Exposing the Big Game

Forget Hunters' Feeble Rationalizations and Trust Your Gut Feelings: Making Sport of Killing Is Not Healthy Human Behavior

Exposing the Big Game

How the Warming Arctic Helped Drive a Deep Freeze Into Texas


The sub-zero temperatures causing blackouts across the southern U.S. are connected to climate change.By Brian K SullivanFebruary 16, 2021, 11:10 AM PSThttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.443.0_en.html#goog_200084205Climate Change, Bitter Cold Create Chaos for Energy SystemsUnmuteClimate Change, Bitter Cold Create Chaos for Energy Systems





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The Earth’s poles are warming faster than anywhere on the planet. While the consequences of that aren’t completely understood, it’s becoming apparent that many of the world’s extreme weather events owe the Arctic at least some of the credit.

A blast of cold air that swept out of Canada in mid-February, moving across the Great Plains and deep into the South, has overburdened the electrical grid and triggered widespread power outages in Texas, which like many southern states relies predominantly on electric heating, according to the Energy Information Administration. It was the second time in six months that extreme temperatures have brought grids to their knees—a heatwave across California in August caused a spike in energy demand for cooling equipment, forcing rolling blackouts for the first time since 2001.

Is the Texas cold blast connected to climate change? “I have argued a definitive yes,” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, part of risk analytics firm Verisk, who’s spent more than a decade studying what warming across the Arctic means to weather for the rest of the world.

While Cohen is more confident in making this connection than many in his field, the data show plainly that the region is a warming faster than the rest of the planet. The North Pole has been heating up about twice as fast as the rest of Earth for the last 30 years, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. “Most scientists agree that this rapid warming is a signal of human-caused climate change,” the center’s website says.https://buy.tinypass.com/checkout/template/show?displayMode=inline&containerSelector=.transporter-item.current+.softwall%5Bdata-position%3D%274%27%5D&templateId=OTKFU0395V9E&offerId=fakeOfferId&showCloseButton=false&trackingId=%7Bjcx%7DH4sIAAAAAAAAAI2QX2-CMBTFv0ufrWlLC9Q33UCRROcmxD12ULQOK9Linyz77kMyt5jsYfft3t85JzfnAwiVgwGIJuGjCSNdT0EPVGItUyVP0ZUQRDBEBGIfYgcSHzIOHcLgNPEno9dtGC_GiwcunqDLc0IYE7wocp-5Xp67VCAiKCbIoY7fBstzJWsldSa76GAVh6tJMuWLeHZHg7PMGqv2upNhHzFO-VvtQ9QOsVbjwisPFtH99p151Ctqc-cfZj9ms9mflnJXlcLK8Yg9z55XAfIjtJinrWUjzA2Cga0b2QP2e-_c82UcJsjhLOUB-GWpqJXQ9irRTVn2QCZ2lVBrbW6HozKq4-AI_2yQEphczCUW9jCUPH3Z7pb_aVBVbaTr9DElfYK8vkPbY2NkPVxLbVuWn7Lro7YEA-xix_MQpujzC1dtGIrnAQAA&experienceId=EXKFXHUJ9QKN&tbc=%7Bjzx%7Dt_3qvTkEkvt3AGEeiiNNgInM9anbGrJPAwU-1wSKhUgC1FJFP_CusoaKIBNKyymrXZROgMIRfjbqezGHG0_ukIk_dUFXulrDqrARGHuJK6TTCnoQ3R0F9tPx8yhPVPPNjylU0Z664w9lha1BgkmqDg&iframeId=offer-0-mlii1&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com%2Fnews%2Farticles%2F2021-02-16%2Fhow-the-warming-arctic-helped-drive-a-deep-freeze-into-texas%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR0ophaKJUGnQUODK8-8WMkc4mAjdSjxcPosepy8HDx8nAa57SVVCfMccZs&parentDualScreenLeft=0&parentDualScreenTop=0&parentWidth=1139&parentHeight=537&parentOuterHeight=607&aid=IHFDsFInrJ&contentSection=content-article&pageViewId=2021-02-18-13-28-59-325-JU8HBYjFKQGQC9aP-69d2255a9ffd8567dd64a02a41203438&visitId=v-2021-02-18-13-28-59-342-UysyKatqAe9VSjmT-69d2255a9ffd8567dd64a02a41203438&userProvider=publisher_user_ref&userToken=&customCookies=%7B%7D&hasLoginRequiredCallback=false&width=490&_qh=55181b7a67

Texas Blackouts To Continue Today and Into Early Tuesday
Idle oil drilling rigs near Midland, Texas, on Feb. 13.Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

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In the Northern Hemisphere’s summer, this has led to a decrease in the contrast between the heat of the equator and the cold of North Pole. The strength of the summer jet stream, a river of wind that propels weather systems around the globe, depends on extreme temperature differences between these two regions. As the planet warms and this contrast diminishes, the jet stream weakens and can no longer push large weather patterns out of the way. This is what caused  wildfires above the Arctic Circle, droughts throughout the world, and record-setting heat waves from Moscow to the U.S.

