‘It’s bizarre’: Almost two dozen seals found decapitated along Nova Scotia beaches


‘I was in disbelief … I’ve never seen anything like it’Author of the article:Samantha PopePublishing date:Apr 16, 2021  •  1 day ago  •  4 minute read  •   71 Comments

Kimberly Hayman said she hopes an investigation will get to the bottom of what happened to the headless seals she found along the shores of two local beaches.
Kimberly Hayman said she hopes an investigation will get to the bottom of what happened to the headless seals she found along the shores of two local beaches. PHOTO BY KIMBERLY HAYMAN

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A Cape Breton resident has made a disturbing discovery: Almost two dozen decapitated seals dotting the shores of two beaches.

“I was in disbelief … I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Kimberly Hayman, who’s lived in Dominion, Nova Scotia for three years. “I don’t like to see any animals suffer. I was just really disturbed.”

Former Toronto Maple Leafs GM wins tax battle as judge calls CRA’s position ‘absurd’
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While on a midday stroll along Big Glace Bay’s shoreline on Sunday, Hayman said she and some friends were startled to find 10 headless seals — all with holes in their torsos — sprawled along the pebbly beach. There was no odour and the bodies still looked pretty fresh, she said, with dogs curiously running over to investigate.

Though she said she felt upset by the sight, she didn’t think much else of it. Then the next day, while out on her usual sunrise walk along nearby Dominion Beach, Hayman said she counted 11 more of these decapitated animals and began to wonder what was going on.  


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“I just kept taking pictures because I was thinking, ‘This can’t be normal — that’s 21 in total,’” she said.  

Twenty-one decapitated seals were found along the shores of two Cape Breton beaches, all with a “hole in their torso,” Hayman said.
Twenty-one decapitated seals were found along the shores of two Cape Breton beaches, all with a “hole in their torso,” Hayman said. PHOTO BY KIMBERLY HAYMAN

Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed it is aware of the headless seals, though it said Nova Scotia’s Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) is taking the lead on the situation. It’s a familiar incident to the group, as several hundred dead seals were also found washed up near Cape Breton and Sambro shores in April last year. 

In that case, the society’s response co-ordinator told CBC News it didn’t appear like the seals were killed as part of the seal hunt, as their skulls were intact and had not been crushed. This time around, Hayman said she saw no skulls nearby.

Similar issues have also persisted on the west coast of Canada, with headless sea lions found along British Columbia shores instead of seals. Last June, marine mammal zoologist Dr. Anna Hall said she believed decapitated sea lions along eastern Vancouver Island shores were deliberately beheaded by humans, with one incident being filmed on camera.

As for what’s happening on Nova Scotia beaches, Hall said she believes a similar crime may be happening. There appears to be consistencies among the carcasses, she said, reminding her of what she saw last summer on Vancouver Island.


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“The carcasses have a distinct similarity to them,” she said. “While we can’t say definitely that the seals on the east coast have been decapitated by human efforts, it does seem that is a distinct possibility looking at the photographs.”

However, MARS’s executive director and marine mammal biologist Tonya Wimmer said it appears to be a natural occurrence that happens every year to varying degrees, especially when sea ice has not been particularly thick or prevalent.

Though she hasn’t received images of all the seals yet, Wimmer said the holes don’t appear to be man-made, despite people assuming they have been caused by gunshots or other human-related trauma.

“From the images and information we’ve received, many of the holes are where the umbilicus would have been and is likely scavenging by other animals,” she said, explaining how it’s quite common for scavengers to target the area around the belly button, genitals or eyes.

Though there have been different theories about what happened, including that seal heads are being crushed by moving ice, Wimmer said she can’t say for certainty that’s what’s happening this time around.


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“The cause remains unknown,” she said. “(But) for the majority of animals we’ve examined during the incidents we’ve documented, it doesn’t appear to be due to human interactions.”

Hall said she doubts sea ice is to blame.

“I would be very surprised that this many seals would be decapitated by sea ice,” she said. “I’ve never heard of that before. That being said, I’m in Pacific Canada where we don’t have that issue.”

Either way, Hall said it’s disturbing to see that many decapitated seals in one localized region — which she said is cause for suspicion. While she said it could also be a result of shark predation, she said she still believes there might be something more to it.

“The sheer number of animals discovered within such a short time frame — 21 animals in three days — suggests that there is a possibility that those numbers could actually be higher,” she said. “It seems more likely that there is a human element to this, and I would really hope that DFO will take the appropriate steps to determine definitively what the cause of death of these animals were.”

For Hayman, she said coming across these seals was quite an unsettling experience, especially not knowing for sure what happened to them. She added she would hate to see it happen each year.

“I just feel like if this isn’t happening naturally, then what the heck is happening?” Hayman said. “To me, it’s bizarre.”

