Jan 2011


“…living by voices we shall never hear”

January 2011


  • A world of hurt under the Big Sky
  • Factory farm locator: the geography of suffering
  • Laboratory beagles get new lives
  • Pop quiz: Felony animal abuse laws
  • Loser, winner (sort of)
  • Two alerts: bison & wolves
  • Leave you smiling
  • Other Nations: About our name

Republicans in the 2011 Montana legislature are busy creating a little shop of horrors for native wildlife.  In their rush to outlaw wild bison (Senate Bill 144), to establish pre-emptive slaughter of grizzlies (SB 143), and–sit down for this one–to kill animals with spears (SB 112), accommodation and compassion are the first victims.

Sen. Greg Hinkle wants to return Montana to the Stone Age with Senate Bill 112, allowing spear hunting during general rifle season. When is enough enough? We’ve got bullets, arrows, and traps; we’ve got year-round, unlicensed recreational killing of many predator and “nongame” species in addition to regulated hunting and trapping seasons. As if there weren’t already methods and opportunities enough to maim or kill animals in Montana!

And just why is a Treasure State legislator infatuated with Neanderthal bloodsport? Hinkle, in his service to the citizens of Montana, cited defensive end Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings.  Allen’s showy exploits are available online, where he spears an elk on an Illinois game farm. That’s right, a football player from Minnesota, spearing a domesticated elk on a game farm in Illinois, is the impetus for legislation in Helena, Montana.

Sadly, the bill passed the Senate on 1/19 by a vote of 27-21 (two Republican senators were absent, and one lone Dem crossed over to vote with all the Republicans).  It has been transmitted to the House.

Let’s consider suffering, something that 27 of our senators failed to do or simply dismissed.  A poorly-placed bullet can quickly be followed by another, but spears…?  I posed this question to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, pointing out that legislators are not wildlife experts, and should not be making such serious decisions without knowledge of the consequences. Is there research on injuries to animals from poorly-thrown spears?  Is there data from other states? Shouldn’t this be part of the discussion?

This answer came back from the FWP Law Enforcement Bureau: “When this bill was introduced, we sent out an inquiry through National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs  (NACLEC) regarding this issue.  Of the 50 states, 35 responded, with all but one not allowing spears or atlatls for hunting big game. Many states did allow it for either small game or birds, however. The one state that did allow it for big game hunting  (Alabama) had only one season behind them and had no information regarding wounding, etc. That is really the extent of the information available to us at this time.”

FWP is taking no position on SB 112, maintaining that it’s a “social issue” with no biology involved.

Is spear hunting actually about hunting–or really just about ego and killing? Let Gene Morris of Alabama be your guide. Morris, the self-proclaimed “greatest living spear hunter in the world,” has killed 542 animals with spears, more than 80 of them two at a time (a spear in each hand), and is working on killing three at a time using his leg. He’s even built a museum to pay homage to his killing career. If you like what you see, you can order DVDs.  ”All the kill scenes are very explicit,” he says.

~K. Stachowski for Other Nations

Learn how to track this bill and others in the 2011 Montana legislature. Click here.

Factory farms are living, suffering hells for the thinking, feeling animals confined to them their entire lives. This map illustrates the shocking reality of the extent of factory farming in our fast-food nation. Note that, with the filter to the left of the map, you can manipulate what is displayed.

What can we do to change this? If avoiding factory farmed animal products just doesn’t seem like enough, consider supporting a local farmed animal sanctuary, New Dawn Montana farm sanctuary near Stevensville. Formerly farmed (and often destined for slaughter) animals live out their lives here in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley.

Because of their size and easygoing nature, beagles are used in laboratory testing more than any other breed of dog. A few, having spent their entire lives in lab cages, are now finding new lives– including the feel of grass under their paws for the first time. The heart-warming story is here.  The Beagle Freedom Project is responsible for this happy ending–check it out.

Tox21, mentioned in the article above, is “…a federal effort to modernize the process for assessing the potentially harmful effects of chemicals on human health. This effort is expected to substantially reduce the current reliance on animal testing.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration joined the project last July–a positive step forward applauded by the Humane Society of the U.S.–read their take on it here.

Animal abuse is a felony in 46 states plus the District of Columbia, leaving four states without any cruelty laws. Which states lack felony animal abuse laws? Find the answer here.

Odious: “I want to protect people from getting in trouble for doing the right thing.” — Rep. Curt Oda, Utah legislature. Oda wants to change the state cruelty law to exempt the killing of feral animals. Just what does he consider “the right thing”? Shooting (gun or arrow), clubbing, or decapitating. Proof that Montana legislators haven’t cornered the market on mean, compassionless legislation. Details here.

Less odious (a qualified “winner”): Congrats to the Utah Wildlife Board for rejecting a proposal to increase the mandatory trap check interval from 48 hours to 96 hours for nonlethal traps. The idea, proposed by Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife, was to allow trappers (particularly coyote trappers) more time to check their traplines. Obviously, allowing trapped animals more time to suffer was of no concern to SF&W. Never doubt the value of citizens’ e-mails and phone calls; said one board member, “Every e-mail, every personal contact I’ve had on this issue has been opposed to it.” While we’re on the subject, Montana has NO mandatory trap check interval. A 48 hour interval is suggested.

A wildlife rehabber told the UT Wildlife Board about the many animals brought to her with trapping injuries. “Forty-eight hours for an eagle is not good. You are ripping your leg off after 48 hours, but there is a good chance I can put you back together,” she said. “But after 72 hours there is nothing left to rehabilitate.” Full story here.

TWO ALERTS:  bison & wolves
Yellowstone bison–brutally unwelcome in Montana.   Alert canceled–bison saved!  Check with Buffalo Field Campaign.

Alaskan wolves–aerial killing in designated Wilderness a possibility. Check with Wilderness Watch for details.

A creative spay/neuter video set to “Help!” by the Beatles…you’ll love it, and so will your cats!

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
~Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1928