Back to Normal

It’s nice to see by this morning’s news that everything is back to ‘normal,’ at least in terms of humans being shot at in Paris. You wouldn’t know the ‘act of war’ was over around here. I’m hearing just as many semi-automatic shotgun blasts out there as I did yesterday.

Maybe more, in fact. Being a Saturday during goose and duck hunting season, it sounds like every waterfowl hunter in the neighborhood has declared war on our aquatic avian friends.

Someone must have set up a duck blind nearby. Yesterday they were out blasting at birds all day, right through the torrential rainstorm that should have been a duck’s delight.

Yes, everything’s back to normal today, but If this killing of animals by the hundreds is ‘normal,’ why are we so shocked when humans go after each other?

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Letter: Killing of birds continues at our state parks


USDA Wildlife Services has continued killing geese in our local and state parks with a death toll of over 1,200 in 2014. The killing season for 2015 is now well underway. Most of this is being carried out under an interlocal agreement whose members include Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Renton and others. Washington State Parks is the most recent member.

After hiring Wildlife Services in 2013 to kill geese at Lake Sammamish State Park, Washington State Parks stated it had no plans to kill geese in 2014 in any of our state parks. However, in 2014, they once again paid to have geese killed at Lake Sammamish and Deception Pass state parks.

In addition to inhumanely killing geese, Wildlife Services has an apparent recordkeeping problem. In a report to members of the interlocal agreement, Wildlife Services stated that it killed 1,213 geese in King County in 2014. However, it could only provide a detailed report with the date, location and method of killing for 19 geese. Where, when and how were the other 1,194 geese killed? One has to question, why is there such a discrepancy?

When asked about the number of Canada Geese in the areas covered by the agreement, Wildlife Services’ response was, “No records exist that estimates the number of geese in the areas covered by the agreement in 2014.”

Although Wildlife Services is required to keep detailed records, they have no idea of how many geese exist in the area and almost no records concerning the killing.

Interlocal agreement members need to stop the killing and implement a management plan that includes proven humane measures. Also, they need to be held accountable for accepting obvious omissions and inaccuracies in the recordkeeping and reporting provided by Wildlife Services.

Diane Weinstein


South Carolina Congressman Wants to Neuter Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Canadian Blog

by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate

Born Free USA’s Canadian Representative

 by 06/19/15

Hudsonian Godwit

I’m a Canadian, so I’m not entirely familiar with how things work legislatively in the bustling and powerful nation to the south of me. But, what I do know is that there is a Republican congressman from South Carolina who wants to place a rider on an appropriations bill that “prohibits the federal government from prosecuting any person or corporation for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.”

The Act, first passed in 1918, has the word “treaty” in it because it is an agreement between two separate, sovereign nations—Canada and the U.S.—and there is a reason for such a mutual understanding.

Look at the word “migratory.” Just four years before the law came into effect, the once most abundant bird species in North America had become extinct, and others were gone or on the verge. It was recognized even then, and all the more so now, that apart from any moral or aesthetic consideration, these birds performed valuable utilitarian services (such as the non-toxic control of insects) and that the health of the environment depended on the diversity of wildlife.

Even as the great Industrial Revolution rolled out of Europe and across America, it was as true then as it is now that the very foundation of our lives, and our ability to do commerce, depends on the viability—the health—of the environment from which we have sprung, and upon which we ultimately and totally depend. No gram of food, drop of water, or breath of air exists but for the workings of the nonhuman, “natural” world. And, we are corrupting all of that at an alarming rate.

How can people who don’t realize that get elected to high office?

A large percentage of protected species are essential to Canadian interests, but how can we protect them when they are migrating to, or through, the U.S.? People continue to kill even the most benign and beautiful of songbirds; or simply mow down habitat; or shoot hawks, herons, Hudsonian godwits, or hummingbirds.

What is particularly incomprehensible is that this unscientific, unneighborly, unilateral decision should come at a time when we are seeing so much loss not only in birds, but in other wildlife species, in America and worldwide. Wildlife species that were abundant in my childhood are now being listed as threatened or endangered. Even still, common species are not as common. In the 1970s, a drive from my home to Lake Simcoe, about 45 miles to the north, was filled with sightings of Savannah sparrows, bobolinks, thrashers, vesper sparrows, meadowlarks, kestrels, barn swallows, and so on. Now, I can make that drive in the absence of seeing any of them; they are not necessarily endangered yet, but they are clearly in serious decline.

Meanwhile, what was once Eurasia’s most abundant bird species, the yellow-breasted bunting, has seen a 90% decline in population since 1980. It is a migratory songbird, roughly the size of our native song sparrow—but it lacks protection. Robins and rails, sandpipers, and shrikes need protection wherever they occur, and they know nothing of politically chosen borders.

