In January, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduced a new version of his so-called “Protect Interstate Commerce Act.” This bill is nearly identical to the dreaded “King Amendment,” which was defeated in the 2014 Farm Bill.
Though the title of the bill sounds innocent, this treacherous legislation threatens animal-protection laws across the country. State bans on cruel devices like gestation crates for pigs, battery cages for laying hens, and other state-level measures that the ASPCA and animal advocates across the country fought hard to enact will be jeopardized if this bill moves forward.
Rep. King’s bill threatens the constitutional power of states to enact laws that protect the health and welfare of animals. Specifically, the Protect Interstate Commerce Act strips states of the ability to enact and enforce laws regarding the production of any “agricultural products”—a term so broad that it includes not only farm animals like cows, chickens and pigs, but potentially dogs in puppy mills, who could also be considered “agricultural products” under current law.
The bill has the potential to destroy hundreds, if not thousands, of important animal-protection laws, but here’s just one example: In 2016, the ASPCA worked to pass Question 3 in Massachusetts, a ballot measure that resulted in one of the most comprehensive farm animal-protection measures in the country. This law requires that eggs and certain meat produced and sold in the state come from farms without the cruelest confinement practices. If Congress passes the Protect Interstate Commerce Act, the Massachusetts law could be in jeopardy. Animals will once again be at risk for cruel farming practices, and the overwhelming will of Massachusetts voters, 77% of whom voted for the law, will be overturned.
Federal law should complement state animal-protection laws, not prevent them from being passed. Defeating the Protect Interstate Commerce Act is essential to ensure the protection of animals across the country.
Dozens of fluffy shy albatross chicks sitting on artificial nests are a promising sign for scientists behind an innovative plan to give the vulnerable species a boost to help counteract the negative impacts of climate change.
Over 100 specially built mudbrick and aerated concrete artificial nests were airlifted on to Bass Strait’s Albatross Island off the northwest coast of Tasmania in July 2017 to trial a program aimed at increasing the breeding success of the shy albatross.
Higher air temperatures and increased rainfall associated with climate change are reducing breeding success for Australia’s only albatross, and the rapid warming of the ocean may also make it harder for foraging parents to find prey. Monitoring shows that birds with inferior nests are less likely to successfully raise a chick.
Luckily, the artificial nests appear to be working.
“Shy albatross lay a single egg in late September and those eggs have now hatched,” said Dr. Rachael Alderman, a biologist with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. “At this stage in the trial, the breeding success of pairs on artificial nests is 20% higher than those on natural nests. There are many more months ahead for all the chicks, and a lot can change, but so far it’s very promising.”
Endemic to Australia, shy albatross only nest on three islands off the coast of Tasmania—Albatross Island, Pedra Branca, and Mewstone.
Conservation scientists and funding partners from the Tasmanian and Australian governments, WWF-Australia, WWF's Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund, CSIRO Marine Climate Impact, and the Tasmanian Albatross Fund have worked together to place nests in areas where they were typically of lower quality. Recent monitoring shows that the birds are accepting the nests and personalizing them with mud and vegetation.
High quality nests help keep eggs and chicks safe from the harsh weather that hits Albatross Island. When the chicks are fully grown and about to fly from the island for the first time, scientists will attach tiny satellite trackers to them to capture the movements of their first few months at sea. This will provide crucial information about why fewer juveniles are surviving.
As the climate continues to change, scientists need to develop, test, and evaluate new approaches to protecting vulnerable species. This collaborative innovation is an encouraging step for the future of the shy albatross and can serve as a model for other wildlife recovery efforts.
New rhino poaching numbers out of South Africa show a small decrease from the previous year, but the death toll remains perilously high.
The South African Department of Environmental Affairs announced that poachers killed 1,028 rhinos in 2017, down from 1,054 in 2016. Officials recorded a record loss of 1,215 rhinos in 2014.
Much of the poaching has shifted to rhino populations living outside of South Africa’s Kruger National Park to places where the risk of getting caught is lower and the benefits are greater.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing an increase in poaching numbers for other species in Kruger. Elephant losses grew to 67 in 2017 from 46 in 2016.
“Wildlife trafficking remains a pervasive threat to rhinos, and increasingly to other species such as elephants and lions which bring tourists and jobs to our important protected areas,” said Dr. Jo Shaw, African rhino lead for WWF International. “These crimes also affect people living around our parks by exposing them to criminals connected to international trafficking syndicates.”
Despite the still dangerously high rhino poaching numbers, the South African government has made some progress in tackling the issue. It has increased the number of convictions for illegal activities relating to rhinos, especially higher up within the criminal syndicates behind the poaching. And it’s working closely with communities to get them involved in the legal wildlife economy, including ecotourism.