In the case of the Texas cold snap, the phenomenon began in the first week of January, when air in the stratosphere above the Arctic warmed suddenly. This set up a slow-moving atmospheric chain reaction that weakened the polar vortex, the girdle of winds that keeps frigid air corralled at the North Pole, allowing it to spill out into the temperate regions of Asia, Europe, and North America. Once the cold starts rolling south, very little can stop it.

“As the old saying goes, there is nothing between the Arctic and Dallas but a barbed wire fence,” said Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. “So when you get a direct discharge like this it will go all the way.”

While these events happen about six times per decade, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Cohen maintains that climate change has increased the frequency with which the polar vortex weakens and allow the cold to air to run amok.

Texas has certainly seen snow before, said Bob Henson, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections. But he urged observers not to be distracted by individual anomalies. “We know the climate of the central U.S. can produce events like this,” he said. “The point is, when you sum up all the events that are happening 365 days a year, that is when you see climate change most vividly.”

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Pedestrians walk on along a snow-covered street in Austin on Feb. 15.Photographer: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Across the U.S., severe thunderstorms and hail damage have been rising for decades. Some of that is due to increasing population, but that doesn’t explain the full extent of the increase. While scientists aren’t sure about the precise cause, there’s broad agreement that the weather is changing. 

In the past year, many parts of the world’s oceans reached record warm temperatures. The Atlantic produced an all-time high of 30 hurricanes and tropical storms in 2020. Vast areas the west were consumed by wildfires, including parts of Oregon and Washington that were once too wet to produce the required dry brush as fuel. Studies by reinsurers Munich Re and Aon both show weather-related natural disasters around the world increasing over the years, while damage from other events such as earthquakes and volcanoes has remained the same.

The disparity between warming and cooling becomes most apparent in the all-time records. In the last year 292 all-time hot records have been set, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information, compared to three low temperature extremes. Scientists repeatedly point to this to show the world is getting warmer. What on Earth?The Bloomberg Green newsletter is your guide to the latest in climate news, zero-emission tech and green finance.EmailSign UpBy submitting my information, I agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and to receive offers and promotions from Bloomberg.

“It’s no secret that extreme weather events are happening more frequently,” said Jennifer Francis, senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. “Climate scientists have been predicting this behavior for years, maybe decades, so it comes as no surprise whatsoever that we’re seeing back-to-back extremes of various types around the globe.”

relates to How the Warming Arctic Helped Drive a Deep Freeze Into Texas
Snowplows clear the road in Oklahoma City on Feb. 14. Photographer: Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo

During the worst of the cold on Monday, 157 million people across the U.S. were living under winter storm warnings or weather advisories, said Brian Hurley, a senior branch forecaster with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center. Dallas was colder than Anchorage, Alaska. The cold itself damaged or forced power suppliers offline in a part of the country ill-prepared for frigid temperatures.

“The sorry state of the U.S. electric grid is a shining a bright light on the glaring need for grid modernization,” Francis said, as well as “mounting vulnerabilities in infrastructure of all sorts.” 

Up until about two weeks ago, winter was relatively mild across the U.S. January was the ninth warmest across the 48 contiguous states, with temperatures among the 10 warmest for the month in Washington, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, and Maine, the Centers for Environmental Information said. December was also mild in most places.

It’s not yet possible to connect the extreme cold of the last few days directly to climate change, but Henson says that doesn’t matter in the bigger picture.

“Climate change is real regardless of an extreme cold outbreak,” he said. “You don’t need to explain every cold and snow outbreak to explain climate change.”

Animals at primate sanctuary freeze amid Texas power outage


A chimpanzee, several monkeys, some lemurs and an uncounted number of birds have died after a nonprofit San Antonio-area wildlife sanctuary lost power amid record-low temperaturesByThe Associated PressFebruary 16, 2021, 4:36 PM• 2 min read

SAN ANTONIO — A chimpanzee, several monkeys, some lemurs and an uncounted number of birds died when a nonprofit San Antonio-area wildlife sanctuary lost power early Monday, yet another casualty of unforgiving winter weather that has seized much of Texas.

Brooke Chavez, executive director of Primarily Primates, told the San Antonio Express-News that the power went out about 6 a.m. Monday at the 70-acre sanctuary that housed more than 400 primates.Advertisement

Chavez said her 12 staff members and volunteers mobilized generators, space heaters, propane tanks and blankets in an effort to save the residents. As temperatures reached single-digit levels, the staff broke out carriers to evacuate animals to the San Antonio Zoo and another sanctuary in North Texas, but Chavez said she and her staff began to find dead animals throughout the sanctuary.

