The Birth of a Bill, the Death of an Activist

Saturday, July 18, 2020byToronto Star

Regan’s viewpoint, known as intersectionality, is the theory that all forms of oppression, discrimination, domination etc., intersect and influence each other.byFiona Roossien


Regan Russell, the Toronto Pig Save activist who was killed by a truck carrying pigs to slaughter. (Photo: Agnes Cseke)

Regan Russell, the Toronto Pig Save activist who was killed by a truck carrying pigs to slaughter. (Photo: Agnes Cseke)

On June 19, a protester was killed. Perhaps her death was obscured by the din of headlines that Friday—it was Juneteenth, a day marking the end of slavery.

Protests against systemic racism catalyzed by the death of George Floyd juxtaposed with a Trump rally scheduled on the anniversary and in the location of the worst incident of racial violence in the U.S. Tensions were high.

Her name was Regan Russell and while participating in a scheduled vigil outside of Fearmans slaughterhouse in Burlington, she was run down by a transport truck carrying pigs on their way to slaughter.

In the news covering this event, and in conversations I’ve had with friends and family, it seems the significance of a protester being run down by the very thing she was protesting has been missed. It seems many wonder what she was doing there.

A local news story gives the following account from someone who witnessed the event from a distance: “Then I saw a woman … I assumed the truck driver thought he was clear to go and didn’t see that last protester.”

Ironically, being seen is an important goal of the vigils held by animal rights groups at slaughterhouses—one way to create more visibility in an industry that would prefer to keep its practices hidden. And Regan was unignorable.

But she was also there that day to protest Bill 156—a new ag-gag law that had been passed two days earlier. Criticized as unconstitutional, Bill 156 is handcrafted to stifle damning evidence of the cruelty that is endemic to animal agriculture, with provisions that are distinctly anti-whistle-blower and anti-free-speech.

Like its counterpart, Bill 27 in Alberta, Bill 156 represents the influence of a powerful farming lobby desperately trying to limit exposure of something that can harm their bottom line — visibility into how the animal agriculture industry works. These sections don’t serve to protect the animals or reinforce biosecurity; they serve the sole purpose of controlling information.

The day before she died, Regan wrote on social media: “Bill 156 has passed. Now anytime an animal is suffering on a farm in Ontario, no one, not even an employee, has the right to expose it. This decision is evil. Animal ag is evil. Cancel animal agriculture.”

I’m so sorry that you didn’t get a chance to meet Regan Russell yourself. You would have loved her. I only hope that, in clearing up some of the questions about vigils, I can do her justice.

Regan didn’t look like what I suppose you’d expect a vegan to look like. At 65, Regan still possessed the qualities that decades earlier had made her a model — that is to say, her outer beauty was undeniable. But on the inside — well, that was truly special. She was funny and fast-witted, kind and patient.

She vibrated on a high frequency, if you are familiar with the concept. She was cynical, in a wise way, yet optimistic enough to try to make a difference. For 40 years, she had tried to make a difference. A week prior to her death, she had marched at a Black Lives Matter rally.

You see, Regan’s viewpoint, known as intersectionality, is the theory that all forms of oppression, discrimination, domination etc., intersect and influence each other. One of the signs she frequently brought to vigils read: “If you were in this truck, we’d be here for you too.” And you know what? She would have.

Personally speaking, up until two years ago, I wouldn’t have considered being an activist myself, despite being vegan for several years. It was my then 10-year old son — frustrated because he had been forbidden to talk about animal agriculture at school, who begged me and his dad, also vegan, to take him to a vigil. It became our church. Every Sunday morning we went to bear witness at Fearmans — sometimes with just a handful of people, sometimes in a group of 20 or more. Regan was almost always there too.

This leads me to an important point about Regan’s experience — as an activist, and specifically attending vigils at Fearmans, which she had done for years. This translates to hundreds of vigils, stopping thousands of transport trucks, bearing witness to the final moments of hundreds of thousands of pigs.

Regan understood the risks — after all, rogue aggressive drivers had been encountered in the past. In fact, this issue was the impetus for a petition created by Toronto Pig Save on urging Michael Latifi, the CEO of Fearmans/Sofina Foods Inc., to create​ ​a safety agreement allowing activists to safely protest. Although the request has been ignored to date, other efforts had been made by both Toronto Pig Save and another activist group, New Wave Activism, to liaise with police, work with security and establish rapport with drivers.

