Friday, December 29, 2006

Group Calls for More Space for Captive or Zoo Elephants: USDA Now to Decide

An excellent move by In Defense of Animals. Take it legally and based on evidence. Here are some facts from the article below:

“In Defense petition asks the USDA to explain with more specificity its rule, as it pertains to elephants, calling for "adequate space" for zoo animals. The animal rights group says foot and joint problems ought to be an indicator that elephants don't have sufficient space.
Space woes are "hurting and killing our animals," Doyle said.

In Defense studied records pertaining to 132 elephants at 35 zoos, including Lee Richardson, finding that 62 percent had experienced foot disease and 42 percent had suffered joint disorders in the period covered, 2000 to 2005. Moreover, captive cows experience a high rate of early infertility, the study showed.”

Article:

Fate of group's zoo complaint now in hands of Dept. of Ag.

http://www.hutchnews.com/news/regional/stories/
zoo122806.shtml

By Tim Vandenack

The Hutchinson News
Michelob Ultra

tvandenack@hutchnews.com

The comments are in and now it's up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sort through them and weigh in on an animal rights group's call for more space for captive elephants.

In Defense of Animals, of San Rafael, Calif., filed a petition last February complaining that the nation's zoos are woefully inadequate in the care of elephants, citing Garden City's Lee Richardson Zoo, among others. Given the animals' large size and their relatively small quarters, they say captive pachyderms are susceptible to a range of woes, chiefly foot and joint maladies. The group seeks more spacious digs for the animals.

"You're talking about an animal that in the wild moves considerable distances every day," said Catherine Doyle, an In Defense spokeswoman. Elephants "are large animals that require a lot of space."

The USDA subsequently called for comments on the In Defense proposal, and nearly 2,300 streamed in through Dec. 11, the deadline, including a submission from Lee Richardson Director Kathy Sexson. Jim Rogers, spokesman for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said department staffers will now review the comments before making a formal pronouncement. He set no timeline.

In particular, the In Defense petition asks the USDA to explain with more specificity its rule, as it pertains to elephants, calling for "adequate space" for zoo animals. The animal rights group says foot and joint problems ought to be an indicator that elephants don't have sufficient space.

Space woes are "hurting and killing our animals," Doyle said.

In Defense studied records pertaining to 132 elephants at 35 zoos, including Lee Richardson, finding that 62 percent had experienced foot disease and 42 percent had suffered joint disorders in the period covered, 2000 to 2005. Moreover, captive cows experience a high rate of early infertility, the study showed.

In her filing, Sexson cast doubt on In Defense's criticism, accusing the group of taking health records of two elephants formerly housed at Lee Richardson - Moki and Chana - out of context. The group has cited occasional foot issues of the two animals, which were recently transferred to Florida's Jacksonville Zoo as part of a breeding effort, in its call for change.

Beyond that, Sexson noted that Lee Richardson's elephant pens were recently expanded and that two routine USDA inspections this year revealed no problems anywhere in the zoo, let alone the elephant exhibit.

At any rate, the size of an elephant's quarters isn't the only measure of its health, and Sexson said Association of Zoo and Aquarium standards ought to be considered if more stringent requirements are the aim. The AZA, a zoo accrediting body, outlines with more specificity than the USDA the conditions under which captive elephants should be kept.

Parent of Animal Testing Giant and Animal Torturer Huntingdon Life Sciences Breaks Deal with Stock Exchange: Allows Them to Trade Anonymously

The company is Life Sciences Research, Inc., “…a Princeton, N.J.-based medical research firm that specializes in animal experiments.” Apparently they will be allowed to trade anonymously. I’d love to hear about the legality of this move.

For those who don’t know, Huntingdon Life Sciences is perhaps the most widely known animal tester in the world. Why they are so widely known is due to what has been uncovered regarding their practices. Numerous hideous cases of cruelty and neglect have been documented in labs owned an operated by them. Even those who support animal testing have agreed that they should be shut down due to their egregious cruelty.

For more about the cruelty of Huntingdon Life Sciences including video proof see http://www.shac.net/

Article:

Analysis: NYSE defies animal extremists

http://www.upi.com/SecurityTerrorism/view.php

By SHAUN WATERMAN
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The decision by the New York Stock Exchange to list a medical research company targeted by animal rights protestors on a new electronic market where shares can be traded anonymously is being hailed as a victory by animal researchers.

Life Sciences Research, Inc., a Princeton, N.J.-based medical research firm that specializes in animal experiments announced just before Christmas that it had settled a dispute with the NYSE, and would be listed on the exchange's new all-electronic trading platform called Arca.

"We're thrilled," the company's Chief Financial Officer Richard Michaelson told United Press International. "It is a totally anonymous trading environment," he said of the new electronic exchange. "In our situation that is a big advantage."

Life Sciences Research, Inc., is the parent of U.K.-based Huntingdon Life Sciences, and has been targeted on both sides of the Atlantic by animal rights activists organized under the name Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, or SHAC.

The protests, which included sometimes violent campaigns of harassment against individual employees of the company and other firms that did business with it, were so successful that NYSE pulled a planned listing on its main exchange last year, after market-makers and other financial service providers were threatened by activists.

As part of the agreement for the listing on Arca, Life Sciences Research, Inc., agreed to drop their case against the NYSE about the listing being pulled, Michaelson said.

The firm's share price rose 40 percent in the first day's trading, to more than $14, and closed Thursday at $13.75.

Journalist and animal rights sympathizer Will Potter told UPI that targeting the market-makers -- financial middlemen who promise to buy a company's shares at the prevailing price and make real-time trading possible on the pre-electronic NYSE big board -- had been a big step forward for SHAC campaigners, and was what had enabled them to scotch the planned listing.

"That was what got the (animal research) industry really freaked out," said Potter, "once the activists started to understand how important the market makers were... how the stock market actually worked... It was a real turning point."

Campaigners also targeted firms that provided financial, technical and other services to Life Sciences Research, and threatened to mount protests against the NYSE -- a tactic known as tertiary targeting.

In the UK, animal rights activists using similar tactics have successfully forced the closure of two businesses breeding animals for research.

"That business savvy is the greatest threat they pose," Potter said of the animal rights movement, adding that the anonymity Arca provided would close off some of those options for campaigners.

A new law giving federal law enforcement additional powers to surveil and prosecute campaigners using harassment against animal researchers and companies that do business with them was signed by President Bush at the end of November, but the consensus among industry observers was that it was too early to tell how much difference it would make.

Jerry Vlasak, spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, told UPI in a recent interview he believes the new law will lead to more "underground activity," such as vandalizing laboratories and releasing research animals.

"It's not going to make this thing go away," he said, "I don't think you're going to find anybody deterred." Indeed, he said, protestors who had stuck to legal tactics were now worried about being prosecuted under the new law and were leaning towards more militant forms of protest.

The new law strengthens existing federal legislation, which protects animal researchers and other businesses using animals from "physical disruption." The act expands federal offenses under the law to cover campaigns of threats and intimidation that might financially cripple a company without any "physical disruption;" and increases penalties.

It also expands the law to cover so-called secondary and tertiary targets -- companies who do business with animal enterprises -- and individual employees, neither of which were protected by the existing 1992 law.

Federal law enforcement officials say the new powers will enable them to launch investigations, including electronic surveillance of telephones, web sites and e-mail, against small groups of militants who are exploiting loopholes in the existing legislation.

Pet Stores and Puppy Mills

Came across this article which exposes the truth behind pet stores and their suppliers – puppy mills.

Article:

The Other Side of the Pet Store Window

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – PETA

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/
viewArticle.asp?articleID=18410

December 28, 2006

By Christina Matthies

Every time I see a shopping mall pet store, I wish I could stand in front of it and show the passersby an elderly Chihuahua named Sophia. Sophia is the reason no one should ever buy an animal from a pet store. Like most dogs for sale in stores, she came from a puppy mill.

When I first met Sophia, I didn’t think she would ever get over her intense fear of humans. The first month I had her, she huddled in the corner of my bedroom and shook with convulsions whenever I looked at her, her large eyes bulging with fear.

Sophia was one of a hundred neglected dogs seized by authorities 14 months ago from a puppy mill in North Carolina. Instead of frolicking in a home with loving guardians, Sophia and her fellow inmates were relegated to dilapidated wood and wire outdoor hutches, denied proper nutrition and veterinary care, given algae-coated water and forced to sit in their own waste. Like Sophia, most of the dogs were small breeds: Chihuahuas, Boston terriers, Shih Tzus and others. They were being exploited for the sole purpose of making money for their owner.

Puppy mills are a thinly veiled “secret” in the pet store industry. The little bundles of joy in pet stores come from puppy mill mothers like Sophia, who are forced to bear litter after litter, with dire consequences to their health. Male breeders are stuck in cages, treated like assembly-line objects, and both males and females are thrown away when they can no longer reproduce. The puppies they give birth to are usually sick—infested with parasites and infected with viruses and diseases on top of the genetic problems they’ve inherited from their worn-out parents.

Puppy mill dogs are never touched with a loving hand, fed treats, given soft beds or chew toys or taken for walks. Their basic physical needs are unmet and they are emotionally ignored. And they carry their wounds with them. When People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gained temporary custody of 20 of the North Carolina puppy mill breeding dogs, I agreed to foster six of them. I was totally unprepared.