Motorist, 18, ticketed for intentionally hitting, critically injuring deer with pickup truck in Old Forge


[Only ticketed?!!?]

Updated Apr 15, 2021; Posted Apr 15, 2021

A white-tailed deer.

Facebook ShareTwitter Share928sharesBy David Figura | dfigura@nyup.com

An 18-year-old driver in Old Forge was ticketed late last month by state conservation officers for intentionally speeding up his pickup truck, hitting and critically injuring a white-tailed deer.

That incident and other recent incidents below involving state Department of Environmental Conservation officers (ECOs) was reported this week by the DEC.

Intentional Deer Strike – Herkimer County

“On March 31, Town of Webb Police contacted a state Conservation Officer about a deer struck and killed by a vehicle in the village of Old Forge. Multiple eyewitnesses claimed the driver intentionally accelerated his truck toward two deer standing in the road, striking one and dragging it approximately 70 to 100 yards down the road. Due to the extent of its injuries, the deer had to be euthanized, according to wktv.com. An officer accessed video footage from a local business’ security camera that corroborated eyewitness statements. With help from Old Forge Police, ECOs located the truck and driver in the town of Forestport, Oneida County, and found deer hair in the front bumper of the suspect’s truck. After interviewing him and presenting him with the evidence, the driver, Grady Boulier, 18, admitted to accelerating toward the two deer, striking one, and dragging it down the road before stopping. The subject was issued appearance tickets to the Town of Webb Court for Environmental Conservation Law violations of taking deer from a public highway, taking deer while in a motor vehicle and taking deer during the closed season.”

PETA: WHO’s New Live-Market Call to Action: Too Little, Too Late?

ShareTweetPublished April 14, 2021 by Katherine Sullivan.

BREAKING: In response to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) partial call to action—suspending the sale of live mammals at food markets—PETA is nominating PETA Asia Director Jason Baker for the agency’s executive board.


PETA, PETA Asia, and our other affiliates have done the research, and we know that preventing future zoonotic diseases cannot be achieved by feebly halting the sale of only live mammals at food markets. Did avian flu teach the world nothing? It’s not just mammals, and it’s not just food markets—sales of birds, reptiles, and fish; fur and exotic-skins farms; and roadside zoos all risk the possibility—no, make that the probability—of spawning the next pandemic.


On March 25, 2020, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk sent an urgent letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:

We’re writing to you urgently because, while the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unpredictable, one thing is certain: Live-animal meat markets will continue to put the planet’s human population at enormous risk. On behalf of PETA and more than our 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, we respectfully ask that you call for the immediate and permanent closure of these markets, in which dangerous viruses and other pathogens flourish.

Now, more than a year later and following nearly 3 million COVID-19 deaths worldwide, WHO is finally doing something about live-animal markets, like the one in which the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated. But here’s where the agency stopped too short: It’s only urging countries to suspend sales of “live caught wild animals of mammalian species for food or breeding purposes and close sections of food markets selling live caught wild animals of mammalian species as an emergency measure unless demonstrable effective regulations and adequate risk assessment are in place.” But just as Newkirk said back in May, “for the sake of every other species sold and slaughtered in them—and for the survival of the human species itself”—all live-animal markets must be shut down.  https://www.youtube.com/embed/sHBBOcHXojI?wmode=transparent&rel=0

Prior to WHO’s lackluster call to action, PETA had also launched an action alert, which more than 162,000 people signed, urging the agency to shut down live-animal markets worldwide; set up a “‘blood’-soaked ‘live market’” outside WHO’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., urging the agency in person to close all live-animal markets permanently; and, with help from Slaughter Free NYC, exposed the disgusting conditions at poorly regulated stateside live-animal markets, like those in New York City. Across the pond, PETA U.K. held its own protest outside WHO’s Copenhagen office, echoing our call for a total live-animal market ban. And PETA Asia conducted investigations into live-animal markets in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam as well as follow-up investigations in Thailand and Indonesia months after the pandemic began, which verified that the bloody, filthy markets were still operating as usual, despite a mounting COVID-19 death toll. Throughout the investigations, PETA Asia observed that non-wild and non-mammalian animals were being trafficked, and they still posed a threat for the spread of disease—plus, these animals themselves are threatened by disease (consider, for example, the 1.3 million chickens Sweden announced it would “cull,” or slaughter, after it reportedly became the epicenter of a bird flu outbreak in Europe just a few short months ago).


Don’t wait for WHO or anyone else to protect you or the animals we should be living in harmony with. You can take action right now to help prevent the next global pandemic: Ditch meateggs, and dairygo vegan. And help others you know do the same. Feed them vegan food and they’ll never go back to those truly dirty dietary habits.