Safety protocol is reviewed regularly with the group. Every vigil is timed. Roles are assigned to protestors to improve safety. Regan had one of those roles that day — standing at the entrance, just on the other side of the pedestrian sidewalk, with her now iconic bright neon sign that read ALL ANIMALS NEED PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.

Although, thanks to the newly passed Bill 156, the ability to legally protect animals would soon be more difficult. It is a bill that exemplifies prioritization of commerce over our rights as Canadians and specifically seeks to punish animal activists. This reality was certainly top-of-mind for Regan and the other activists there that day — as much as it was likely on the radar of those who profit from animal agriculture.

As you can imagine, losing Regan has been a devastating loss to the activism community, to Toronto Pig Save and New Wave Activism and to the many individuals who Regan touched with her beauty, wisdom and compassion. Personally, there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t cried a tear or two hundred — for the loss of a friend, and the loss of innocence, as I see for the first time just how unforgiving the machine we stand against can be.

And in the wake of Regan’s death, we are emboldened to articulate our demands in her name:

Justice for Regan Russell; the creation of a universal safety protocol for all future vigils; the repeal of Bill 156; greater visibility into farms where animals are kept and slaughterhouses via 24/7 video; monitoring that can be accessed by the public; the conversion of Fearmans Pork into an exclusively plant-based facility focused on the manufacture of plant protein; and the defunding of animal agriculture.

On the captivity, Regan said: “They say we’re breaking the law by storming? How do you think women got the right (to vote)? How do you think slavery was abolished? People stood up and broke the laws! Because they’re stupid laws.”

Let’s stand up to this stupid law.

Fiona Roossien wrote this article on behalf of Toronto Pig Save.

Two bear cubs rescued in Sudbury after mom is killed by a vehicle

Darren MacDonaldCTV News Northern Ontario Digital Content Producer

@Darrenmacd ContactPublished Thursday, July 16, 2020 2:19PM EDTLast Updated Thursday, July 16, 2020 6:59PM EDT

bear cubs

The cubs were tranquilized and trapped so they could be safely transported to Bear With Us Centre for Bears, where they will be cared for and released next year. (Supplied)

SUDBURY — Two bear cubs have been taken to an animal sanctuary after their mother was killed by a vehicle in the Sudbury community of Garson last week.

A social media post by the city on Thursday said after their mom was killed, the two cubs scrambled up a tree in a nearby park.

“City parks staff spotted the cubs and called in Greater Sudbury Police and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to help,” the city said. “These two beautiful cubs are in safe hands today after a frightening and tragic ordeal.”

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The cubs were tranquilized and trapped so they could be safely transported to Bear With Us Centre for Bears, where they will be cared for and released next year.

A photo of the snoozing little bruins after they were captured and also posted on social media by the city.

“Thanks to everyone who helped give these two cubs a safe and happy outcome!” the city said. 

People just covered themselves in fake blood in the middle of a downtown Toronto street

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Hundreds of animal rights advocates marched through the streets of Toronto this afternoon to demand justice for Regan Russell, the activist who was killed by a pig transport truck while protesting at Fearman’s slaughterhouse in Burlington. 

Russell was dragged by the truck for more than 15 metres during the incident, and charges against the driver have not yet been pressed as Halton Police are still investigating. 

On Friday, protestors took to the streets to demand that Russell’s memory be honoured and that justice be served.

Activists marched from CBC Headquarters to Queen’s Park, where speakers including Russell’s husband, Toronto Pig Save’s lawyer, activists and friends of Russell passionately addressed the crowd.

At one point, while walking down Queen Street West, activists laid down in the middle of sidewalk and street and covered themselves in fake blood in order to make a statement about Russell’s tragic death.

The entire protest was livestreamed from the Animal Save Movement’s Facebook page, and it shows masked protestors holding signs saying things like “We are Regan Russell,” and “Go vegan 4 Regan.”

In addition to honouring Russell, activists also demanded that Bill 156 be repealed and replaced.

The new legislation was passed by the Ontario government earlier this year and makes it much easier for farms to hide the conditions in which animals are kept from the public.

“The Bill is intended to protect farm animals, the food supply, farmers and others from risks that are created when trespassers enter places where farm animals are kept or when persons engage in unauthorized interactions with farm animals,” reads theexplanatory note at the beginning of the bill.

The law states that activists, media and any other trespassers could receive fines of up to $25,000 for entering a farm property for a number of reasons, including to document the animals’ living conditions or to simply interact with them.

