An Oasis for Bears in Romania

By , February 3, 2016

Guest Post: Claudia Flisi visits the LiBearty sanctuary for orphaned and abused bears in Transylvania.

Did my guide know something I didn’t? Adrian refused to accompany me inside the LiBearty Sanctuary outside of Zărnești in Braşov County, Transylvania. He knew about the work of the sanctuary of course; he is Romanian-born and a professional guide. But he demurred: “My heart is too soft so I cannot go with you. Please understand.”

I did understand. Zărnești is in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains, the crossroads of monstrous myths. Yet the back stories of the sanctuary’s shaggy residents are more unbelievable than Bram Stoker’s tales of Transylvanian vampires. Deliberate blinding, forced alcoholism, involuntary drug addiction, and calculated maiming – not to mention orphans sold into slavery – are oft-told tales at LiBearty Sanctuary.

The back stories of the bears at the sanctuary are more unbelievable than Bram Stoker’s tales of Transylvanian vampires.

The 69-hectare reserve is the largest refuge for brown bears in the world in area and numbers. Since Romania hosts 60 percent of all wild brown bears in Europe (not counting Russia) and also is home to the largest remaining virgin forest on the continent, the location makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is how the bears have fared in their proximity to man. LiBearty’s 80-some bears have suffered more cruelty and bestiality than the human mind can comprehend – never mind that humans alone have been responsible for such cruelty.

LiBearty-Graeme-020216Take Graeme for example. Graeme and his brother were orphaned by hunters in 1994. They killed the cubs’ mother for sport, then locked up the two brothers in a small cage to serve as attractions for visitors to a mountain mining company.

As mining declined, the growing cubs fought for what little food came their way, and Graeme was blinded in one eye. A zoo took him away to pace for years in a wire enclosure, while his brother was abandoned to starve to death in his tiny cage.

Graeme came to LiBearty in 2013 and now, after 21 years of suffering, enjoys open spaces with trees, ponds, and grass, and an ursine companion from his zoo days.

Or Max. Born in 1997 and orphaned soon after, Max became a tourist attraction as a cub. He was chained near a castle in Sinaia so visitors could pay to have their pictures taken with him. To make sure he wouldn’t cause problems as he grew, Max was deliberately blinded and his sharp canine teeth and claws were cut off. Pepper spray was sprayed into his nose to keep him from reacting to smells, and he was drugged every day with tranquilizers dissolved in beer.

LiBearty rescued him in 2006. They couldn’t restore his sight, so they created a private acre-large enclosure for him, where he bathes in his own pool, hibernates in his own den, and spends his days enjoying the sun and the sounds of nature.

“Soon she began to recognize the sound of our car and would stand up to greet us when we arrived.”

Max’s story, his expressive face, and his gentle demeanor move visitors more than those of any other resident of the sanctuary. When I mentioned seeing him to Adrian after my visit, he blanched. “I knew that bear. I would see him in Sinaia when he was still a cub. I knew something was wrong, but there was no one to complain to, back then …”

The fact that “there was no one to complain to” is what moved Cristina Lapis to create the sanctuary in the first place. A long-time animal activist, Lapis is a former journalist from the city of Brașov, about 30 km. northeast of Zărnești. She and her husband Roger, France’s honorary consul to Romania, established the Millions of Friends Association (AMP) in 1997, focusing on the rescue of stray dogs. It is the oldest animal welfare NGO in the country, and today looks after 700 dogs in two shelters.

LiBearty-Cristina-Lapis-020216Less than a year after starting AMP, Lapis encountered Maya. The young brown bear was in a small dirty cage near the tourist attraction of Bran Castle in Transylvania. She had no regular food, no care, no stimulation, only the jeering of tourists and the occasional beer bottle.

Lapis recalls her “boundless rage against the people who could condemn such an animal to a slow and painful death like this.”

For the following four years, Lapis, her husband, and friends traveled 100 miles every day to bring food, water and companionship to the neglected bear. Results were initially promising: “We were able to improve her health and lift her spirits … Soon she began to recognize the sound of our car and would stand up to greet us when we arrived.”

The problem was that Maya had nowhere to go. Zoos at that time were not an improvement in space or cleanliness. There were no shelters for large wild animals, and no money to maintain them, had they existed.

Maya became depressed again, as animals do in captivity. She self-mutilated her right paw, ripping her flesh to the bone. She lost her appetite and the will to live. She died literally in the arms of Cristina Lapis, as the latter rocked her and stroked her fur, on March 11, 2002. Over the bear’s stiffening body, Lapis vowed that she would create a sanctuary for other bears so that they would not suffer a similar fate.

Lapis vowed that she would create a sanctuary for other bears so that they would not suffer a similar fate

LiBearty Sanctury…


I’m not a humanist, I’m a nonhumanist

With all the patrician talk about who were the original occupiers of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, I was planning to write a post about the nonhuman animals being the only inhabitants for millions of years until about 12,000 or 13,000 years ago.

But Marc Bender beat me to it, with the following comment:

“…humans are not indigenous to the Americas. The original inhabitants of the wildlife refuge are, of course, the wildlife.”

Likewise, I was going to inaugurate the word, “nonhumanist” to classify those of us whose ethical values incorporate nonhuman needs and interests. But when I looked it up, I found that “nonhumanistic” is already in use (in reference to those who are Not humanistic).

Meanwhile, that same search produced this related article:

Why I Am Not a Humanist

by Luke Muehlhauser on November 11, 2009 in Ethics,General Atheism

humanismSome people think atheism is synonymous with humanism. If you’re an atheist, you must be a humanist.