Greenwashing Our Food: Exposing “Sustainable” Labels


9 April 2021

Hope Bohanec

In honor of Earth Day, this episode of UPC’s Hope for the Animals Podcast exposes the environmental impact of animal agriculture and the new “sustainable” labels that are becoming more prevalent on meat, dairy, and egg products. On the podcast today, Hope will be flying solo and sharing her knowledge about this issue. She has written a book on humane-washing and greenwashing called The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat? In Episode 25, Hope will reveal the truth about labels like local, organic, free-range, and grassfed.


Here are some reviews of the Hope for the Animals Podcast from listeners on iTunes:

“This is an excellent podcast where every episode is filled with educational and thought-provoking content on the animal agriculture industry.” -Greg_B_21

“Before listening to this podcast, I thought I knew everything there was to know about veganism. I always learn something new with every episode of Hope for the Animals. This is a must listen podcast!” -Namaste Kitten

“I always learn something from listening to Hope. The interviews are both a wealth of information and emotionally hard-hitting.” -Plant Based Janice

Does Emu Oil “support your passion for wellness to change the world”?


United Poultry Concerns

2 April 2021

Does Emu Oil “support your passion for wellness to change the world”?

Jan Whalen and Bluie the Emu
Jan Whalen and Bluie the Emu in Everett, Washington

“As amazing as it may sound, many people wonder whether an emu must be killed to get emu oil.” — UPC Supporter

Emu oil is obtained by slaughtering an emu. There is no other way to get this oil which is touted by emu exploiters as a virtual cure-all for whatever ails you (except as a balm for the sin-sick soul which wearing this oil can only make sicker). Put a glow on your face by smearing slaughtered emu oil on your nose, lips, and cheeks. Soothe and smooth your body with it. Just make sure before purchasing those dainty bottles and tubes of this wondrous “wellness” ointment that it is “sustainably, ethically sourced.”

What does this mean? It means commercial assurance that the emus are/were “free-range” and “humanely” killed. Oh, and “treated with respect and affection.” Most importantly, it means assurance that the emu was not slaughtered only for his or her oil, processed from the thick layer of fat beneath the bird’s skin, a reserve for hard times in the emu’s native Australia where this fleet-footed, flightless, and gentle nomad evolved 90 million years ago.

“Sustainably, ethically sourced,” means turning 95 percent of the dead bird into marketable products: “The emu’s skin can be used to make leather for clothing and accessories; the meat, which is lean but high in omega-3 fatty acids, is a popular protein; there are potential uses for emu feathers; and the bird’s giant black eggs are carved and painted to create unique pieces of art.”

On March 29, 2021, UPC posted the following letter to a wellness/mindfulness business at www.mindbodygreen.com that in 2019 featured an article boasting the health and beauty benefits of emu oil. We encourage you to contact support@mindbodygreen.com and politely urge refraining from promoting slaughtered animal parts as health and beauty aids. When you encounter promotions of emu oil or other slaughter products, please educate and advocate for the birds. If we want our own bodies to be respected, let’s practice respect (not “respect”) for theirs as well. Thank you.

UPC logo

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150, Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
Phone: 757-678-7875 • FAX: 757-678-5070
www.upc-online.org • info@upc-online.org

March 29, 2021

To Kayleigh Roberts and Mind Body Green

Via: support@mindbodygreen.com

I am writing to ask you to please not promote emu oil as a “health and beauty” benefit as per your article in Mind Body Green.

It is disturbing to click on this link and see a woman smearing a slaughterhouse product on her face. The suggestion, however well-meant, that emus may be brought into the world to be killed for their oil reserves, feathers and other body parts is incompatible with a spirit of true mindfulness and care for our fellow creatures, regardless of species. A truly mindful (informed) sensibility cannot possibly find comfort in making an animal die for “benefits” that are already available from plants. How can we value the life and feelings of an emu or any creature so little as to destroy them, short of self-defense?

Emus are gentle, family-oriented birds who evolved in Nature millions of years ago to roam over vast spaces of land. They are not meant for confined areas and being manhandled; and no matter what their exploiters say, slaughtering emus is a HORRIBLE, brutal process.

Mindfulness must surely respect the dignity of our fellow creatures, not their humiliation and degradation into “products.” We humans have enough commercial products already, way more than enough to benefit our personal well-being.

Please consider these concerns. I would be happy to hear from you if you care to respond.



Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns

‘Fur is a horribly cruel industry’


Published: 3/21/2021 8:06:18 AM

I am writing in response to a recent guest columnist piece by Patrick Connelly entitled “Wrong for people, wrong for animals, wrong for science.” Unfortunately it is full of wrong statements.

First off, wildlife management trapping businesses will not be affected by SD1029 /HD 1592: An Act Prohibiting the Sale of Fur Products in Massachusetts. This bill does not interfere at all with trapping or hunting in the commonwealth.

