Swimming against the current on National Go Fishing Day


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Today is National Go Fishing Day, a day (like any other) to pretend that fish aren’t sentient beings who feel pain, possess innate intelligence, express social behavior, have memories…and who, like us, just want to live their lives. Instead, our species is encouraged by a multi-billion dollar recreational fishing industry to trick them with bait, “play” them on the end of the line, “fight” them on fly rods, and congratulate our skillful selves as victors when we haul them, gasping and suffering, out of the only universe they know. We perpetuate this cruelty by teaching children to disregard their suffering–they are, after all, only fish and objects of “sport”in numerous summer fishing camps designed to produce enthusiastic little anglers.  Continue reading

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Win a few, lose a few: Animal fighting, commercial breeding get another pass

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Dog fighter in training (ASPCA image) – click for story

Seventy percent of U.S. adults have a favorable opinion of the animal protection movement–so says recent research–which leads me to think that the other 30% serve in the Montana legislature. Animals lost what should have been a couple of slam-dunks during the 2015 biennial session, but that’s not unusual in a state where the unofficial motto might be “if it’s brown, it’s down; if it flies, it dies; if it hooks, it cooks.” Wildlife are under constant siege from arrows, bullets, hooks, and traps, while laws protecting companion animals don’t have a prayer if they can be twisted–no matter how remotely in the exploiters’ minds–to hold rodeo and animal agriculture to some minuscule standard of decency.   Continue reading

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Shrine Circus 2015: “Turn and stand” for animals

DSCN1227“F—ing dopers!” This invective was snarled in our direction as we stood outside the Adams Center on the University of Montana campus in Missoula one recent April weekend. Inside the Adams Center, the Shrine Circus (produced by the Jordan World Circus) was putting enslaved animals through their miserable paces at the business ends of whips and bullhooks.

“F—ing dopers”? We clutched signs reading “Have a heart for circus animals”; “Cruelty isn’t entertainment: Have compassion”; “Circuses: No fun 4 animals,” and the like. Our assemblage of 22 activists–people who set aside chores and pleasures to show up 53 times over two days and five performances–ranged from a six-year-old to several retirees, some sporting lustrous, silver hair; one was retired from a career in finance, another from federal service. We included a former teacher and a current teacher, an equine rescue volunteer, students, an archeologist, an insurance claims examiner, an adult education specialist, and a case worker in geriatrics. “F—ing dopers”? Really? Continue reading

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“Rabbit, rabbit” or “Night of the Lepus”–it’s your choice

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Soon it will be April 1st, and for those of you with superstitious or folklorish proclivities, remember to say “rabbit, rabbit!” (or “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!”) first thing upon waking–before speaking any other words. You might even go so far as to perambulate through the house saying it in each room. This ritual is to be repeated as every new month dawns. I just recently learned of this age-old practice from my friend Tracy, who rescues rabbits and runs an education campaign endearingly called Rabbitron (website; Facebook), named after her first bunny and serving as a tribute to that worthy lagomorph.   Continue reading

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Two animal rescues: 33 happy homecomings & one heartbreaker

Click for Facebook page

Click for Facebook page

Anyone who works in the animal rights arena knows that a single day–nay, a single minute–can feature the most jubilant high and the utmost despairing low. One emotion follows on the heels of the other as news randomly enters your world: humans at their most compassionate and generous best–vigorously turning the wheels of justice for animals; humans at their most uncaring and depraved worst–deliberately evil monsters or indifferent agents of neglect, suffering, and death. How on earth to reconcile this?   Continue reading

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Happy Year of the Sheep! (Domestic or wild, it’s no party)

Animals Australia Unleashed - click image

Animals Australia Unleashed – click image

The Chinese lunar new year arrived recently, and regardless of whether you’re in the sheep or the goat camp, for the purpose of this post I wish you a Happy Year of the Sheep! Of course, there’s nothing happy about live export, perhaps only the worst fate to befall any given sheep on Planet Earth. Shame on Australia!

But wait a minute, Yanks–let’s don’t get too smug. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Farm Animals are regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) only when used in biomedical research, testing, teaching and exhibition. Farm animals used for food and fiber or for food and fiber research are not regulated under the AWA” (source). This puts a sheep between a rock and a hard place–protected by welfare standards in biomedical research labs, but not in factory farms. Hmmm. Which hell would you choose?!?   Continue reading

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Eating Earth: an ethics-based guide for enviros & animal activists

UnknownThey’re eating me out of house and home! Idioms, as you know, are shorthand codes for more complex ideas. As I read Lisa Kemmerer’s latest offering, “Eating Earth: Environmental Ethics & Dietary Choice,” I kept returning to that idiomatic gluttonous guest or the self-centered roommate who mindlessly consumes such a vast quantity of our household resources that we’re headed for ruin.

Now consider what happens when that gluttonous dweller is Homo sapiens and the “house and home” is our planet. That’s the premise in “Eating Earth,” a readable, thoroughly-referenced book “written both for environmentalists and animal activists, explor(ing) vital common ground between these two social justice movements–dietary choice” (from the book’s jacket).   Continue reading

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Yellowstone wildlife sent to slaughter; calling all buffalo warriors

10429277_10153021164260859_6998809249201624349_nDear Americans:

You’re busy, I know. You’re busy working and playing and doing a million crazy, diverse things that Americans do in our big, crazy, diverse country. That’s just who we are, and that’s what makes us awesome.

But right now, I’m going to cherry-pick a few things we share. We’re nuts about wildlife–amiright?!? In 2011, a whopping 71.8 million of us–that was 30% of the U.S. adult population–identified as dedicated wildlife watchers in a once-every-five-years national Census survey. We spent a bundle–$54.9 billion–on wildlife watching that year.

According to the same report, 12.3 million of us visited parks and other natural areas to view wildlife (pg. 36). And in 2012, a National Parks Conservation Association poll found that “95 percent of voters see protecting and supporting the National Parks as an appropriate role for the federal government.” In one survey question, protecting natural habitats, plants and wildlife was ranked the top value of six possibilities.   Continue reading

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Pony rides: Service…or servitude?

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Photo: LA Progressive; click image

ex-ploi-ta-tion (noun): the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.

Animal exploitation comes in many shapes and sizes and often involves soul-crushing cruelty–think factory farming, circus slavery, vivisection.  But is exploitation always cruel? What constitutes cruelty, anyhow? And who defines it? If you’re the animal, these questions are meaningless: When you’re suffering–whether physically, emotionally, or both–you simply want it to stop. If you’re the animal rights activist, your definition of what’s exploitive and cruel is holistic and vastly broader than that of the person who “owns” animals–ponies, for example–and benefits financially from their work in the pony ride ring. Though they might be well cared-for, is their forced labor unfair? Is it cruel? Is it OK because they’re valued and loved? Just like the tethered ponies, this argument goes ’round and ’round.  Continue reading

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Love it…list it…stuff it? African lion listing open for public comment

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LionAid photo; click image

Tuesday, 1/27/15 at 11:59pm EST: LAST DAY TO COMMENT! Link to comment is below.

From the Have Your Cake & Eat It Too Department: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has announced that it intends to list the African lion as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) … while continuing to allow the importation of lion trophies by American trophy hunters under a permit system.

Who’s hailing this decision as a victory?

Safari Club International applauded the proposal as a win for hunters and a loss for conservation groups that sought the endangered designation that would have prohibited the importation of trophies, a big lure for hunters.

“This conclusion is a blow to the anti-hunting rhetoric put forward by organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and International Fund for Animal Welfare,” the group said. ~The Washington Post  

Continue reading

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