The yellow-breasted bunting has been over-hunted in regions, especially China, where there is nothing like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or legislation to enforce it.

We can’t keep destroying what is so essential to us, even those who see no inherent value in the song of a hermit thrush, the dramatic stoop of a falcon, the cheerfully bright colors of a goldfinch or tanager, or the drama of a flock of scoters flying in a string just over the breaking waves in the low light of a coastal dawn.

I understand that the president and the senate have the ability to veto the bill, but it seems a shame to promote such divisiveness in the first place. I can only hope, for the sake of all, that compassion prevails.

Keep Wildlife in the Wild,

Happy Today … Gassed Tomorrow

IDA geese FB post ‏

 “Where do the wild geese go when they go away …?”

When Greg Brown wrote his song wondering where the wild geese go when they go away, he, as we do, probably had the image in mind of a group of these beautiful birds flying high up in the sky in their characteristic v-shaped flight pattern and their familiar crackling voices that always seem to have something to say.

Tragically, many Canada geese families currently nesting near ponds in parks, airports and even in and near wildlife refuges, will be rounded up by USDA Wildlife Service agents (WS) during their molting period when they cannot fly. Entirely helpless, they will be separated from their goslings, causing shock and panic among the parent geese and goslings, who frantically call their loved ones in a final futile attempt to find each other.

Instead, these highly intelligent birds, in a terrifying state of confusion and panic, will be either mercilessly thrown into mobile gas chambers, left struggling for their lives over a long period of time while fighting for oxygen in vain, or packed into crates and trucked to a slaughterhouse to be brutally hung upside down with their throats slashed for their flesh.

Please stay tuned for our upcoming alerts to ask for your active involvement to help save Canada geese from a certain horrific death! Please make sure you have provided your state, as many of our alerts are regional in nature.

Genesis 9:2, Part 2

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Continued from, “and the Fear of Thee and the Dread of Thee Shall Be upon Every Living Thing…”

On a hopeful note, wild animals can unlearn their conditioned response of fearing the worst when they see humans. The other day we surprised a familiar flock of geese, who instinctively took flight. “It’s okay; It’s just us,” we told them. As one, they must have all thought, “Oh yeah, we know them. They’re not Elmers or Elmerettes out to get us. It’s just that friendly couple that walks their dog every day.  And anyway, it’s not hunting season.” They instantly hit the brakes and gently landed back down while we gave them a wide berth and continued to tell them how glad we were to see them again.

That’s the way it should be, humans and non-humans getting along and sharing the planet.

Although I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do, perhaps if we all treat the Earth and its non-human inhabitants with a little kindness and respect—stop shooting and gassing geese, and for that matter, stop treating all other animal life like they’re expendable playthings; stop calling yourselves sportsmen when all you really want to do is kill; stop pretending that primates are supposed to be predators; stop assuming everything has been put here for your benefit; stop heating up the climate by burning fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow;  and not to shock anyone, but why not slow down to 55 or less for the sake of migratory wildlife, if not the climate; and last but definitely not least, the unmentionable, stop having babies—we may all survive for another century or two.

In short, stop thinking only of your own species’ immediate gratification and treat the natural world with a little love and humility. Oh, and an apology to the Earth for past abuses might be in order, as well.

“and the Fear of Thee and the Dread of Thee Shall Be upon Every Living Thing…”

— Genesis 9:2

Yesterday we came across a river otter who crossed the road about 30 yards in front of us and disappeared into our pond. No cars were around so he needn’t have been in a hurry, but still he was very business-like, loping purposefully from one waterway to the next. He didn’t stop and give us any extra time to appreciate his company, and clearly—though we meant him no harm and regarded him with respect—he didn’t seem to appreciate ours.

Similarly, on today’s walk along a road through the neighboring wetlands, a large flock of ducks took flight, putting as much distance between us and them as possible, as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, several pairs of Canada geese kept a wary eye on us as they

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

honked their warning calls and ambled reluctantly behind the cover of some cattails and tall grass. We spoke reassuringly to them, explaining that we didn’t intend to hurt them, but our mere presence was disruptive. Unfortunately wildlife tends to judge all people based on human nature in general.

Although fewer folks nowadays are out to kill everything they see, destructive behavior has been a hallmark of human nature since the genus Homo first set foot on the face of the Earth. Other traits representative of the species seem to be an over-bearing sense of entitlement (as in “it’s all here for us”) and a narcissistic arrogance that empowers them to see themselves as supreme among all other beings, whom they objectify as resources put here for them by some anthropomorphic deity for their benefit to exploit as they see fit.

