Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Food for thought

This is something we all need to think about!!

The Two Wolves

One evening an old Sioux told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, 'My son,
the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all..

One is Evil.
It is anger, envy, jealousy
, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good.
It is joy, peace
, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The grandson thought
about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
'Which wolf wins?'

The old
Sioux simply replied, 'The one you feed.'

Which one are you feeding?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Habitat loss and climate change hit dragonflies

By Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 21/04/2008

Britain's dragonflies are on the move from a twin threat posed by habitat loss and climate change.

The survival of some species is in doubt mainly because they have been ousted from their traditional haunts by human activity.

Southern hawker (left) and Common darter (right)

The British Dragonfly Society (BDS) says 36 per cent of the 39 dragonfly species are in decline.

And three species - Dainty damselfly, Norfolk damselfly and Orange spotted emerald - have disappeared altogether in the past 50 years.

Increasing loss of their wetlands home and the arrival of competing species from Europe and even north America is leading dragonflies to move further northwards to find new breeding grounds.

Dragonflies are sun-lovers and normally the more southerly species, which are not equipped to deal with lower temperatures further north, would stay put. But warmer temperatures are encouraging them to chance their luck further afield.

But this is in turn is putting pressure on resident and mainly endangered species found in Scotland who are being squeezed and left with nowhere else to go.

BDS Conservation Officer Katharine Parkes said: "Dragonflies have been around for 300m years and have survived the extinction of the dinosaurs and several ice ages...but can they survive the increasing pressures imposed by mankind?

"Understanding where and how quickly our dragonflies are moving will help us to plan for the future, with particular regard to the way in which conservation is carried out - it will be very important to make sure we are providing our wildlife with the best opportunities to react to changes. They are temperature-sensitive, making them useful for climate change impact studies."

The BDS is looking for volunteers to help record dragonfly activity in their own area and says it will provide full training and instruction.

The data collected will be used to make conservation decisions and to monitor endangered species and to help them recover. Records of breeding activity are of particular importance for identifying key sites.

Migrant hawker (left) and Common blue damselfly (right)
Migrant hawker (left) and Common blue damselfly (right)

The BDS says a new national atlas is urgently required because the range and number of species is changing rapidly. When the last dragonfly atlas was published in 1996, the Small red-eyed damselfly had never been seen in the UK but now has breeding colonies from Devon to Norfolk and is continuing to spread.

As well as the threat posed by alien invaders new fish species introduced into ponds and lakes are also taking their toll either by eating the dragonfly larvae or by muddying waters as they forage for food which disrupts larvae development.

Dragonfly facts

  • Dragonflies do not sting or bite humans!
  • They eat vast quantities of mosquitoes and midges.
  • They are useful indicators of both aquatic and terrestrial habitats due to their life cycle.
  • They are visual hunters and can see in colour as well as ultraviolet light and polarised light, which enables them to see reflections of light on water. They spend at least a year as a larva under water, then feeding/roosting/mating above ground as adults for up to two months.
  • They are voracious predators. Adults feed on flying insects, especially small flies, midges and mosquitoes. Some of the larger species, such as the Emperor, will take butterflies and damselflies.
  • They can fly at over 25 mph.
  • They have been around for over 300 million years.
  • Saturday, April 26, 2008

    London Zoo celebrates its 180th birthday

    London Zoo celebrates its 180th birthday

    By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
    Last Updated: 1:01pm BST 26/04/2008

    It is now one of the world's leading conservation organisations, helping to protect endangered wildlife with breeding programmes, carrying out vital research and educating the public. But when London Zoo opened its doors 180 years ago, experts were more interested in turning its exotic creatures into beasts of burden and farmyard animals.

    London Zoo celebrates its 180th birthday
    In pictures: 180 years of London Zoo

    Photographs, reports and keepers logs, which have been buried in the Zoological Society of London's archive, provide a glimpse of daily life at the world's first scientific zoo when it opened on 27 April 1828. In one report, experts revealed their plans to domesticate some of the animal species at the zoo, including using zebras to pull carts, exploiting reptiles for medicine and turning antelope and exotic birds into farm animals for food.

    The zoo even began running trials in 1831 with zebra-drawn passenger carts to give rides to members of the public around the grounds.

    "At that time they wanted to make animals less wild and domesticate them," said John Edwards, vice president of the Zoological Society of London and an expert on the history of London Zoo.

