NY Times Editorial: There’s a grim reality behind your Thanksgiving turkey

Observing an annual pre-Thanksgiving rite, President Trump pardoned two big white fluffy turkeys Tuesday in a photo op at the White House. (Named Drumstick and Wishbone, the birds will end up at an enclosure on the campus of Virginia Tech.) That leaves 46 million other turkeys that won’t get pardoned. Instead, they’ll wind up on someone’s dinner table during this holiday season, a fate that is expected to befall about 245 million gobblers all told this year. And none of them will make the journey from farm to table via the Willard InterContinental Hotel, where Drumstick and Wishbone hung out before Drumstick was ceremoniously presented to Trump.

No animals raised on factory farms are kept and killed under worse conditions than turkeys and chickens, which make up most of the animals raised for food in the U.S. Nearly 9 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for food. And because poultry is exempt from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces, there are not even minimum federal standards governing how they live or die.

Turkeys and so-called broiler chickens are genetically bred to grow fast (to satisfy our love for breast meat) and, typically, grow so big that they can barely walk by the time they are killed. As a result, they can suffer from painful skeletal disorders and leg deformities. The vast majority spend their short lives (about 47 days for chickens) in artificially lit, windowless, barren warehouse barns. So that turkeys won’t peck one another in these crowded barns, their beaks are painfully trimmed.

When it’s time to slaughter them, the live birds are shackled upside down on a conveyor belt, paralyzed by electrified water and then dragged over mechanical throat-cutting blades. The birds are supposed to be stunned unconscious by the electrified water, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the birds miss the blades and end up tumbling into the tanks of scalding water, where they drown. These methods are so cruel that they would be prohibited by federal welfare laws — if the animals in question were cows or pigs.

These are the grim realities behind Americans’ traditional Thanksgiving meal. But there are ways to make life and death somewhat better for the turkeys that wind up on your table. Of course, we could all just eat less turkey and chicken, which would reduce the demand for these animals. But to make a bigger impact, the major buyers of chicken and turkey meat need to push their suppliers to adopt less grisly practices.

The Humane Society of the U.S. has launched a campaign to get producers to pledge to raise healthier, less bloated birds, to provide them with better living conditions — more space, more stimulating environments and more sunlight — and, perhaps most important, to render the birds unconscious before they are shackled and slaughtered. The campaign also seeks to persuade buyers to obtain meat only from producers that honor this pledge. Meanwhile, Temple Grandin, the animal science professor known for designing more humane procedures for slaughtering beef cattle, has called for “controlled atmosphere stunning,” a process of using gas to make the birds unconscious before they get shackled for slaughter.

Installing new procedures takes time and money. All the buyers and producers that have signed on to the Humane Society campaign have agreed to fully convert to a new system by 2024. Companies should be held to that time frame, and more should be encouraged to take that pledge. If enough consumers demand it, companies will do it. That’s not too much to ask for the sake of the bird you’ll be carving up on Thanksgiving.

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(Compassionate) Turkey Preparation 101

Wash your turkey
Dry well
Stuff
Add a little water
Bake
Share with Guests

Check out the video on FaceBook at:
https://www.facebook.com/DawnWatchInc/videos/145617769495212/
OR
http://tinyurl.com/y7yzv5kl

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/theKarenDawn/status/932773151917801472

On YouTube: https://youtu.be/8F4c_HtiDPc

And please share it if you like it.

Happy Turkey Day!