It’s always disappointing that the wild animals assume the worst because imagesQB1DEJITof your association, no matter how distant, with the average gun-toting Elmer, when all you want to do is be friends.

Animal Lovers: Don’t Hesitate to Feel Your Hate

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Living in Earth’s out-of-the-way places, surrounded by prime wildlife habitat (as I’ve always chosen to do), an advocate must eventually make a choice—either stand with your wildlife friends, or join in the “fun” (made increasingly more popular by repulsive “reality” shows like Duck Dynasty and so many evil others) and go around shooting everything you see.

I made my choice long ago and decided the only way to live in such a wildlife-war-torn area is to have as little to do with the people as possible. To quote Sea Shepherd’s Captain Paul Watson, referring to his native land, coastal New Brunswick, Canada (where clubbing baby seals is the local pastime), “Love the country, hate the people.”

Author Farley Mowat, another selfless Canadian animal advocate in league with Captain Watson, ultimately came around to that same sentiment in A Whale for the Killing. The 1972 book is an autobiographical account of Mowat’s moving to Newfoundland because of his love for the land and the sea, only to find himself at odds with herring fishermen who made sport of shooting at an 80-ton fin whale trapped in a lagoon by the tide. Although he had started off thinking folks around there were a quaint and pleasant lot, he grew increasingly bitter over the attitudes of so many of the locals who, in turn, resented him for “interfering” by trying to save the stranded leviathan.

Mowat wrote, “My journal notes reflect my sense of bewilderment and loss. ‘…they’re essentially good people. I know that, but what sickens me is their simple failure to resist the impulse of savagery…they seem to be just as capable of being utterly loathsome as the bastards from the cities with their high-powered rifles and telescopic sights and their mindless compulsion to slaughter everything alive, from squirrels to elephants…I admired them so much because I saw them as a natural people, living in at least some degree of harmony with the natural world. Now they seem nauseatingly anxious to renounce all that and throw themselves into the stinking quagmire of our society which has perverted everything natural within itself, and is now busy destroying everything natural outside itself. How can they be so bloody stupid? How could I have been so bloody stupid?’”

Farley Mowat ends the chapter with another line I can well relate to: “I had withdrawn my compassion from them…now I bestowed it all upon the whale.”

Having recently finished reading, Give a Boy a Gun, by Jack Olsen (author of the pro-coyote/anti-trapping book, Slaughter the Animals, Poison the Earth—an appropriate addition to his numerous other true-crime works), I’m still puzzled by that book’s similar underlying question: How could so many people be so stupid as to think so highly of Claude Dallas Jr., a killer whose crimes included poaching, trapping out of season and the shooting of two Idaho Department of Fish and Game agents? Apparently the majority of people in cattle country there think nothing of the prolonged suffering of a bobcat, coyote or trappers’ other non-human victims, and accept people at the shallowest of face-value (except game wardens out to uphold the few laws animals have on their side).

In civilized society we’ve been brought up not to hate other people. Tolerance is the buzz word and that’s supposed to go for everyone, even if they choose to kill the animals you care about. It’s not like animals are people, right? Well, that’s debatable; besides, there’s only so much tolerance to go around. I love the wilderness and the wild things who live there. But can you really love something, without at the same time, hating those who threaten its very existence?

Every morning I’m reminded how much I hate the local duck and goose hunters, for example. At first light this time of year, before I can even think about how much I love living where flocks of migratory geese spend the winter, the sound of shotgun fire rings out to remind me of those whom I hate—the ones who make sport of killing creatures more noble, magnanimous and intelligent than they could ever hope to be.

If it’s not okay to hate the people who kill your friends for sport, who can you hate? And don’t think for a second that hunters, no matter how the schmooze, don’t hate you or anyone who might be out to spoil their fun by trying to ban contest hunts, or otherwise exposing their sadism.

1598558_10152837672323554_7131931279073962386_oIdaho’s ongoing Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous, organized by a group ironically calling itself “Idaho for Wildlife” (more appropriate names would either be, Idaho against Wildlife, or Extremist Idahoans for the Destruction of Wildlife) claims as part of their second mission, “To fight against all legal and legislative attempts by the animal rights and anti-gun organizations who are attempting to take away our rights and freedoms under the constitution of the United States of America.” Apparently somebody is confusing the Second Amendment with the right to kill non-human animals for sport.

Now, you may have grown up to songs with lyrics like, “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now,” or just heard phrases like, “feel the love,” “love thy neighbor” “blah, blah, blah.” Bullshit! If your neighbor is out mowing down coyotes or wolves for fun or cash prizes—or blasting into flocks of geese for sport—they need to know how deeply you hate them.