Not so. I am an atheist but not a humanist.


Let’s look at at what humanism is. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, humanism is “a rationalistic system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.”

I can already distance myself from this position, but before I say why, let’s get more specific.

The “standard” positions of humanists are summarized in the latest (2003) Humanist Manifesto, which states:

  1. Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis.
  2. Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.
  3. Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.
  4. Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals.
  5. Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.
  6. Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness.

It’s #3 that bothers me. I do not believe that moral values are derived from human desires. I believe moral values are derived from desires, period. To focus on human desires and ignore all other desires in the universe is blatant speciesism.

But can’t I just sign on with humanism, understanding there’s one qualification to be made on point #3?

No, for speciesism is central to humanism. Heck, it’s in the name of the thing. Humanity is the whole point of humanism. Now that is good progress beyond religious ethics, but it’s not progress far enough.

I count humanists as my brothers as sisters. We’re fighting for the same things. Mostly.

But if this post persuades you to cancel membership in a humanist association, please don’t quit activism altogether. Please join another organization that will help you live out your moral values.

That way, we can all work together to make this world a better place, for all of us.


– See more at:

Quotes on Animal Rights…

The world, we are told, was made especially for man – a presumption not supported by all the facts.… Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation?
—John Muir, naturalist and explorer (1838–1914)

Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.
—Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher, physician, and musician (Nobel 1952)

Whenever people say “We mustn’t be sentimental,” you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add “We must be realistic,” they mean they are going to make money out of it.
—Brigid Brophy (1929–1995)


Animal Rights

[I]t is difficult to picture the great Creator conceiving of a program of one creature (which He has made) using another living creature for purposes of experimentation. There must be other, less cruel ways of obtaining knowledge.
—Adlai Stevenson, American statesman (1835–1914)

There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties.… The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.
—Charles Darwin, naturalist and author (1809–1882)

The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.
—Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

Even in the worm that crawls in the earth there glows a divine spark. When you slaughter a creature, you slaughter God.
—Isaac Bashevis Singer, writer and Nobel laureate (1902–1991)

As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together.
—Isaac Bashevis Singer, writer and Nobel laureate (1902–1991)

I don’t hold animals superior or even equal to humans. The whole case for behaving decently to animals rests on the fact that we are the superior species. We are the species uniquely capable of imagination, rationality, and moral choice – and that is precisely why we are under an obligation to recognize and respect the rights of animals.
—Brigid Brophy (1929–1995)

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.
—Charles Darwin, English naturalist (1809–1882)

Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.
—James A. Froude, English historian (1818–1894)

If you visit the killing floor of a slaughterhouse, it will brand your soul for life.
—Howard Lyman, author of Mad Cowboy

A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.
—Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist (1828–1910)

In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.
—Ruth Harrison, author of Animal Machines

The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of “real food for real people,” you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.
—Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

About 2,000 pounds of grains must be supplied to livestock in order to produce enough meat and other livestock products to support a person for a year, whereas 400 pounds of grain eaten directly will support a person for a year. Thus, a given quantity of grain eaten directly will feed 5 times as many people as it will if it is eaten indirectly by humans in the form of livestock products.…
—M.E. Ensminger, PhD

Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you anymore.
—Franz Kafka, while admiring fish in an aquarium

Poor animals! How jealously they guard their pathetic bodies…that which to us is merely an evening’s meal, but to them is life itself.
—T. Casey Brennan (1948–)

Life is life – whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man’s own advantage.
—Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950)

Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test…consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.

–The very beginning of Genesis tells us that God created man in order to give him dominion over fish and fowl and all creatures.  Of course, Genesis was written by a man, not a horse.  There is no certainty that God actually did grant man dominion over other creatures.  What seems more likely, in fact, is that man invented God to sanctify the dominion that he had usurped for himself over the cow and the horse.  Yes, the right to kill a deer or a cow is the only thing all of mankind can agree upon, even during the bloodiest of wars.
—Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984

What is it that should trace the insuperable line?… The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
—Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832)

Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstaining from flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of soul or mind the first man did so, touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, he who set forth tables of dead, stale bodies and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived. How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench? How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with the sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds?… It is certainly not lions and wolves that we eat out of self-defense; on the contrary, we ignore these and slaughter harmless, tame creatures without stings or teeth to harm us, creatures that, I swear, Nature appears to have produced for the sake of their beautyand grace. But nothing abashed us, not the flower-like tinting of the flesh, not the persuasiveness of the harmonious voice, not the cleanliness of their habits or the unusual intelligence that may be found in the poor wretches. No, for the sake of a little flesh we deprive them of sun, of light, of the duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and being.

I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil.
—Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic

Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places.
—Leonardo Da Vinci (1452–1519)

As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap the joy of love.