Yours and all animals,’
Karen Dawn
DawnWatch Inc
http://DawnWatch.com

Arkansas Online Editorial Opposes Turkey Drop


<http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2017/oct/17/find-a-better-way-20171017/?f=opinion>

*”We’ve always done it this way. Just because it’s always*
* been done that way doesn’t mean a tradition should continue.” *
– Arkansas Online

Posted: 10/17/2017
<http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2017/oct/17/find-a-better-way-20171017/?f=opinion#comments>

Dear Friends of UPC,

Thank you all for writing and phoning Yellville, Arkansas public officials
for
months in advance this year and in previous years, in response to our Alerts
(Tell Yellville to Stop Dropping Turkeys from Airplanes
<http://www.upc-online.org/turkeys/170727_tell_yellville_to_stop_dropping_turkeys_from_airplanes.html>),
urging the town to
eliminate the sadistic “turkey drop” from its annual festival, now in its
50th
year. Today’s Editorial in Arkansas Online (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
fortunately opposes what it calls the “turkey toss” as “cruel,” while
unfortunately suggesting setting caged turkeys around town and opening them
for
the turkeys to come out and be chased down by townspeople as “more humane,
and
sporting” before slaughtering them. (The ritual foreplay of throwing turkeys
from airplanes, buildings and stages is supposed to culminate in a
“wholesome”
family slaughtering of the birds who manage to live through these
preliminaries.
See for example the article linked to in Yellville, Arkansas: A Sad, Bad
Place
<http://www.upc-online.org/turkeys/171016_yellville_arkansas-a_sad_bad_place.html>
Oct. 16, 2017).

While the *Arkansas Democrat-Gazette* and its online version, Arkansas
Online, do
not publish Letters to the Editor from out-of-state writers, they do post
comments from people outside of Arkansas, so today I posted this comment
following the newspaper’s “Editorial: Find a better way”:
___________

*Karen Davis says . . .*

Thank you for speaking out against dropping turkeys from moving aircraft
from a
height to which even wild turkeys never ascend. Nor did turkeys evolve in
Nature
to be dropped from any height but, rather, they evolved to take off from the
ground or a branch, which is totally different, biologically, from being
dropped, whether from an airplane or the top of a building. In addition to
the
height from which the turkeys are being forced out of the plane, they
experience
terrific wind pressure produced by the plane. There is nothing in these
birds’
natural behavior, genetics, or evolution enabling them to comprehend or cope
with this situation. Nor is chasing terrified turkeys around town “humane.”
Imagine grown-ups teaching their children to enjoy terrorizing, injuring and
killing turkeys (or any fellow creature) for the pleasure of making them
suffer.
Most of the comments posted following your recent article about the “turkey
drop” exhibit a very ugly, mean-spirited attitude of ignorance and
viciousness
toward the birds. The “turkey drop” speaks poorly for Yellville. The very
word
“Yellville” connotes cruelty and pitiless pathology.

Thank you again for taking a stand.

Sincerely,
Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns,
author of More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and
Reality.
___________

*More Than a Meal*

This scholarly and authoritative book examines the cultural and literal
history, as well as the natural history and biological needs and concerns
of turkeys. And much more!

Now available as a Free PDF
<http://www.upc-online.org/turkeys/more_than_a_meal.pdf

Oppose Continued Torture of Turkeys in Nightmare Arkansas Festival!

https://www.peta.org/action/action-alerts/urgent-turkeys-hurled-from-airplane/

[What kind of twisted species would hurl live turkeys from airplanes? It underscores their disrespect for the animals whose death they celebrate every fall.]

Every October, the city of Yellville, Arkansas, holds its annual Turkey Trot, an event that includes the notorious “turkey drop.” This year was no exception, as live domestically bred wild turkeys—who normally would fly only short distances and low to the ground—were hurled from an airplane, the courthouse roof, buildings, and the festival stage into the clutches of a frenzied crowd. Thankfully, four birds were rescued by local PETA supporters and provided with veterinary treatment, and they’re currently safe in foster care. More information about this year’s sadistic event can be viewed here.

Once again, please urge Yellville officials to end this cruelty, which is a blight on the entire state—then forward this alert to everyone you know.

The Honorable Clinton L. Evans
Marion County Sheriff
491 Hwy. 62 W.
Yellville, AR 72687
Please click here to send an e-mail.
870-449-4236

The Honorable Kenford O. Carter
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
105 S. Berry St.
Yellville, AR 72687
870-449-4018

Hunting-store owner accused of shooting at turkey hunters east of Greeley

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/05/11/hunting-store-owner-shooting-hunters/

By Tommy Simmons, Greeley Tribune

Jim Arnold, 38, the owner of Waterfowl Haven Outfitters in Greeley, faces two counts of felony menacing after Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers say he fired a gun at two hunters and yelled racial slurs at them.