“Activists are demanding that Bill 156, the ag-gag law passed by the Ontario legislature just two days before Regan was run over, be converted into Regan’s law, which protects farmed animals from abuse as well as the whistleblowers who expose the suffering of animals,” reads a statement from protestors. 

“Doug Ford and the members of the Ontario legislature need to know what Regan Russell stood for and how Bill 156 has failed her!!!”Lead photo by 

Toronto Pig Save

How grizzly bears have learned to live with humans

Bears shifted their behaviour to be more nocturnal and avoid people, study found

Sherry Noik · CBC News · Posted: Jul 06, 2020 3:00 PM ET | Last Updated: 9 hours ago

Grizzly bears in Canada have developed an adaptation behaviour that lets them continue living near humans yet reduce their interaction with us, according to decades of research into their behaviour.

In areas where bears and humans coexist, there are often policies in place to protect bear populations while safe-guarding people’s lives. But it turns out the bears are also helping their own cause.

A team of researchers from B.C. and Alberta pooled data on the movements, habitat use and mortality rates of 2,669 grizzly bears over 41 years to examine how they survived when living in or near human-dominated areas.

The researchers found that even as humans encroached further and further into the animals’ habitats, the bears didn’t necessarily shy away from people, but instead gradually shifted their behaviour to become more active at night, when they would be less likely to come into contact with them.

The data was compiled from an area of 378,191 square kilometres predominantly in B.C., which has an estimated 15,000 grizzlies — more than half of Canada’s grizzly bear population.

The research was published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Better survival by becoming nocturnal

Typically, bears in the wilderness spend about half their time in daylight and half under cover of darkness, said study co-author Clayton T. Lamb, who is affiliated with the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia and the University of Montana.

But by increasing their “nocturnality” by two to three per cent each year, bears living in “coexistence landscapes” — in proximity to people — also increased their survival rate by two to three per cent per year. This led the researchers to conclude that the shift to more nighttime activity was induced by humans. 

The older the bears got, the more nocturnal they became, starting from the age of three onward, to the point where the bears observed in the study reached at least 60 per cent nocturnality, and most of them 70 per cent or more.

Younger bears and those that didn’t adopt the behaviour didn’t do as well.

“If you could learn to live there, you could do OK,” Lamb said in an interview. “A lot of bears don’t switch fast enough and they end up dying.”

Three grizzly bears are captured on a motion sensor camera feasting on an animal left in an open roadkill pit in B.C. (Clayton T. Lamb )

Grizzlies are “integral” to maintaining a healthy ecosystem, the B.C. government says. But their survival is at risk, according to both the provincial Conservation Data Centre and the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

The biggest threat to bears? People.

B.C. banned grizzly bear hunting in 2017. In the decades prior to that, the province’s statistics found an average of 340 grizzly bears died from “human causes” each year — most killed by hunters, but about 30 were killed by animal control as a result of conflicts with humans.

Better for bears, better for humans

This shift to nocturnal behaviour is not only better for the bears, it’s better for humans, because it reduced the number of conflicts between the species, the study said.

Looking at the records of conflicts with 45 individual bears who were fitted with GPS collars, the researchers found there was about a 71 per cent lower chance of conflict with one of them at least once a year if the bears were more active at night than during the day.

“There’s more conflict where there’s more people, obviously,” Lamb said. “But bears that were more nocturnal were always in less conflict, regardless of how close they were to people. 

“Bears are helping to shape that landscape to benefit themselves.”

Nonetheless, bears are still on the losing side of the equation. 

Even though a majority of adult female bears in the area have become more nocturnal and are breeding successfully, they are dying in numbers too high to maintain their population.

For every bear that becomes a successful “coexister,” 29 die prematurely, the research found. They have to rely on “immigrant” bears from nearby wilderness areas to keep thriving.

This isn’t the first time animals have been observed shifting their schedules. A 2018 analysis of dozens of studies covering 62 species, including brown and black bears, found animals increased their nocturnality “in response to human disturbance.” 

But Lamb said the four decades of research on bears brings the whole picture into focus: the extent of the risk they face from living near people, the adaptation that helps them survive and the need for “demographic rescue” via bear immigration to sustain their numbers. 

“The next steps in all this research is really the applied aspect — what can we do with this information to make the landscape work better for people and carnivores,” Lamb said

Ontario Passes Controversial New Ag-Gag Law, But Animal Rights Activists Aren’t Backing Down

Kayo Brewster

Reading Time: 3 minutes  

On June 17, 2020, the Ontario government passed Bill 156, an ag-gag law that criminalizes whistleblowing on factory farms.