Most of them were so scared of people that even if gently touched, they would lose control of their bowels. They had infections, parasites and untreated broken legs that had calcified and healed improperly. When I lifted a camera to snap a picture, they scrambled against the wall, their bodies trembling so hard I thought they would collapse. They would do anything to get away from me, which made giving them their medicine for all their ailments next to impossible. It soon became clear that I had a lot of making up to do for the human race.

Now, I’m proud to say, a lot of that fear is gone.

Sarah, a Chihuahua mix who spent the first year or more of her life in a cage, enjoys playing tricks on my son, stealing his socks and toys and running away with them when he isn’t looking. Chandler, one of the youngest of the bunch, no longer cowers in fear but rolls onto his back to have his belly scratched when he’s done playing with his new friends—three large shepherd mixes. Theresa, another little Chihuahua mix, is slowly learning to trust me and recently started touching my legs affectionately when she thinks I’m not looking. And Sophia, the one I thought would never trust humans, sleeps curled up in a queen-sized bed, snoring like a contented freight train as her new foster mom desperately tries to get some sleep.

The best way to help dogs like Sophia is to refuse to buy animals from pet stores. There are millions of dogs and cats in animal shelters across the nation waiting for homes. All of them are special and all have something to offer. If you have the time and resources to share your home with one—or better, two—of them, go to your local animal shelter and adopt. It’s time to put the puppy mills out of business.

Christina Matthies is a proud foster mom and writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.HelpingAnimals.com.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Machismo Culture and Loose Laws Allow Cockfighting to Flourish in Texas and Southern States

Two things to note here:

One, it’s largely based on cultural issues such as a machismo mentality and culture. Changing this is very difficult.

Two, the laws are weak. Here are a few quotes from the article below that address this:

"The only way we can prosecute someone is if we catch a person causing one animal to fight another," said Belinda Smith, an assistant district attorney.

Smith said she would like cockfighting laws broadened to make it possible to prosecute all involved.

"In dogfighting, I can prosecute people who sponsor the event; the landowners where the event is taking place; people participating in earnings; anyone who owns or trains a dog with intent to put in the event and even spectators," Smith said.

Participating as a spectator at a dogfight is a Class C misdemeanor. Texas law has no specific language for cockfighting spectators.

A person who breeds roosters in the city can be cited for keeping fowl for commercial use or violating health codes. County laws do not prohibit people from breeding, keeping or selling roosters.


Article:

Legal loopholes let cockfighting flourish in Texas

Embraced by some as 'cultural thing,' it's often associated with other crimes

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/

4429792.html

By ROBERT CROWE
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

A centuries-old blood sport is bustling in Texas, featuring weekend fights that include gambling, concession stands and even paid parking.

Dozens of cockfighting operations have sprung up in Harris County in recent years to support the illegal trade and they do business with little interference, animal-rights activists say.

Frustrated authorities say they're alarmed by the trend, but can't do much because local and state laws are weak and full of loopholes.

"I'm serious when I say cockfighting is an epidemic not only in Houston, but all over Texas," said Sgt. Mark Timmers, a Harris County Precinct 6 deputy constable who has seen a rise in breeding farms for roosters used in cockfighting.

On one recent day, Timmers visited a makeshift farm in northwest Houston that he suspects breeds fighting cocks. A rooster at his feet eyed him suspiciously before scratching the dirt in its small cage and letting loose a cock-a-doodle-doo, triggering a deafening, crowing frenzy from 300 more roosters.

With conspicuously bald heads and long, iridescent feathers, these alpha males — individually caged just out of pecking range — resembled fighting fish suspended in rows of plastic cups at a pet store.

No one knows for sure how many roosters are raised for cockfighting in Harris County.

Timmers said there's no official system to track the number of suspected farms or rings. And that's frustrating, he said, because cockfighting rings are often linked to gambling, drugs and guns.

Illegal in all states but Louisiana and New Mexico, cockfighting has deep roots in rural Texas and Cajun Louisiana.

"It's completely widespread in Texas because it's a cultural thing," said Howard Williams, 68, a Fort Worth breeder who has fought roosters for 50 years.

Observers say Latin American immigrants have increased its popularity in urban areas.

Culture clash

Cockfighting, like bullfighting, is a cultural tradition that is legal in Mexico.

"It's something you kind of grow up around that's kind of cool," said Houston rap artist Chingo Bling, who has seen cockfights in Houston and Mexico.

His 7-year-old pet rooster, Cleto, which the Hispanic rapper jokes is a cockfighting champion, figures prominently in his music and persona. Chingo's father bought Cleto from a breeder in southeast Houston.

Some Latinos, he said, admire the macho image of the outlaw cockfighter like a winning boxer.

"People want to be a champion ... we look up to the guy with the pair of ostrich boots and alligator belt; the guy whose rooster just won a hundred Gs on a fight," Chingo said.

Animal-rights activists contend the life of a fighting rooster is far from the cultural romanticism painted by Chingo.

Roosters are shorn of their combs and wattles, fitted with razor blades or ice picks and often injected with steroids or blood-clotting drugs before being forced to fight to the death.

"It's not a quaint pastime; it's a criminal cruel industry," said Ann Chynoweth of the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C.

The group recently persuaded Houston's Continental Airlines to stop shipping roosters to Guam, where cockfighting is a celebrated sport. A Humane Society investigation revealed that U.S. breeders shipped 6,400 roosters to Guam between 2003 and 2005. Nearly 10 percent of the shipments were from Texas.

The legislative push for tougher penalties in Texas has stalled.

"Current laws do not deter cockfighters, who can make thousands of dollars, either on a fight or on breeding," Chynoweth said.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office has not prosecuted a cockfighting case in recent history.

Narrow laws
"The only way we can prosecute someone is if we catch a person causing one animal to fight another," said Belinda Smith, an assistant district attorney.

Smith said she would like cockfighting laws broadened to make it possible to prosecute all involved.

"In dogfighting, I can prosecute people who sponsor the event; the landowners where the event is taking place; people participating in earnings; anyone who owns or trains a dog with intent to put in the event and even spectators," Smith said.

Participating as a spectator at a dogfight is a Class C misdemeanor. Texas law has no specific language for cockfighting spectators.

A person who breeds roosters in the city can be cited for keeping fowl for commercial use or violating health codes. County laws do not prohibit people from breeding, keeping or selling roosters.

Authorities say large-scale underground fights are increasingly popular.

In July, the Houston SPCA helped Nueces County authorities seize 100 roosters from a breeder who allegedly had held regular fights that drew hundreds of spectators to his barn.

"It's getting out of hand when you have paid parking, concession stands and children at these things," said Heidi Brasher, Houston SPCA spokeswoman.

Authorities say the larger cockfighting pits promote a criminal atmosphere that breeds violence.

In September, a betting dispute about the Needville cockfight ended when one man fired a gun at two other men, killing one. Jose Alfredo Morales, 32, of Los Fresnos, died at the scene.

The gunshots sent a crowd of at least 100 fleeing in their cars on the dusty back roads of Fort Bend County. By the time authorities arrived, no one could be arrested for cockfighting because the fight had ended.

Authorities also point to the November seizure of 400 fighting roosters outside Austin.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency discovered the roosters, a cockfighting pit, and dozens of fighting picks and razors while raiding Dogcatcher Farm after a two-year drug-smuggling investigation.

The owner, Noe Perez, 37, of Luling, bred the roosters and fought them in a large pit on his property, police said.

Perez was among 11 people indicted on charges of smuggling $250,000 worth of methamphetamine every month to the Austin area from Mexico.

The property also had an incubation area for chicks and a separate pit where dead roosters were burned after losing fights. The cockfights were drawing about 60 people every Sunday, authorities say.

Few victories
Timmers is just one of few law enforcement officers tasked with preventing animal cruelty in the Houston area. He said he has shut down a few breeders, often when he finds cockfighting paraphernalia like razors and syringes on properties.

But he rarely gets the chance to savor those victories for long.

"When I run them out of the city, they just find a new place in the county," Timmers said.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Idiotic Selfish Chinese Thinking Leads to Tiger Farming and Poaching

First, it’s absolutely ridiculous that there actually exist Tiger farms to literally raise tigers to then kill for their parts for traditional chinese medicine. Only in China.

The problem is demand and idiocy. People really think they’re more important than the countless tigers cruelly raised and killed for their parts. It’s plain idiocy to think that these parts are helping them and that this is the only way to cure their ailments.

Again, a change of culture and thinking is needed to help this problem. Tiger farms and poaching must be stopped by stopping the idiotic and cruel thinking prevalent in Chinese society.

Article:

China Tiger Farms Lobby to Sell Animal Parts to Aid Conservation

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/
12/061222-tiger-farms.html

Scott Norris
for National Geographic News
December 22, 2006

A controversial proposal to lift China's 13-year domestic ban on trade in tiger parts has conservationists baring their teeth.

At issue is the sale of bones, organs, claws, fat, and blood from "farm-raised" tigers—an idea proponents say will help stem poaching of wild tigers.

Illegal trade in tiger parts for traditional medicine has been a major factor driving wild populations steeply downward. And wildlife protection groups say that poaching would only increase if China's trade ban were to be lifted.

About a dozen privately owned, government-licensed tiger farms currently exist in China, most of them operated as tourist attractions.