Arnold owns property on the South Platte River just east of Kersey. A few years ago, the report states, Kevin Dunnigan bought property next to Arnold’s. Dunnigan often let Arnold use the property for hunting as well as business, since Arnold also worked as a hunting guide.

Problems began when the Dunnigans began to hunt turkey on the property themselves, along with a few friends, the report says.

The report states Arnold would “harass” the Dunnigans and their friends from time to time, and the situation was tense enough for Dunnigan’s son, Taylor, to expect trouble when he was out hunting with a friend. But things escalated on April 22 when two family friends of the Dunnigans were using the property to hunt turkeys, the report states. Arnold “came out and harassed them by screaming…and shooting his guns,” the report states.

Arnold reappeared the next day, when Taylor was on his family’s property hunting with a friend. They had set up a hunting blind — a camouflaged tent with holes through which to shoot — in the bottom of a riverbed and were waiting for turkeys. Taylor later told officers he was about 70-80 yards from the border of Arnold’s property.

The two were in the tent when they saw Arnold’s 2000 Ford Excursion appear on the property line, the report stated. The driver’s side window was rolled down, and Arnold was looking at them through binoculars, according to the report.

The two recorded a video of what happened next, which served as evidence for police. In the video, Arnold, in front of his truck, fired a round into the air, flushing a group of turkeys from nearby trees. He then reloaded his shotgun.

The report states Arnold fired multiple shots at the small tent where Taylor and his friend remained huddled. Taylor later told officers the shots were hitting bushes between 5 and 20 yards from the tent, and said he was afraid for his life.

Consider the turkey on Thanksgiving. Specifically, consider not eating it

Featured Image -- 9294

Op-Ed

 by Peter Singer

When I teach practical ethics, I encourage my students to take the arguments we discuss outside the classroom. For Americans, there is no better occasion for a conversation about the ethics of what we eat than Thanksgiving, the holiday at which, more than any other, we come together around a meal.

The traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal is a turkey, so that is the obvious place to start. According to the National Turkey Federation, about 46 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving each year. The vast majority of them — at least 99% — are raised on factory farms. Newly hatched turkeys are raised in incubators and then debeaked before having their talons cut off. Male turkeys also have their snood removed — the fleshy erectile protuberance that grows from the forehead. All this is done without anesthetic, despite the pain it clearly causes.

 

The reason for these mutilations is that the birds are about to be placed in dim, poorly ventilated sheds, where they will live out the rest of their lives crowded together with thousands of other birds. The air reeks of ammonia from the birds’ droppings. In these unnatural and stressful conditions, turkeys will peck or claw at other birds, and cannibalism can occur. The snood is removed because it is often a target for pecking from other birds.

When the birds reach market weight, they are deprived of food and water, rounded up, often in a very rough manner, and transported to slaughter. Each year, hundreds of thousands don’t even make it that far — they die from the stress of the journey. If they do make it, they are still not guaranteed a humane death, because the U.S. Department of Agriculture interprets the Humane Slaughter Act as not applying to birds.

The turkeys Americans eat are not like those found in the wild; they have been altered by breeding designed to enlarge the breast. This process has gone so far that the standard American turkey, the descriptively named Broad Breasted White, is incapable of mating because the male’s big breast gets in the way. Here, I tell my students, is an interesting question to drop into a lull in conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Point to the turkey on the table and ask: If turkeys can’t mate, how was that turkey produced?

Some years ago, my friend Jim Mason decided to see for himself how all the hundreds of millions of sexually disabled turkeys are produced. He saw that Butterball, a large industrial producer of turkeys, was advertising for workers for its artificial insemination crew in Carthage, Mo. No prior experience was required. Jim passed a drug test and was put to work.