But hate is such a negative emotion; it’s not good for your chakras, or whatever they say. Well, sometimes the animals need our outrage, our lividness, our hate. It’s a war, after all, and the other side is winning, partly because we resist the urge to embrace our hatred. How can you fight a war and not feel hate for your enemy?

Yet it shouldn’t be seen as desperate words coming from some lone, animal-loving whacko. As long as the laws are on their side and they think society shares their view of animals as objects, they’ll be encouraged to keep up the killing.

In other words, “Come on people now…Everybody get together, try to hate coyote hunters right now. Right now. Right Now!

coyote contest kill

Wildlife Service Eyes Migratory Canada geese Next

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Avian flu detected at two more farms in B.C. as outbreak continues to spread

Birds at two more farms in southwestern British Columbia have tested positive for avian influenza, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Wednesday — underscoring the difficulty facing officials attempting to contain the virus.The outbreak began last week, when turkeys and chickens at two farms in the Fraser Valley tested positive for the H5N2 strain of the disease.

The virus has now been detected at eight locations on seven farms, leaving 155,000 birds either dead or set to be euthanized. The outbreak has prompted surveillance and control measures affecting half of the province, as well as a growing list of trade restrictions on B.C. or Canadian poultry.

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, Canada’s chief veterinary officer, said the new infections did not come as a surprise and he suggested more could turn up in the coming days. Indeed, another farm was also being investigated as suspicious, he said.

“The identification of additional farms is not unexpected, given that avian influenza is highly contagious,” Kochhar said during a conference call with reporters.

“Our efforts are directed to controlling the avian influenza virus from spreading. In spite of those measures, there is a possibility that this could show up at other farms. This is something that is attributed to the highly virulent, highly pathogenic nature of the avian influenza virus.”

The affected farms are clustered within several kilometres of each other in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

In each case, the farms were immediately placed under quarantine and plans were made to destroy any birds that had not already been killed by the virus.

Earlier this week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced a control zone covering the southern half of B.C., where restrictions have been placed on the movement of poultry. Those restrictions are more strict in the area immediately around the affected farms.

It’s not yet clear what caused the outbreak, though two farms where the virus was detected had received chickens from a previously infected facility.

Officials are looking into the possibility that migrating wild birds introduced the virus into the region, though Kochhar said there’s nothing conclusive yet. He said there was no evidence the virus had been circulating among migrating birds and a wild bird monitoring program hadn’t found any unusual increases in animal deaths.

Avian influenza poses little danger to people as long as poultry meat is handled and cooked properly.

It can, however, put the poultry industry at risk.

Previous outbreaks in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada similarly led to the destruction of tens of thousands of birds. The most serious, a 2004 outbreak in the Fraser Valley, prompted federal officials to order the slaughter of about 17 million birds.

Since last week, eight countries have placed restrictions on poultry and poultry products. Singapore was added to that list on Wednesday, joining the United States, Mexico, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Some of those restrictions, such as those put in place by Japan, apply to poultry from all of Canada.

Kochhar said he hoped to convince authorities in other countries to limit any trade restrictions to the region affected by the outbreak.

“We have sent our information to them in terms of our primary control zone, which is southern British Columbia, and have requested them to revisit their restrictions on poultry and poultry products from the rest of Canada,” he said.

Consumers are unlikely to notice the outbreak at the grocery store.

The marketing group the B.C. Turkey Farmers has said about 25,000 turkeys meant for the provincial Christmas market have been lost — a relatively small proportion of the 3.3 million kilograms of turkey typically produced for the holiday season.

Likewise, the number of chickens destroyed due to the outbreak pales in comparison with the 160 million kilograms of chicken produced in B.C. each year.


Meanwhile, bird Fluis  rampant on B.C. chicken/turkey “farms” (read: concentration camp). Is there a scapegoat connection or is it just a coincidence?

A new wildlife service report on the number of Canada geese wintering in the Lower Columbia River and Willamette Valley areas of Washington and Oregon shows the population surpasses the goal set for the migratory birds and may trigger a revision of management plans.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014 report estimates 281,300 cacklers spend the winter in the two states, where they cause considerable agricultural damage, especially to grain and grass seed fields. The 2013 estimate was 312,200. Year-to-year population fluctuations are common; the wildlife service has set a population goal of 250,000 geese.

Crop damage from geese has been a concern for decades. Farmers argue they are essentially feeding the birds and absorbing damage for the sake of maintaining the population for hunters or nature lovers elsewhere. But the latest report hopefully will open the door to discussions of a longer hunting season or more opportunities to haze geese out of fields, said Roger Beyer, executive director of the Oregon Seed Council.