Second, images of fur farms are not inaccurate and disingenuous. I have yet to hear of or see pictures of a “humane” large-scale fur farm.

Fur is a horribly cruel industry and a potential source of future pandemics. SD1029 /HD 1592 would merely prevent the sale of real fur, 90% of which comes from factory fur farms where thousands of animals are kept in cramped, unsanitary conditions for the duration of their lives, unable to ever participate in behaviors natural to their species.

Self-mutilation and cannibalism are common outcomes of the emotional distress caused by this confinement. But their deaths are even crueler since the cheapest methods are used, including anal electrocution, gassing, and clubbing. There are even numerous documented instances of animals being skinned alive while incapacitated on fur farms in China, from where the majority of fur sold in the U.S. is imported.

Further, mink have tested positive for COVID on fur farms across Europe and several states in the U.S. The mink, in turn, have transmitted new COVID variants back to humans, which have now spread across the world, resulting in mass cullings of tens of millions of mink and potentially undermining vaccine effectiveness. Multiple fur farming bans have already been passed in Europe, and now Massachusetts can aid in this fight by banning new fur sales.

It is time to put an end to these reservoirs of disease and cruelty. Please urge your state legislators to support this bill.

Sheryl Gail Becker


Octopuses Are Being Devoured Alive at New York Restaurant!

ShareTweet https://www.peta.org/action/action-alerts/octopuses-new-york-restaurant/?utm_source=PETA::E-Mail&utm_medium=Alert&utm_campaign=0321::veg::PETA::E-Mail::Octopuses%20Devoured%20Alive%20at%20New%20York%20Restaurant::::aa%20em

The intelligence of octopuses is well known, but did you know that they have been observed decorating their homes with pretty bits of glass, shells, and bottle tops? They’ve also been seen using tools and playing games! Octopuses have extremely sensitive skin for both touch sensation and chemical recognition. Their suckers are the equivalent of a tongue or fingertip, and the linings are regularly shed to maintain sensitivity to touch and taste. These brilliant beings are like us in so many ways that for most people, the thought of eating one alive is unimaginable.

However, Sik Gaek in Queens, New York, has for years insisted on serving octopuses and lobsters—another complex, misunderstood species also known to have the ability to experience great pain—still squirming on dinner plates, to those customers who find slowly hacking apart living, suffering animals to be appetizing. The restaurant even brags about this horrific practice on its website.

Sik Gaek needs to continue hearing from the compassionate public until it decides to join the 21st century and leave this barbarism behind. Please contact its management and tell them what you think!

After you’ve submitted the form, please also leave a comment on Sik Gaek’s Facebook page.

Please send polite comments to:

Sik Gaek



Please feel free to use our sample letter, but remember that using your own words is always more effective.





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The Egg Industry Grapples With a Grim Practice: Chick Culling



After the U.S. egg industry missed its own deadline to eliminate the practice, some wonder when change will ever come.

Visual: Edwin Remsburg / VW Pics via Getty ImagesBY JONATHAN MOENS03.15.20210 COMMENTS

EVERY YEAR, up to 7 billion day-old male chicks are tossed into shredding machines, gassed, or suffocated in plastic bags — a process known as chick culling. This grim ritual is underpinned by both biology and economics: Male chicks don’t lay eggs, and they fatten up too slowly to be sold as meat. Across the globe, culling has become the default strategy for the egg industry to eliminate the unwanted hatchlings.

“It is horrible. You see these puffy, newly hatched chicks on a conveyor belt,” headed toward a large blade that slices them “into a gazillion pieces,” said Leah Garcés, president of Mercy for Animals, an animal rights advocacy group in the United States. In recent years, local and international animal rights groups, particularly in France, Germany, and the U.S., have been ramping up pressure on governments and the egg industry to commit to ending the practice — particularly given technological innovations that allow producers to identify the sex of a developing chick before it hatches. The process is called in-ovo sexing, and such technologies, versions of which are already deployed in some countries, can obviate the need for live chick culling.herd of cows on grassland during daytime


Can Biotechnology Transform the Cattle Industry?

Nearly five years agoUnited Egg Producers, an agricultural co-operative whose members are responsible for producing more than 90 percent of all commercial eggs in the U.S., released a statement pledging to eliminate chick culling by 2020, or as soon as a “commercially available” and “economically feasible” technology became accessible. That pledge was negotiated with the Humane League, an animal rights nonprofit organization. But 2020 has come and gone, and while UEP’s pledge wasn’t legally binding, some egg industry leaders and scientists say there is little sign that the industry is anywhere near phasing in cull-free technologies that could still meet the colossal supply of more than 100 billion eggs produced every year in the U.S.