“I never, ever thought my office would turn into a morgue, but it has,” she said. “Someone asked me how many animals have died. I don’t know yet. I know we lost lots of monkeys, lemurs and tropical birds… We won’t truly know how many animals have died until the temperatures rise and the snow starts to melt.”

Now, with the big freeze expected to continue for a few more days and the electric grid for most of Texas ordering more rolling blackouts, Chavez and her staff asked for the public’s help to protect the sanctuary’s animals, most of which are elderly. Many animals remain at the sanctuary, including 33 chimpanzees that were too difficult to transport.

Whether it’s hogs or hawks, game wardens stay busy

In the midst of a pandemic and all the social distancing that involves, life still goes on out in the boonies, where game wardens ply their trade among the hunters and fishers of Texas.

And since I get their press release reports, I like to pass them on, since you never know what’s going to turn up next in our great state.

One of the current occupations, designed to rid our countryside of marauders, is the hunting of feral hogs, which is not only legal, but encouraged, everywhere.

I have a friend who shoots them and burns their carcasses in a pit on his farm. But that’s sort of a waste, don’t you think? Rumor has it that those big old pigs make great pork roasts.

A game warden in Freestone County was called by a landowner who said he allowed a man to hunt hogs on his land, but the man also killed a deer, which isn’t legal except during the proper season.

The guy said he had shot it by accident. Questionable?

So, he got charged with a bunch of stuff.

In the same county, there were people hunting hogs from a helicopter. And that’s allowed, with proper credentials.

A man and wife were working cattle on their land when the helicopter began to hover and shoot feral hogs. They waved their arms and the helicopter flew away, but the warden found it and filed charges.

If the copter pilot had gotten permission, he probably could’ve bagged all the hogs he managed to shoot.

Somebody needs to get rid of them all because they’re not only tearing up pastures and woodlands but destroying people’s lawns and flower gardens.

One report that I liked said meat from hogs killed by hunters had been given to needy people. That also happens with deer killed illegally.

More: https://www.galvnews.com/opinion/guest_columns/article_91b1368d-fd2b-58da-98ae-20df518b852f.html

Legal Fight Heats Up In Texas Over Ban On Abortions Amid Coronavirus

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning all elective medical procedures, including abortions, during the coronavirus outbreak. The ban extends to medication abortions.

Eric Gay/AP

Governors across the country are banning elective surgery as a means of halting the spread of the coronavirus. But in a handful of states that ban is being extended to include a ban on all abortions.

So far the courts have intervened to keep most clinics open. The outlier is Texas, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit this week upheld the governor’s abortion ban.

Four years ago, Texas was also the focus of a fierce legal fight that ultimately led to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in which the justices struck down a Texas law purportedly aimed at protecting women’s health. The court ruled the law was medically unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Now Texas is once again the epicenter of the legal fight around abortion. In other states–Ohio, Iowa, Alabama, and Oklahoma–the courts so far have sided with abortion providers and their patients.

Not so in Texas where Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order barring all “non-essential” medical procedures in the state, including abortion. The executive order was temporarily blocked in the district court, but the Fifth Circuit subsequently upheld the governor’s order by a 2-to-1 vote, declaring that “all public constitutional rights may be reasonably restricted to combat a public health emergency.”

“No more elective medical procedures can be done in the state because of the potential of needing both people … beds and supplies, and obviously doctors and nurses,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in an interview with NPR.

‘Exploiting This Crisis’

Nancy Northrup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, sees things very differently. “It is very clear that anti-abortion rights politicians are shamelessly exploiting this crisis to achieve what has been their longstanding ideological goal to ban abortion in the U.S.,” she said.

Paxton denies that, saying Texas “is not targeting any particular group.”
The state’s the “only goal is to protect people from dying,” he said.

Yet the American Medical Association just last week filed a brief in this case in support of abortion providers, as did 18 states, led by New York, which is the state that has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

They maintain that banning abortion is far more dangerous,because it will force women to travel long distances to get one. A study from the Guttmacher Institute found that people seeking abortions during the COVID-19 outbreak would have to travel up to 20 times farther than normal if states successfully ban abortion care during the pandemic. The AMA also notes that pregnant women do not stop needing medical care if they don’t get an abortion.

Northrup, of the Center for Reproductive Rights, sees this as more evidence that the ban is a calculated move by the state: what “puts the lie to this is the fact that they’re trying to ban medication, abortion as well; that’s the use of pills for abortion.

“Those do not need to take place in a clinic and they can be done, taken effectively by tele-medicine. So it shows that the real goal here, tragically, is shutting down one’s right to make the decision to end the pregnancy, not a legitimate public health response.”