Under this law, it is now illegal for anyone to photograph animals in transport or to approach trucks to offer water to animals that have legally been transported without food, water, or rest for up to 36 hours in sweltering conditions. The new legislation also targets journalists, whistleblowers, and investigators, preventing them from exposing animal cruelty on farms and in slaughterhouses. 

Without the cruelty unveiled by undercover investigators and whistleblowers, animals will continue to live in squalid conditions and be subjected to inhumane treatment without repercussions for the farm owners or workers committing these acts.

Amy Soranno is one of the many investigators fighting back, with the support of the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and thousands of activists who believe the new law poses a serious threat to free speech.

In a recent video, Soranno discusses her life as an animal rights activist, including organizing Canada’s first mass farm occupation Meat The Victims, and investigating some of the country’s largest animal farming operations.

Following the video’s release, we chatted with Soranno about Ontario’s new ag-gag law and what the further criminalization of on-farm activism in Canada means for the rest of the animal protection movement.

“The animal agriculture industry wants to scare animal activists away from escalating their tactics or taking part in direct action because they recognize that these actions are highly effective,” Soranno states. “My hope is that Bill 156 (and other ag-gag laws) will have the opposite effect, lighting a fire within activists to fight even harder, challenging Bill 156 in court, and fighting for animals to be protected under the law.”
The Importance of Whistleblowers and Undercover Investigators
The meat and dairy industries’ unsavory practices are upsetting and unprofitable, so companies do what they can to “humane wash” their marketing strategies—giving the illusion that their products come from happy, well-treated animals. Undercover investigators, activists, and whistleblowers continue to risk their mental and physical health to expose the truth.  In June of 2019, Animal Outlook—formerly Compassion Over Killing—and the Public Justice Food Project brought suit on behalf of a whistleblower following a hidden-camera investigation inside the Superior Farms lamb slaughterhouse conducted in Dixon, California from May to November 2016. In a first for the animal agriculture industry, Superior Farms entered a consent decree with the USDA to reform its killing methods and other inhumane and otherwise misleading practices that Animal Outlook’s investigation brought into question.
 In July of 2019, Animal Recovery Mission’s (ARM) investigation at Natural Prairie Dairy stands as the first-ever cruelty investigation into an organic dairy farm in the United States, and the third installment of the largest dairy investigation of all time into Fairlife and Select Milk Producers, Inc. The first two investigations released by ARM were Operation Fair Oaks Farms and Operation Fairlife. After the investigations gained media attention, Fairlife milk and Natural Prairie Dairy products were pulled from grocery store shelves across the country.
 In October of 2019, Animal Outlook released the first-ever undercover footage of a salmon aquaculture farm—Cooke Aquaculture. The farm is a massive salmon hatchery whose subsidiary, True North, has partnered on a new seafood brand with Martha Stewart. The footage reveals heinous scenes of animal abuse, giving consumers a first look into the highly secretive salmon farming industry. Animal Outlook submitted their evidence to authorities, and after being contacted about the investigation, Cory Baker, COO of Marquee Brands—which owns the Martha Stewart True North Line—replied promptly. Booker stated that the company will be opening its own investigation immediately and is committed to “sustainability and of course ensuring cruelty free practices.”
Similar ag-gag laws are being introduced and implemented into provinces across Canada, including Alberta and British Columbia.

“These bills would increase penalties for people who attempt to rescue animals from harm and would implement higher charges for those who trespass onto farm properties, like hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines or years in jail…This is for entering a business and taking out your phone to record. These new Bills are one of the biggest threats to Canadian farmed animals right now. Not only are the animals being silenced, but now so are their advocates.”

Read the full story here
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Help us share the facts during these uncertain times and make sure the world knows our species cannot survive if we continue our exploitation of the planet and nonhuman animals.

B.C. grizzly advocate is bringing the bears to your living room through a podcast

Nicholas Scapillati interviewed people throughout North America to produce heart-warming stories about human- grizzly interactions

Very soon you can put on your headphones and enter the world of grizzlies and hear stories from people who are on the front-lines of conservation.

Nicolas Scapillati, executive director of Grizzly Bear Foundation, a Vancouver based non-profit, is excited to bring grizzly stories to people’s living rooms through his podcast series, GrizzCast which will be aired on July 6.

As a grizzly advocate, Scapillati has always propagated awareness and education as the foremost tool to conserving grizzlies and reducing wildlife conflict.