The farms hold about 4,000 tigers. Conservationists and animal rights advocates have long criticized conditions on the farms and argued for their closure.

Farm operators say they can help with tiger conservation by legally selling products derived from captive tigers that die a natural death.

Flooding the market with farmed tiger parts, supporters say, would lower the profitability of poaching, thus reducing its occurrence.

Wildlife advocates maintain that the proposal is motivated by commerce, not conservation, and would likely spell doom for the last remaining wild tigers.

"China has taken excellent actions to enhance enforcement and to educate its public" about tiger conservation, said Sue Lieberman, Global Species Programme Director for the international conservation organization WWF.

"Any lifting of the ban would undermine efforts they have put in place over the last 16 years."

Economic Solution?

Materials such as powdered tiger bone have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and can fetch a high price.

When the domestic trade ban went into effect in 1993, such goods continued to be sold on the black market.

Despite a government-run education campaign to discourage the use of tiger products and promote wildlife-friendly alternatives, demand remains high.

Barun Mitra is director of the Liberty Institute, a pro-free-market think tank in New Delhi, India. He says wild tigers remain at risk because mainstream conservationists have been taking the wrong approach.

In his view the problem is essentially an economic one—and it requires an economic solution.

"Trying to choke demand by greater investment in law and order has always failed, whether you look at the tiger in India or Prohibition"—the domestic ban on alcohol sales from 1920 to 1933—"in the U.S.," Mitra said.

Instead, Mitra believes that wild tigers would be best served by allowing Chinese tiger farmers to meet the demand for medicinal products.

Mitra has been making the case for farmed tiger trade in newspaper editorials and public appearances, including participation in a debate last month in Washington, D.C., hosted by the nonprofit Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

The free market can protect endangered species, Mitra says, by according the animals their full value as private, saleable property.

Demand cannot be wished or regulated away, he says. If the only way to meet demand is by hunting wild animals, populations will inevitably decline.

After a recent tour of tiger farms hosted by the Chinese government, Mitra cited officials as saying that the country could produce a hundred thousand farmed tigers in the next 10 to 15 years.

By Mitra's reckoning, a captive population of that size could produce up to ten thousand tiger carcasses a year.

If the market were flooded by such an abundant source of tiger products, Mitra believes prices would drop sufficiently so that poaching and smuggling would no longer be worth the risk.

More resources could then be devoted to developing local economic incentives for tiger conservation.

"To save the tiger in the wild," Mitra said, "we need to ensure that the value of a tiger alive in the forest is higher than the value of a dead one."

Out-of-Control Market

But Mitra's "sell the tiger to save it" proposal has drawn a sharply negative response from conservation groups such as WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Save the Tiger Fund.

WWF's Lieberman says Mitra's argument has already been proven incorrect.

"It was the so-called free-market approach that led to [tigers] becoming so endangered in the first place," she said.

"China once had one of the largest tiger populations in the wild and now has one of the smallest. This is agreed by experts to be due to the unregulated, out-of-control domestic market in tiger parts."

Last month a coalition of animal welfare groups issued a joint statement during Chinese president Hu Jintao's visit to India urging the Chinese government to maintain the ban.

And in last month's CEI debate, Grace Gabriel, Asia regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said that tiger farming and trade would only stimulate consumption.

Poaching would remain profitable, she said, since it will always cost less to kill a wild tiger than to raise and feed a captive one.

Lieberman agrees, adding that consumer preference for wild tiger materials would help keep the black market in operation.

Protecting Whales: Man Joins Ship to Look for Japanese Whaling Fleet Violating International Law by Hunting Whales in Protected Waters

Their goal is to legally protect the whales, which include endangered fin and humpback whales.

Incredible story and incredible man.

Article:

Winnipeg man spends holiday saving whales
Among crew of animal-rights ship

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/subscriber
/local/story/3824715p-4424935c.html

Wed Dec 27 2006

By Kevin Rollason
WHILE Winnipeggers slogged through snow and carved their Christmas turkeys, Wolseley resident David Nickarz was trying to save the whales in the south Antarctic Ocean.

Nickarz is part of the crew of the Farley Mowat, a ship that is part of the U.S.-based Sea Shepherd Society, an animal-rights organization that left Australia on Friday bound for the Antarctic.

Nickarz and the crew are looking for six ships with the Japanese whaling fleet they claim are violating international law by hunting whales in protected waters. When the group finds the ships, they will try to protect the whales, which include endangered fin and humpback whales.

"I really admire what the group is all about," he said via satellite phone as the ship cruised through a calm ocean with few waves on Saturday morning.

"We're not a protest group. We follow international law to protect the ocean. We take action and we have international law on our side. This is not a vacation."

Nickarz is known to Winnipeggers for protesting against the city's fogging of mosquitoes.

Earlier this year, Nickarz, who is in remission from testicular cancer, formed the Cancer Brigade with Nick Ternette. He told a civic committee that the chemicals used in pesticides may have caused his disease.

Nickarz, a self-employed handyman, learned early in life to protest for what he believes is right.

His father was arrested last year after being charged with trying to stop civic trucks from spraying malathion in the Wolseley area.

Nickarz said he, himself, was arrested in 2004 after he refused to get out of the way of the city trucks as they tried to leave an East Kildonan compound.

"I've been involved in numerous causes through the years," he said, adding this is the fifth time he has been on a society ship trying to save sea life.

Nickarz knew that at the first part of his mission, which could last up to 50 days, his family and friends would be celebrating Christmas and the holidays while he works eight hours a day in the engine room of the ship.

But Nickarz said it's a worthy tradeoff.

"I'm trying to save the whales and save an endangered species," he said. "I won't be missing the holiday at all."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Animal Rights in 2007: A Few Different Takes on What to Expect

The people interviewed for this article only represent a few different view points. Still, the article provides a good insight into the thinking of those close to the movement and also those opposed to it.

Article:

Analysis: Animal rights heating up in 2007

http://news.monstersandcritics.com/health/features/
article_1236829.php/
Analysis_Animal_rights_heating_up_in_2007

By Steve Mitchell Dec 26, 2006, 19:02 GMT

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- Despite intensified law-enforcement efforts and the passage of a new federal law aimed at animal-rights extremists in 2006, the year ahead looks to be a busy one, with pharmaceutical companies squarely in activists` crosshairs.

Earlier this year the FBI, which considers animal activists one of the biggest domestic terrorist threats, helped prosecute and essentially shut down a group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty that was focused on financially ruining Huntingdon Life Sciences, a firm that conducts animal research for pharmaceutical companies.

In addition, President Bush signed into law the industry-supported update to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which imposes fines and imprisonment for activists targeting individual researchers and businesses.

But both animal-rights activists and research supporters say these actions will probably not be enough to stifle the diehard extremists in 2007.

'There`s going to be a lot of activity,' Frankie Trull, president of Foundation for Biomedical Research, a pro-animal research group supported by industry, told United Press International.

Trull said she thinks activists will target businesses conducting biomedical research as well as other secondary and tertiary targets.

'There`s a lot of activities being carried out by activists that, if added up, would have a significant effect on biomedical research,' she said.

Activists this summer succeeded in intimidating UCLA professor Dario Ringach into discontinuing animal research, and Trull said those kinds of personal campaigns will probably continue to increase.

On the prosecution side, she said she anticipates law enforcement will increase oversight, including using expanded powers of wiretapping, such as monitoring Internet communications of activists, granted under the PATRIOT Act.

'Getting the AETA law passed just moved all of this up on law enforcement`s priority list,' Trull said.

She said another campaign that will likely increase is the focus on contract research organizations (CROs), such as the one currently going on in Chandler, Ariz., over Covance`s proposed animal-research facility.

The activists` activities could ultimately force pharmaceutical companies and others engaged in biomedical research to relocate their U.S. operations to other countries, Trull said.

'This is creating a climate that is not conducive to animal research, which is going to drive companies offshore,' she said.

However, Jacquie Calnan, president of Americans for Medical Progress, a pro-animal research group supported partly by the pharmaceutical industry, told UPI she`s not aware of any evidence that is occurring.

'I haven`t seen that,' Calnan said. 'I don`t think you`re going to see any major pharmaceutical company that has a presence here in the United States pack up to go overseas.'

Calnan said AETA may not deter extremists, but she hopes it sent a message that they will be held accountable for their actions and that it may make it harder for them to recruit new members.

However, it also might intensify the actions of the extremists.

'Those who are already in the field might try to step up their campaigns, but I don`t see the number of members increasing,' she said.

Calnan said her group plans to launch a campaign featuring patients who have benefited from animal research and technicians and veterinarians who work with the animals in the labs.

Called 'Raising Voices, Saving Lives,' the campaign`s intent is to make people more comfortable speaking out in defense of animal research. The campaign will consist of a series of posters and efforts at the grassroots level to encourage supporters to discuss the benefits of animal research in their community.

AMP`s campaign, however, will be competing against a campaign from animal-rights groups.

Camille Hankins, who represents Win Animal Rights, told UPI her group would be launching a campaign 'to educate people about the horrors the drug companies are responsible for.'

This includes targeting companies that work with Huntingdon and asserting that animal research is unreliable and leads to drugs that could potentially harm people, Hankins said.

She noted that one company WAR will focus on is Pfizer.

'We`re going to be really focusing on that one particular company to get it to cut its ties to Huntingdon,' she said.