‘I Was Desperate’

Affidavits filed in the Texas case tell of harrowing experiences already happening as the result of the Texas ban. One declaration was filed by a 24-year-old college student. The week she lost her part-time job as a waitress, she found out she was pregnant. She and her partner agreed they wanted to terminate the pregnancy, and on March 20 she went to a clinic in Forth Worth alone; because of social distancing rules, her partner was not allowed to go with her.

Since she was 10 weeks pregnant, still in her first trimester, she was eligible for a medication abortion. Under state law, she had to wait 24 hours before getting the pills at the clinic, but the night before her scheduled appointment, the clinic called to cancel because of Abbott’s executive order.

He partner was with her and we “cried together,” she wrote in her declaration. “I couldn’t risk the possibility that I would run out of time to have an abortion while the outbreak continued,” and it “seemed to be getting more and more difficult to travel.”

She made many calls to clinics in New Mexico and Oklahoma. The quickest option was Denver–a 12-hour drive, 780-mile drive from where she lives. Her partner was still working, so her best friend agreed to go with her. They packed sanitizing supplies and food in the car for the long drive and arrived at the Denver Clinic on March 26, where she noticed other cars with Texas plates in the parking lot, according to the affidavit.

At the clinic, she was examined, given a sonogram again, and because Colorado does not have a 24-hour waiting requirement, she was given her first abortion pill without delay and told she should try to get home within 30 hours to take the second pill.

She and her friend then turned around to go home. They were terrified she would have the abortion in the car, and tried to drive through without taking breaks. But after six hours, when it turned dark they were so exhausted they had to stop at a motel to catch some sleep. The woman finally got home and took the second pill just within the 30-hour window.

She said that despite the ordeal she was grateful she had the money, the car, the friend, and the supportive partner with a job, to make the abortion possible. Others will not be so lucky, she wrote. But “I was desperate and desperate people take desperate steps to protect themselves.”

A ‘Narrative’ Of Choice

Paxton, the Texas attorney general, does not seem moved by the time limitations that pregnancy imposes, or the hardships of traveling out of state to get an abortion. He told NPR “the narrative has always been ‘It’s a choice’ … that’s the whole narrative. I’m a little surprised by the question, given that’s always been the thing.”

On Thursday abortion providers and their patients returned to the district court in Texas instead of appealing directly to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Fifth Circuit’s ruling from earlier this week. The district court judge, who originally blocked the governor’s ban, instead narrowed the governor’s order so that medical abortions–with pills–would be exempt from the ban, as well as abortions for women who are up against the state-imposed deadline. Abortions in Texas are banned after 22 weeks.

In the end, though, this case may well be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. And because of the addition of two Trump appointees since 2016–the composition of the court is a lot more hostile to abortion rights.

El Paso Terrorism Suspect’s Alleged Manifesto Highlights Eco-Fascism’s Revival


The racist rant inveighs against environmental destruction and calls for mass killings to make the American “way of life” more “sustainable.” It’s not unique.

A manifesto posted online shortly before Saturday’s massacre at a Walmart in El Paso that the suspected shooter may have written blamed immigrants for hastening the environmental destruction of the United States and proposed genocide as a pathway to ecological sustainability.

Filled with white nationalist diatribes against “race-mixing” and the “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” the manifesto highlights far-right extremists’ budding revival of eco-fascism.

Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.

Titled “The Inconvenient Truth,” an allusion to Al Gore’s landmark climate change documentary, the ranting four-page document appeared on the extremist forum 8chan shortly before the shooting. Authorities have yet to confirm whether Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old Dallas-area white man arrested in connection with the shooting that left at least 22 dead, is the author.

“The environment is getting worse by the year,” the manifesto reads. “Most of y’all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle. So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.”

HuffPost reviewed the document but, with consideration to the ethical concerns of broadcasting what might be a notoriety-seeking killer’s messaging, is not publishing a link to it.

The manifesto explicitly cites the 74-page message posted online by the gunman charged with killing 51 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. That alleged shooter, Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old white Australian, thrice described himself as an “eco-fascist” motivated to repel waves of migrants fleeing climate change-ravaged regions of the world.

For years now, denial served as the extreme right’s de facto position on climate change. That is starting to change.

Just look, as Dissent magazine did in May, at this spring’s European elections. Following the European Green Party’s historic gains, the far-right Alternative for Germany’s youth wing in Berlin urged party leaders to abandon the “difficult to understand statement that mankind does not influence the climate,” an issue that moves “more people than we thought.”

Law enforcement officials block a road early Sunday morning at the scene of a mass shooting that occurred Saturday at a shopp

Law enforcement officials block a road early Sunday morning at the scene of a mass shooting that occurred Saturday at a shopping complex in El Paso.