Scapillati travelled across North America and interviewed people involved in grizzly conservation.

For the seven-episode series, that will release on the first Monday of each month, he spoke with people from unique professional backgrounds.

“You have scientists, hereditary chiefs, war correspondents, hunters turned conservationists, fishers and others who have such great stories,” Scapillati said, and added, that these stories will “inspire people” to see how they can play a role in conservation.”

While the colourful backgrounds and heartwarming interactions of the people add to well-researched informative pieces, the real stars of the show are the iconic grizzlies.

Scapillati said that people will be drawn in because the podcast is all about grizzlies.

“There’s so much people can learn about these animals that are so often misunderstood because people are afraid of it and don’t know how to live with it,” said Scapillati.

With more grizzlies turning up at a lot of places where they’ve historically never been before, these podcasts will be particularly helpful to “re-frame” human relationships with grizzlies.

READ MORE:Vancouver Island grizzlies: moving in, or just passing through?

There’s humour, adventure, excitement, and lots of information about the bears in each episode.

In the first episode, set in Yellowstone, Doug Peacock talks about the ‘healing power of grizzlies’ and how being around these “wonderful animals” saved his life.

In another episode, a former hunting guide from Yukon, Phil Timpany, talks about how the remorse of trophy hunts changed him to become a bear conservationist.

Closer to Vancouver Island, hereditary chief Mike Willie talks about indigenous led conservation and the cultural significance of grizzlies to the First Nations.

Scapillati and Willie also talk about Mali the beloved grizzly who was shot near Broughton Archipelago after being relocated through historic joint efforts.

READ MORE: Mali, the grizzly shot after an epic relocation, to be buried today on First Nation’s land

Episodes of GrizzCast will be available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox, YouTube and iHeart Radio.

For podcast updates and more on Grizzly Bear Foundation’s work to protect the grizzly bear, visit grizzcast.grizzlybearfoundation.com

Woman encounters black bear in southwest Calgary: ‘I thought my dog was going to be torn apart’

ByCarolyn Kury de Castillo Global NewsPosted June 27, 2020 4:58 pm Updated June 27, 2020 8:32 pm

WATCH: A woman in southwest Calgary is thankful her dog is still alive after an encounter with a bear on Wednesday. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.

Descrease article font size-AIncrease article font sizeA+

Some people living in the southwest Calgary community of Springbank Hill are being a bit more cautious as they walk outside after video of a black bear in the area was captured on Wednesday.

The video shows a bear walking on a front driveway and scampering onto a front lawn and into a treed area.

Stephanie d’Obrenan grew up in Springbank Hill and loves walking her dog Todd there.

“We’ve seen moose here before and never bears,” d’Obrenan said Saturday.

READ MORE: Southwest Calgary residents on alert as bear spotted in area

But on Wednesday afternoon, Todd darted ahead of her while they were walking on Slopeview Drive.

“He goes flying after something. I look and I see these big brown ears and this big brown face and I am like, ‘My dog is going right towards a bear,’” d’Obrenan recalled.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

A black bear popped out of the trees and came within two metres of Todd, according to d’Obrenan.

“I was screaming bloody murder. I was pretty frantic. I’ve never been so terrified. I thought my dog was going to be torn apart and eaten right in front of me,” d’Obrenan said.TWEET THIS

Her first reaction was to save her pet.

“It was absolutely terrifying and I go sprinting after him and I am very aware that I am running towards a bear at this moment. This is probably not the best idea,” d’Obrenan said.

A bear was caught on camera in southwest Calgary this week.
A bear was caught on camera in southwest Calgary this week. Courtesy: Manoj Sharma

She scooped up Todd in her arms while the bear went down into the ravine. At that point, neighbours called her to come inside.

“It’s hard to imagine how you can come face to face with a bear and try to save your pet, which is just like a child,” said Manoj Sharma, who urged d’Obrenan to get in his house to stay safe from the bear.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE: Black bear dines on bird seeds in Calgary backyard: ‘He’s just doing bear stuff’

The bear ended up coming back, crossing the road and slipping into Sharma’s backyard. That’s when Sharma caught the bruin on camera.“Every time I look at the video, it’s [scarier] because now if my kids come out to play, I don’t let them come out by themselves,” Sharma said.

Calgary Fish and Wildlife officers have received several reports of a cinnamon phase black bear travelling around the area by Lower Spring Bank Road.

