.Y., east of Rochester. “So if, as could happen, there is an overkilling of females who are potentially leaving young to die in their nests, what does that do to the balance of nature?”
State environmental officials dispute that assertion, saying the hunt falls outside of the period in which squirrels breed and care for their young. Supporters of the slam have long been bewildered by the accusation that they are somehow upsetting the area’s ecology, saying the event is merely a fun way to raise money and promote community bonding.
“Everyone thinks I’m sending 300 people into the woods and slaughtering all the squirrels,” said Dennis Bauer, a hunter who helps organize the event, noting that the slam is not localized, but countywide. If it were harming squirrels, he said, “I wouldn’t do it.”
The dispute also touches on age-old friction between rural and urban mores, with some here grumbling that the conflict was being stoked by downstaters who would not know a Remington from a Rembrandt.
“I think it’s the coolest — Americana in action,” said Jeff Allen, a former logger in Alaska and a local resident who was up early to check out the slam. “And I think this is just a great little thing for upstate New York.”
At the same time, the hunt has also tapped into a broader push by national animal rights groups to stop hunting contests, including those that target animals such as coyotes, pigeons and prairie dogs.
In Albany, state lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban any contest where the goal “is to take the greatest number of wildlife,” though the winners of the squirrel slam receive a small cash prize based on weight, not the number of animals killed. (Slam hunters are limited to five squirrels; the state limit for most species is six a day.)
Still, the New York State director of the Humane Society of the United States, Brian Shapiro, has expressed concern that the slam could cause “the wider community to believe that wildlife is unimportant and killing for a monetary prize is meritorious.”
When the lawsuit was filed in 2015, it was initially dismissed. Then in December, Ms. Sheive won on appeal, and the case was sent back to Orleans County Supreme Court for further review. Arguments there are due on Monday.
One of the slam’s principal opponents has been Richard Brummel, a Long Island resident and grass-roots environmental advocate who has waged a dogged campaign against the event in recent years, citing the State Environmental Quality Review Act to challenge the hunt. He said that his love of squirrels was born from a suburban upbringing and that the animals were “agile,” “industrious” and “very acrobatic.”
“And they are actually somewhat approachable,” he said.
Squirrels are plentiful in New York, according to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, which categorizes three types of squirrels — gray, fox and black — as having “abundant population” and allows them to be hunted in most parts of the state from Sept. 1 to Feb. 28.
Some squirrels, however, are considered nuisances and thus are hunted by humans year round. And many of the squirrels in this neck of the woods fall into that enemy-of-the-people category, said Amethyst McCracken, an avowed pet lover who works at an animal-care office in Holley.
“We have squirrels here the size of cats,” said Ms. McCracken, a licensed veterinary technician. “They do damage. They cause accidents. They chew through power cords, go through drains.”
Like others here, Ms. McCracken said part of the slam’s problem might be branding. “When you hear ‘slam,’ you think about someone taking it and slamming them on the ground,” she said. But whatever the hunt is called, its organizers insist that the animals did not go to waste. Their tails are used to make fishing lures, while much of their meat — a flavor that has been compared to rabbit or, yes, chicken — finds its way into squirrel stew and other foods.
Joey Inthavong, an immigrant from Thailand who lives in Rochester, collects hundreds of squirrels from the slam every year. He insisted the quality of the local squirrels was excellent.
“They live outside, eat apples, like deer, eat good food,” Mr. Inthavong said. “Not like in the city — they eat garbage.”
Regardless of the looming legal action, the slam proceeded on Saturday, though without the Holley Fire Department after previous protests. Kevin Dann, the fire chief, said his company was “100 percent uninvolved.”
“People in New York City don’t like that we hunt up here,” he said.
Instead, the event was transferred to an Elks Lodge in Brockport, a college town on the Erie Canal, about 20 miles west of Rochester. Most of the participants were experienced hunters — rifles and high-powered pellet guns being the weapons of choice — and had war stories about their nimble prey.
“They’re like little ninjas,” said Brett Jacobson, an avid hunter from Greece, N.Y. He noted that squirrels often scare off deer during that hunting season. “They’re obnoxious,” he said.
All told, New York has more than 500,000 licensed hunters — including 30,000 squirrel hunters. The participants in Saturday’s slam worked in a range of professions, including public-school teachers, salesmen and small-business people. Many chatted amiably in the hall of the Elks Lodge, drinking draft beer and buying raffle tickets.
Mr. Bauer, the hunter who helps organize the event, is a mechanic. He says the event draws all kinds of people — “fathers and daughters, 60-year-old brothers, husbands and wives.” And sure enough, a steady stream of hunters arrived in the late afternoon, bearing boxes and plastic bags full of squirrels.
The squirrels were handed off to a team of women called “squirrel girls,” who weighed them on digital scales as Mr. Bauer recorded weights. The winning team — teenagers from Kendall, N.Y. — brought in the heaviest individual squirrel (nearly two pounds), and five squirrels that weighed more than seven pounds total.