When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport; when a tiger wants to murder him, he calls it ferocity.
—George Bernard Shaw, writer and Nobel laureate (1856–1950)

It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

When a human being kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why then should man expect mercy from God? It is unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give.
—Isaac Bashevis Singer, writer and Nobel laureate (1902–1991)

A dead cow or sheep lying in the pasture is recognized as carrion. The same sort of carcass dressed and hung up in a butcher’s stall passes as food.
—J. H. Kellogg, American physician (1852–1943)

It ill becomes us to invoke in our daily prayers the blessings of God, the Compassionate, if we in turn will not practice elementary compassion towards our fellow creatures.
—Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948)



The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
—George Bernard Shaw, writer and Nobel laureate (1856–1950)

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
—Elie Wiesel, writer and Nobel laureate (1928–)

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible.
—Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals, 1929

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
—Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist (1901–1978)

Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.
—Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, Polish poet and aphorist (1909–1966)

In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place.
—Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948)

To forgive and accept injustice is cowardice.
—Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968)

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the roots.
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak, and another to hear.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
—Mark Twain, American author (1835–1910)

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer (1749–1832)

What would we do if we didn’t try? We have to try.
—Lyle Lovett

None so blind as those who will not see.
—Matthew Henry, English clergyman (1662–1714)

[A] long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.
—Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Ultimately, an unbiased observer of human behavior must conclude that most action is not shaped by theory, but rather theories are shaped to conform to actions we have no intention of changing.
—Marjorie Spiegel, The Dreaded Comparison

All of us cherish our beliefs. They are, to a degree, self-defining. When someone comes along who challenges our belief system as insufficiently well-based – or who, like Socrates, merely asks embarrassing questions that we haven’t thought of, or demonstrates that we’ve swept key underlying assumptions under the rug – it becomes much more than a search for knowledge. It feels like a personal assault.
—Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.
—Samuel Johnson, English author (1709–1784)

Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., American jurist (1841–1935)

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
—Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788–1860)

Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.
—George Gordon Noel Byron (Lord Byron), English Romantic poet (1788–1824)

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.
—John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-American economist (1908–2006)

If Golden Globes Host Ricky Gervais Gives Out Prestigious Awards to His Favorite Animal Abusers

1. Worst Performance as a “Conservationist”

6 Awards Ricky Gervais Will be Giving Out
2. Worst Supporting Actress to the Above Jerk


3. Lifetime of Cruelty in Entertainment Achievement Award

6 Awards Ricky Gervais Will be Giving Out

4. Worst Original Idea to Abuse Animals for Sport

6 Awards Ricky Gervais Will be Giving Out

5. Best Onscreen Performance of Why Tigers Belong in the Wild

6 Awards Ricky Gervais Will be Giving Out

6. Most Rabbit Tears in Makeup and Hairstyling

6 Awards Ricky Gervais Will be Giving Out



Vegan Jerky To Be Hand-Delivered to Oregon Cattle-Ranching Militia

Written by PETA | January 5, 2016

The militant cattle ranchers currently occupying Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have appealed for snacks, and PETA is answering the call with a hand-delivered package of vegan jerky that contains more protein than beef does. The PETA staffers, who will bear signs reading, “The End (of Animal Agriculture) Is Nigh: Get Out Now!” are suggesting that militia members learn to raise crops, not cows—allowing the many species of wild animals the refuge was designed to protect to thrive.


“People from all walks of life are increasingly appalled by the idea of slaughtering animals and realize, too, the harmful impact that animal agriculture has on the environment, so it’s time to face facts,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “These ranchers may have a beef with the feds, but their water use and the cattle’s production of methane mean that the world needs them to get out of the beef business.”

As PETA notes, the Worldwatch Institute estimates that animal agriculture is responsible for 51 percent of human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions and the University of Chicago determined that switching to a vegan diet is more effective in countering climate change than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.

What You Can Do

Order PETA’s free vegan starter kit and do your part to start saving the planet and animals today!

Thousands of cows died in southern storms

This past summer we saw egg rationing, now milk might be coming up short on demands. If this sounds like the apocalypse — well, it’s actually just Texas. (Video via U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance)

The recent Southern storms that caused major damage in states in and around Texas are now resulting in another problem: lack of milk.

Upwards of 30,000 cows died in Texas and New Mexico. As for the ones that are still alive? They’re likely dried up, as cows need to be milked regularly to keep producing.

Last summer, several states, including Texas, started coming up short on eggs after the bird flu struck. Stores started rationing the number of cartons consumers bought, and the event was predicted to affect supply over the next year.

It’s unclear if the price of milk will spike, jugs will be rationed or if this will affect other states. One U.S. Department of Agriculture report says Texas isn’t one of the top five dairy contributors for the U.S., but the 27 million residents of Texas will certainly be affected. (Video via Texas Farm Bureau)

Iowa Egg Farm Investigation

Some Good News and Some Victories for Animals in 2015

An Animal Rights Article from

December 2015

THANK YOU for every single thing you did to make a difference for animals in 2015!

This list is about the animals and to honor animal rights activists. Congratulate yourself for your contribution and get inspired to do even MORE for animals in 2016. Please SHARE this link!

We know there are many more victories and many more good news items for animals in 2015 and we know there are LOTS of opinions of what “victory” or “good news” mean. This is a listing of what was posted as good news/victories on our 2015 weekly eNewsletters. Please subscribe here.


Animal Rights Activists Employ New Tactics to Thwart Hunters

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Written by 
Beckie Elgin By Beckie Elgin, Earth Island Journal

You can’t wait to know the truth, so we publish news and analysis seven days a week, 365 days a year. This is only possible thanks to Truthout’s readers – donate now to show your support!

Stephanie looked in her rear-view mirror and watched as the black Suburban descended upon her Jeep. She punched the accelerator in an effort to put some distance between the two vehicles, but the Suburban kept gaining. Matthew, riding shotgun, turned in his seat to watch it.

“She’s trying to come up beside us,” Stephanie said.

The Suburban swerved hard left, then right, nearly hitting another vehicle. A forty-something woman was driving. Her face was an angry blur, her mouth open and shouting. She lifted an iPad, evidently in an attempt to capture some photos or video of Matthew and Stephanie.

“She forgot to turn it around,” Matthew said as the hulking Suburban sped up to them. “She’s taking pictures of herself.”