WWF is supporting and experimenting with community-based approaches to addressing wildlife trafficking and building relationships between key protected areas and people who live among or close to Africa’s wildlife. We’re also providing equipment and scientific support for rhino protection and safely moving rhinos to more secure areas where their numbers can grow.
Flynn the bichon frise won best in show at the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club dog show on Tuesday night, topping other contenders like Slick the border collie and a pug named Biggie.
The choice was a surprise to most of the crowd at Madison Square Garden, with many fans falling silent when the 5-year-old white powder puff was picked.
Flynn also beat out Ty the giant schnauzer, Bean the Sussex spaniel, Lucy the borzoi, and Winston the Norfolk terrier. Bill McFadden, the dog's handler, began showing the breed at the competition in 1991, the New York Times reported. Ty, a giant schnauzer, was the runner up at the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. (AP)
Underdogs and upsets are way more than norm on the green carpet of the Garden — inside dog fanciers indeed fancied Flynn, but the people sitting in the stands was obviously pulling for other dogs.
Ty came into this competition as the nation's No. 1 show dog last year and finished as the runner-up. He endeared himself to the crowd by jumping up and putting his front paws around handler Katie Bernardin after winning the working group earlier in the evening. Slick and Lucy also drew applause.
Cheers of "Let's go, Biggie!" bounced all arena for the popular pug. And Bean was a clear crowd favorite, the way he sat up straight on his hind legs and begged judges for the biggest treat in dogdom.
Almost 6, Flynn posted his 42nd career best in show victory in what is almost certainly his last show before retiring.
The famed JR was the only other bichon to win Westminster, in 2001. McFadden has enjoyed success at the Garden, having guided Mick the Kerry blue terrier to the title in 2003.
Flynn won't get much rest before beginning his victory lap. Wednesday's schedule includes visits to the morning TV news shows, a steak lunch at Sardi's, a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, and he's been invited for a walk-on part at a Broadway hit "Kinky Boots."
The Westminster-winning team gets no prize money. Instead, there's a shiny bowl, lucrative breeding fees and, most of all, a lifetime of memories. The 142nd Westminster event attracted 2,882 entries in 202 breeds and varieties. Among those who didn't quite make the cut: face-licking Spicy Nacho the miniature bull terrier who drew laughs, just not the judge's look.
Flynn made a goodwill gesture toward Stenmark upon meeting her, offering his paw as if to shake hands when she went down the line to review the final seven dogs. His full name is Belle Creek's All I Care About is Love, and this champion from the nonsporting group delivered a few minutes before it became Valentine's Day. "He has my heart," McFadden said. "He is pure joy."
OVER the past few weeks earthquakes have hit Japan, Mexico and Taiwan and volcanoes have erupted around the Pacific's 'Ring of Fire'. Now scientists have warned the frequent seismic activity, which has already claimed lives, could mean a huge quake is on the way.
A new study from California says that the cluster of tremors around the planet's so-called Ring of Fire- a horseshoe-shaped geological disaster zone - could indicate the "big one" is due to hit. The research, published in the journal Science Advances, involved analysis of 101 major earthquakes around the Pacific Ring of Fire between 1990 and 2016.
Thorne Lay, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said: "Based on the clustering of earthquakes in space and time, the area that has just slipped is actually more likely to have another failure."
He added that despite the stress on the fault being lowered to below failure level, "the surrounding areas have been pushed towards failure in many cases, giving rise to aftershocks and the possibility of an adjacent large rupture sooner rather than later."
"Earthquakes are happening frequently in the Ring of Fire, and some apparent space-time clustering could arise from purely random (non-interacting) activity." The study comes after the Ring of Fire was rocked by a spate of earthquakes in the first two weeks of February.
More than 180 people were injured and 17 people killed when a 6.4 magnitude quake struck Taiwan's east coast on February 6. On Tuesday a series of tremors reaching magnitudes as high as 5.7 shook the US island territory of Guam.
Since February 11, three earthquakes have hit Japan, the largest measured at 4.8 on the Richter scale and was 103 kilometres. But scientists have reassured the public, saying such activity is normal for the Ring of Fire and dismissed speculation of a "domino effect" triggering a bigger quake.
Homes were destroyed in Bogor, Indonesia and hundreds were injured by a quake on January 24 "In terms of volcanic history, however the current activity is still regarded as normal." In January, at least four natural disasters, including numerous volcanic eruptions, hit the Pacific Rim.
Japan's Mount Kusatsu-Shirane killed one person and injured 15 when it erupted and Mount Mayon in the Philippines sent lava soaring into the air, forcing more than 60,000 to evacuate nearby villages.