READ MORE: Doorcam video: Mother bear, spotting opportunity, breaks into minivan at B.C. resort

According to Fish and Wildlife, officers tracked the bear and determined it has mostly been staying within the green spaces and has not been showing signs of habituated or defensive behaviour.

As of Friday, a spokesperson for Fish and Wildlife said the last confirmed sighting was near Discovery Ridge and Lower Spring Bank Road on June 24 at 4 p.m. There have been no additional reports since.

Officers are continuing to monitor the situation but a provincial Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said there are no public safety concerns at this point.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE: White grizzly named by Bow Valley residents

As for d’Obrenan, she is thankful her French bulldog is still with her after his big adventure.

“I think anyone who loves their dog would probably do the same and try to get their dog. He’s my baby,” d’Obrenan said.

Residents who encounter a bear that may be a public safety concern are advised to report the incident to the nearest Fish and Wildlife office at 310-0000 or the 24-hour Report a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.RELATED NEWS

Decapitated sea lions keep washing up on Vancouver Island; expert sees a pattern

Ian HollidayReporter,

@Ian_Holliday ContactPublished Saturday, June 27, 2020 6:17PM PDTLast Updated Saturday, June 27, 2020 6:59PM PDT 90% Disturbing discoveries on Vancouver Island NOW PLAYINGHeadless sea lions are washing up on the shore of Vancouver Island, and marine experts say it’s a deliberate, disgusting act.

VANCOUVER — Headless sea lions have been washing up on Vancouver Island since spring, and a marine mammal expert says it’s likely the animals were deliberately beheaded by humans.

Anna Hall is a marine mammal zoologist at Sea View Marine Sciences. She says photos of the dead pinnipeds suggest a pattern in their injuries.

“To me, this looks intentional, whether it’s by a single person or a group of people,” Hall said. “I sincerely hope that fisheries and oceans canada pursues this case to determine who is doing this and to bring them to justice because this is a violation of federal law.”

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Most of the photos CTV News showed to Hall were taken by Nanaimo resident Deborah Short, who says she’s personally encountered several dead sea lions without heads on the shore between Campbell River and Nanaimo.

Short discovered the first one while walking along the beach at Neck Point Park in Nanaimo.

“I was devastated, completely devastated by it,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that somebody could sever the head of a sea lion … It was shocking to me.”

Soon, though, she learned of another headless sea lion that had been found near Campbell River. And then she started encountering more herself.

In total, she says, she’s aware of five headless sea lions that have washed up on Vancouver Island since March.

“When you see something like that, it moves you,” Short said. “It moves you in a way where you want to find more, and you want to do something about it.”

She reached out to conservation groups, including Sea Shepherd and the Animal Alliance of Canada. The latter organization, she learned, is petitioning against a proposed cull of seals and sea lions on Canada’s west coast.

While there’s no indication that the headless sea lions Short discovered are in any way related to the proposal to cull the local population, she said she’s determined to stop the killing of additional marine mammals.

CTV News Vancouver Island reached out to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and was told the federal agency is looking into the headless sea lion phenomenon.

Hall, the marine mammal zoologist, said at least one of the sea lions Short photographed appears to be a Steller sea lion, which is a species that has a special conservation status under the Species at Risk Act.

She said all marine mammals are also protected from disturbance, injury or harm by clauses in the Fisheries Act.

Hall hopes Fisheries and Oceans Canada will do a necropsy on one of the deceased sea lions to determine its cause of death.

“It’s absolutely horrific and appalling that there’s anybody on this coastline that would feel that this is an appropriate course of action with regard to a marine mammal or any animal at all,” Hall said.RELATED IMAGES

  • Headless sea lions have been washing up on Vancouver Island since spring, and a marine mammal expert says it’s likely the animals were deliberately beheaded by humans. (Photo: Deborah Short)
  • A sea lion soaks up the sun on a jetty near the mouth of the Fraser River in this photo from David Price, submitted through Weather Watch by CTV Vancouver.

Joaquin Phoenix Attends Vigil for Animal Rights Activist After She Died Outside a Slaughterhouse

Joaquin Phoenix honored Regan Russell, an animal rights activist who was killed outside of a slaughterhouse in Toronto, CanadaBy Alexia Fernandez June 26, 2020 10:02 PM

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix and Michelle Cho; (inset) Regan Russell BOBBY SUD

Joaquin Phoenix paid tribute to an animal rights activist after she died giving pigs water outside of a Canadian slaughterhouse.

The Oscar-winning actor, 45, joined more than 100 animal rights activists for a vigil to commemorate Regan Russell outside of the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, California, on Thursday night.