Stephanie kept her eyes on the road as she hit the gas again. When they reached a four-way stop on the two-lane road they had been driving along, she turned right to return to their home base in the village of Barron, a Wisconsin farming community north of Eau Claire. The woman in the Suburban made a U-turn and headed in the direction she had come from.

Stephanie and Matthew (who didn’t want their last names used for security reasons) could pass for brother and sister. Both are 25, slight, dark haired (Stephanie’s has a wide streak of blue through it), and look younger than they actually are. And they both share a passion for protecting wild animals – especially wolves. It was December 2014, about a month after the two had joined forces with an outfit called “Wolf Patrol,” founded by Rod Coronado, the legendary eco-warrior – or, as some might say, infamous eco-saboteur. Wolf Patrol observes and documents wolf hunts in the United States with the goal of exposing the cruelty of wolf hunting. The idea is to help change public policies and, when necessary, reveal illegal activities on the part of hunters. Stephanie and Matthew had been on a hunting observation mission that winter day, which is what got them involved in the high-speed chase.

Earlier that day, Stephanie and Matthew had come across a group of hunters parked alongside a rural road. CB antennas stuck out from the cabs of their trucks, a telltale sign of a hound hunter. One of the pickups had built-in kennels, and it rocked back and forth with the movement of the hounds inside. Three men stood hunched over something that lay within the folds of a blue tarp. They lifted the tarp, the center of it sagged, and Stephanie noticed a patch of what looked like grey fur. The pair slowly drove past the truck, trying not to stare. “I bet it’s a wolf,” Stephanie said.

Wisconsin is the only state that allows hunters to use hounds to pursue wolves, but the 2014-2015 hound hunting season hadn’t opened yet. If the hunters had killed a wolf with the help of hounds, they would be poaching, and finding poachers is a top priority for Wolf Patrol. Stephanie and Matthew turned their Jeep around and drove by the hunting party again. By then, the men had dropped whatever was in the tarp into the back of one of the trucks and were leaving the scene. The Wolf Patrol members followed the pickups until it seemed that the hunters had become aware of their presence. The pair had been trained by Coronado to de-escalate potentially threatening situations, and they decided to break off their pursuit. But within moments the swerving Suburban was on their tail.

When Matthew and Stephanie later debriefed the scene with Coronado and other Wolf Patrol members, they figured that one of the hunters must have called the woman, who, irate at the intrusion of ogling strangers on her home turf, went after the Jeep. It’s possible she knew Matthew and Stephanie were with Wolf Patrol. News of the group’s presence had spread quickly in rural Wisconsin, and the locals appeared to be doing their own surveillance of Wolf Patrol’s anti-hunting vigilance – the watchers themselves were being watched. Pro wolf-hunting Facebook pages were filled with threats against Wolf Patrol and its members. Most of the posts were seething with anger. One recent post read: “Kill ALL The Wolves. You pathetic losers will never save one wolf. I have two Yellowstone wolves hanging on my wall with more to come. Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa.”

Wolf Patrol is one hub of a loose network of North American and European groups that use citizen monitoring to bring public attention to the practice of trophy hunting – which they say is little more than state-sanctioned animal cruelty. The new wave of animal rights activism is a far howl from the actions of EarthFirst! and the Animal Liberation Front, both of which are known for breaking the law to defend animals and the environment. Unlike the by-any-means-necessary ethos of those organizations, Wolf Patrol is scrupulous about following the law. The group doesn’t spring animal traps or block roads, nor does it in any way interfere with the activities of hunters. Rather, Wolf Patrol acts as a kind of backwoods neighborhood watch: It keeps a close eye on hunters to ensure they aren’t breaking state and federal hunting regulations, and when it does encounter illegal behavior, reports it to the appropriate authorities.

Wolf Patrol’s avoidance of EarthFirst!-style monkey-wrenching marks an evolution for the group’s founder, Rod Coronado. Longtime environmental activists might recognize his name. In 1986, when he was 20 years old and a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Coronado and a comrade spent a freezing November night sabotaging a whaling facility in Iceland. Dressed in dark rain gear and wearing ski masks, Coronado and his companion smashed the computers and destroyed the equipment of the Hvalfjördur whaling station. They then opened the seawater control valves on two of the station’s four whaling vessels, sending the ships to the bottom of the harbor. The attack involved no harm to any person, but it did cause more than $2 million in damages.

Coronado, who had fled to London after the sabotage, never served any time for the Iceland anti-whaling operation. But eventually his illegal activities caught up to him. In the 1990s and early 2000s Coronado was a key part of “Operation Bite-Back,” a nationwide campaign waged by EarthFirst!, the Animal Liberation Front, and the Earth Liberation Front against hunting, animal testing facilities, and other alleged animal rights violators. In 1995 he was convicted of participating in an arson attack against a Michigan State University research facility and sentenced to 57 months in prison. In 2004 he was indicted on three charges of dismantling mountain lion traps, and just a year later he was convicted of a destroying property belonging to the US Forest Service.

While serving an eight-month sentence, Coronado experienced a change of heart and came to the conclusion that property destruction and other forms of sabotage were ineffective and counterproductive strategies for social change. In an open letter to other practitioners of direct action that he penned from his jail cell, Coronado wrote, “I still see the rationale for what I’ve done, only no longer do I personally choose to represent the cause of peace and compassion in that way.” His tactical conversion was, in part, the result of becoming a father. “Don’t ask me how to burn down a building. Ask me how to grow watermelon or how to explain nature to a child.”