The Pfizer campaign will include setting up a table in front of the firm`s headquarters in New York and offering ex-employees of the pharmaceutical giant help finding employment with companies that are 'cruelty-free,' Hankins said.

In addition, they will be calling for a boycott on Pfizer products and setting up a hotline for whistleblower employees who want to divulge negative experiences they`ve had while working for the company.

Jerry Vlasak, spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, told UPI he anticipates there will be more underground activity, such as vandalizing labs and releasing research animals, as a result of AETA.

'Things are picking up,' Vlasak said, noting that he`s received several anonymous communiqués in the last week from extremists claiming they`ve carried out illicit actions, including vandalism of fur stores and alleged poisoning of hundreds of bottles of POM Wonderful`s juices.

However, POM, which was targeted by activists for funding animal research to show the health benefits of its juices, says this appears to be a hoax and it has detected no evidence of foul play.

'It`s not going to make this thing go away,' he said. 'I don`t think you`re going to find anybody deterred,' he said, adding that people who carried on legal protests and demonstrations are now worried about being prosecuted under this law and are leaning towards underground activities.

'There`s a lot of people willing to die for the cause,' Vlasak said.

FDA Expected To Give Green Light to Meat and Dairy Products from Cloned Animals for Human Consumption

We saw this coming.

For more background information, see
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org

Article:

FDA Expected to OK Food from Cloned Animals
by Center for Food Safety

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/12/26/18341099.php


Tuesday Dec 26th, 2006 7:18 PM

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected later this week to release a preliminary safety assessment that clears the way for marketing of meat and dairy products from cloned animals for human consumption

DESPITE LACK OF SCIENCE AND STRONG PUBLIC CONCERN,
FDA EXPECTED TO OK FOOD FROM CLONED ANIMALS

Inadequate Safety Review Threatens U.S. Food Supply and Animal Welfare

(December 26, 2006) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected later this week to release a preliminary safety assessment that clears the way for marketing of meat and dairy products from cloned animals for human consumption. The assessment and the agency's expected endorsement of cloned food comes despite widespread concern among scientists and food safety advocates over the safety of such products. The move to market cloned milk and meat also flies in the face of dairy and food industry concern and recent consumer opinion polls showing that most Americans do not want these experimental foods.

"Instead of doing its job, the Bush FDA has ignored the science and fast-tracked this decision for the benefit of a few cloning companies," said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director for the Center for Food Safety (CFS). "This is a lose-lose situation for consumers and the dairy industry."

The FDA action follows the recent news that the agency has refused to investigate health problems in animal clones on a U.S. dairy farm. Greg Wiles, whose Williamsport Maryland "Futuraland 2020" dairy was the first farm in the nation to have cloned cows, told FDA that one of his two cow clones was suffering from unexplained health problems. Wiles told Food Chemical News that the clone "just stopped growing...she just looks terrible," but says that when he reported the problems to FDA and other federal officials, he was "paddled around like a tennis ball from agency to agency." CFS has asked the Agriculture Department to intervene in the case to stop any sale and prohibit the slaughter of clones and their progeny for food.

In October, CFS, joined by a coalition of consumer, environmental and animal welfare organizations, filed a legal petition with the FDA seeking a moratorium on foods produced from cloned animals and establishment of mandatory rules for pre-market food safety and environmental review of cloned foods (see the petition at http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/ ). The petition also requested that the Department of Health and Human Services establish a federal review committee to advise FDA on the ethical issues raised by animal cloning.

Recent opinion polls also show that Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about animal cloning for food production. A November 2006 food industry poll conducted by the International Food Information Council showed that 58% of Americans' surveyed would be unlikely to buy meat or milk from animal clones even if FDA found such products to be safe. In the same poll, only 16% of Americans had a favorable opinion of animal cloning. A December 2006 poll by the Pew Initiative found that 64% of those polled were uncomfortable with animal cloning, with 43% saying that cloned food is unsafe, while another 36% felt unsure about cloned food safety.

The FDA's action also follows growing opposition to the use of clones and their progeny for food products on Capitol Hill. In November, Senator Barbara Mikulski sent a letter to the FDA requesting a complete overview of how the agency came to its decision of using clones in food. In early December, a bi-partisan group of seven senators led by Senator Patrick Leahy asked FDA to reconsider its assessment of cloned animals. The International Dairy Foods Association, representing major dairies and food makers including Kraft, Nestle and others, also has opposed allowing products from cloned animals into the food supply at this time.

Cloning scientists have acknowledged that genetic abnormalities are common in clones, yet FDA failed to address how food safety and animal welfare concerns could be managed if cloning is widely adopted by the livestock industry. Some of the health and safety problems in animal cloning include:

Surrogate mothers are treated with high doses of hormones; clones are often born with severely compromised immune systems and frequently receive massive doses of antibiotics. This opens an avenue for large amounts of veterinary pharmaceuticals to enter the human food supply;

Imbalances in clones' hormone, protein, and/or fat levels could compromise the quality and safety of meat and milk;

The National Academy of Sciences warned that commercialization of cloned livestock for food production could increase the incidence of food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli infections;

Cloning commonly results in high failure rates and defects such as intestinal blockages; diabetes; shortened tendons; deformed feet; weakened immune systems; dysfunctional hearts, brains, livers, and kidneys; respiratory distress; and circulatory problems.
"There is widespread concern among Americans, and scientific concern that cloned food may not be safe and that cloning will increase animal cruelty," said Mendelson. "We intend to pursue our legal action to compel FDA to address the many unanswered questions around cloned food."

What can you do?
Though FDA has not made their official announcement (it is expected later this week), the story has already hit the press. Keep an eye out in your local papers for stories on FDA's approval. We will send you another email with an opportunity to send letters to the editors of your local media outlets. It is also expected that a public comment period will be opened once FDA makes a formal announcement, if so, we will have an opportunity to make our voices heard then as well.

For more background information, see http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org

Fox Hunting Still Popular in England

And this despite the ban on allowing the dogs to kill the fox. So, the people are still blood thirsty, but slightly edited.

Article:

Hunts hail Boxing Day turn-out

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6209365.stm

Supporters say more people are taking part in hunts
Campaigners claim 320,000 people took part in traditional Boxing Day hunt meets, saying the ban is unworkable.

Under the ban, dogs can still be used to follow a scent - but cannot be used to kill the fox.

But protesters also took to the countryside, saying the police should be doing more to enforce the legislation.

The Countryside Alliance said two hunts had re-formed while other meets had been joined by former supporters.

Hailing the strength of the Boxing Day turn-out as a success, campaigners for a repeal of the fox hunting law said the numbers who had attended meetings showed the ban was unworkable in England and Wales.

Charlotte Fiander, spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said supporters regarded the legislation as an "unenforceable" law.

"Even the police don't seem to know what they're trying to uphold," she said.

"Everybody seems to be generally confused as to what's going on."

Across the UK, hunt organisers said their meetings had been well attended.

Some 2,000 people turned out to see the Beaufort Hunt in Gloucestershire, said organisers. The Beaufort has in the past been attended by members of the Royal Family.

The South Pembrokeshire Hunt saw 700 people turn out, including Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart.

But the RSPCA dismissed claims that the law was unworkable. "Those who think otherwise will find themselves in court," said a spokeswoman.

"We can't pick and choose which laws to obey. Calling for the law to be repealed was "a bit like saying the law against burglary isn't workable because people commit burglary.

"If some people choose to break the law it proves the need for enforcement."

'Systematic law-breaking'

Essex Police arrested one female saboteur for carrying a hammer at the Essex Farmers and Union Hunt.

But League Against Cruel Sports spokesman Mike Hobday said "significant" law-breaking was coming from the hunts themselves.

"Systematic breaking of the law is a facet of hunting that is causing the police to be more concerned - more interested in what's happening," he said.

Mr Hobday said the league would work with the police - but was also planning to bring private prosecutions if necessary.

Lord Archer QC, a former solicitor general, and Anthony Scrivener QC, former chair of the Bar Council, have been advising the league which has established a team to look at bring prosecutions.

The Countryside Alliance's own legal challenge to the legislation is soon to be heard in the House of Lords.

Earlier in the year hunt supporters failed to get the lower courts to rule that the legislation breached human rights law, trading and employment regulations.

India Finally Enforces 30 Year Law, Bans Snake Charmers

Apparently they were not supposed to be doing this for the last 30 years. Good thing enforcement is now being done.

Article:

India bans snake charmers

http://www.theage.com.au/news/india/india-bans-snake-charmers/
2006/12/27/1166895347676.html

Snakes and legal matters ... Indian cobras are protected from flutists as well as hunters.

December 27, 2006 - 2:48PM

Out-of-work Indian snake charmers are playing their flutes at weddings and world festivals after pressure from animal rights groups led to their prized reptiles being impounded.

The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 prohibits hunting or keeping snakes but was widely flouted by turbanned charmers who crowd buses and attractions in tourist states like Rajasthan.

But growing environmental awareness has forced authorities to crack down on those hunting and using snakes to make a living, including men who use music to make them dance for money.

"We now have accepted the fact that we cannot perform with snakes," said Hawa Singh Nath, a wiry, bearded 68-year-old charmer who lives in the suburbs of the capital, New Delhi.

The charmers live in squalid settlements on the outskirts of cities, where generations have learned to master this ancient art.