Phoenix, who has been an outspoken proponent for animal rights and veganism, stood outside of the slaughterhouse in a black hoodie reading “LA Animal Save,” a mask, and a sign that read, “#SavePigs4Regan.”

Standing beside him was his friend, Michelle Cho, with a sign that read, “Rest in power Regan.”

RELATED: Joaquin Phoenix Comforted Pigs at L.A. Slaughterhouse After SAG Award Win: ‘I Have to Be Here’

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Phoenix said, “Regan Russell spent the final moments of her life providing comfort to pigs who had never experienced the touch of a kind hand.”

“While her tragic death has brought upon deep sorrow in the Animal Save community, we will honor her memory by vigorously confronting the cruelties she fought so hard to prevent by marching with Black Lives, protecting Indigenous rights, fighting for LGBTQ equality, and living a compassionate vegan life,” he said.

Joaquin Phoenix

Regan Russell died on June 19 GOFUNDME

“The Ontario government can attempt to silence us with the passage of its Ag-Gag bill -Bill 156 – but we will never go away and we will never back down,” he said. “My heart goes out to the Toronto Animal Save community and to Regan’s lifelong partner, Mark Powell.”

Part of Russell’s fight was to repeal a new bill passed in Ontario, Bill 156, that will soon make it illegal for anyone to be on private property such as farms where animals intended for slaughter are usually held.

Russell died on the morning of June 19 outside of the Fearman’s Pork Inc. when she was hit by a transport truck as she was attempting to give water to pigs headed to slaughter.

A spokesperson for the Halton Regional Police Service did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, although an investigation into her death is being conducted, a spokesperson told CBC.

Russell’s partner, Powell, told The Hamilton Spectator shortly after her death he didn’t know how she ended up underneath the transport truck, but that he was willing to continue her legacy of fighting for animal welfare.

RELATED: Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix March with Dead Animals After Sparking Engagement Rumors

“She died fighting for what she believed in,” Powell said. “Whatever it cost, she would pay. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes, it’s this.”

On Friday, Powell told the CBC he’d fight Bill 156 for “the rest of my life.”

“My life ended on Friday [June 19], so for as long as I’m left here, we have to pick up the torch and we have to fight things like Bill 156,” he said.

GoFundMe for Russell has been created by her family to provide funds for her funeral and legal expenses.

The Long History Of Murdered Animal Rights And Environmental Activists

Regan Russell and other activists killed

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 Brandon Kirkwood  0 CommentsActivistskilledmurderSpread the love

With the recent passing of Regan Russell who died when run over by a slaughterhouse truck at a vigil in Canada, a long horrible chain of violence has been added to.

Below is a timeline of vegan activists who died speaking out for the animals.

When possible I have posted pictures of the slain individuals so they can be more than just words on a page.

1976, January 6th: William Sweet, LACS member Anti-hunting activist, Murdered after an altercation with a man who was shooting birds. His murderer was jailed for life but was later released.

1985 October 7th: Fernando Pereira a Greenpeace photographer was murdered by the French Secret Service when the vessel “Rainbow Warrior” was sunk by two explosions in Auckland Harbor, New Zealand.

The Photographer Fernando Pereira (right) and Rongelap Islander Bonemej Namwe ride ashore in the ‘bum bum’. Born on Kwajalein, Namwe, 62, has lived most of her life on Rongelap. The Rainbow Warrior is in Rongelap to assist in the evacuation of islanders to Mejato. Rongelap suffered nuclear fallout in 1954, making it a hazardous place for this community to continue living in. Eyes of Fire: p49

1988, December 22nd: Chico Mendes an anti-deforestation activist was murdered in his own home after an assassination order by a cattle rancher. He was the 19th Brazilian rainforest activist murdered that year. 

1991, February 9th: Mike Hill an 18 year old hunt saboteur was deliberately run over and killed during a meet of the Cheshire Beagles. Death is deemed “accidental”. No charges are brought against the driver Allan Summersgill. 

1993, April 3rd: 15-year-old hunt saboteur, Tom Warby, is deliberately run over and killed by a fox hunter as other huntsmen stand and laugh, proclaiming a “victory”. The driver, Alan Ball, is not prosecuted. 



1995, February 1st: Jill Phipps was a 31-year-old British activist and mother, who was crushed to death under the wheels of a veal transporter truck carrying live animals for export at a protest at Coventry airport. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring any charges against the driver.