Part of the reason for the sluggish pace of change, critics say, is that the U.S. has been investing in and nurturing the development of sophisticated cull-free technologies that, while promising, remain expensive and could take several more years to develop, scale, and deploy across the nation — particularly given that the Covid-19 pandemic has shuttered labs and otherwise slowed the pace of innovation. Meanwhile, a method of in-ovo sexing of eggs is already being used in Europe — though some American stakeholders say that method, which involves creating a tiny hole in the eggshell with a laser, is sub-par, because it increases the risk of contamination. European developers dispute this, however, and as of this year, cull-free eggs are available in thousands of supermarkets in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France with only modest additional costs to consumers and hatcheries.

What’s clear is that as the hunt for a solution drags on, the U.S.-based culling continues apace. “I don’t like false promises,” said Michael Sencer, executive vice president for Hidden Villa Ranch, a California-based food company that owns egg and dairy subsidiaries. Sencer expressed support for UEP’s pledge, but he acknowledged, “They’ve supported a number of groups that said they could come up with the technology and nothing has happened.”

UEP declined to be interviewed by Undark and instead provided a press statement highlighting its continued commitment to end culling. “We remain hopeful a breakthrough is on the horizon,” Chad Gregory, president and CEO of UEP, said in the statement.

Whether U.S.-based producers could be nudged by critics to explore existing technologies rather than pursue new ones remains unclear, but both animal rights groups and industry leaders agree that chick culling is not only cruel — it is wasteful. “I mean, name another industry where 50 percent of the finished product immediately goes to the garbage can,” said Jonathan Hoopes, president of Ovabrite, a Texas-based startup developing an in-ovo sexing technique. Incubating male eggs also takes up unnecessary space, energy, and money, making a solution to culling in the interest of both animal rights activists and egg producers.

“Forgetting the ethics of not killing all those birds, look at the money saving,” said Sencer, who estimated that the industry could save billions of dollars with the right technology. “It’s mind-boggling.”

SINCE THE 2016 statement, the largest funding initiative to eliminate chick culling has come from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), which launched the “Egg-Tech Prize” — a public-private research initiative that provides funding for scientists and startups seeking to develop in-ovo sexing technologies — with Open Philanthropy in 2019. Deploying such a technology would not only make chick culling obsolete, it would also allow the industry to repurpose unwanted male eggs for food, animal feed, or vaccine development.

In November of 2019, FFAR announced six finalists who received more than $2 million in total seed funding to develop sex identification technologies. Phase II of the competition will award up to $3.7 million for a single working prototype.

Animal rights groups and industry leaders agree that chick culling is not only cruel — it is wasteful.

According to Tim Kurt, FFAR’s scientific program director, the deadline for submissions has been pushed back due to Covid-19 delays and is now scheduled for spring 2022. However, the foundation could also decide not to fund any of the teams if they are not satisfied with the timeline. That’s a prospect Tom Turpen, a contender for the prize, says is a real possibility, especially given that at least some of the teams — his included — have experienced setbacks since the start of the pandemic. With travel restrictions and university laboratories shut down, access to data, equipment, and supplies has made it harder for teams to make progress on particular aspects of their projects, says Kurt.

Finalists, who were awarded between $396,000 and $1.1 million dollars each include startups and research laboratories with big, out-of-the-box ideas. This includes Orbem, a German startup that sexes chicks by combining high-speed scanning of eggs with AI technology, and SensIT Ventures, Inc., a California-based company, which Turpen heads, that uses a microchip to sex chicks by identifying gases emitted by eggs early in development. The selection team specifically funded projects that could potentially upend the egg industry, says Kurt.

The technologies that were selected have “the potential to really transform the industry,” said Kurt, who was involved in the selection. “They might be a bit higher risk, but if they were successful, and our funding could help them become successful, they would really be the most ideal solution.”

For all of Undark’s coverage of the global Covid-19 pandemic, please visit our extensive coronavirus archive.

Kurt and other industry leaders are optimistic that some of these technologies will help eliminate chick culling in the near future, but others are less hopeful. Changing current practices, Sencer said, would require “billions of dollars of investment in new equipment. And it’s just not going to happen [quickly], it’s happening slowly.” Sencer added that he predicts the technology may be scalable towards the end of the decade.

Even researchers competing in the Egg-Tech Prize themselves admit that, while a sexing technology may be on the horizon, cull-free eggs won’t be scalable for at least two more years. Turpen says the biggest obstacle lies in developing a technology that is not only capable of rapidly and accurately sexing chicks, but is also readily affordable to consumers and hatcheries across the nation.

“You could do a lot of things to identify the sex of the egg. That’s not the point. The point is: Can you do it and still have eggs people can afford to eat?”