At the best of times, snake charming is not a profitable profession and the hunting ban has made it even more difficult.

"We are hardly earning half of what we used to earn before," Nath said. "Many are going to the cities and most our children do not want to take up our profession. We have no regrets that they won't play the flute. We need to do other jobs now to survive."

Nath performed his 300-year-old music at the Dubai film festival in 2005, while others have traveled to the U.K. and Middle East or put on special wedding or birthday party shows.

"People still love us even when they know we have no snakes to show them," said Shishanath, a saffron-clad charmer.

Other charmers have swapped roles and now work at animal centres and forestry offices, educating visitors about their beloved reptiles, which appear in Hindu texts and are widely worshipped. Lord Shiva, a major deity, is often depicted with a snake around his neck.

Most charmers use cobras, one of India's endangered reptiles.

The earliest Indian snake charmers were healers who learned the art of treating snakebites and were called on to remove snakes from homes. The practice blossomed in the 20th century as it was promoted as a practice to draw tourists.

"We have been living with snakes for generations. They have provided us with food. They are everything to us. We think them to be our protectors," said another Delhi charmer, Banwari.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Brutal Clubbing of Seals on Coast of Namibia Causing Mass Mortalities: Contradicts Claims that Shortage of Fish is the Cause

Well of course. If you cause mass brutal carnage, the baby seal pups will flee. Then, they will die due to lack of their mothers.

Sick people in Namibia. No better than the baby seal killers in Canada.


"Namibia remains the only country in the world to slaughter nursing baby seals in birthing and breeding grounds.

Article:

Namibia: Animal Rights Group Blames Culling for Seal Deaths in Namibia

http://allafrica.com/stories/200612220200.html

The Namibian (Windhoek)

December 22, 2006
Posted to the web December 22, 2006

Brigitte Weidlich
Windhoek

THE method of culling small seal pups is causing the mass mortalities of seals along the Namibian coast, and not a shortage of fish, an animal rights group said yesterday.

Commercial cullers club nursing seal pups to death with wooden logs.
Western Union

This method is very traumatic for the pups and their mothers, causing the pups to flee from the seal colonies, but they are too young to survive on their own, according to Seal Alert South Africa.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources said last week that the large numbers of dead seals seen at the coast are due to starvation because of a lack of fish.

"The death by starvation of these seals is the direct result of the daily disturbance inflicted upon these seals by these barbaric club-wielding sealers, who do their killing every morning between 0h500 and 10h00 from July to November," Francois Hugo of Seal Alert SA in Cape Town said yesterday.

Cape fur seals nurse their pups for up to 12 months.

The bond between pups and their mothers is much stronger than with other seal species, which wean their pups after three weeks, he pointed out.

As far back as 1987, countries that culled Harp seals - Canada, Greenland, Russia and Norway - all banned the practice of clubbing nursing baby seals to death in nursing and breeding grounds, Hugo said in a statement.

"This method is in fact the cause of the reported mass starvation and mortality being reported," the animal rights organisation said.

Pups separate from their mothers and then starve to death, while traumatised seal cows abort foetuses or abandon the newborn, Hugo said.

It is for these reasons that the USA banned the import of Cape fur seal skins in 1977, and the EU banned imports in 1983, he said.

"Namibia remains the only country in the world to slaughter nursing baby seals in birthing and breeding grounds.

"Conservationally and ethnically it is an unsound practice to allow an annual commercial sealing industry to go into seal nursing and breeding grounds, where baby seals are still nursing, and begin an annual clubbing cull of these seals."

The Ministry's attempt to use the collapse of the pilchard resource as the reason for widespread starvation and mass mortality among seals was tantamount to "public fraud", Seal Alert SA said.

Attempts to obtain comment from the Ministry of Fisheries yesterday were unsuccessful.

Nearly 6000 Alligators Slaughtered This Year in Florida: Mass Slaughter Sets Record

Wow, I bet it's pretty tough to kill a slow moving water living creature. Let's hope they made it fair and jumped in the swamp and actually tried to take on the alligator by hand. No, that would be too hard for them. They'll take the easy kill.

Article:

Nearly 6,000 alligators killed in Fla.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061222/
ap_on_re_us/alligator_hunt_2

Thu Dec 21, 11:09 PM ET

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Hunters killed more alligators this year than any other in recorded Florida history, a wildlife official said, after the state extended the season and allowed each hunter multiple permits.

More than 5,800 alligators were killed by hunters during the 11-week season that ended Nov. 1, preliminary figures show. The number is expected to rise as more kills are reported, said Steve Stiegler of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The previous single-season record, set last year, was about 3,400.

The state extended this year's season by about six weeks and allowed hunters to buy more than one permit; each permit allows two kills.

The state sold all 4,406 permits to 2,155 hunters in less than four hours in June. Last year, the commission issued only about 2,800 of 4,300 available permits.

Alligators killed three people in separate incidents during one week in May, something Stiegler said "certainly increased the publicity of the alligator harvest."

"But we don't think it necessarily increased the interest in the program by the participants," he said.

Biologists estimate Florida harbors as many as 2 million alligators.

Sorry for Lack of Postings for Last Two Days: Denver Blizzard Causes Disruptions

Yep, it hit us hard. But we're back now. Sore from huge amounts of snow shoveling. We monitored the stories but saw nothing of urgency. Alright, back at it...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Even With Unquestioned Evidence as Proof of Crime, Teens Who Baked Puppy in Gas Oven Found Not Guilty: What You Can Do To Help

I normally don't post this kind of thing to the news blog, but this is so beyond cruel, that I must.

Sick stuff. Please visit
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/564805100
to voice your concern and hold these scum accountable.

Teens who baked puppy - NOT GUILTY!!!
Please sign the petition to support having these teens charged with a Felony.

Not guilty verdict in puppy trial


By D.L. Bennett
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/15/06

Two brothers charged with stuffing a live puppy into a hot gas oven have been found not guilty Friday by a Fulton County jury.

Jurors had been deliberating since 9 a.m. Thursday. The six-man, six-woman jury took a lunch break at noon Friday and went back to deliberations shortly after 1 P.m.

Joshua and Justin Moulder faced a total of 11 charges each and up to 85 years in prison for the Aug. 21 incident at Englewood Manor apartments in Atlanta.

The jury only came to agreement on one charge and was hung on the rest. It was not yet known which charge they agreed on.

Police say the two brothers broke into and trashed the complex community center before using duct tape to hog tie a three-month- old mixed breed puppy and shoving it live into a hot gas oven.


DA Paul Howard said he was ready to retry the Moulder brothers today!

His spokesperson Lyn Vaugh told me herself that the Moulder Brothers will be held without bond until their new trial begins on JANUARY 3, 2007 at 9:00 AM !!!!!!

WE NEED PEOPLE IN THAT COURT ROOM EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Please make arrangement now to take off work, take a vacation day or what ever you have to do, to make SURE we are there in that courtroom for the jury to see every single day!


There was only one single juror that refused to find the Moulder Monsters guilty.

This juror refused to participate in any discussion with the other jurors, and should not have even been allowed to be on that jury. Had the judge or DA been told that this juror was refusing to even discuss the charges, they would have been discharged, and an alternate used. This juror simply would not convict under ANY circumstances.

The 11 other jurors AGREED the Moulders were guilty of every single charge!

Please remain calm, and know that we will get justice for that puppy! I will let you know as soon as possible what "our" next action will be to aid the DA's office.

Amanda Prentice 404 285-5707, gadove2003@juno.com

Let's also recirculate the petition! Lyn said everyone in the DA's office is keeping an eye on the signatures every day. She said this petition STILL had an impact. The Mayor also has a copy.

New Jersey Joins 8 States After Passing Law Dealing With Pet Evacuations In Emergencies: Counties To Prepare To Accommodate Pets During Evacuations

Excellent. Let’s hope more states follow. Here are some details of the law from the article below:

New Jersey's law, passed in August, complements a federal measure passed this year. It requires local and state emergency preparedness authorities to include pets and service animals in their disaster plans to qualify for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

New Jersey is in line to receive $92,000 in federal homeland security money to purchase six trailers - filled with items to set up temporary animal shelters and veterinary clinics - that could be deployed around the state during an emergency.

The trailers, each measuring 6 feet by 12 feet, will go in Burlington, Camden, Hudson, Ocean and Sussex Counties, as well as another location to be determined.

Hudson County received its trailer, stacked with dog crates and leashes, water bowls and pooper scoopers. It could be stationed next to an evacuation site such as a school, where people can stay inside but pets cannot. Red Cross shelters do not accept pets, unless they are service animals to help people with disabilities.

"If we can take care of the pets, and make sure people know their pets are being taken care of, they'll comply with evacuation [orders]," said Jim Woods, deputy coordinator of Hudson County's emergency management operation.


Article:

A legacy of Katrina: No pet left behind act
N.J. is implementing a law requiring counties to prepare to accommodate pets during evacuations.


http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/
16264758.htm?source=yahoodist&content=phi_news

By Janet Frankston Lorin
Associated Press

SECAUCUS, N.J. - When high waters from Hurricane Katrina filled Russell Parnell's home in Gulfport, Miss., he wouldn't evacuate without his pets: three dogs and a cat.

"The pets and me are a package deal," Parnell said. "We were all going to survive or perish."