    "In the early 19th century they would dress up the chimpanzees in human clothes and the public could ride on the animals and play with even the more dangerous animals like bears. That would never happen today.

    "The focus now has shifted to such a degree that we are now trying to make sure animals remain wild. They are being bred for reintroduction into the wild rather than being taken out of the wild."

    The documents from the zoo's early days have been revealed as part of celebrations marking the 180th anniversary since it opened. Compared to the modern veterinary care and facilities now available, the documents show the challenges that the keepers faced.

    Sick animals were regularly treated with a dose of cod liver oil in the absence of any real medicines and they were cared for by the same doctor who also treated the staff rather than a trained vet. Daily logs filled in by the zoo's first superintendent, Edward Johnson, reveal the day to day trials and tribulations that faced the staff as they prepared to open the zoo for the first time.

    On Monday 25 February 1828, he notes that an otter died as a result of a "diseased tail". Two weeks later, a lynx suffered a convulsive fit and also died.

    Despite the deaths, the records also reveal great excitement about an emu at the zoo, which was a prolific egg layer. But this excitement was tempered when a female seal disappeared two weeks before the zoo opened. It was only recaptured two days before the public arrived.

    In 1905 two polar bears Sam and Barbara escaped from their enclosure after biting the padlock off a gate but were frightened back inside after a startled keeper dropped a plank of wood when he found them wandering the park. The daily logbook also reveal that one of the few accidents involving humans at the zoo saw an inebriated keeper Edward Girling die after being bitten by a cobra in 1852.

    A Marabou stork was also found at one point to have swallowed a domestic cat used in the zoo to control vermin, but it was "induced to disgorge it".

    Mr Edwards said: "In those days there were no tranquillizer darts, so they faced some real difficulties in controlling the animals. It must have been quite terrifying as there were no methods of subduing the animals except by guile or brute force.

    "The zoo's first hippopotamus escaped in 1860 and it had quite a savage temper. The superintendent sent out one of the keepers to get it to chase him and the keeper ran back into the enclosure so the hippo followed him."

    The zoo's first animal was a Griffin vulture called Dr Brooks, named after the anatomy school teacher who donated him. He had used the bird to devour the cadavers at the school, but when he retired he could no longer feed it.

    After the first year the zoo had 627 animals from 194 different species, with many donated by famous patrons including King William IV.

    In the first three years after the zoo opened, visitors were only allowed inside if they were personally invited by one of the fellows of the Zoological Society and paid a shilling entrance. Visits on Sundays were strictly banned, but despite the restrictive rules, which were relaxed in 1831, the zoo saw more than 112,226 visitors in its first year.

    It now boasts more than 1.1 million visitors a year and 16,800 animals, made up of 711 species.


    An Open Letter to Oprah Winfrey

    April 15, 2008
    Ms. Oprah Winfrey
    The Oprah Winfrey Show
    110 N. Carpenter Street
    Chicago, IL 60607

    Dear Ms. Winfrey:

    Would I be correct in assuming that you're planning a special report on the status of blacks in America, basing your show on information provided by the KKK and inviting the Imperial Wizard to appear with you?

    No? Gee, I'm surprised, because such a show would be just like the one on April 4th about 'puppy mills,' based on information from HSUS, with CEO Wayne Pacelle as your main guest.

    The problem with both of these show ideas is that the information is so deeply wrong and so fundamentally biased as to be basically hate speech. Having ignorant hate speech about breeders of dogs distributed by one of America's genuine icons to millions of people who trust her implicitly is ... well, 'sickening' isn't too strong a word.

    Most importantly this sort of thing is bad for the dogs.

    I am sorry this is so long. But even a summary of the incorrect information in a one hour show that was almost entirely off base, has to be long.

    First, 'overpopulation' of dogs (too many whelped for the number of available homes, causing healthy puppies to be euthanized) is now a strictly local problem, chiefly in rural areas and almost entirely in the south. For every ten dogs put down in animal shelters in the 1970's only about one is so today, and the total is continuing to fall as a result of more pet dogs being spayed or neutered and increasing efforts to get good dogs adopted.

    The U.S. now imports around 300,000 dogs per year from other countries (U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimate) and the number grows annually. Some animal shelters are importing from the streets of other nations in order to have adoptable animals available. If we truly have 'pet overpopulation,' why would this be?