To avoid a surge in costs that would inevitably arise from suddenly adopting a new mode of production, Turpen says a more likely and more reasonable path to scaling this nationally would be a slow and incremental process. “The adoption and replacement of existing equipment — that’s going to look more like making the coal industry go away.” That industry “is going away,” Turpen said, “but it’s going to be a long time.”

Other researchers in the Egg-Tech Prize have also made it clear that an all-encompassing solution to culling is not around the corner. Benjamin Schusser, whose research with colleagues at the Technical University of Munich turned into the spin-off company, Orbem, declined an interview, saying “we don’t want to awake[n] hope that there is a solution almost ready for market.” Pedro Gómez, the CEO and co-founder of Orbem said in a 2019 interview with Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, that they hope to “classify one billion eggs per year by 2025.”

While a sexing technology may be on the horizon, cull-free eggs won’t be scalable for at least two more years.

Given the mismatch in expectations, some are baffled by UEP’s ambitious commitments to stamping out culling. Hoopes says the industry has made similar pledges in the past and they failed to yield tangible results.

But David Coman-Hidy, president of the Humane League, considers the progress in research and development since 2016 a “major win,” and credits the UEP pledge with heightening awareness about a cruel and largely unheard-of practice while bolstering innovation in in-ovo sexing technologies. In fact, the Humane League saw the 2020 goal as somewhat flexible, says Coman-Hidy. “Back then, it was such early days, we didn’t know how quickly or how many companies would get involved or what the research would look like.”

MEANWHILE, COMMERCIALLY VIABLE, in-ovo sexing technologies already exist in Germany and France. And Germany is poised to become the first country to ban industrial culling of male chicks, after the government approved a draft law to end the practice from 2022 onwards.

Currently, a company based in Germany and the Netherlands called respeggt GmbH uses in-ovo sexing by creating a tiny hole into the egg using a laser, extracting fluids, and sexing the chick by testing for specific hormones, explains Kristin Hoeller, head of business development and public affairs for respeggt. The technique, known as Seleggt, is based on research by scientists at the University of Leipzig and further developed in collaboration with REWE, a German supermarket chain, and HatchTech, a Dutch technology company specializing in incubation and hatchery equipment.

The method can sort chicks on the ninth day of development, when it is “exceptionally unlikely” that chick embryos experience any sensations whatsoever, David Mellor, professor emeritus of animal welfare science and bioethics at Massey University in New Zealand, wrote in an email. This is a crucial detail given that chick embryos have the capacity to experience pain at later stages of development. A procedure that might cause harm, such as using the male egg for food or vaccine development, may simply be shifting the cruel practice to an earlier stage, says Peter Singer, an animal rights advocate and professor of bioethics at Princeton University.

“The adoption and replacement of existing equipment — that’s going to look more like making the coal industry go away,” said Turpen.

Using this method, respeggt now has cull-free eggs in more than 6,000 supermarkets across France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, with hopes to expand further. They have also devised a ready-to-implement business strategy for producing commercial cull-free eggs. Hatcheries won’t have to invest anything, Hoeller said. Instead, costs will be passed onto centers where eggs are packed into cartons for commercial distribution. These packing stations will have to pay a license fee of around 2 Euro cents, about the same in U.S. currency, per egg. While respeggt plays no role in how supermarkets price eggs, the cost to consumers ranges between 2 and 5 Euro cents more per respeggt egg than regular ones.

Many U.S. experts, however, are concerned that creating a hole in the eggs could pose a serious food safety risk, given that it increases the chances of contamination from external sources. “It’s a risk that I think the industry would rather not take,” said Turpen. Kurt echoes this, saying that all finalists explicitly use non-invasive techniques to avoid this possibility. Focusing on non-invasive techniques also means they can be more easily repurposed for other scientific endeavors, such as vaccine development, he adds.

Hoeller disputes the suggestion that their technology poses an infection risk. “The perforation of the eggshell with the laser has no negative results at all,” she said, adding that the hole is so small it actually closes itself naturally within 30 minutes.

To be sure, some animal rights groups suggest that quibbling over a technological solution distracts from what they see as the real problem at hand: the egg industry itself. “Instead of putting a Band-Aid on a Band-Aid on a Band-Aid and trying to fix all these problems with more technology and more technology, here’s another idea: Why don’t we do plant-based eggs?” said Garcés. She and other animal rights activists point to food waste, animal suffering, and health-associated costs as reasons to divest money away from the egg industry to support companies that produce plant-based alternatives.

Short of that, though, other non-invasive egg sexing technologies have also been developed in Europe. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and amid pressure by the French government to ban culling by the end of 2021, Carrefoursupermarkets planned to launch their first round of cull-free eggs on May 1, 2020. However, experts note that this technology sexes chicks on the 13th day of development, a period where the chick fetus may experience pain. Anticipating these criticisms, the German company behind this technology, Agri Advanced Technologies GmbH, a subsidiary of EW Group, is currently developing another technology aimed at determining the sex of chicks on the fourth day of development.