Mr. Bauer said it had been a tough day to hunt, driving rain and wind, but a good day for the slam: All of the money raised — from $10 tickets, raffles and the like — would go to the local Elks, who said they would use it for causes like helping veterans and fighting cerebral palsy.
Many of the hunters said they understood that squirrel hunts may not be for everyone, particularly those in cities, where the animals are more likely to be in a park than your barn.
“It’s a country thing,” said Rich Ezell, 62, who hunted with his son-in-law, adding that the event was for a good cause. “I wouldn’t shoot them just to shoot them.”
Securing a Texan’s right to shoot wild pigs from a helicopter may have been Sid Miller’s best-known accomplishment before this week.
The state’s agricultural commissioner hangs a boar’s head and toy chopperoutside his office to remind people of the law he got passed, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
But Miller has never stopped searching for better ways to kill some 2 million feral hogs in Texas that the commissioner accuses of eating newborn lambs, uprooting crops and “entire city parks,” trampling across highways and causing more than $50 million in damage a year.
The search is over, Miller announced Tuesday: “The ‘Hog Apocalypse’ may finally be on the horizon.”
Miller said he would return his entire research budget to the state. He doesn’t need it anymore, he says, after finding “a new weapon in the long-standing war on the destructive feral hog population.”
It’s called warfarin: the pesticide with war in its name. Pigs eat it. It kills them slowly, often painfully, and turns their innards blue. It’s already wiped out swine herds in Australia, which later banned the product as inhumane.
Hunters and wildlife experts, not so much.
More than 3,000 have signed the Texas Hog Hunters Association’s petition against Miller’s chemical war.
“If this hog is poisoned, do I want to feed it to my family?” the group’s vice president, Eydin Hansen, asked the Dallas CBS affiliate. “I can tell you, I don’t.”
Stephanie Bell, an animal-cruelty director for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a statement that feral hogs “should not be sentenced to death simply for trying to forage and feed their own families.” She noted correctly that feral boars were brought to the United States to be hunted for sport before they proliferated across Texas and other states.
Tyler Campbell, a former researcher with the U.S. Agriculture Department, led the agency’s feral-hog studies in Kingsville, Tex., for several years, when warfarin was first tested on pigs in the United States.
“It was fast-tracked,” he said.
The test results weren’t pretty, he said. Marketed as Kaput Feral Hog Bait, the product is comparable to rat poison — with similar effects.
“They bleed,” Campbell said. Internally and externally, usually for a week or more before they die.
Just as concerning, he said, were difficulties in preventing other species from eating the poison — which is known to paralyze chickens, make rats vomit and kill all manner of animals.
The EPA regulations — which Texas plans to strengthen by licensing warfarin’s use — requires hogs to be fed the poison out of bins with 10-pound lids.
The lid tactic won’t work, Campbell said. Before retiring from government research a few years ago, he saw a study in which raccoons lifted much heavier lids in search of food.
“The wildlife community at large has reasons to have concerns,” he said.
“We do have very serious concerns about non-target species,” state wildlife veterinarian Jim LaCour told the Times-Picayune.
Even if only hogs can get to the bait, LaCour said, “they’re going to drop crumbs on the outside.” Those crumbs might then be eaten by rodents, which might be eaten by birds, and thus warfarin could spread throughout the ecosystem.
People should be concerned too, LaCour said: Millions take low doses of warfarin, like Coumadin, to prevent blood clots. Ingesting more from poisoned game could be “very problematic,” he said.
Miller isn’t worried.
The commissioner’s office didn’t reply to requests for comment. But in a statement to the CBS station DFW, he said years of testing prove that other wildlife, or pets, “would have to ingest extremely large quantities over the course of several days” to get sick.
As for the hunters’ objections, Miller said a blue dye will make poisoned hogs obvious long before they reach the oven.
“If you want them gone, this will get them gone,” the commissioner told the Statesman.
As precedent, he pointed to Australia, where he said warfarin “was used for many years” on feral hogs.
It was — in experiments that concerned government officials so much they later banned its use on grounds of “extreme suffering.”
The poison was effective, granted. It proved as apocalyptic as Miller promises, taking just a few months to wipe out an estimated 99 percent of wild pigs in Sunny Corner State Forest during an experiment in 1987.
Other studies described poisoned hogs’ last days in explicit detail: Some were lucky; massive internal bleeding killed them quickly after they ate warfarin. Most suffered for a week or more — one pig for a full month before it died.
“Animals moved only if approached closely and spent most time lying in shelter,” researchers wrote in Australian Wildlife Research in 1990.
Some leaked blood from their eyes or anuses. Many bled internally — sometimes into their joints, causing severe pain. An autopsy revealed one pig’s liver had fused to its stomach.
Being shot from a helicopter, the Australian government concluded, was objectively less cruel.