Katrina forced people along the Gulf Coast to evacuate, but many people like Parnell couldn't stomach the idea of leaving their pets behind. Learning from Katrina, New Jersey lawmakers have passed a law requiring each of the state's 21 counties to make preparedness plans for pets during an evacuation.

New Jersey is among nine states that have passed laws dealing with pet evacuations. Several experts within the animal-welfare community say New Jersey is aggressively tackling the issue.

"It looks like New Jersey's law is one of the strongest in the country, as it prescribes very specific measures to help animals in disasters," said Michael Markarian, a vice president with the Humane Society of the United States.

While Katrina raised national awareness of pet preparedness, a New Jersey group had been working for more than two years to create guidelines for setting up emergency shelters for animals.

"It all comes down to planning ahead," said Barbara Dyer, a member of the committee and regional program coordinator of the Humane Society's mid-Atlantic office, which serves five states including New Jersey.

New Jersey's law, passed in August, complements a federal measure passed this year. It requires local and state emergency preparedness authorities to include pets and service animals in their disaster plans to qualify for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

New Jersey is in line to receive $92,000 in federal homeland security money to purchase six trailers - filled with items to set up temporary animal shelters and veterinary clinics - that could be deployed around the state during an emergency.

The trailers, each measuring 6 feet by 12 feet, will go in Burlington, Camden, Hudson, Ocean and Sussex Counties, as well as another location to be determined.

Hudson County received its trailer, stacked with dog crates and leashes, water bowls and pooper scoopers. It could be stationed next to an evacuation site such as a school, where people can stay inside but pets cannot. Red Cross shelters do not accept pets, unless they are service animals to help people with disabilities.

"If we can take care of the pets, and make sure people know their pets are being taken care of, they'll comply with evacuation [orders]," said Jim Woods, deputy coordinator of Hudson County's emergency management operation.

Evacuation would be no small task in New Jersey, where state officials give conservative estimates of more than 2.5 million dogs and more than 3 million cats, said Jeff Hamer, an assistant state veterinarian who traveled to Mississippi to help after Katrina.

The state's Agriculture Department, working with nonprofit groups like the Humane Society, is encouraging pet owners to start thinking about how they would prepare individually for an evacuation.

Dyer advises making a kit with pet medications, identification cards, licenses with contact information, leashes, carriers, food bowls and pet photos.

"You want to bring something to comfort them, a toy or blanket," she said.

Disaster plans could include identifying where Red Cross facilities are, so animal shelters can be set up nearby, and creating agreements with pet-supply companies and boarding facilities, said Niki Dawson, who wrote Hudson County's animal disaster response plan.

While the issue of pet preparedness had been discussed before Katrina, the mass evacuations along the Gulf Coast made governments across the nation more aware that people don't want to leave their pets behind in an emergency, said Charles M. Kuperus, New Jersey's agriculture secretary.

"It's an important issue for the public to know as part of response," he said. "There are people who will not leave their home unless they know their pet will be cared for."

That was the case with Parnell, 48, who wouldn't evacuate without his pets. He stayed in the house with them, and when it flooded, he secured the animals on a piece of plywood on top of a floating refrigerator.

If he had known about an evacuation plan, he would have considered leaving. But instead, Parnell spent eight hours in the waist-high water securing his four pets.

"I can truthfully say I will go through hell and high water with my pets, because I did," he said.

Horseracing Industry and Regulatory Body in England Exposed by Groups: Despite Deaths, Regulatory Body Clears Industry

Again, it’s money over enforcing standards of care. Same there as in the US.

Here’s a paragraph from the article below that sums up the issue:

“Animal rights bodies yesterday hit out after the Horseracing Regulatory Authority, which is responsible for ensuring that racecourses are maintained in a fit and proper state, gave Wolverhampton a clean bill of health despite the fact that five horses have died at the track since early November.”

Article:

Animal rights groups aghast at Wolverhampton all-clear

http://sport.guardian.co.uk/horseracing/story/0,,1975680,00.html

Chris Cook
Wednesday December 20, 2006
The Guardian

Animal rights bodies yesterday hit out after the Horseracing Regulatory Authority, which is responsible for ensuring that racecourses are maintained in a fit and proper state, gave Wolverhampton a clean bill of health despite the fact that five horses have died at the track since early November.

"Economic interests are being put far ahead of the animals' welfare," said Dene Stensall of the charity Animal Aid. "When a horse pulls up on a Flat track, there's either something wrong with the horse or something wrong with the track. Because so many horses have pulled up or incurred injuries at Wolverhampton, we believe that those injuries speak for themselves," Stensall added.

Article continues
The RSPCA also expressed concern about the layout of the Midlands course. "We have visited and examined the course since this happened," said the RSPCA's spokeswoman Helen Briggs, "and we think that, because the bends are particularly tight, that places an extra responsibility on the jockeys to ride extremely carefully and to look after their mounts." The HRA should instruct jockeys to take such care, she added.

Race meetings at Wolverhampton have developed an unseasonably gloomy atmosphere in recent weeks, following a number of incidents in which horses have fallen, others have been brought down and jockeys have been left strewn across the all-weather racing surface. Five horses have been destroyed at Wolverhampton since last month, an astonishingly high attrition rate for a course that features no obstacles and where the races are sometimes as short as five-eighths of a mile.

"The HRA are concerned about their contract with bookmakers, about keeping racing going through the winter," said Stensall. "Until a proper engineering survey is done over a period of weeks, not just someone coming and having a quick look at it, and [they] really get to the bottom of it, the course isn't safe and racing should be suspended."

Wolverhampton's clerk of the course, Fergus Cameron, said: "Our fatality rate is roughly in line with the national average for Flat tracks." He added that a run of bad luck was behind the deaths.

Paul Struthers, a spokesman for the HRA, claimed riders were aware of any dangers. "I would think it would only be responsible of the jockeys to ride carefully anyway without needing additional urging from us."

Healthy Community in England Refuses to Support Unhealthy McDonald’s: Fast Food Outlet Forced to Close

Enough said….

Article:

McDonald's forced to shut from lack of patronage in healthy town

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23377273-details/
McDonald's+forced+to+shut+from+lack+of+patronage+in+healthy+
town/article.do

06.12.06

We're not loving it: the McDonald's in Tavistock is being forced to shut for lack of business in a town characterised by its healthy, quality food

McDonald's is closing its outlet in a town known for quality food and healthy, local produce.

The fast food chain in Tavistock, Devon, simply wasn't being used enough by locals.

So after seven years struggling to make ends meet in a town that has won many accolades for the quality of its food, McDonald's will finally shut up shop on Saturday.

John Taylor, chairman of Tavistock EatWise campaign, said: "Because of the quality of our local food McDonald's has not been able to compete."

Earlier this year Tavistock won the title of Best Food Town in the South West.

Mr Taylor said: "I think McDonald's really started to suffer about 18 months ago when healthy school meals were introduced.

"Children no longer needed to go there because they were being fed properly."

A McDonald's spokesman said: "As part of an ongoing review of our restaurant sites, it has become clear that the location of McDonald's in Tavistock is no longer suitable."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in UK Continues to Question Recent Report that Pushed for Continued Vivisection on Primates

This follows the story posted yesterday that addressed the move in the UK by business and big pharmaceutical to push for more vivisection using primates. You can read more at: http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/12/
organizations-and-doctors-condemn-18.html

Glad to see their some push back.

Article:

Animal rights groups, scientists face off

http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/index.php?feed=
Science&article=UPI-1-20061213-18483800-bc-britain-
monkeys.xml


LONDON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- An independent group in England says a "moral scientific case" exists for the use of monkeys in research.

Sir David Weatherall told The Telegraph four centers of excellence should be created to conduct experiments. He headed up a working group performing an 18-month analysis of research usage of primates like marmosets, tamarins and macaques.

Weatherall cautioned the group does not want to expand non-human primate research.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says members are convinced much more can be done to improve welfare of animals used in research. The organization wants disclosure of government statistics to shed light on animals used in experiments and the suffering that may ensue.

Dr. Vicky Robinson -- chief executive of the National Center for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research -- says Weatherall's group did not take the report far enough in trying to "map out priorities for development and adoption of new alternatives."

In the last 10 years, British research has used about 3,300 non-human primates, the paper said.

Group Calls on US Congress to U.S. House and Senate Phase out All Research On Primates In Laboratories Across The Country

This comes after the move in the UK by business and big pharmaceutical to push for more vivisection using primates. You can read more here:
http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/12/
organizations-and-doctors-condemn-18.html

Glad to see that these groups are on top of this issue. The US government is no friend to animal though. We’ll see what happens.

Article:


Press Release Source: Animal Defenders International

Animal Defenders International (ADI) Calls on Government to Support a Ban on Primate Testing Across U.S.

http://www.ad-international.org

Monday December 18, 6:32 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to initiate a ban on primate research across the U.S., Animal Defenders International's (ADI) San Francisco office has called on all members of the U.S. House and Senate asking for support on a proposed motion that would phase out all research on primates in laboratories across the country.

Simultaneously in the UK, four Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Jens Holm, Caroline Lucas, Sajjad Karim, and Robert Evans are taking the lead in urging other MEPs to join their plan to end out primate research across Europe. This comes at a time when almost 60 MEPs have already signed a declaration before the European Parliament to end primate research across the EU in the next six years.