Also a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico’s southern Pacific Coast on Friday, according to the United States Geological Survey.
A cow has been living alone on an island, attacking anyone who comes near, after staging a miraculous escape on its way to a slaughterhouse.
The animal made its bid for safety last month after it refused to get into a lorry taking it to be killed for meat. Instead it rammed a metal fence before making a dash for the nearby Lake Nysa, south Poland.
After the cow’s owner, known only as Mr Lukasz, attempted to get it back to the farm, the cow broke one of his worker’s arms, according to Polish news show Wiadomosci.
It then entered the water and swam to one of the islands in the middle of the lake. Mr Lukasz said he even saw it dive underwater on its way.
After a week of trying and failing to get the cow back, Mr Lukasz gave up and began making sure it was fed enough food to stay alive instead.
When firefighters used a boat to get to the island, the cow swam about 50 metres to a neighbouring peninsula. Pawel Gotowski, deputy commander of the fire brigade in Nysa, said the animal was frightened but healthy.
A vet called in to tranquillise the animal told Mr Lukasz he had run out of gas cartridges, and that it would take several days to get new ones.
Despite the farmer considering having it shot dead, a political leader in the town of Nysa, Czeslaw Bilobran, has reportedly said the cow will live out its life in peace.
Politician and former singer, Pawel Kukiz, raised the animal's plight on Wednesday in a Facebook post in which he offered to pay for the “hero cow” to be saved from death.
“She escaped heroically and infiltrated the island in the middle of the lake, where it remains today,” Mr Kukiz said. “She did not succumb to firefighters who wanted to transport her by boat and she was still on the battlefield.
"I am not a vegetarian, but fortitude and the will to fight for this cow's life is invaluable. Therefore, I decided to do everything to cause the cow to be delivered to a safe place and in the second stage, as a reward for her attitude, give her a guarantee of a long-term retirement and natural death.”
Montreal will roll back a ban on pit bull-type dogs after animal protection groups slammed the measure.
Valérie Plante, who was elected mayor of the Canadian city in November, promised during her campaign that she would repeal breed-specific restrictions on dog ownership that had been put into place by former Mayor Denis Coderre. On Friday, Craig Sauvé, a city councilor who serves on a committee that handles animal control, announced that animal control bylaws that target specific dog breeds or physical characteristics — rather than demonstrated behavior.
In 2016, Coderre’s government passed legislation that banned Montreal residents from acquiring pit bulls — which were defined by the law as American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, crosses including one of those breeds, or dogs that share physical characteristics with those breeds. The law allowed people who already owned pit bulls to keep them, but implemented severe restrictions, including requiring that owners pay a $150 permit fee and that they keep the dogs muzzled and on a short leash in public.
https://www.spca.com/?lang=en" target="_blank">The Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strongly campaigned against the new rules, arguing that since forbidding pit bull adoptions would result in animal shelters having to euthanize some of their animals. Additionally, the group argued that the criteria for keeping pit bulls would force some low-income residents to give up their beloved dogs.
The Montreal SPCA initiated a legal battle that ultimately resulted in some provisions being changed. Specifically, a court ruled that the city could not issue a euthanasia order based solely on breed or appearance and could not prevent someone from reclaiming a lost dog based on breed or appearance. Additionally, the city had to continue to allow shelters to adopt out pit bulls to people who reside outside of Montreal city limits.
Sauvé’s Friday announcement means that the city will lift any provisions that target pit bulls as a group or place special rules on pit bull ownership that do not apply to other kinds of dogs. However, restrictions on individual dogs that have been deemed dangerous will remain in place. “To reduce dog bites, we need to look at all dogs, because pit bulls, contrary to some urban legends, aren’t a dog that’s more aggressive than others, or a dog that’s particularly dangerous; all dogs are potentially dangerous,” Sauve said, according to the Montreal Gazette.
The pit bull ban appeared to be in response to the June 2016 death of Christiane Vadnais, who was killed in an attack by her neighbor’s dog. After the breed of the dog was called into question, a DNA test found that the dog was 87.5 American Staffordshire Terrier (a breed commonly referred to as a pit bull), the CBC reported at the time.
Vadnais’ brother, Gaston, and sister, Lise, have spoken out and said they are disappointed that the breed-specific bylaws were being lifted. Lise Vadnais told CTV that she believed the change would lead to more deaths in the future. The Montreal SPCA celebrated the news on Friday. “We’re very happy at the SPCA to know that as of Dec 20th we will be able to place dogs into adoption regardless of what they look like,” lawyer Sophie Gaillard told CTV.