While imperfect, Hoopes suggested that the existence of viable, up-and-running technologies in Europe raises questions about why the U.S. is taking a slower, more ambitious approach. But other experts speculate that the technologies being pursued in the U.S. may ultimately prove cheaper and more flexible in the long run. “You would think the simplest method of doing this would be the best,” said Singer. “But maybe for very large producers, the investment is worth it. Maybe it pays off in saving labor costs or other costs.”

At this point it’s not clear what the best strategy to eliminate culling is yet, says Singer, but he believes there is a moral imperative to at least try and stamp out the practice from hatcheries around the globe. It’s also important to continue to pressure the industry to change, he said, but change will require not only perseverance, but patience. “These things,” he said, “will take some time.”

Police seize hundreds of roosters in illegal cockfighting investigation

By 9News Staff8:44am Mar 12, 2021https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.446.1_en.html#goog_392972310Play VideoPolice seize hundreds of roosters in illegal cockfighting investigation


Police and RSPCA inspectors have seized 540 roosters in Sydney as part of an investigation into an illegal cockfighting ring.The birds were confiscated after a raid on a property at at Horsley Park in the city’s west yesterday.Authorities found more than 540 fighting cockerels, roosters and chickens, as well as cockfighting paraphernalia.READ MORE:Koala survives attack that left her with horrific injuries

NSW Police and RSPCA inspectors seized hundreds of roosters during the raid. (NSW Police)

A crime scene was set up and will be maintained at the property today while RSPCA inspectors safely remove the animals.A man was detained by police and spoken to at the property before being released.The operation was part of an extensive police investigation into animal cruelty offences in Sydney’s south-west.

Illegal cockfighting equipment was found during the raid in western Sydney. (NSW Police)

YOU MAY ALSO LIKERecommended by4 Steps to Government Security: Investigate, Monitor, Analyze, Act.SPONSORED | SplunkLimited Time Offer – Bloomberg.com For Just $1.99SPONSORED | Bloomberg.com[Pics] Ancient Infant’s DNA Changes What We Know About North American HistorySPONSORED | EliteHeraldOn December 13 last year a police found a designated cockfighting area and several large sheds used to house 71 fighting cockerels, as well as metal spikes, spurs and other cockfighting paraphernalia at a property in Catherine Field.Police also seized $107,170 cash and several electronic devices from the premises.The animals were taken by RSPCA inspectors, with several requiring veterinary care for serious injuries.

Illegal cockfighting equipment was found during the raid in western Sydney. (NSW Police)

A 56-year-old man was taken into the custody of the Department of Home Affairs over his visa status, while 34 men were detained at the scene.The 34 men are next due to appear in court on April 1 over animal cruelty charges.Anyone with information should contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000 or at CrimeStoppers.com.au

How early humans’ quest for food stoked the flames of evolution

The Banquet of the Monarchs, c1579, by Alonzo Sanchez Coello
The Banquet of the Monarchs, c1579, by Alonzo Sanchez Coello: ‘high food culture’ in the middle ages. Photograph: Album/Alamy

[The painting with the elephant being burned alive tells the whole story.]


A love of complex smells and flavours gave our ancestors an edge and stove pped hangoversDonna FergusonSun 7 Mar 2021 01.16 EST


Human evolution and exploration of the world were shaped by a hunger for tasty food – “a quest for deliciousness” – according to two leading academics.

Ancient humans who had the ability to smell and desire more complex aromas, and enjoy food and drink with a sour taste, gained evolutionary advantages over their less-discerning rivals, argue the authors of a new book about the part played by flavour in our development.

Some of the most significant inventions early humans made, such as stone tools and the controlled use of fire, were also partly driven by their pursuit of flavour and a preference for food they considered delicious, according to the new hypothesis.Advertisementhttps://5037925012011699e0d1c13b2cbcd914.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“This key moment when we decide whether or not to use fire has, at its core, just the tastiness of food and the pleasure it provides. That is the moment in which our ancestors confront a choice between cooking things and not cooking things,” said Rob Dunn, a professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University. “And they chose flavour.”

Cooked food tasted more delicious than uncooked food – and that’s why we opted to continue cooking it, he says: not just because, as academics have argued, cooked roots and meat were easier and safer to digest, and rewarded us with more calories.

Some scientists think the controlled use of fire, which was probably adopted a million years ago, was central to human evolution and helped us to evolve bigger brains.