In conjunction with these efforts, ADI has recently released information regarding the use of primates in specific experiments taking place in the U.S. in such institutions as the University of Wisconsin and Yerkes National Primate Research Center, which also recently came under fire from ADI for charges of animal cruelty and unethical research tactics.

Whether it's chimpanzees mysteriously dying during research procedures at Yerkes Primate Research Center in Atlanta; monkeys having recording equipment implanted into their skulls and head holders screwed into their brains at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Maryland; pregnant monkeys being subjected to bouts of stress in small, darkened boxes at the University of Wisconsin; or continued, non-conclusive HIV vaccine tests on chimpanzees, despite species differences in responses to HIV; egregious, unethical and unnecessary research on primates continue at a large scale in this country.

Not only is ADI committed to ending this type of research on primates, they are dedicated to supporting alternatives and helping to make non-animal research an industry-wide reality. Most recently, ADI -- as part of the Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research (LDF) -- helped to implement an fMRI scanner at Aston University in Birmingham, England to replace animal-based brain analysis research at the facility. ADI has committed to paying for the upkeep of this fMRI scanner for the next ten years. This, too, is possible in the U.S.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI, said, "We don't need to destroy primates in laboratories. Our report [Primate Nations] highlights the similarities but also the key biological differences which make primate research unreliable, such as the TGN1412 experimental drug trial which caused serious damage to human volunteers such as head swelling, after it had been given to monkeys with no side effects."

"Often drugs are withdrawn from the market after adverse effects in humans, despite appearing to be successful in animal tests. This is due to unreliable results produced from research on animals," stated Jennifer Blum of ADI. "We are determined to see an end to human suffering as well as animal suffering as a result of dubious medical research on animals. With the right support, ADI can be a vital part of the solution for better animal protection and human health in the U.S."

ADI US is hoping for positive responses to their efforts from the House and Senate.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Animal Defenders International (ADI)

With offices in London and San Francisco, Animal Defenders International (ADI) is a major international campaigning group, lobbying to protect animals on issues such as animals in entertainment and their use in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI involves itself in international animal rescues as well as educational work on animals, conservation and environment. In just over a decade, ADI has become a major force for animal protection and has succeeded through its undercover investigations in securing legal protection for animals. ADI's evidence of the torment to animals has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them. http://www.ad-international.org

German Group Calls on Citizens to Boycott Battery-Farmed Eggs: Look Also to Implement Stricter Labeling Laws

More from across the sea. Europe has been active lately in leading the way with these issues.

Article:

Animal Right Activists Call for Boycott of Battery-Farmed Eggs
Eighty percent of Germans want egg laying hens to be happy

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2273604,00.html


Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Eighty percent of Germans want egg laying hens to be happy

German animal rights campaigners call for consumers to resist cookies unless they know that the hens that laid the eggs that were used to make them haven't been tortured.

The Green Party faction in the German parliament this week introduced a motion calling for a labeling scheme, which is already in effect for eggs, be extended to all finished products that contain eggs. Fifty percent of all eggs consumed are processed. In support of the parliamentary motion, the German Society for the Protection of Animals launched a pre-Christmas campaign at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.


Fifty percent of eggs consumed are in finished productsBildunterschrift: Fifty percent of eggs consumed are in finished products

"We welcome this parliamentary initiative and expect all parliament factions to support the motion," said the society's president, Wolfgang Apel, who went on to explain that over 80 percent of the German population was against battery egg farming and had thus made an irrevocable choice.


The society supports a reliable labeling scheme where the product's ingredients and their origin are made clear. Then, it hopes, consumers will be able to use their buying-power to boycott eggs from caged chickens if they so choose. Since January 2004, all supermarket eggs have had a barcode with their particular number, as well as a company code and the stall number. In July 2005, the law was extended to eggs sold on weekly markets.


No Christmas goodies if the eggs are battery-farmed

Eggs have to be clearly labelled under lawBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Eggs have to be clearly labelled under law

In the run-up to Christmas, the society is calling on all consumers to not buy seasonal cookies or eggnog unless they know where the ingredients originate in case they contain battery-farmed eggs.


The society's statistics claim that five billion eggs from battery cages are used on an annual basis in products such as eggnog, pasta or cakes.


The boxes in which eggs are sold must also be clearly labeled. On weekly markets, however, where one third of Germany's eggs are bought, animal rights campaigners and Germany's Green party have warned that the eggs in the baskets do not always correspond to the posters showing happy hens and that customers have to be vigilant to check the numbers or ask the stallholders.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Organizations and Doctors Condemn 18-Month Inquiry in UK That Calls For More Animal Testing Using Primates

Very disturbing findings but quite predictable coming from the medical and pharmaceutical establishment. Note below that even doctors have questioned the findings and call for the use of more modern, non-animal methods to increase reliability. Here are a few quotes from the article below:

“They were especially critical of the absence of animal welfare representatives on the committee and its failure to consider the use of monkeys in drug tests.

Each year about 3,300 monkeys are involved in scientific or medical research in the UK - about 0.1 per cent of all animals used.

Three-quarters of these animals are used for testing the safety of new medicines. Only about 450 are involved in academic research.”

Michelle Thew, the chief executive of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, said: "This is yet another whitewash. They say the end justifies the means when it comes to research on non-human primates, but they haven't proved that.

"We don't need new primate research centres," she said. "What we need are cutting-edge new centres looking at modern, 21st-century techniques that don't cause animals to suffer."

“Dr Vicky Robinson, the chief executive of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), which investigates ways to avoid animal experiments, said the report should have gone further.

Dr Robinson said: "It is disappointing that, despite a ringing endorsement for the work being done to reduce primate use, the report did not go far enough in trying to map out the priorities for development and adoption of alternatives.”

"Nor did it identify what gaps in our understanding need to be broached to move forward in areas that seem less promising. The committee has therefore missed an opportunity to give some much-needed direction in this critical aspect of the debate on using primates for research, which is central to helping society resolve the serious ethical dilemmas involved."

Article:

Animal rights groups blast support for monkey tests

http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=1848612006

JOHN VON RADOWITZ

A REPORT backing the use of monkeys in academic research was denounced by animal welfare groups yesterday.

The Weatherall committee, a group of experts set up by four leading scientific bodies, said there was a "strong scientific case" for allowing certain experiments on non-human primates.

But animal welfare organisations condemned the 18-month inquiry as a "whitewash" and a wasted opportunity.

They were especially critical of the absence of animal welfare representatives on the committee and its failure to consider the use of monkeys in drug tests.

Each year about 3,300 monkeys are involved in scientific or medical research in the UK - about 0.1 per cent of all animals used.

Three-quarters of these animals are used for testing the safety of new medicines. Only about 450 are involved in academic research.

It was this aspect of primate research that was examined by the expert group led by Oxford geneticist and professor of medicine Sir David Weatherall.

The inquiry group, set up by the Royal Society, the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and the Academy of Medical Sciences began in March 2005.

Over the course of ten meetings, it heard evidence from 35 witnesses, including representatives from academic organisations, animal welfare groups, the government and industry, as well as patients.

A total of 62 written submissions were also received.

The experts made 16 recommendations, including the setting up of a small number of specialist research centres where monkeys could be kept in the best possible conditions.

They envisaged about four centres, each housing around 100 monkeys.

The report also called for more information about the use of non-human primates in research to be made public.

It accepted that new techniques that did not involve animals, particularly in the areas of brain imaging and computer modelling, were reducing the need for monkeys in research.

For this reason, the report said, research proposals involving monkeys should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Michelle Thew, the chief executive of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, said: "This is yet another whitewash. They say the end justifies the means when it comes to research on non-human primates, but they haven't proved that.

"We don't need new primate research centres," she said. "What we need are cutting-edge new centres looking at modern, 21st-century techniques that don't cause animals to suffer."

Dr Vicky Robinson, the chief executive of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), which investigates ways to avoid animal experiments, said the report should have gone further.

Dr Robinson said: "It is disappointing that, despite a ringing endorsement for the work being done to reduce primate use, the report did not go far enough in trying to map out the priorities for development and adoption of alternatives.

"Nor did it identify what gaps in our understanding need to be broached to move forward in areas that seem less promising. The committee has therefore missed an opportunity to give some much-needed direction in this critical aspect of the debate on using primates for research, which is central to helping society resolve the serious ethical dilemmas involved."

However, leading scientists from the report's sponsors welcomed the findings.

Professor Colin Blakemore, the chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said: "In many areas of research we are still reliant on primates to achieve our goals for improving human health. We greet the expert group's recommendations with interest and will be considering them in detail."
THE CASE FOR EXPERIMENTS

SCIENTISTS say some questions cannot be answered using rodents or other animals because they are too unlike humans.

In the main these relate to the immune, nervous and reproductive systems.

Monkey research is vital for the pre-testing of vaccines designed to tackle HIV and other major infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, said the experts. Brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, are also difficult to investigate without looking at the neural circuitry of non-human primates.

The report said: "There is a strong scientific case for maintaining work on non-human primates for carefully selected research problems in many of the areas studied."

Method, Makers Of "Naturally Derived, Biodegradable Formulas For Household Use'' Given Award For Creating Cruelty Free Products- No Animal Testing

I can vouch for their products. Very good. Shows again that animal testing and vivisection is unnecessary. Superior products are produced every year which exceed the performance of those products created by companies that test on animals.