His first role was to catch the male turkeys by the legs and hold them upside down so that another worker could masturbate them. When the semen flowed out, the worker used a vacuum pump to collect it in a syringe. This was done with one bird after another until the semen, diluted with an “extender,” filled the syringe, which was then taken to the hen house.

Jim also had a spell working in the hen house. Here is his account:

“You grab a hen by the legs, trying to cross both ‘ankles’ in order to hold her feet and legs with one hand. … [Then] you flop her down, chest first, on the edge of the pit with the tail end sticking up. You put your free hand over the vent and tail and pull the rump and tail feathers upward. At the same time, you pull the hand holding the feet downward, thus ‘breaking’ the hen so that her rear is straight up and her vent open. The inseminator sticks his thumb right under the vent and pushes, which opens it further until the end of the oviduct is exposed. Into this, he inserts a straw of semen connected to the end of a tube from an air compressor and pulls a trigger, releasing a shot of compressed air that blows the semen solution from the straw and into the hen’s oviduct. Then you let go of the hen and she flops away.”

Jim was supposed to “break” one hen every 12 seconds, 300 an hour, for 10 hours a day. It was, he told me, “the hardest, fastest, dirtiest, most disgusting, worst-paid work I have ever done.”

Back to the Thanksgiving table. Now that the family understands how the bird they are eating came into existence, and what kind of a life and death it has had, I suggest to my students that they canvass opinions on whether it is ethical to support this way of treating animals. If the answer is no, then something needs to be changed for next year’s holiday.

People will say that turkey is traditional at Thanksgiving. In fact, it isn’t clear if the pilgrims ate wild turkey at that first Thanksgiving in 1621, but one thing is sure: They didn’t eat a factory-farmed Broad Breasted White.

Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University. This essay was adapted from his latest book, “Ethics in the Real World,” published by Princeton University Press.

Stop Dropping Live Turkeys from Airplanes

  • By: Nyack Clancy
  • Target: The Honorable Shawn Lane, Mayor of the City of Yellville Arkanas
79,032 SUPPORTERS
80,000 GOAL

Every Autumn, the city of Yellville holds its annual Turkey Trot Festival, during which domestic turkeys are hurled from private planes traveling around 70 miles per hour at altitudes of approximately 1,000 feet as part of the “Turkey Drop” tradition.

Disoriented and unable to right themselves, most birds plummet like bricks, fatally crashing onto buildings, cars, and the street.

The Turkey Drop clearly violates Arkansas law (§5-62-103), which states that a person commits the offense of cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment.

We urge the Mayor of Yellville to do everything in his power to end this cruel and illegal tradition.

The Honorable Shawn Lane
Mayor of the City of Yellville
Yellville City Hall
Phone: 870-449-6581
Emails: clerk@yellville.net , mayor@yellville.net

man shoots nephew in hunting accident

http://www.cecildaily.com/news/local_news/article_83eabbeb-b2c3-5438-b551-088e29165f8a.html

Tue Nov 3, 2015.

ALLEGANY COUNTY — Investigators charged a Rising Sun-area man with negligent hunting on Tuesday – one day after he shot his nephew during a hunting trip in Western Maryland because he mistook him for a turkey, according to the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

In addition, NRP officers confiscated the Mossberg 835 pump-action, 12-gauge shotgun that the defendant, Tracy James Duvall Sr., 65, fired when he accidentally wounded his nephew, Jason Gene Duvall, 39, shortly before 8 a.m. on Monday in Green Ridge States Forest in Allegany County, police reported.

Candy Thomson, a NRP spokeswoman, said the nephew took the brunt of the shotgun blast in his right hip and groin, while also suffering lesser wounds to his face and chest.

The nephew was transported to Western Maryland Regional Medical Center in Cumberland, where he underwent surgery to have some pellets removed from his body, she added. He was listed in stable condition on Tuesday.

During the hunting outing, Tracy Duvall entered the woods first and began calling turkeys, police said. His nephew later entered the woods and began calling turkeys, too, police added.