    While we all celebrate the steadily falling number of unwanted litters, there's also a decline in planned breeding. Small-scale home breeding is being steadily reduced due to increasing costs, unfavorable zoning, pet limits, expensive and punitive licensing of home breeders, and (in some areas) harassment of breeders by activists.

    Since there are fewer accidental and homebred litters, demand is increasing for commercially bred dogs. Describing all for-profit breeding as 'puppy mills' adds fuel to efforts to ban commercial breeding as a full-time business. Such a law has just been passed in Virginia, is being considered in Vermont, and is likely to be proposed in several other states soon. Banning commercial breeding because of violations by a few makes exactly as much sense as banning automobiles to stop drunk driving or outlawing marriage because of spousal abuse.

    Commercial breeders who sell to pet shops are federally regulated and inspected. The AKC inspects breeders who use its registry. All breeders, like all other dog owners, are required by law to provide good care. Anyone who sees mistreatment should report it to animal control.

    If 'oops' litters and home breeding continue to decline, and legal commercial breeding of dogs is ended, where will they come from? The answer is illegal commercial breeding and even greater numbers of imports. Should that happen, animal mistreatment and 'puppy lemon' issues will be far worse than what we see today.

    The pressure on all forms of pet dog breeding is far and away the most important problem of pets. It reduces quality, increases prices, makes more difficult the proper matching of puppy to family, and interferes with the post-purchase support of the puppy's new owners that is normal for good breeders. All of these mean more dogs winding up in shelters.

    These issues were not even mentioned on your show, indeed, I'd be surprised if any of your guests would acknowledge them. They were committed and articulate, but they gave a seriously misleading picture of the status and future of our country's dogs.

    Turning to the advice given to your viewers, shelter adoptions are commendable and often do work out well. However by far the most important way to help shelter animals is to see that they aren't given up in the first place, by helping families that want to get a dog make good decisions. Although many reasons are given for turning in a dog at the shelter, the translation is often "We shouldn't have gotten this dog." There is no appropriate 'one size fits all' advice on where to get a dog, let alone which dog to get.

    The various breeds and mixes are not generic dogs in various kinds of fur suits; they have very different characteristics. Families who want a dog must think about size, activity level, how it will be confined, temperament, amount of mess, ease of training, need for discipline, age that would work best, and grooming requirements, as these often spell the difference between success and failure. No new dog requires less than an hour per day for care and attention; puppies and problem dogs may need several times as much. Does the family have enough time?

    Mixed breeds can be wonderful, but an important reason for getting a purebred dog is predictability in physical attributes and temperament. Contrary to what was stated on the program, shelter dogs are rarely purebreds in a meaningful sense. The 1/3 fraction stated reflects appearance-based guesses by (often, hopes of) shelter workers who are seldom experienced with purebred dogs. At most shelters offering purebreds, only a handful of breeds are common and these are rarely the ones most suitable as family pets. The popular small breeds and mixes are uncommon to rare.

    In addition, shelter dogs are the most likely to have behavioral and/or health issues. While most problems can be solved, the average shelter dog will need more skill and time than the average dog of the same age from a quality breeder. Shelter dogs are thus best suited to the family with more than average flexibility and some prior dog experience. Encouraging all families to adopt from shelters is setting many dogs and owners up for failure.

    Rescue organizations that take dogs from shelters and other sources, foster them for a month or more with someone experienced with the breed, evaluate health and behavioral issues and begin any needed corrective action, are often excellent sources. They offer the best of all worlds, both helping a dog in need and minimizing risks. Reliable rescue groups can often be located via the AKC parent club for the breed.

    Hobby and other home breeders generally supply puppies with the least chance of unpleasant surprises. Hobbyists give varying amounts of support, ranging from about the same as a pet shop, to "You'll be a member of our extended family, we have e-mail lists for our owners, and there's an annual reunion." However, since most have only an occasional litter, they're often very choosy about buyers. Not all breeds are available in a convenient time period, and again, the popular toy and small breeds are often in shortage.

    Commercial breeders and pet shops try to keep popular breeds in stock; many can order almost any desired breed within a few days. Buyers should pay close attention to the registry used. AKC registration generally is the most reliable indicator of true purebred status but there are other sound registries, particularly among the rare breeds. When buying from a pet shop, post-sale help is generally quite limited.

    Many excellent breeders advertise on the Internet and their web sites are a good place to begin research. But it is important for anyone unfamiliar with a breed to meet owners and spend time with the dogs. Committing to buy a dog sight unseen is risky at best.