“Having a big brain becomes less costly when you free up more calories from your food by cooking it,” said Dunn, who co-wrote Delicious: The Evolution of Flavour and How it Made Us Human with Monica Sanchez, a medical anthropologist.Advertisementhttps://5037925012011699e0d1c13b2cbcd914.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

However, accessing more calories was not the primary reason our ancestors decided to cook food. “Scientists often focus on what the eventual benefit is, rather than the immediate mechanism that allowed our ancestors to make the choice. We made the choice because of deliciousness. And then the eventual benefit was more calories and fewer pathogens.”

Human ancestors who preferred the taste of cooked meat over raw meat began to enjoy an evolutionary advantage over others. “In general, flavour rewards us for eating the things we’ve needed to eat in the past,” said Dunn.

In particular, people who evolved a preference for complex aromas are likely to have developed an evolutionary advantage, because the smell of cooked meat, for example, is much more complex than that of raw meat. “Meat goes from having tens of aromas to having hundreds of different aroma compounds,” said Dunn.

Prehistoric woolly mammoth hunters
Prehistoric woolly mammoth hunters. Photograph: North Wind Picture Archives/Alamy

This predilection for more complex aromas made early humans more likely to turn their noses up at old, rotten meat, which often has “really simple smells”. “They would have been less likely to eat that food,” said Dunn. “Retronasal olfaction is a super-important part of our flavour system.”

The legacy of humanity’s remarkable preference for food which has a multitude of aroma compounds is reflected in “high food culture” today, Dunn says. “It’s a food culture that really caters for our ability to appreciate these complexities of aroma. We’ve made this very expensive kind of cuisine that somehow fits into our ancient sensory ability.”Advertisement

Similarly, our proclivity for sour-tasting food and fermented beverages like beer and wine may stem from the evolutionary advantage that eating sour food and drink gave our ancestors.

“Most mammals have sour taste receptors,” said Dunn. “But in almost all of them, with very few exceptions, the sour taste is aversive – so most primates and other mammals, in general, will, if they taste something sour, spit it out. They don’t like it.”

Humans are among the few species that like sour, he says, another notable exception being pigs.

At some point, he thinks, humans’ and pigs’ sour taste receptors evolved to reward them if they found and ate decomposing food that tasted sour, especially if it also tasted a little sweet – because that is how acidic bacteria tastes. And that, in turn, is a sign that the food is fermenting, not putrefying.

“The acid produced by the bacteria kills off the pathogens in the rotten food. So we think that the sour taste on our tongue, and the way we appreciate it, actually may have served our ancestors as a kind of pH strip to know which of these fermented foods was safe,” said Dunn.

Human ancestors who were able to accurately identify rotting food that was actually fermenting, and therefore OK to eat, would have had an evolutionary advantage over others, he argues. If they also figured out how to safely ferment food to eat over winter, they further increased their food supply.

The negative consequence of this is that fermented, alcoholic fruit juice, a sort of “proto wine”, would also have tasted good – and that probably led to horrific hangovers.

“At some point, our ancestors evolved a version of the gene that produces the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in our bodies, which is 40 times faster than that of other primates,” added Dunn. “And so that really made our ancestors much more able to get the calories out of these fermented drinks, and it would also probably have lessened the extent to which they had hangovers every day from drinking.”Advertisementhttps://5037925012011699e0d1c13b2cbcd914.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Flavour also drove humanity to innovate and explore, Dunn says. He thinks one reason our ancestors were inspired to begin using tools was to get hold of otherwise inaccessible food that tasted delicious: “If you look at what chimpanzees use tools to get, it’s almost always really delicious things, like honey.”

Having a portfolio of tools that they could use to find tasty things to eatgave our ancestors the confidence to explore new environments, knowing they would be able to find food, whatever the season threw at them. “It really allows our ancestors to move out into the world and do new things.”

Still Life with a Turkey Pie, by Pieter Claesz, 1627.
Still Life with a Turkey Pie, by Pieter Claesz, 1627. Photograph: FineArt/Alamy

Stone tools in particular “fast-forward” the ability of humans to find delicious food. “Once they can hunt, using spears, they have access to this whole world of foods that were not available to them before.”

At this point, Dunn thinks humanity’s pursuit of tasty food started to have terrible consequences for other species. “We know that humans around the world hunted species to extinction, once they figured out how to hunt really effectively.”

Dunn strongly suspects that the mammals that first went extinct were the most delicious ones. “From what we were able to reconstruct, it looks like the mammoths, mastodons and giant sloths all would have been unusually tasty.”Paleolithic diet may not have been that ‘paleo’, scientists sayRead more

To replicate the eating habits of prehistoric humans, the book, published later this month, details how one scientist dropped a horse who had just died into a pond and assessed how it fermented over time. “He would sample some meat to see if it was safe to eat. He described it as delicious – a little bit like a blue cheese,” said Dunn.