“At some point, (the nephew) sat down near a tree. He broke off calling and stood up. At that point, Tracy Duvall, thinking he saw a turkey, fired a single shot from a Mossberg 12-gauge pump-action shotgun from about 121 feet away,” Thomson explained.

The uncle and nephew were able to get out of the woods and call 911, she reported.

Duvall’s trial is scheduled for Dec. 22 in Allegany County District Court, police said. The offense is a “must appear” charge, meaning Duvall cannot mail in a check to the courthouse and concede the case against him, police added.

NRP officers did not arrest Duvall but, instead, issued him a citation. Negligent hunting carries a maximum $1,500 fine for a first offense. A defendant convicted a second time of negligent hunting could be sentenced up to one year in jail and fined up to $4,000.

Spread of Avian Flu Raises Concerns About Human Pandemic

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102715155

Avian flu spread raises some concerns about human infection

At least for now, chickens, turkeys and other fowl are the only direct targets of the avian flu outbreak that has spread across the U.S. Yet scientists say there is a subtype of the virus that may have the potential to become a human pandemic.

The outbreak, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture says has affected 20 states, has resulted in the destruction of at least 6 million chickens and turkeys and has put upward pressure on poultry prices. It has also triggered fears that much worse could be in store.

Daniel Janies, professor of bioinformatics and genomics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who co-authored a paper this year on the spread of an avian influenza, admits it’s “hard to say” whether the flu could make the jump from contained to catastrophe. Still, according to his research, bird flu has the potential to be “highly pathogenic and periodically infect humans.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that human infection, though rare, has been known to happen when people come into contact with an infected bird. Most recently, the H7N9 variant of bird flu infected some people in China, according to the CDC.

“Our work and that of others suggest that H7N9 has pandemic potential,” saids Janies, who is also a research associate in the invertebrate zoology department at the American Museum of Natural History, “but we have not seen human to human transmission yet.”

Read MoreAvian flu in Midwest hits egg prices, may hit harder

Bill Gates gets worried

Flu pandemics, which are based on how a disease spreads rather than its death toll, have only occurred four times since the beginning of the 20th century, kicked off by the Spanish flu of 1918 that killed about 50 million people. The most recent was swine flu, which “quickly spread across the United States and around the world” in the spring of 2009, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

This new avian flu subtype, first reported in China in the spring of 2013, hits the human body hard. Federal officials say that many patients experience “severe respiratory illness, with about one-third resulting in a death.” The strain still seems to be outside of the United States, but in January it reached Canada from two people who had been in China.

As of March, more than 640 human cases and 224 deaths from H7N9 flu have been reported globally.

Epidemiologists have been worrying about a global pandemic for years. Just this week, philanthropist and billionaire Bill Gates—whose foundation is involved in disease prevention in developing economies—told Vox he was worried about the potential for a global disease outbreak, although he acknowledged that the probability is “very low.”

In a normal season, human influenza can kill at least 10,000 and result in the hospitalization of more than 200,000 others in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. That translates into an economic cost of $14.9 billion in direct medical costs and lost productivity each year. Some estimate this is just a fraction of the damage a severe flu pandemic could create. One study by the CDC puts the economic impact as high as $166.5 billion.

Read MoreThe cost of halting a pandemic? $344 billion: Study

A recent study in mBio looked at the H5N1 avian flu’s spread in Egypt, and whether it has the potential to become airborne. It found that the virus there “could rapidly adapt to growth in the human airway microenvironment,” but emphasized that such a mutation was not one that “enhanced viral airborne transmission between humans.”

In other words, explained Janies, the H5N1 in Egypt is not adapting to become transmitted between humans. Rather, the bug is doing “a better job of deepening the infection” in humans.

However, the question remains whether scientific inquiry and technology can keep pace with mutating viruses. That area at least offers modest comfort, according to Janies.

“We are much better equipped to see, via genetic sequencers, and communicate, via data sharing over the Internet, on viral spread than in the past,” he said.

 

Be Careful What You Pray For…

…it just might happen (if you’re praying for a pandemic, that is).