    Puppy buyers should carefully read the guarantee offered. Many states have 'puppy lemon' laws requiring sellers to make specific guarantees. All new puppies and dogs should be taken to a veterinarian for a 'new pet' exam and consultation after the family has had a couple of days to begin getting acquainted.

    I believe the Oprah Winfrey show can play a valuable role in reaching the public with information that will help dogs and their families be happier together while further reducing euthanasia of shelter dogs. The show of April 4th presented the views of well-known activist organizations; I hope that in the future you'll revisit these subjects with qualified experts as guests.

    Some possible guests would be: Patti Stand of the National Animal Interest Alliance, Nathan Winograd of the 'No Kill Solutions'
    organization, David Frei the lead announcer for the Westminster Dog Show and spokesman for the Westminster Kennel Club, Karen Strange of the Missouri Federation of Dog Breeders, and Gary Patronek DVM, probably the leading U.S. expert on dog and cat population matters.


    Walt Hutchens

    (Address, etc.)


    Monday, April 21, 2008

    The AR movement

    Where did it come from? Where is it now and where is it going?

    Part 1: AR Timeline

    4000BC Noah selects two of each species and saves them from the flood by building an Ark

    1800 First anti-cruelty bill introduced in Britain to stop bullbaiting.

    1822 Second anti-cruelty bill passed to prevent cruelty to large domestic animals introduced by Colonel Richard Martin.

    1824 Colonel Richard Martin organised the SPCA, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help enforce the law.

    1840 Queen Victoria commanded the addition of the prefix "Royal" to the Society.

    1860 First Animal Welfare Act passed in the USA

    1866 Henry Bergh organised an SPCA in New York.

    1871 a Parisian, Louis Bonard, died and left $150,000 to the New York SPCA.

    1873 SPCAs and Humane Societies spring up across the states following a lecture tour by Henry Bergh.

    1877 The AHA, American Humane Association, founded with divisions for both animals and children.

    1883 First anti-vivisection Society formed.

    1890s Anti vivisection movement grows in strength on both sides of the Atlantic

    1890s Audobon Society founded to focus on the protection of wildlife.

    1920s Use of draft animals declines as Ford floods the market with cheap cars.

    1940s and 50s Use of animals in agriculture declines with the widespread use of the tractor. Keeping of domestic pets increases considerably.

    1954 AHA splits and the HSUS, Humane Society of the United States is formed.

    1955 SAPL, Society for Animal Protective Legislation formed.

    1958 First federal Humane Slaughter Act passed.

    1959 Precurser to the International Society for Animal Rights formed

    1960s Humane societies flourish with the ever expanding base of pet lovers.. Many run shelters and some offer access to animal healthcare.

    1966 Laboratory Animal Welfare Act passed.

    1967 Fund for Animals set up by Clevland Amory

    1968 Animal Protection Institute formed by Belton Muras, a former member of HSUS.

    1969 Endangered Species Act passed.

    1970 the Horse Protection Act passed.

    1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act passed.

    1972 Band of Mercy formed in Britain, later to morph into the ALF, Animal Liberation Front.

    1973 International Primate Protection League formed by Shirley McGreal.

    1975 Peter Singer writes Animal Liberation and coins the term "speciesism"

    1976 Led by Henry Spira, 400 groups join together and demonstrate against animal experimentation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

    1977 The tests stop and the laboratories are dismantled.

    1980 Peter Singer and Jim Mason publish Animal Factories.

    1980 Ingrid Newkirk and Alexs Pachero found Peta

    1981 Animal Legal Defense Fund organized by Joyce Tischler

    1983 Tom Regan writes The Case for Animal Rights

    1987 Tom Regan writesThe Struggle for Animal Rights

    1987 Revlon agreed to stop animal testing and contributed millions of dollars to alternate research.

    1995 New fur law was passed. Any country who exports fur to Europe must either ban leg hold traps or adopt international humane trapping standards.

    1999 SHAC, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty started in the UK.

    2003 Ban on animal testing in the EU cosmetic industry after a 13-year campaign led by the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments.

    2005 British guinea pig breeding facility closes down after 6 year campaign by AR culminating in the exhumation of Gladys Hammond, Christopher Hall's mother-in-law, from a nearby churchyard. The body has never been found

    2007 Ban on horse slaughter for human consumption in the USA

    To be continued.....