In France, the far-right National Rally already took the message to heart. The party, led by Marine Le Pen, vowed to remake Europe as “the world’s first ecological civilization” with a climate platform rooted in nationalism. Le Pen railed against “nomadic” people who “do not care about the environment” as “they have no homeland,” harkening to the Nazis’ “blood and soil” slogan that, as The Guardian put it, described a belief in a mystical connection between race and a particular territory. Under that logic, “borders are the environment’s greatest ally,” as a National Rally party spokesman said in April.

In the United States, 70% of Americans recognize the climate is warming, and 57% understand humans’ emissions are the cause, Yale Program on Climate Change Communication polling shows. Republicans, long the only major political party in the developed world to outright reject climate science, are inching away from denialism but have yet to rally around a popular policy proposal.

“Someday Republicans are going to have to come up with some proposals that are responsive to these issues and, frankly, be more reasonable and more thoughtful,” Scott Jennings, a Republican consultant and a former campaign adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told The New York Times last week.

More than 65 million people are displaced worldwide right now, marking ― depending on how you count it ― the highest number of refugees in history. Climate change is forecast to inflame the crisis. Catastrophic weather forced 24 million people to flee home per year since 2008, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the Swiss-based international organization. By 2050, that number could hit anywhere from 140 million to 300 million to 1 billion. Drought, rising seas and violent storms could compel upward of 143 million people to leave sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America alone by the middle of the century, the World Bank estimated last year.

If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.From a manifesto possibly written by the suspected El Paso gunman

Slashing global greenhouse gases and increasing aid to help poor countries close to the equator adapt is the obvious way to change that trajectory. The Green New Deal framework left-wing climate activists put forward late last year gained international popularity in part because its promise of good-paying jobs and meaningful work as a vehicle for wealth redistribution and ecological stability offers a powerful antidote to the toxic elixir of far-right prescriptions to social unrest.

But as planet-heating emissions continue surging and scientists’ projections grow more dire, eco-fascism is experiencing a revival in a subculture of far-right extremism online. It comes amid a rekindled interest in Ted Kaczynski, the convicted terrorist known as the Unabomber.

Kaczynski ― like his newfound online fandom, who often distinguish themselves with pine-tree emoji on social media ― subscribes to “lifeboat ethics.” The term, coined in the 1970s by the neoconservative ecologist Garrett Hardin, denotes the idea that “traditional humanitarian views of the ‘guilt-ridden,’ ‘conscience-stricken’ liberal” threatens the balance of nature. The belief traces its lineage back to 18th-century English philosopher Thomas Malthus, who theorized that population growth would eclipse the availability of resources to meet basic human needs without moral restraint or widespread disease, famine or war to thin the herd.

In September 2017, the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance asked its readers a question: “What does it mean for whites if climate change is real?” The bombastic essay wondered whether the “population explosion in the global south combined with climate change” demonstrated “the single greatest external threat to Western civilization” ― even “more serious than Islamic terrorism or Hispanic illegal immigration.”

“If continued global change makes the poor, non-white parts of the world even more unpleasant to live in than they are now, it will certainly drive more non-whites north,” Jared Taylor, the publication’s editor and an influential white nationalist, wrote in an email to the magazine Jewish Currents. “I make no apology for … urging white nations to muster the will to guard their borders and maintain white majorities.”

Two years later, white, male gunmen appear to be heeding his call.



Jack Castle refuses to pass on the tradition of killing animals to his three sons after realizing that all animals deserve to be treated equally.



Fourth-generation Texan Jack Castle was a hunter for decades, learning the tradition from his father, who owned a large cattle business in Texas and Montana. Together, they travelled the world hunting for birds and big game, and Castle went on to run his own 900-acre cattle ranch where he continued to slaughter cows for food. Today, he’s a vegan and a shining example that even the manliest of hunters and meat-eaters can make a lifestyle change for the better. Castle put his former cattle ranch property into conservation to benefit the surrounding wildlife, and he now challenges other hunters to go vegan by inviting them to his home for lavish, six-course “Hunters Dine Vegan” dinners. Because there’s nothing quite as powerful as the conversion of the most unlikely of the unlikely, here are seven reasons why Castle made the decision to let go of hunting and ranching and go vegan for the animals.

1. He didn’t want to support factory farms.
“I was startled to learn of animal factory farms,” Castle told VegNews. “That’s how I began to understand animals differently. Those animals live in a severe state of misery. There is nothing majestic about breeding animals in filth, steel, and cement and putting them in cages for their entire lives. Understanding this treatment of animals bridges the connection to what we put on our plates and then to their land, true nature, and hunting. That is what did it for me.”