Anytime now, we’re likely to hear that the current strain of bird flu mutated and crossed the species barrier to infect homo sapiens. But don’t worry, it’ll still be “safe to eat” (though you’d think it would lose it’s appeal).

TIMELINE-Tracing the bird flu outbreak in U.S. poultry flocks

(Reuters) – Two highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza (HPAI) have been found in 14 U.S. states since December, prompting partial to total bans on imports of U.S. poultry and egg products to other countries that were valued at more than $6 billion last year.

The H5N2 strain has been reported in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. It has also been identified on farms in Ontario, Canada. The H5N8 strain has been identified in California and also in Idaho, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Following is a timeline of the spread of the viruses, according to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and responses by the industry and trade partners.302023_10150378903781188_1851399709_n

Dec. 19, 2014 – Highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza strain confirmed in a backyard mixed poultry flock of 130 birds in Douglas county, Oregon.

Dec. 20 – South Korea, one of the top importers of U.S. poultry, halts imports of poultry and poultry products from the United States, a market valued at $113 million in 2014, in response to the HPAI finding.

Jan. 3, 2015 – The first case of the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza strain confirmed in a backyard mixed poultry flock of 140 birds in Benton county, Washington. The virus is believed to have been spread by wild birds migrating along the Pacific flyway which runs along the U.S. West Coast.

Jan. 6 – Mexico, the largest market for U.S. poultry valued at $1.2 billion in 2014, bans imports from states with confirmed cases.

Jan. 7 – No. 2 U.S. poultry importer Canada, which bought $589 million in poultry and products last year, bans imports from affected areas. The ban is later widened to include all or parts of 13 states. Ottawa imposed the ban despite several cases of bird flu within its own borders.

Jan. 8 – Imports of U.S. poultry, poultry products and eggs banned by China, a $315 million market in 2014.

Jan. 23 – The first commercial flock hit by H5N8 in Stanislaus county, California. The farm had 134,400 turkeys.

Feb. 12 – Veterinary officials confirm H5N8 in the first commercial chicken flock. The Kings county, California, flock had 112,900 birds.

March 4 – The first instance of HPAI along the Mississippi flyway, which runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the northern Midwest along the Mississippi River valley, is confirmed in a commercial flock of 26,310 turkeys in Pope county in Minnesota, the country’s top turkey producing state.

April 7 – The H5N2 strain strikes a 310,000-bird commercial turkey flock in Meeker county, Minnesota, bringing the total number of birds in infected flocks above 1 million.

April 13 – H5N2 is confirmed in the first commercial chicken operation in a 200,000-bird flock of egg-laying hens in Jefferson county, Wisconsin.

April 20 – The biggest outbreak so far as H5N2 is confirmed in 3.8 million egg-laying hens in Osceola county, Iowa. The finding in the country’s top egg producing state prompts Mexico to expand its import ban to include live birds and eggs from Iowa.

April 20 – Wisconsin declares a state of emergency and authorizes the state’s National Guard to help contain the virus.

April 22 – The USDA reports a year-over-year surge in frozen chicken stocks as the bird flu outbreak slows exports.

April 23 – Minnesota declares a state of emergency. State officials say they are offering prescriptions for the antiviral drug Tamiflu to people who have been in contact with infected flocks.

April 26 – The National Guard is called on to deliver water for use in efforts to contain the virus’ spread in Minnesota.

April 27 – Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and the USDA say initial tests have found probable bird flu outbreaks at five commercial poultry sites in Iowa containing more than 6 million birds. One site was confirmed as positive for HPAI a day later. If the other four are confirmed, the country’s outbreak would reach more than 15.1 million birds, just short of the largest-ever U.S. avian influenza outbreak of 17 million birds in 1983 and 1984.

April 28 – The USDA confirms H5N2 in three more flocks, including a flock of 1.7 million chickens in Sioux county, Iowa, bringing the state’s confirmed tally to more than 5.5 million birds. The three new confirmations lift the nationwide confirmed total to more than 11 million birds. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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