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Winter Returns

    Once again winter has returned to the Canadian prairies. It's cold and windy, the snow is nearly knee deep and it's not very conducive to leaving ones armchair.

    I would like to bet that every livestock farmer and zookeeper in the province of Alberta has braved the weather to check on their stock, feed and water them and take expectant mothers into the calving shed for a warm place to have their babies.

    I'd also like to bet that not a single ARA has ventured away from computer or TV. No protests this weekend. Poor Devon and Tove will be deprived of their protesting. Oh dear what a shame. Maybe they'll be down to Guzoo next week before the place gets a chance to dry out so that they can complain about how the animals are walking around in mud.

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Peter Singer's dumb quote

    Veganism: Veganism is the best lifestyle to follow if you are concerned with your health, animal rights, environmentalism, and third world countries.

    “Those who claim to care about the well-being of human beings and the preservation of our environment should become vegetarians for that reason alone. They would thereby increase the amount of grain available to feed people elsewhere, reduce pollution, save water and energy, and cease contributing to the clearing of forests.”

    “When non-vegetarians say that ‘human problems come first’ I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farm animals.”
    - Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, 1990.

    Why is it that because someone is a philosopher, who sits around and thinks, it is assumed that what he thinks is logical and moral? Just because that same philosopher writes a book and a few crazy jackasses read it and decide it is the truth the world has been waiting for, and they make the philosopher their God and follow his every word, does it make that philosopher any more credible?

    A philosopher isn't a geographer, an anthropologist, a scientist or an agriculturalist, he's just a person who follows a certain set of beliefs rationally and calmly regardless of their truth.

    How can anyone so well educated (the guy has 3 degrees, BA, MA and B. Phil) be so lacking in knowledge?

    I don't have a degree in anything but here, now, for your entertainment and amusement I shall dissect his crazy logic.

    Here we go:

    First of all "veganism" is a totally flawed concept that exists only in the minds of those who adhere to it. Consequently the word "veganism" will appear in quotes.

    Veganism is the best lifestyle to follow if you are concerned with your health, animal rights, environmentalism, and third world countries.

    "Veganism" is not a good diet for your health. Only a diet containing meat can provide sufficient complete proteins and most importantly vitamin B12 which cannot be obtained from non animal sources.
    Most "vegans" will admit that they take vitamin and mineral supplements - what they won't admit is that many of those, come from animal sources.

    While I would be the first to agree that we would be healthier if we were to cut down our meat consumption, no way would I advocate cutting it out completely.

    The healthiest diet to follow is one that contains a wide variety of foods, red and white meats, dairy products, fish, fresh and dried fruit and vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes and lots of water to wash it all down.

    In no way does "veganism" help animals.

    Without a need for animals to eat, there would be no animals (at least not land animals). No cows, sheep, pigs or chickens, no wildlife no birds, no cats or dogs. Food would be such a precious resource that all animals would have to be killed to prevent them damaging crops and stealing human food.

    Meanwhile, crop production is responsible for the deaths of thousands of animals yearly. Animals that have the potential to damage crops are trapped and poisoned, birds and insects are killed by pesticide use and small (and sometimes large) creatures are killed during the harvesting process.

    "Veganism" is not environmentally friendly.

    Animals provide nutrients to the earth through both their dung and their decomposing bodies.
    Insects and some animals provide the vital service of fertilization for plants.

    Animals eat much of the plant by-products that humans cannot digest and turn it into valuable protein that they can.

    Animals keep "wild"vegetation under control.

    Animals can be raised in areas where human edible crops will not grow, therefore allowing a local food source, without which many people would starve because they cannot afford to import non animal foods.

    Animals provide not only nourishment but also clothing, lubricants and glues amongst other things, which would otherwise have to be made from petro-chemical products that are bad for the environment, expensive and available only in finite quantities.

    Animals are esthetically pleasing and enhance the landscape.

    Veganism does not help third world countries.

    There is already more than enough food to feed everybody in the world right now; in the year 2050 there will still be enough food for everyone. And yet more than 700million people are malnourished (I'm sorry but it was taking too long to try and find an accurate number, if I find one I'll correct it). It is primarily in the third World that malnutrition kills 10 million people (mostly children) every year.

    The problem is not a world shortage of food. The problem of malnutrition in the Third World is a complex one that most Americans have no experience with and thus do not understand well. Yes, weather extremes and pests can contribute to poor harvests, but it is a result of wars, corrupt governments, export policies, debt, poverty, lack of education, interference by NGO's, and AIDS.