1995, March: Dr. Karel Van Noppen was a Belgium veterinarian who was assassinated in 1993 by hitmen after exposing mafia connections to the meat industry. Dr. Van Noppen was the victim of a powerful, international mafia who violently imposing its rule on the meat business, ruthlessly bullying anyone daring to stand in its way. In 1995, a few days before his murder, Van Noppen was explicitly threatened by people linked to the “hormone black mafia” underworld.

Dr. Karel Van Noppen

1998, September 17th: David “Gypsy” Chain was an American eco-activist who was crushed to death after an irate logger fell a tree on him in California’s redwood forest. On September 17, 1998, the 24-year-old environmental activist was crushed to death by a falling tree at the Headwaters Forest in Northern California.

Activists from Earth First! accused loggers of deliberately cutting down trees in their direction, part of escalating violence against activists condoned by the Pacific Lumber Company and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department.

Gypsy was part of an action to stop PL from destroying one of the last ancient redwood forests in the world.

The logging operation was illegal as a survey had yet to be done for the marbled murrelet, an endangered species of bird. PL attempted to portray the death as a “freak accident” and even tried to blame the victim as well as Earth First! According to PL spokesperson, Mary Bullwinkle:


“Despite all our precautions, a trespasser was apparently killed by a falling tree at one of our logging sites on our private property.”

On September 18, Earth First! released a videotape revealing that loggers not only knew that demonstrators were in the area, but were angrily threatening them shortly before Gypsy was killed.

A logger shown shouting profanities and threats was, according to Earth First!, the very same logger who felled the tree that struck David. The video also showed activists scrambling up a steep hillside to escape falling trees. According to a witness statement:

“Gypsy’s death is not an isolated incident of violence. In the last several months trees have been intentionally felled at nonviolent activists at the Luna tree sit and in the Mattole watershed in Humboldt County. This is part of an escalation of violence against nonviolent forest defenders in the Northwest and all over the world.”

On September 18, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department issued preliminary findings concluding that the death was “accidental”. According to an Earth First! activist speaking at a press conference, “Police have routinely refused to file charges against anybody who assaults a forest activist.” In 1999, Mr. Chain’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against PL. The company settled out of court in October of 2001, just three days before the trial was set to begin.

A collage of David “Gypsy” Chain made by a morner

2003: Animal rights activist Jane Tipson is murdered in an alleged contract killing after protesting against the construction of a dolphin aquarium in St Lucia. To this day, her killers have not been found or prosecuted.

2005: 73-year-old anti-deforestation campaigner, Dorothy Stang, is approached in the Amazon by 2 armed men working on behalf of an animal agriculture organization. Asked if she has any weapons, she produces her Bible and says that’s all she has. She is shot in the stomach, then fatally shot 5 more times as she lays on the ground.

Dorothy Stang


2006: Joan Root, a conservationist, and activist against poaching and illegal fishing is murdered by 4 gunmen in her own home. To this day, her killers have not been found or prosecuted.

Joan Root and Alan Root

2010, May 12th: Elvio Fichera a volunteer for the Association of Abandoned Animals was murdered while trying to serve a warrant with police on Renzo Castagnola for cruelty to animals. Renzo Castagnola shot Elvio dead.

Elvio Fichera


May 12, 2010: Paola Quartini, animal activist for LIPU (Italian League for Bird Protection – UK) from Genoa, Italy was murdered whilst trying, with police, to serve a warrant on Renzo Castagnola for cruelty to animals. Renzo Castagnola shot him dead.

2011: Two anti-deforestation activists, Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo, are shot dead by hired thugs, after years of constant death threats from cattle ranchers. The main suspect is acquitted. No other prosecutions.


2013: Jairo Mora Sandoval, a sea turtle activist, is bound, beaten, then fatally shot in the head by sea turtle poachers, after being kidnapped along with 4 other activists.

2020, June 19th: Regan Russell, an activist with the Animal Save Movement was murdered by a slaughterhouse truck driver that by all accounts did so on purpose.

Regan Russell

We remember our fellow fallen friends by continuing on with the activism they died for. Any single one of their deaths could easily have been ours and that’s one reason their deaths hit so hard.

Every time we go to a vigil, protest, shutdown, undercover investigation, or any form of protest we place our lives at risk so that we can help change the world.

Never forgetting those who have sacrificed everything for a more just and equal world is the least we can do but it’s even better if we remember on the days we are too tired, or sick to go to an event.

In the end we are all brothers and sisters in this together fighting for what’s right. We are all in this together.

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