Following the law isn’t always easy for Coronado, however. In a recent interview with Black and Green Review, an “anarcho-primitivist magazine,” Coronado describes an episode in which he and his crew observed someone setting a wolf trap. Coronado and his companions rigged up a trail camera in the hope of catching footage of a captured animal, footage that they could then use to expose the brutality of trapping. But that night Coronado couldn’t shake the regret that he could have done more. He told Black and Green Review: “As we drove back to camp, I started thinking about the wolves in that area, in particular, that one wolf that might happen upon that trap and be caught and killed. I thought about it, thinking that somewhere there was a wolf right at that moment catching the scent placed on that trap and possibly traveling towards its imminent threat. I started crying because I felt horrible. I consider myself a cousin to the wolf. He is my relative and I care about him. And here I was walking away from a threat placed specifically for him and all I could do was take pictures of his suffering. I cried struggling to rationalize my actions, knowing if I did more, I might go right back to prison.”

Coronado’s newfound lawfulness sometimes alienates potential allies. Not long after he launched Wolf Patrol in the fall of 2014, he was joined by a young man who had previously been a member of Britain’s Hunt Saboteurs. When Coronado told the new recruit that if he found a wolf in a trap he would have to leave it there, the guy split, unwilling to abide by the rule.

Coronado had worked with Hunt Saboteurs before (he had helped popularize the group’s work among North Americans), and in some ways the British organization serves as the global model for those determined to expose hunting practices. The Hunt Saboteur Association was founded in 1963 with the primary purpose of ending fox hunting in Great Britain. The Hunting Act of 2004 put new restrictions on hunting with dogs, but the traditional practice continues at many hunting clubs. Historically, Hunt Saboteur members – known as “sabs” – would monitor and document the hunts. Sometimes, they would interrupt them. Most often this was done by trying to distract the hounds by, among other tactics, blowing a hunting horn to confuse the dogs or sprinkling lemon oil on the fox trail to mask its scent. Sometimes they would play a recording of baying hounds through a loudspeaker, which would send the hounds running in the wrong direction and, following behind them, a confused (and annoyed) group of mounted hunters.

The sabs continue this work today as they seek to expose illegal fox hunts. The website of the Hunt Saboteurs Association says: “One of our greatest weapons is now the video camera – enough instances of hunts breaking the law caught on camera and hopefully not even the blinkered politicians will be able to ignore it.” Wearing their signature black facemasks and travelling across the countryside in groups, Hunt Saboteurs can be a fearful sight. But their appearance doesn’t deter the red-coated hunters from sometimes attacking them. The animosity between the hunters and the sabs is as intense as that between rival gangs, and it’s most often the sabs who get hurt (though there have been injuries on both sides in the course of confrontations). In August 2014, for example, a young woman protesting a hunt was run down by a huntsman on horseback. She suffered seven broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and trauma to her shoulder.

Despite the dangers involved in being a sab, the Hunt Saboteur movement continues to grow. In recent years, knock-off groups have formed in other European countries, the US, and Canada. The hunting saboteurs are, in a sense, warriors for wildlife.

The mixed-used landscape of western Wisconsin would seem an unlikely home for wolves. It’s farming country, with barbed wired pastures holding cattle and thick-coated horses. Farm houses are scattered here and there, most looking like they’ve come to terms with their ultimate return to the earth. The terrain doesn’t much resemble the wolf-heaven of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley or the dense forests of northern Minnesota. Yet wolves do, in fact, live in Wisconsin – plenty of them did, before the hunting began. They’ve adapted to find cover in bogs, parcels of uncut forest, and the strips of timber that sandwich the creeks.

Grey wolves were extirpated from the state by the 1960s – the victims of a relentless campaign of trapping, hunting, and poisoning. But slowly wolves returned to the Badger State as lone dispersers and then whole packs traveled southward from the timberlands of Minnesota. They thrived under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act. By winter of 2011, there were somewhere between 782 and 824 wolves in the state, according to a census by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. But when federal protections for wolves in the Great Lakes Region were lifted in January 2012, a hunting season was quickly established. That year, 117 wolves were killed. In 2013, the number was 257. By the end of the 2014-2015 season, a total of 528 wolves would be lost to trapping and hunting.

When I traveled to Wisconsin in December 2014, it was the last week of the wolf-hunting season. Hunters had already filled the wolf quotas in four of the state’s six game units, and they didn’t have much time left. Wolf Patrol expected a lot of activity.

The days start early for Wolf Patrol as they shadow the hunters. We hit the road at 5 a.m. to begin the patrol of Zone 3, a section of western Wisconsin bordering Minnesota. Four other Wolf Patrol members were scouting nearby in two other vehicles, all communicating via cell phone. If one group came across hunters, they were to call the others to join them, the goal being not to harass or interfere, simply to observe and record the hunters’ activities.

I’m in a beat-up Toyota 4Runner with Coronado. At 49, he’s trim and fit, the coppery glint of his skin hinting at his Pascua Yaqui Indian background. As he drives the back roads he is busy scanning the horizon with his typical unswerving intensity.

We spend six hours in the car, but the only hound hunters we see – dressed as expected in camouflage and worn, heavy boots – are the ones enjoying a leisurely breakfast at a local cafe. We watch them through the windows, not wanting to blow our cover. The beds of the hunters’ parked trucks hold wooden hound boxes, but we see no dog faces poking out, nor do we hear any whining or baying. There has been no new snowfall, and the old snow is mostly gone. These conditions, I’m told by Coronado, aren’t ideal for setting a pack of dogs onto the trail of a wolf. The hounds are likely at home.