    The root cause of malnutrition is inadequate distribution of the available food, for the world produces enough grain to provide 3,000 calories per person per day. Such an excess amount in fact, that large quantities are now being diverted to produce bio-fuel. However, we are not able to get the food to the people who need it most. I'm not referring to food handouts, but to policies that influence purchasing power, food prices and distribution practices.

    The lack of food is due not to acts of nature but to acts of people.

    “Those who claim to care about the well-being of human beings and the preservation of our environment should become vegetarians for that reason alone. They would thereby increase the amount of grain available to feed people elsewhere, reduce pollution, save water and energy, and cease contributing to the clearing of forests.”

    Our philosopher obviously doesn't know that south american rain forests are being clearcut to make way for the soyfields to feed his "vegan" friends.

    Soybean fields are not only replacing jungle and savanna land along the Eastern and Southern borders of the Amazon rainforest but also around cities that have sprung up deep within the rainforest such as Santerem and Boa Vista. Once towns and roads are built, an inevitable migration of homesteaders and other opportunists will occur. More jungle will be cleared for new towns and cities. Suburban sprawl, ranches and farms will cover the area where Brazil nut, mahogany, samauma and capirona trees once stood. Jaguars and spider monkeys will live in zoos, not jungles. (direct quote from

    Although the huge amount of vegetative waste can be turned into compost for soil amendment this is not nearly as efficient as using natural manure from animals, resulting in an increased dependence on environmentally unfriendly artificial fertilizers.

    Save water and energy? Don't crops need to be watered? They certainly need considerable processing to make them fit for human consumption, and lengthy transport to get them to the consumers, both huge users of energy.

    Pestecides applied to crops, especially in south and central America where non native crops are being grown are some of the biggest polluters on the planet.

    “When non-vegetarians say that ‘human problems come first’ I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farm animals.”

    Slaughter plants throughout the world are some of the most efficient and astute businesses there are. No part of an animal is ever wasted. Everything is utalised and what's more animal muscle is ready for immediate consumption further processing is required to make it edible which is more than can be said for soy.

    So there you have it. "Veganism" is the biggest blight on the face of the planet right now.

    Save animals and the planet - Eat Meat.

    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    Farley Mowat seized

    Canadian coast guard seizes anti-seal hunt boat

    MONTREAL (AFP) — The Canadian coast guard seized a boat belonging to opponents of seal hunting Saturday, the fisheries minister said, in a move described by the organization as an "act of war."

    "The government of Canada has taken action to protect the safety and livelihoods of Canadian sealers by boarding and seizing the Farley Mowat to arrest its captain and chief officer for alleged violations of Canada's Marine Mammal Regulations," said fishing minister Loyola Hearn.

    The owner of the Farley Mowat, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, countered that the boat had been "attacked" by two coast guard ice-breakers while in international waters in the Saint Lawrence gulf.

    "This is an act of war," said the society's founder, Paul Watson.

    "The Canadian government has just sent an armed boarding party onto a Dutch-registered yacht in international waters and has seized the ship."

    But Hearn said in a press conference that the boat was captured in "Canadian internal waters," and he accused Watson's organization of being "a bunch of money-sucking manipulators" intent on taking money from donors.

    Watson said the vessel's mission was to document evidence of cruelty by seal hunters to support a European motion to ban seal products.

    "The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has just handed us the victory that we were looking for," he said.

    "The Europeans will not be very pleased with this move."

    The seizure of the Farley Mowat came after a series of close encounters between seal hunters, the coast guard and the anti-hunt protesters.

    On March 30 the Sea Shepherd vessel collided with a coast guard icebreaker in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and while there was no reported damage, Alex Cornelissen, captain of the Farley Mowat, said in a statement his vessel was "twice rammed" after he ignored warnings not to approach sealers.

    And later fishermen sympathetic to the seal hunters cut the vessel's mooring lines while it was docked in the French isles of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off Canada's east coast.

    The annual commercial seal hunt, which opened March 28 in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, is often marked by confrontations between animal rights protesters and the hunters and Canadian authorities.

    The Canadian authorities last week launched legal action against Cornelissen, accusing him of getting too close to seal hunters and obstructing the coast guard's work.

    His assistant, Peter Hammarstedt, also faces charges and Hearn said both men risked fines of 100,000 dollars and six months in jail.