For more information on animal testing and for links to lists of companies that do and do not test on animals see: http://www.geari.org/animal-testing-information.html

Article:

Animal Rights Group Award Given To Owners Of Sf Business

12/16/06 7:35 PST

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)

http://cbs5.com/localwire/localfsnews/bcn/2006/12/16/n/
HeadlineNews/PETA-AWARD/resources_bcn_html

Two owners of a San Francisco-based home-cleaning products business have been recognized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for developing their products without animal testing, according to a PETA spokesman.

Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, founding owners of Method, were named as PETA's 2006 "Persons of the Year,'' for creating "naturally derived, biodegradable formulas for household use'' without first testing them on animals, according to PETA.

"We commend Adam and Eric for setting the industry standard for safe, effective products and for their compassion for animals,'' PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said.

According to PETA, animal testing for the development of cosmetic and household products involves the blinding and poisoning of rabbits, guinea pigs and mice.

PETA's "cruelty-free'' shopping guide is available at www.caringconsumer.com.

More Than 45 Thousand Animals are Still Homeless and Roaming New Orleans: Some Students Taking Their Spring Break to Help

Good to see that there are still some that haven’t forgotten that help is still needed.

Article:

Students head south to spend winter break working in New Orleans

http://www.wkyc.com/news/education/

education_article.aspx?storyid=60732

Danna Avsec

Created: 12/17/2006 12:48:18 PM
Updated:12/17/2006 12:48:56 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A lot of college students look forward to heading home soon for relaxing winter breaks, but some Ohio students are dedicating their breaks to volunteer work instead.

Twelve veterinary students from Ohio State University are heading down to New Orleans to help animal rescue groups care for the more than 45-thousand animals homeless in the city.

Another group of students from Bowling Green State University are dedicating a week of their time to Habitat for Humanity.

About 100 students are heading down to help tear down drywall and floors damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Study in British Medical Journal Finds that Children with High IQs are More Likely to be Vegetarians when they Grow Up

Read on for the details.

Article:

Smart kids more likely to go vegetarian

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=14&
click_id=117&art_id=iol1166164062288V220

Fri Dec 15, 2006 5:26 AM GMT14


LONDON (Reuters) - Children with high IQs are more likely to be vegetarians when they grow up, according to research reported on Friday.

A study of more them 8,000 men and women aged 30 whose IQs had been measured when they were 10, showed that the higher the IQ, the greater the odds of being a vegetarian.

"People who are more intelligent as children, who will obviously keep that intelligence when they are 30, were more likely to say they are vegetarians at that age than those that were less intelligent," said Dr Catherine Gale, an epidemiologist at the University of Southampton.

She added the findings, which are published online by the British Medical Journal, were consistent with other studies showing people who are more intelligent tend to eat a healthier diet and exercise more.

"There is quite a lot of evidence linking vegetarianism to a lower risk of heart disease. People who are vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and they do have a lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease," Gale added.

For each 15-point rise in IQ scores in the study, the likelihood of being a vegetarian rose by 38 percent. Even after adjusting to factors such as social class and education, the link was still consistent.

More than 33 percent of the men and women in the study described themselves as vegetarians but said they ate white meat and fish. Just over four percent were strict vegetarians and 2.5 percent were vegans, who eat no animal products at all, including eggs and dairy.

San Diego Groups Seek to Ban Foie Gras: What is Foie Gras and Why is it Bad?

What is foie gras and why is it bad?

Foie gras (translated literally from French as "fatty liver" and pronounced 'fwah grah') is produced by cruel and inhumane farming practices. At just a few months old, ducks are confined inside dark sheds and force-fed enormous amounts of food several times a day. A farm worker grabs each duck and, one by one, thrusts a metal pipe down their throats so that a mixture of corn can be forced directly into their gullets. In just a matter of weeks, the ducks become grossly overweight and their livers expand up to 10 times their normal size.

As a result, ducks raised for foie gras have difficulty standing, walking, and even breathing. Many of them die before the end of the force-feeding cycle, and the mortality rate for ducks raised on foie gras farms is among the highest in the farming industry. Necropsies performed on foie gras ducks have shown extreme obesity, impaction of undigested food in the esophagus, lacerations in the throat, and a proliferation of bacterial and fungal growth in their upper digestive tracts.

More information on foie gras can be found at:
http://www.nofoiegras.org/

The link below takes you to a page which has the link to the interview. So, it is in audio.

http://www.kpbs.org/radio/programs/these_days?id=6798

Dec 13, 2006

Tom Fudge: American cities are starting to get concerned about the things that we eat. New York has banned trans fats from restaurants. Chicago has banned foie gras. And now a San Diego City Council committee is talking about banning foie gras, or fattened goose liver.

Foie gras has been a target of animal rights groups for some time. They say the four-week process of force-feeding ducks and geese so that they develop a fatty liver is cruel. A group called the Animal Protection and Rescue League is lobbying for the ban in San Diego.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Baiji Dolphin Declared Extinct: Victim of China’s Cruelty and Obsession with Getting Rich

Well, there goes another one. Not surprising given China’s record with animals. They literally hate them. Don’t belive me? See these posts:


http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/03/
crash-course-in-unbelievable-cruelty.html

http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/08/
cruel-china-plans-another-large-dog.html

http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/08/
even-on-heels-of-beyond-disgusting-dog.html

http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/05/
in-order-to-get-back-at-dalai-lama-and.html

Article:

Rare white dolphin declared as extinct

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061213/
ap_on_sc/china_dolphin_extinction

By CHARLES HUTZLER, Associated Press Writer Wed Dec 13, 2:11 PM ET

BEIJING - A rare, nearly blind white dolphin that survived for millions of years is effectively extinct, an international expedition declared Wednesday after ending a fruitless six-week search of its Yangtze River habitat.


The baiji would be the first large aquatic mammal driven to extinction since hunting and overfishing killed off the Caribbean monk seal in the 1950s.

For the baiji, the culprit was a degraded habitat — busy ship traffic, which confounds the sonar the dolphin uses to find food, and overfishing and pollution in the Yangtze waters of eastern China, the expedition said.

"The baiji is functionally extinct. We might have missed one or two animals but it won't survive in the wild," said August Pfluger, a Swiss economist turned naturalist who helped put together the expedition. "We are all incredibly sad."

The baiji dates back 20 million years. Chinese called it the "goddess of the Yangtze." For China, its disappearance symbolizes how unbridled economic growth is changing the country's environment irreparably, some environmentalists say.

"It's a tremendously sad day when any species goes extinct. It becomes more of a public tragedy to lose a large, charismatic species like the river dolphin," said Chris Williams, manager of river basin conservation for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington.

"The loss of a large animal like a river dolphin is often a harbinger for what's going on in the larger system as whole. It's not only the loss of a beautiful animal but an indication that the way its habitat is being managed, the way we're interacting with the natural environment of the river is deeply flawed ... if a species like this can't survive."

Randall Reeves, chairman of the Swiss-based World Conservation Union's Cetacean Specialist Group, who took part in the Yangtze mission, said expedition participants were surprised at how quickly the dolphins disappeared.

"Some of us didn't want to believe that this would really happen, especially so quickly," he said. "This particular species is the only living representative of a whole family of mammals. This is the end of a whole branch of evolution."

The damage to the baiji's habitat is also affecting the Yangtze finless porpoise, whose numbers have fallen to below 400, the expedition found.

"The situation of the finless porpoise is just like that of the baiji 20 years ago," the group said in a statement citing Wang Ding, a Chinese hydrobiologist and co-leader of the expedition. "Their numbers are declining at an alarming rate. If we do not act soon they will become a second baiji."

Pfluger said China's Agriculture Ministry, which approved the expedition, had hoped the baiji would be another panda, an animal brought back from the brink of extinction in a highly marketable effort that bolstered the country's image.

The expedition was the most professional and meticulous ever launched for the mammal, Pfluger said. The team of 30 scientists and crew from China, the United States and four other countries searched a 1,000-mile heavily trafficked stretch of the Yangtze, where the baiji once thrived.

The expedition's two boats, equipped with high-tech binoculars and underwater microphones, trailed each other an hour apart without radio contact so that a sighting by one vessel would not prejudice the other. When there was fog, he said, the boats waited for the mist to clear to make sure they took every opportunity to spot the mammal.

Around 400 baiji were believed to be living in the Yangtze in the early 1980s, when China was just launching the free-market reforms that have transformed its economy. The last full-fledged search, in 1997, yielded 13 confirmed sightings, and a fisherman claimed to have seen a baiji in 2004.

At least 20 to 25 baiji would now be needed to give the species a chance to survive, said Wang.

For Pfluger, the baiji's demise is a personal defeat. A member of the 1997 expedition, he recalls the excitement of seeing a baiji cavorting in the waters near Dongting Lake.

"It marked me," he said. He went on to set up the baiji.org Foundation to save the dolphin. In recent years, Pfluger said, scientists like the eminent zoologist George Schaller told him to stop his search, saying the baiji's "lost, forget it."

During the latest expedition, an online diary kept by team members traced a dispiriting situation, as day after day they failed to spot a single baiji.

Even in the expedition's final days, members believed they would find a specimen, trolling a "hotspot" below the industrial city of Wuhan where Baiji were previously sighted, Pfluger said.

"Hope dies last," he said.

___

On the Net:

The baiji.org Foundation: http://www.baiji.org

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