Coronado drives on, through miles and miles of country, over dirt roads, on private land and then on public land. He stops to review a map, then goes on again. There is likely at least one hound hunter in the area and Coronado is determined to find him. He speaks on the cell phone with his crew. They haven’t seen any action either. There is talk about the quota. Some game zones have gone over their allowed number of kills, so Wolf Patrol initiates a phone campaign to the Department of Natural Resources to demand a halt to the hunting season. (More than 200 calls were made to the agency, we later learn.) The sun is melting the remnants of snow and warming the air. Nothing much happens.

Back on the road after a short break to stretch our legs, Coronado gets a call. The 2014 Wisconsin wolf-hunting season is officially closed. The quotas in all game zones have been met. Hunters have killed 154 wolves, but at least it’s over. As Coronado points out, “It’s a hollow victory. The hunting is over but the training continues.”

Just a few weeks later, on December 23, 2014, a federal judge would return Endangered Species Act protection to the Wisconsin wolves. But Coronado’s work continues. Despite its name, Wolf Patrol doesn’t monitor only wolf hunting. In Wisconsin, bear hunting is also a popular tradition – and big business for guides and outfitters – and Coronado and his crew spent much of 2015 watchdogging the activities of bear hunters.

Often, bears are hunted after being baited with an irresistible lure. Bear bait can consist of cookie dough, donuts, candy, grease, chocolate, or a concoction of all of the above (or a commercially prepared high glucose paste made especially for this purpose) that is stuffed in a hollowed-out stump at a bait site. A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources survey of bear hunters determined that 4.63 million gallons of bear bait were dumped at 82,300 sites in 2014 alone. Coronado explains that not only do bears become habituated to bait sites, but deer do as well. And where there are deer, there are wolves, creating the opportunity for deadly run-ins with hunters and their hounds.

Then there are the run-ins between Wolf Patrol and area hunters and law enforcement. While monitoring bear baiting in eastern Wisconsin in the summer of 2015, Wolf Patrol was accused by the Polk County Sheriff’s Department of being in violation of Wisconsin’s hunter harassment law, though no charges were filed. Then, in September 2015, Wolf Patrol members were caught in a heated confrontation with some local hunters. Videos shot by Wolf Patrol members show the build-up of tensions between the group and hound hunters.

In one video, which was filmed on a rural road in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wolf Patrol’s vehicle is purposefully blocked in for half an hour by a hound hunter’s truck. When Coronado backs up in an effort to leave, the hound hunter drives in closer, preventing his escape. Another video, shot just two days later, shows at least a dozen hunters angrily confronting Coronado and his group. One hunter asks Coronado if he’s a convicted felon. Coronado says, “Yep, done my time.” The hunter responds, “Once a felon, always a felon.” Coronado displays restraint. He appears calm and confident, and he doesn’t back down. Coronado is anything but a rookie, and he knows how to de-escalate a potentially dangerous situation. He engages the hunters without inciting them. Eventually some local sheriff deputies arrive and the situation is defused.

A new Right to Hunt bill, introduced in the Wisconsin legislature in October, reflects these growing tensions, and is a direct response to Wolf Patrol’s monitoring activities in the state. If passed, AB 433 would strengthen Wisconsin’s existing hunter harassment law by adding protections to hunting-related activities like scouting, dog training, and animal baiting. It would also criminalize engaging in “serial conduct” that is intended to “impede or obstruct a person who is engaged in lawful hunting,” including photographing or filming hunters, maintaining proximity to hunters, or approaching or confronting hunters.

In addition to angering hunters, Wolf Patrol’s confrontational tactics are controversial among some wildlife advocates too. Even in the close-knit community of wolf defenders, Wolf Patrol isn’t always welcomed. Some people feel the group is undoing years of effort to build relationships with those, especially ranchers, who aren’t fans of Canis lupus. A staffer with a well-established wildlife advocacy group, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told me: “Wolf Patrol is stirring the pot. Their work is antagonistic and polarizing and now we have to deal with it.” This person said Wolf Patrol’s presence in Montana in the fall of 2014 was one of the reasons an effort to create a “Montana Wolf Stamp” failed. The measure would have allowed non-hunters to buy a $20 “wolf stamp” – sort of like a fishing license – to support wolf conservation programs in the state. But in September 2014, after receiving more than 50,000 comments on the issue, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks dropped the idea. According to some wolf proponents, Wolf Patrol’s sudden presence in the state and the ensuing controversy caused the state agency to shy away from any activity that would appear unsympathetic to the ranching and hunting community.

Others in the wolf advocacy community applaud the efforts of Coronado and his crew. Wally Sykes is a wolf advocate living in northeastern Oregon, home of Oregon’s natal packs. He is the co-founder of Northeast Oregon Ecosystems and a member of the Wallowa County Wolf Compensation Committee, as well as a member of the Pacific Wolf Coalition. When I asked Sykes for his opinion of Wolf Patrol, he said, “I support the Wolf Patrol groups in the Upper Midwest. I believe the campaign to ensure significant and healthy wolf populations, free of persecution for sport and profit, needs both soft and hard power. Too much effort and money is spent on trying to reason with and accommodate wolf-haters and not enough to actually oppose those who go out and kill wolves, and what could be more effective than to have people out there looking over the shoulders of the hunters and trappers to expose their methods and acts?”

For his part, Coronado seems unfazed by the controversy, just as he seems unaffected by positive publicity. But he admits that he finds the negative reaction divisive. “They need to be less mad at us and more mad at the problem,” he says.