    Watson angered many early this month when he said that the death of four Canadian hunters at sea in an accident on the second day of the hunt was lass a tragedy that the killing of the baby seals.

    The fisheries ministry meanwhile said the number of boats taking part in the first fortnight of the hunt is markedly down on previous years, despite an increase of the fixed quota for the hunt to 275,000 seals from last year's 270,000.

    Local media attribute the change to rising oil costs and lower prices for seal fur.

    But the opponents of the hunt said it was a result of their protests.

    "Our efforts to close (seal product) markets around the world are clearly having an impact," said Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society.


    Friday, April 11, 2008

    Paul Watson' big booboo

    Kerry Diotte

    Thu, April 10, 2008
    Animal activists often hurt their own causes


    I love critters as much as most people.

    I've grown up with cats and dogs and hamsters - and treasured them all.

    Having been raised in northern Ontario where we owned a cabin (or camp, as it was called there), I also hunted grouse at an early age.

    I've since lost my love of that and now prefer to photograph wildlife rather than see it dead on my plate.

    Stories of animal abuse make me feel sick to my stomach. I truly admire people in the field of animal welfare who try to improve the lot of our feathered and furry friends.

    What I don't understand, though, is why some animal advocates become so strident in their cause that there's a backlash and they wind up crippling their case.

    Most people were rightly saddened to read news about the recent drowning deaths of four Quebec sealers from Iles-de-la Madeleine. They drowned when their disabled boat was being towed and it capsized.

    But hard-core animal rights activists were actually rejoicing, not unlike religious extremists who cheer terrorist attacks that kill innocent people.

    Sun Media received a few letters from animal rights types expressing their outright joy that seal hunters died.

    I'm not a big fan of seeing seals killed, but it's been a way of life for people on the East Coast and in the North for generations.

    Anti-sealing protesters have, over the years, forced slightly more humane hunting practices, at the least.

    Certainly there's more need for improvement, since seals are still clubbed to death on the ice. New regulations require hunters to also slit their arteries in the process.

    People can't help but view the clubbing to death of any animal as brutal. Can you imagine the uproar if cows, pigs and sheep were killed that way? It's not the most humane way of harvesting animals.

    But radical animal rights people tend to sabotage their own causes by expressing outrageous beliefs and using questionable tactics to try to win their cause.

    Witness the recent comments of Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

    As friends and family mourned the deaths of the Quebec sealers, Watson told the media he considered the killing of young seals "a greater tragedy."

    Watson made those comments after hearing quotes from a sealer who said he felt helpless watching the trawler capsize that led to the death of the four hunters.

    Watson, who obviously has little tact, heart or common sense, chose this particular time to send out his abrasive and cruel comments via a news release.

    "I can't think of anything that defines helplessness and fear more than a seal pup on the ice that can't swim or escape as it is approached by some cigarette-smoking ape with a club," Watson said.

    "These men are sadistic baby killers and that might offend some people but it is the unvarnished truth - they are vicious killers who are now pleading for sympathy because some of their own died while engaged in a viciously brutal activity."

    Those comments even made the head of Canada's Green party resign from the advisory board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

    It all goes to show that if you want a better world for animals, you shouldn't act like an untamed one yourself. People listen to reasonable arguments and campaigns. But most tune out wild-eyed radicals.


    Tuesday, April 8, 2008

    My kind of lawnmower

    Sheep Replace Lawnmowers In Italy

    by Justin Thomas, Virginia on 04. 8.08

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    Police are having to double up as shepherds in Italy after local councilors decided to scrap the city lawnmowers -- and use sheep instead. About 700 sheep have now been employed by Turin officials to keep the grass verges and lawns in city parks neatly trimmed. Environment officials in Turin said they were paying 30,000 euros in gardeners’ fees to cut the grass in just one of the bigger parks.

    Manager of the project, Federico Tombolato, said: "Using sheep is not only cheaper and more environmentally friendly, but we also get to sell them at the end of the process to raise more money."


    But drivers faced blocked roads across the city as the sheep were moved around Turin and locals who liked to sit on the grass complained that it was now covered in sheep mess.


    Via: Ecoscraps

    Monday, April 7, 2008

    Puppy Mills

    Puppy mills make me sick. Why don't those AR whackos do something about this?

    166 dogs seized from a suspected puppy mill

    Neco Cockburn, The Ottawa Citizen

    Published: Monday, April 07, 2008

    OTTAWA - Provincial offence charges are pending after 166 dogs were seized from a suspected puppy mill in the Bancroft area last week.