2. He realized that killing animals for sport was irrational.
“When I hunted birds and big game it was for sport and I normalized it,” Castle said. “Now, the power not to kill is a greater power. The power to withdraw from hunting is power. I have a need to be a caretaker and to be a steward of the land. I have always loved animals, but I was a sport hunter and I was not emotional. I rationalized it as a challenge. But now I wish to awaken other hunters to feel what I will forever feel. It is very gratifying.”

3. He saw a greater appreciation for all life.
“I treat all animals equally now,” Castle said. “When I look an animal in the eyes, I see their soul; I am looking into their eyes and reconnecting with them very differently. I have always loved wildlife, but now I am more connected, more in love. Being vegan gives me a greater appreciation for life, really. I love the animals more. And it has made me realize that animals have the same emotions as me—the need to feel pleasure, to play, to care for family.”

4. He realized the animals on his plate were no different than his cats and dogs.
“I am already guilty of disturbing animals’ lives before, from eating them to hunting them,” Castle said. “Putting a steak on a plate is paying someone else to kill the animal and bring it to you wrapped in plastic. The tragedy of factory farms can be stopped with one choice and that is to eliminate meat, dairy, and eggs from your plate and go with—as my wife says—phytonutrient-dense foods packed with fiber. And those are not in animal tissue. These factory-farmed animals deserve equality and should be treated the same as our cats and dogs, at minimum. Love and respect has no boundaries.”

5. His wife, simply put.
“The passion and love my wife Shushana Castle [who is a vegan advocate and author] shows every day for the animals and for our earth inspires me,” Castle said. “She taught me to respect all life without judgment. She helped me accept that the pig, the cow, the chicken, all living beings deserve the same respect as our family dogs. That love has no boundaries and equality extends to the caged and wild animals, too.”

6. He wanted to nurture animals’ natural habitat and transform his ranch into a wildlife sanctuary.
“From this newfound awareness, I extended my love for nature and wildlife to the ranches, so I created a sanctuary for wildlife,” Castle said. “The lands are vastly enhanced with enlarged lakes, streams, and ponds from underground water and the animals feel safe and protected. My lands are now a safe haven for the animals. They intuitively know when it’s hunting season and now they flock to the land for safety. This new relationship with all the big game and birds has intensely given me so much fulfillment. Sometimes big game stares at me. It’s the other way around now. We look into each other’s eyes and I feel like I can see their soul.”

7. A vegan diet gave him endless energy.
“It’s total fulfillment not participating in the suffering of animals, not taking away life,” Castle said. “We live in nature, so it’s my duty to renew the earth the best I am able. I have a lot of energy from dropping all the meat and dairy from my meals. Making a contribution of peace in a caring manner, to not kill for a sport, just feels right.”

Lakeway woman once praised for freeing several trapped deer in viral video now facing charges

In the video, which was taken on March 8, you can see deer stuck under the net, with some of them bleating as they try to move around. Months later, Texas Parks and Wildlife has charged the woman who shot the video with criminal mischief and harassment after she freed two of the deer.

LAKEWAY, Texas — A Lakeway woman is facing criminal mischief and harassment charges, months after her cell phone video of deer stuck in a trap set by workers the city of Lakeway hired to control overpopulation went viral.

RELATED | Viral video of Lakeway deer control program reignites outrage

In the video, which was taken on March 8, you can see deer stuck under the net, with some of them bleating as they try to move around.

Ashlea Beck, a Lakeway resident, shot the video after her children discovered the trap near her home.

WARNING: The following video may be graphic to some viewers:

At one point in the video, you can hear her ask the workers, “Why are you doing this?”

Angry with what she saw, Beck cut part of the net and released two deer.

“I think they should do it away from kids, away from families,” Beck told KVUE in an interview on March 14.

Months later, Texas Parks and Wildlife has charged Beck with criminal mischief and harassment. A TPWD spokesperson sent KVUE the following statement:

“Ms. Beck interfered with lawful efforts to trap and remove white-tailed deer, causing damage to private property in the process. It is a violation of the Sportsman’s Rights Act to intentionally interfere with another person lawfully engaged in the process of hunting or catching wildlife, or intentionally harass, drive, or disturb any wildlife for the purpose of disrupting lawful hunting.”

Citizen Advocates for Animals of Lakeway president Rita Cross told KVUE she thinks Beck’s punishment is too harsh.

“She was in shock, she was trying to protect her kids and the deer, and she released two of them when she cut the net,” Cross said.

Cross thought TPWD would give Beck a warning or a fine.

“But they didn’t. They teamed up with the city of Lakeway, and they teamed up with the trapper himself, and they all agreed that she should be charged,” Cross said.

Neither Beck nor her attorney wanted to speak to KVUE about the charges. But in a post on a GoFundMe page Cross made to help pay for Beck’s attorney’s fees, Beck wrote the following comment:

“I was shocked and extremely disappointed by how Texas Parks & Wildlife and the City of Lakeway have handled this whole situation. My hope is that something good will come out of this, that changes will be made that prevent this from happening to someone else. Our city should be a safe place for families and animals alike.”