On September 7, 2015, a video appeared on Facebook of a grizzly bear struggling to escape the shots of trophy hunters. The clip was less than two minutes long, but it felt much longer. The scene begins with a lanky, dark brown bear making his way down a mountain slope when shooting starts. Hit in the hindquarters, the bear twirls in circles, then straightens and runs. The animal is hit again, and then a third time. A hunter is heard saying, “You shot behind him!” The shooting resumes and the bear drops to its side, alive but mortally wounded. Streaks of blood stain the snow below its body. The hunters are heard laughing as the bear rolls down the hill like a log until it stops, presumably dead, against the side of the mountain.

In the space of just a few days the video received more than three million views. A 25-year-old surfer and wildlife advocate named Tommy Knowles had posted the video after stumbling across it on YouTube. Then Facebook removed the video, citing a possible copyright infringement. But the graphic footage had already served its purpose. The video was covered by The Huffington Post, theNew York Daily News, and The Independent in the UK, and it helped to launch the fall hunt-monitoring campaign of the Wildlife Defense League.

In 2010 Knowles had been on his way toward earning a business degree at Okanagan College in British Columbia when he learned about the annual dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan and started to sour on the idea of a traditional career. After Sea Shepherd accepted his application, Knowles served as a deckhand in the waters of the Faroe Islands, monitoring the pilot whale hunting there, and later on the Steve Irwin during the group’s Antarctic whale defense campaign.

After the Steve Irwin made port, Knowles returned to BC and, in 2014, started the Wildlife Defense League. The group’s first campaign was “Operation Great Bear.” At the invitation of the Klabona Keepers – members of the Tahltan First Nation who live near Iskut, BC – the defense league helped create and then sustain a road blockade to keep non-Native hunters out of an area the Tahltan call “the Sacred Headwaters” in northern BC. The blockade was successful, though it led to a couple of tense confrontations with hunters seeking moose, wolves, bear, and caribou. On one occasion, a hunter tried to storm through the blockade but stopped when WDL members sat down in front of his truck.

Knowles says his group is dedicated to direct action, which he defines as, “Any action that has an immediate effect on the protection of humans, animals, or the environment.” The mission statement of the Wildlife Defense League reads: “To defend wildlife from exploitation while abiding by international conservation law and laws set out by First Nations. Wildlife Defense League uses non-violent tactics to document, monitor and expose those who attempt to destroy wildlife.” The group’s goal, Knowles says, is to ban trophy hunting in Canada.

Like Rod Coronado and Wolf Patrol, Knowles believes that exposing what he says is the unnecessary cruelty of trophy hunting will eventually lead to halting the practice. And, also like Coronado, Knowles is committed to remaining within the boundaries of the law. Wildlife Defense League monitors and documents trophy hunting, but its members (usually about a half dozen people in the field at any one time) will not interrupt the actions of hunters. “We can interfere with the hunt for one day and be arrested and taken out of action,” Knowles says. “Obeying the law is much more sustainable.”

So far – at least as measured by public attention and support – the strategy seems to be working. Earlier this year Knowles ran an Indiegogo campaign seeking $10,000 for food, fuel, and communications equipment to sustain the hunt monitoring; just two days after the grizzly-hunting video was posted on Facebook, the campaign exceeded its goal and raised $16,000. Knowles is now working with another Canadian environmental group, Pacific Wild, founded by photographer and filmmaker Ian McAllister. This winter they will begin filming the BC government’s program of wolf culling, including its use of helicopters to track and then destroy wolf packs.

And the videos themselves – of wolves dying in traps, of bears gunned down – have unquestionable power. Before Facebook removed the video from its site, I watched the clip of the grizzly shooting in BC, sickened by the image of the struggling animal and the flippant comments of the hunters, and was relieved that one click would remove me from the scene.

“I can’t imagine seeing wolves being gunned down from helicopters,” Knowles told me during one of our conversations. “It is such a tragic and inhumane killing and to bear witness will be the most challenging thing I’ve ever had to deal with.”

That, of course, is the point: To make sure that we all have to bear witness to the harsh reality of trophy hunting, until we can’t stand to look anymore, and finally decide, as a culture, to do something about it.


Petition: Stop using baby elephants in bars and hotels and beaches in Thailand

Stop using baby elephants in bars and hotels and beaches in Thailand



we’ve got 6,824 supporters, help us get to 7,000

Asian elephants are an endangered species. Experts believe there are now less than 2000 wild elephants living in Thailand. The population is declining at a rapid rate due to loss of habitat.

Illegal capture and trade for use in the tourism industry is also a big problem.

This industry thrives because foreign visitors all want to ride elephants, or watch them do tricks, paying good money for the privilege.

But the fact is that wild elephants need to be tamed before they can be ridden. Except the taming process in Southeast Asia is not the same as with a wild horse. It’s much more brutal, and is accomplished when the elephants are very young.
Wild elephants won’t let humans ride on top of them. So in order to tame a wild elephant, it is tortured as a baby to completely break its spirit. The process is called Phajaan, or “the crush”.

It involves ripping baby elephants away from their mothers and confining them in a very small space, like a cage or hole in the ground where they’re unable to move.

The baby elephants are then beaten into submission with clubs, pierced with sharp bull-hooks, and simultaneously starved and deprived of sleep for many days.

Did you know that riding elephants can actually cause serious long-term harm too? Their spines are not made to support the weight of humans. I know it’s hard to believe given their size, but Zebras are the same way.