    Dogs of various mixed small breeds, including poodles, pekinese, terriers and beagles, were seized when the Ontario SPCA, along with a veterinarian and the OPP, executed a search warrant on April 2.

    The animals were wading in liquid feces and were found to be in "very poor condition, some suffering from dehydration, anemia, lethargy and parasites," the SPCA said, adding that some animals required immediate medical treatment.

    The SPCA said the facility lacked proper ventilation and had "extremely poor" sanitation. The SPCA said it is likely that the Animal Care Review Board, a voluntary committee set up by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, will determine the fate of the animals, which have been placed in shelters in cities such as Napanee, Brockville, Belleville, Renfrew and Kingston.

    If the seizure is determined to be justified, the resident could be forced to surrender the animals, which would then be available for adoption. If convicted, the resident could face up to two years in jail and a fine of $60,000. SPCA officials had received complaints about the resident for 12 years. During that time, many orders were issued and the resident complied, the SPCA said.

    Although some animals have been seized over the years, they were returned as a result of compliance, according to the SPCA.


    Saturday, April 5, 2008

    Weight restrictions on a great British tradition

    Skippy the donkey on the beach in front of Blackpool tower

    Skippy the donkey on the beach in front of Blackpool tower. Photograph: Don McPhee.

    Ever since Victorian holidaymakers rushed to the seaside to don knotted hankies, the postcard image of children riding donkeys has been inextricably linked to British summer holidays.

    But today, the tradition is facing restrictions as new animal cruelty guidelines are introduced, banning overweight youngsters from seaside donkey rides.

    A donkey code of practice is being brought in to stop anyone over 50.8kg (8st) from riding the animals amid growing fears that Britain's 850 donkeys are buckling under the weight of heavier children and putting their health at risk.

    As childhood obesity becomes an increasing problem, a whole generation could miss out on what has become something of a rite of passage at Britain's seaside resorts.

    The latest rules, drawn up by the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon and endorsed by the British Equine Veterinary Association, are targeted at all local authorities with beach donkeys – including Great Yarmouth, Brighton and Torquay.

    Blackpool beach, which is home to the largest number of beach donkeys in the UK, is likely to see the biggest impact on its 200 animals.

    The resort was approached by the charity to accept the first copy of the new code to hand over to the town's mayor, Councillor Robert Wayne, and Joan Humble, the Labour MP for Blackpool North and Fleetwood, at the north pier today.

    The Lancashire resort already has stringent employment rights for its animals, brought in three years ago. These include working no more than six days a week between 10am and 7pm, with one full day of rest, a minimum of an hour's lunch break and a donkey 'MoT' at the start of the summer season to ensure the animals are fit.

    Council inspectors also carry out spot checks to make sure the animals' rights are respected. Donkeys are also fitted with a microchip so they can be easily identified. These rules are also being rolled out on a nationwide basis along with the rider weight limits.

    Donkeys, which were first brought to Britain to toil down mines and can live to the age of 50, are a common sight in Blackpool, plodding along the beach through sun and rain. During a summer season they can take tens of thousands of children on rides at £2 a go.

    Despite their indentured servitude, donkeys are actually very intelligent. They have an incredible memory, recognising places and other donkeys from 25 years ago. They were first domesticated around 4,500 years ago and were a status symbol. But unlike horses, they do not have natural waterproof coats so they must have access to shelter.

    Martin Taggart, Donkey Sanctuary's head of welfare, said: "We already see an excellent standard of care for many beach donkeys in the UK, including Blackpool. The code of practice will help to support local authorities to ensure all beach donkeys receive the same levels of care.

    "The other purpose of the code is to provide a resource of advice and support to those working with beach donkeys or setting up new businesses. We are here to help in any way we can."

    Blackpool councillor Henry Mitchell said: "It is 66 years since we recognised that these animals needed protecting against some owners who would work them day and night if they could. The new code endorses what we do already and gives it the backing of two powerful organisations."

    The Donkey Sanctuary is hosting a free workshop on how to look after donkeys in Drumnadrochit, near Loch Ness. Similar classes are also being planned throughout the UK and Ireland. Advice will be offered on dental care, warning signs for when to call for a vet and basic first aid.

    This article was first published on on Friday April 04 2008. It was last updated at 12:19 on April 04 2008.