Cross just wants what she calls animal cruelty out of the city of Lakeway.

“Not just hiding them in some quiet, out-of-the-way location, but that we don’t deserve it in this city,” she said. “The deer don’t deserve the treatment that they get.”

Beck is facing two class B misdemeanor charges. Each carries 180 days in jail or a $2,000 fine.

City of Lakeway officials told KVUE in March they were done trapping deer for the rest of 2018.

Deer Being Trapped and Slaughtered in Texas Community—Stop the Massacre


act now for deer

Deer in a residential community in Yantis, Texas, are being netted and killed in a misguided attempt to reduce their population. Every minute spent trapped is a terrifying eternity for these easily frightened prey animals, who can badly injure themselves in frantic attempts to get free. Families of deer are torn apart, leaving young and weak animals vulnerable to starvation and dehydration. Your voice is needed now.


see the bears now

Video: One Year Later, Rescued Bears Swim, Play, and Bob for Apples

After enduring a decade of deprivation and frustration, Ben and Bogey are now free to play and explore the lush environment around them. See video footage of the bears at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, where they’re currently hibernating (wait until you see them playing and swimming!), and then learn how you can help other bears who are still languishing at roadside zoos or forced to perform.


help cold dogs

Dogs Are Desperately Cold

Winter’s chilliest weeks are still ahead of us—and dogs forced to live outside are suffering tremendously.


Texas Proposes Ending Unsustainable Commercial Wild Turtle Trapping


AUSTIN, Texas— In response to a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and several Texas-based conservation organizations, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today approved publication of a proposed rule that would prohibit commercial collection of the state’s wild turtles.

“We’re so grateful these badly needed protections for Texas’ rare, native turtles are moving forward,” said Jenny Loda, a Center attorney and biologist who works to protect vulnerable reptiles and amphibians. “For-profit collectors shouldn’t be allowed to put the state’s turtles at risk of extinction.”

Texas is the latest in a growing list of states — including Missouri, New York and Iowa — that have put an end to unlimited commercial collection of freshwater turtles.

Under current Texas law, unlimited collection of four native, freshwater turtle species is allowed on private property: common snapping turtles, red-eared sliders, smooth softshells and spiny softshells.

Texas modified its regulations in 2007 to protect freshwater turtles from collection on the state’s public lands and waters. But this only resulted in protections for turtles in 2.2 percent of the water bodies in Texas. Recent studies concluded that current turtle collection in Texas is likely not sustainable.

At today’s Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting, staff from the state Parks and Wildlife Department presented their findings based on a review of the petition, along with scientific literature and the department’s own data. Department staff determined that there is sufficient scientific justification to prohibit the commercial collection of the common snapping turtle, red-eared slider, smooth softshell and spiny softshell.

Department officials further explained that turtles are among the nongame species of greatest concern in Texas. Turtles’ slow reproduction makes it unlikely that populations can remain stable when high numbers of adults and older juveniles are steadily removed from a population.

“This is great news for Texas’ freshwater turtles as commercial trapping is devastating to turtle populations that are already suffering from multiple other threats, including habitat loss, water pollution and vehicular collisions,” said Evelyn Merz, conservation chair for the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter. “We hope that the state will finalize the proposed rule and ban commercial turtle trapping; otherwise, Texas’ turtle populations will continue to plummet.”

The petition that spurred today’s action was submitted last year by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, Texas Rivers Protection Association and Texas Snake Initiative.

Millions of turtles classified as wild-caught are exported from the United States every year to supply food and medicinal markets in Asia, where native turtle populations have already been depleted by soaring consumption. Because turtles bioaccumulate toxins from prey and burrow in contaminated sediment, turtle meat is often laced with mercury, PCBs and pesticides, posing a health risk. Adult turtles are also taken from the wild to breed hatchlings for the international pet trade.

As part of a campaign to protect turtles in the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity has been petitioning states that allow unrestricted commercial turtle collection to improve their regulations. Earlier this month, in response to a Center petition, the Missouri Department of Conservation banned commercial collection of the state’s wild freshwater turtles. In September of last year, Nevada created a statewide ban on the destructive commercial collection of all reptiles and New York halted all commercial terrapin turtle harvesting.

Before that, in March 2017, Iowa adopted new regulations setting closed seasons and possession limits for commercial turtle trappers. In 2012 Georgia approved state rules regulating the commercial collection of turtles, and Alabama completely banned commercial collection. And in 2009 Florida responded by banning almost all commercial collection of freshwater turtles from public and private waters.