Animal welfare advocates rely on the transparency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to publicly post regular inspection reports on thousands of commercial dog breeding operators, Tennessee Walking horse show participants, roadside zoos, aquariums, circuses, research labs, and other facilities regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA).
On February 3, the USDA purged its website of all these reports with no warning or explanation. This outrageous action undermines longstanding consensus about public access to information concerning these laws and frustrates public interest, state, local, and industry efforts to help enforce them.
Animals held in research facilities and puppy mills are shielded from public view, therefore these records are essential to ensure that these dogs, monkeys, rabbits, and other animals are receiving basic care.
The USDA is changing the equation for the worse for animals and the public with this abrupt and destructive move. Your voice is needed to ensure that these records are restored.
Please send a message to the USDA and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that they should not be permitted to withhold this vital information and should instead continue to keep those who are responsible for complying with federal law accountable for their actions.
Dear United States Department of Agriculture,
I was shocked and concerned to learn that all inspection reports on thousands of commercial dog breeding operators, Tennessee Walking horse show participants, roadside zoos, aquariums, circuses, research labs, and other facilities regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA) were scrubbed from your website on February 3.
These reports are crucial to those of us who wish to protect animals from exploitation and abuse. Furthermore, they are the product of taxpayer dollars and there is no justifiable reason for these regularly requested public records to not be posted online.
[City, State ZIP]
|This action alert is for U.S. residents only. International advocates, please visit Humane Society International for ways you can take action for animals.|
After you take action, you’ll receive updates by email on how you can help animals. You can easily opt-out at any time.
- By: Nyack Clancy
- Target: The Honorable Shawn Lane, Mayor of the City of Yellville Arkanas
Every Autumn, the city of Yellville holds its annual Turkey Trot Festival, during which domestic turkeys are hurled from private planes traveling around 70 miles per hour at altitudes of approximately 1,000 feet as part of the “Turkey Drop” tradition.
The Turkey Drop clearly violates Arkansas law (§5-62-103), which states that a person commits the offense of cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment.
We urge the Mayor of Yellville to do everything in his power to end this cruel and illegal tradition.
The Honorable Shawn Lane
Mayor of the City of Yellville
Yellville City Hall
Emails: firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com
EATONVILLE, Wash. — Someone shot a dog with an arrow in Washington state. And investigators are offering a $5,000 reward for information on the culprit.
Heidi Austin-Root told CNN affiliate KOMO her 2-year old rescue dog, Junior, was hit by an arrow in the woods next to her Eatonville home — about 60 miles south of Seattle.
“It was definitely a kill shot,” Austin-Root said.
Junior was rushed to a local vet, who removed the arrow. X-rays show the projectile lodged in his chest — barely missing his jugular vein. He’s expected to make a full recovery, but he may have a limp.
Junior’s owner blames illegal bow hunters, who apparently hunt for elk in the area.
She said Junior and another family dog may have been scaring away the animals when the shot was fired.
“The poachers had to get close enough. There was no mistaking (the dog) for a deer or anything,” Austin-Root said.
The dog’s owners and investigators with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hope the reward will catch those responsible for the attack, the affiliate reported.
State regulations involving unlawful hunting have penalties that include loss of hunting licenses and suspensions of up to 10 years. There are also classifications that make it a misdemeanor or felony crime.
Alberta to Ban Spear Hunting After Bear Video Sparks Outrage
The Alberta provincial government plans to ban the practice of spearing wildlife after a video posted online showing an American killing a black bear with a spear sparked outrage.
The video was posted in June on the YouTube account of Josh Bowmar, who runs an Ohio-based fitness company, and shows him killing the bear on a hunt in northern Alberta. By the time it was removed from public view on Monday it had garnered more than 208,000 views.
The 13-minute video shows Bowmar launching a massive spear — with a camera attached — at a bear from 11 to 14 meters (36 to 46 feet) away and captures his jubilant reaction when the animal is hit.
“I just speared a bear!” Bowmar says on the video. “He’s going down. I drilled him perfect … I smoked him.”
He later says he got “mad penetration. That’s a dead bear.”
Commenters on YouTube were livid. At least one comment threatened to do to the hunter what he did to the bear. Twitter users called the bear’s killing sick, inhumane, shameful and disgusting.
Alberta’s Environment and Parks department issued a statement, calling the spear hunting an “archaic” practice. Spear hunting is already illegal in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province.
“Work is well underway to update Alberta’s hunting regulations. We will introduce a ban on spear hunting this fall as part of those updated regulations,” a spokesman said in an emailed statement. “‘In the meantime, we have asked Fish and Wildlife officers to investigate this incident to determine if charges are warranted under existing laws.”
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, welcomed Alberta’s plans to strengthen the law to ban spear hunting.
“Our attitudes toward animals evolve for the better, and there is more antipathy for acts of cruelty like the one from Alberta,” said Pacelle. “At one time, cockfighting and dogfighting were legal. Then we got our act together as a society and forbade these practices as depraved, archaic and inhumane.”