However, the situation is complicated by migratory bird treaties and compacts involving Native American tribes, the U.S., Canada and the states of Oregon, Washington, Alaska and California, Beyer said. “It’s a long slow process,” he said.

The Oregon Farm Bureau’s wildlife committee will be discussing geese — and wolves and Greater sage-grouse — at the bureau’s annual convention next week in Salishan. Wildlife officials have been invited to discuss the population report.

A 1997 report by the Oregon Department of Agriculture estimated annual crop and livestock damage by wildlife at $147 million, with more than $100 million attributed to deer and elk. Damage from geese was estimated at $14.9 million.

Be Thankful for Hunting Accidents

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

In response to a favorable comment to a post about a goose hunter who shot his 45 year old son in a hunting accident, one Facebook reader replied:

“I find it disheartening that so many anti-hunters take such psychotic joy in the death of human beings…I find this sort of cheerleading just as bad as the hunters that flaunt their kills. Show some compassion for a change.”

To which I responded, “It’s not that anti-hunters don’t have any compassion; just that their limited supply of it is focused on the original victims (in this case the geese). As police reported about the incident, ‘The two had Canadian Geese decoys spread out in front of their blind…’ Yes, this was a tragedy for the hunters…but they were out there to cause pain, suffering and death for an untold number of geese—a gentle species who care for one another and mate for life. Yesterday afternoon, after the constant blasting of shotguns earlier that day, we saw and heard a lone goose calling mournfully for its lost mate. It is not a game or a sport for the geese—is nothing short of heartbreak.

Hunting accidents are a good way to remind the public about the lethal violence inherent in the “sport” of hunting. To reach the average viewer, the media has to frame everything in the context of how it affects a person. Most people are anthropocentric and have little or no compassion for non-humans. If a human doesn’t get maimed or killed once in a while, people continue to believe the misguided notion that hunting is just a friendly, social hour for traditional family-values proponents; “ethical” conservationists (claiming to be doing the animals a favor by killing them); or worse yet, those fashionable so-called locavore foodies who think of wildlife only as a source of flesh to stuff in their trendy, goateed, hipster gob.

What real harm is there in cheering on the underdog (or deer ordsc_0112 goose or wolf) with remarks like, “What a shame,” “One less hunter out there,” “Another Darwin award,” or “Now he knows what the animals went through.” A mite insensitive, perhaps, but people’s attitudes during wartime can turn rather ugly. And make no mistake; hunting is like war to the animals and those who advocate for them. No doubt the otherwise compassionate Allies cheered as their enemies were eliminated. After all, how much compassion did Hitler and his ilk deserve anyway?

Still, in one way, devoted anti-hunters can be compared to fanatical wolf hunters who won’t be satisfied until they attain their ultimate goal: the total annihilation of their quarry. Yet anti-hunters and other compassionate misanthropists aren’t really planning to march out there and off all hunters. They know that the end of hunting won’t come about merely through  hunting accidents or people violently targeting them. There’s too much pro-hunting propaganda out there and too many hunters breeding mini-Me’s as ready-made hunting partners to one day take over the tradition.

Never mind that folks can get together in the out-of-doors to take a hike, watch birds or photograph wildlife—without taking any lives.

No, hunting isn’t going to end because of a high hunter body count. Not unless those who survive are willing to learn from others’ mistakes and lay down their weapons once and for all.

Now that’s a vision of the future to be thankful for.


Roadblocks to Raise Funds for Victims of Hunting

An Alabama paper, the Gadsden Times, reported the other day that a goose hunter was critically wounded by friendly fire. Apparently the victim and his buddy were both carrying loaded shotguns when his buddy slipped and hit him point blank in the side. 

They followed that article up with news that there would be a roadblock set up to collect donations to help offset the victim’s hospital costs.

My first reaction mirrored that of a Facebook friend who succinctly commented, “Un-fucking-believable.” The nerve of stopping everyone on the highway to ask that they fund a hunter’s recovery from a hunting accident! 

Then the thought came to me: two can play at that game.

I propose we set up road-blocks—everywhere there is hunting going on—to collect funds for the wildlife victims of hunting. Whenever a goose is winged by a shotgun blast, a deer is crippled by an arrow, a bear escapes on three legs from a shoulder wound or an animal is found struggling in a trap, hunters would have to pay for their rehabilitation and return to the wild. 

I guarantee if hunters had to put their money where their mouths are, it would cut down on the prolonged animal suffering inherent in the sport of hunting.