Texas is in a regional hotspot for commercial turtle collectors, and reform is needed. If the state ends commercial collection within its borders, adjacent states would likely follow its example; the region would be better equipped to protect its turtle populations by making clear to turtle traders that trade is strictly regulated and enforced.

The Center recently petitioned for a ban on unlimited commercial trapping in ArkansasLouisiana  and Oklahoma, three states that share a border with Texas.

Texas spiny softshell turtle

Texas spiny softshell turtle photo by Gary M. Stolz, USFWS. This image is available for media use.

New law allows hunting hogs from hot air balloons, but few balloonists will offer it



by Shannon Najmabadi The Texas Tribune

Though a new Texas law allows hunters to shoot feral hogs and coyotes from hot air balloons, it’s not easy to find a balloonist offering the activity.

“I have never had a phone call from anybody asking to do this,” said Pat Cannon of Lewisville, spokesman for the Balloon Federation of America. “I think that people have not stopped laughing yet.”

The law went into effect Sept. 1, but state permitters, insurers and balloonists say they haven’t heard of anyone planning to hunt hogs from hot air balloons. They point to factors like visibility and difficulty steering that make the activity hard.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has not granted any of the permits needed for hot air balloon hunting, said Steve Lightfoot, a department spokesman. Rob Schantz of Jacksonville, Florida, who heads one of the country’s few balloon insurance agencies, said no balloonists had asked if the activity could be covered under their policies. His agency will not offer coverage for aerial hunting.

Among other logistical challenges, the balloon’s burners make a “horrendous roaring noise,” Schantz said. “It would scare anything away, and if they had a chance to take a shot, you could shoot somebody’s dog or shoot a person.”

The new law, authored by state Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, is just one of Texas legislators’ attempts to curb the feral hog population in the state. Called a menace, the estimated 2 million feral hogs in Texas are responsible for about $400 million in damage each year, and their population would grow rapidly if left unchecked. A “pork-chopper” bill – allowing hogs to be hunted from helicopters – has been on the books since 2011, and state officials haveconsidered poisoning the animals with a lethal pesticide.

Lightfoot said department rules that govern hunting from a helicopter are similar to those for gunning from a hot air balloon. Among them is a requirement that there be an agreement with a landowner permitting aerial hunting on his or her property. Lightfoot said Tuesday the department had received one phone call inquiring about the needed permits, but that none had been issued.

Keough said in a statement the new law “will open a whole new industry towards eliminating the growing population of feral hogs in the State of Texas.” After the measure passed both legislative chambers in May, state Rep. John Cyrier, R-Lockhart, wrote a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott saying it could lead to “future catastrophes” without increased oversight of commercial ballooning.

Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, said feral hogs pose a very significant problem to farmers and rural communities, as they destroy land and can carry diseases.

“There hasn’t been a good way to control them,” she said. Hunting from a hot air balloon isn’t expected to be a magic bullet, she said, but it seems like a “reasonable additional tool to add.”

But balloonists and pilots point to numerous challenges that make hunting from a hot air balloon difficult, if not impossible.

First, hot air balloons only fly under certain conditions. Wind, clouds, thermals and time of day are taken into account by the balloonist, and aren’t always conducive to hunting. For example, because balloons float on the wind, they couldn’t circle a pack of feral hogs while the hunters tried to shoot them.

“Let’s just assume you have a herd of feral hogs running one way and … they turn left. The balloon can’t turn left,” said Schantz, the insurance underwriter. “The balloon just keeps going and the feral hogs are off on their merry way the other way.”

For similar reasons, balloons would likely be unable to stop to retrieve the carcasses of shot hogs, said Joe Reynolds, a private pilot in Austin. Because the animals can weigh hundreds of pounds, it would also be difficult to hoist them into the balloon’s basket, and they might exceed the balloon’s load limit, said Reynolds.

Ideally, Cannon said, hot air balloon hunting would take place over land that has a large feral hog population, is owned by one person, and is in a fairly rural area – as balloons must fly at higher altitudes over houses and populated zones. A GPS tracker could help balloonists navigate boundaries that demarcate one property from the next, and make notes of where shot feral hogs fall. The landowner or someone else on the ground could pick up the carcasses.

Still, spotting those property limits from the air can be difficult, Cannon said. If the balloon is accidentally flown over a neighbor’s property, and “somebody points a gun down and shoots and discharges a weapon over that guy’s land,” Cannon said, “he could be prosecuted for that.” Dogs, donkeys or other animals could be mistaken for feral hogs and coyotes from the vantage point of a balloon.

Reynolds, the private pilot, said he’s fielded calls about the activity. But it often becomes immediately apparent “that the reality of it is not going to work.”

“I can’t speak for every balloon pilot in the world,” he added, “but nobody that I’ve talked to is going to try to take any of this on.”

Disclosure: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.