Japan is accused with “Crime Against Nature”

Japan is accused with “Crime Against Nature”

After a judgment by an international court pressured Japan to stop hunting
whales in Antarctica for a year, the country is scheduled to send whaling
ships there again .A Japanese whaling fleet set sail for the Antarctic on
Tuesday, on a mission to resume the slaughter after a one-year pause, with
environmentalists slamming the move as a “crime against nature”.Government
officials and families of crew members stood on the quayside and waved as
ships—at least one fitted with a powerful harpoon—left a southern port,
television footage showed.

Despite a worldwide moratorium and opposition from usually-friendly nations
like Australia and New Zealand, Japan persists in hunting whales for what it
says is scientific research

“Two whaling ships departed from Shimonoseki with a Fisheries Agency patrol
boat this morning, while the factory ship also left another port to form a
fleet,” an agency official told AFP. “A fourth whaler already left a
northeastern port yesterday to join the fleet.”

Tokyo claims it is trying to prove the whale population is large enough to
sustain a return to commercial hunting, and says it has to kill the mammals
to carry out its research properly. However, it makes no secret of the fact
that the animals’ meat ends up on the dinner table or served up in school

In 2014, the United Nations’ highest court, the International Court of
Justice (ICJ), ruled that Japan’s annual Southern Ocean expedition was a
commercial hunt masquerading as science to skirt the moratorium.
In response, Japan’s 2014-15 mission carried out only “non-lethal research”
such as taking skin samples and doing headcounts.

Large-scale whaling in Japan began after World War II, when meat was scarce,
according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation. The Japanese government
heavily subsidizes the industry, although, the organization says, demand for
whale meat has fallen significantly over the past few decades.

Japan is not the only country with an active interest in whaling

Although an international moratorium on whaling was put into effect in 1986,
Iceland and Norway continue commercial whaling. Whale hunting for research
is regarded as separate from commercial whaling and is unaffected by the

Patrick Ramage, the whale program director at International Fund for Animal
Welfare in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, said minke whales were historically
considered too small to be commercially viable for whalers. Many countries
have “worked their way down from the blue whale through the fin whale,
humpback whale and other species. It’s now the little guy — minke whale —
that Japan is targeting.”

Australia took Japan to the United Nations International Court of Justice in
The Hague over its Antarctic whaling activities. Last year the court ruled
in favor of Australia and ordered Japan to halt its special permit program
in the Antarctic, known as JARPA II. The court, which found that Japan was
using its scientific research program to disguise commercial whaling, said
that JARPA II involved the killing of 3,600 minke whales over several years
and that “the scientific output to date appears limited.”

Japan halted its whaling operations in Antarctica because of the court’s
decision. But rather than let its Antarctic whaling operation fade away,
Japan has apparently reinvented it with a program called the New Scientific
Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean (PDF), which it plans to
launch on Tuesday.

An IWC representative, who requested anonymity because the person was not
authorized to speak with the media, said that when the commission’s
scientific committee reviewed Japan’s newly named plan, “they didn’t agree
whether the research Japan was proposing required lethal research or whether
you could do it using nonlethal methods, for example, DNA.”

But the government has said for months it intended to resume butchery in the
current season, which runs to around the end of March.

The announcement Monday that the hunt was to begin drew condemnation from
around the world

Claire Bass, executive director for Humane Society International, said Japan
had chosen to ignore the “universal opposition” represented by the ICJ

“Once again we have Japan’s whaling fleet setting sail to commit a crime
against nature,” she said in a statement, stressing “Japan’s long history of
whale persecution”.Other conservationists called for another legal
challenge.But consumption has dramatically declined in recent decades, with
significant proportions of the population saying they “never” or “rarely”
eat whale meat.

Atsushi Ishii, an expert on international relations at Japan’s Tohoku
University, said Japan’s refusal to give up the Antarctic mission despite
censure by the international court is largely due to a small group of
powerful politicians.

“Why resume whaling? Because a group of pro-whaling lawmakers don’t like the
image that they succumbed to pressure from Sea Shepherd,” he told AFP,
referring to an environmental group that has repeatedly clashed with
Japanese whaling missions.Sea Shepherd Australia said Monday it would follow
the latest mission, which Japan said would aim to kill a total of 333 minke
whales—some two-thirds under previous targets.

Tokyo said in response that it would try to secure the safety of the 160
crew members by sending patrol boats to guard the fleet and strengthening
“self-protection measures.”The International Fund for Animal Welfare and the
Australian Marine Conservation Society said a panel of legal experts asked
to consider Japan’s latest whaling mission had found it broke international

“The panel concluded that Japan’s new whaling programme violates
international law and that Australia or other countries still have options
to challenge Japan’s actions before international courts,” said chair and
Australian National University professor Donald Rothwell.

Japan has hunted whales for centuries, and their meat was a key source of
protein in the immediate post-World War II years when the country was
desperately poor. Japan began its so-called scientific whaling practices in
1987, a year after an worldwide whaling moratorium took effect. A protester
in 2008 sits on a Japanese flag covered in red blood outside the Japanese
consulate in Melbourne, Australia, to protest whale hunting.

Sea Shepherd, a conservation group that sent boats annually to disrupt
whaling activities by Japan warned Tokyo that returning to hunt whales will
be illegal. It was Australia which brought the case against Japan to the
International Court of Justice and is clearly not happy with Japan’s
decision to continue its hunt. Japan accuses opponents of being emotional
about the mammals and disregarding what it says is evidence to support its

The country’s officials have said many times that most whale species aren’t
endangered, and noted eating whale is part of its culture. Greenpeace along
with Dolphin & Whale Action Network, Friends of the Earth and twelve other
animal rights and environmental groups issued a joint statement calling on
Japan to stop its whaling operations.