Thousands of wildlife trophy hunters from around the world will gather in Reno, Nevada, for the annual Safari Club International convention January 9 through 12 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. At the event, they will have access to nearly 900 exhibitors, including companies that sell the experience of killing the world’s most iconic animals — African elephants, lions and leopards, and North American cougars, bears and wolves, among others — for their heads, hides, and other body parts.
Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and president of Humane Society International, said, “The SCI convention is a huge gathering of people in the business of buying, selling and auctioning off dead animal parts and opportunities to slay wild animals for fun or bragging rights. SCI’s claim of concern for wildlife conservation is greatly undercut by its agenda of advocating and celebrating the killing of the planet’s most threatened species.”
Hundreds of hunts on every continent except Antarctica will be auctioned off at the convention to benefit SCI. In 2016, according to federal tax filings, the convention raised more than $7.7 million in net revenue for SCI. The annual convention is a major funding source for SCI’s operations and agenda to influence pro-trophy hunting government policy. SCI’s political action committee, the Hunter Defense Fund, works to elect pro-trophy hunting politicians.
The SCI Record Book belies its claim that it is a conservation organization, offering members the opportunity to compete to win nearly 50 awards for killing elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, bears, wolves, antelopes and other animals. In 2015, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International analyzed the SCI books and found that since 1959, SCI members have killed at least 2,007 African lions, 1,888 African leopards, 791 African elephants, and 572 rhinos, including 93 critically endangered black rhinos as of that publication date, with more animals killed since then. The most prolific trophy hunters are awarded the World Hunting Award ring, which some have called the “Super Bowl ring of hunting.”
Block added: “We urge everyone, including government decision-makers, to challenge the conservation claims made by SCI and call them out as an industry group with a product to sell that is not beneficial to anyone, least of all imperiled wildlife.”
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) announced that a feral cat colony at Jones Beach State Park has been removed from the park.
Since August 2018, 26 feral cats were trapped, examined by veterinarians, and relocated from Jones Beach State Park to cat sanctuaries. The cats were removed humanely over time, in cooperation with cat caretakers who helped with trapping and locating acceptable shelters. In addition, all structures erected for the cats at the park have been removed.
“This is a very positive outcome that safeguards Piping Plovers and ensures a comfortable life for the cats,” said Grant Sizemore, Director of ABC’s Invasive Species programs. “The protected plovers that nest at Jones Beach State Park — and many other species — will have one less threat to contend with, and the cats have a safer place to live out their lives.”
State Parks also continues to trap and remove any cats found outside the former cat colonies. Signage has been posted throughout the Park indicating that the abandonment and feeding of cats is prohibited, and Park Police are actively enforcing this prohibition.
State Parks’ actions fully comply with the settlement of a lawsuit filed by ABC in March 2016, which alleged a violation of the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit was based on a concern that New York State Parks was not doing enough to ensure that the nesting Piping Plovers — a species listed as Endangered in the state of New York and Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act — were sufficiently protected from harm by the feral cats.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “Jones Beach State Park is simply not an appropriate place for stray or abandoned cats. We are pleased this agreement with American Bird Conservancy strikes a sensible balance between protecting the Piping Plover and relocating the feral cats that have been dropped off in the park in as humane a manner as possible.”
“American Bird Conservancy is grateful to State Parks for their cooperation and for moving swiftly to meet the requirements of the settlement,” added Sizemore.
The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog will officially open its doors in New York City on Feb. 8 at its new location near Grand Central Station. The museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of canine fine art.
The museum will be housed at the Kalikow Building at 101 Park Ave. in Midtown Manhattan, along with the AKC’s NY Headquarters. Founded in 1982, it was originally housed in The New York Life Building located at 51 Madison Ave. as part of the AKC Headquarters. In 1987, it was moved to West St. Louis County, MO. That location closed in September.
The newly designed space will house art from well-known dog artists such as Sir Edwin Landseer, Maud Earl and Arthur Wardle. It also has a two-story glass vitrine that encases rare porcelains and bronzes, in addition to a library where users can learn about their favorite breeds. The museum’s first exhibition will be called “For the Love of All Things Dog” and combine select works from the AKC’s own collection and that of the museum.
Throughout the museum, visitors will experience exhibits that bridge the digital and physical elements of the museum and bring new life to the collection. Spanning two floors with a double height atrium space at the stair, the gallery includes interactive exhibits such as a “Find Your Match” kiosk that takes your photo, aligning its likeness with an AKC-registered dog breed. Additionally, there is a “Meet the Breeds” touchscreen table that allows visitors to explore breeds’ features, traits, history and representations in the collection. There are several other digital experiences that bring audiences into the history of the museum and its mission.
“It is exciting to bring this collection back to New York City,” said Alan Fausel, executive director, AKC Museum of the Dog. “This Museum is a beautiful ode to man’s best friend and we are thrilled to bring these pieces and exhibitions to new audiences.”
Petco is shutting down its Drs. Foster and Smith business, a catalog and online retailer of pet supplies.
The closure, taking effect Feb. 12, means the loss of 289 jobs in Rhinelander, WI, the Star Journal reports.
Petco will maintain its Live Aquaria business, which has 59 employees, in Rhinelander.
Employees of Drs. Foster and Smith will see their employment end in 60 to 120 days, the company said.
The Star Journal quoted a company statement: “Taking into account the needs of modern pet parents, shifting consumer preferences and the ongoing evolution of the Petco brand, we believe this will enable us to streamline operations and better focus on our core business and customer.”
The company continued: “This decision has not been an easy one, nor has it been made lightly, and we appreciate that it has a very real effect on both individuals and the broader community in Rhinelander.”
Multiple reports of a Bigfoot with glowing red eyes in the North Carolina town of Mocksville have been explained, and it turns out the callers weren’t imagining things.
Davie County Animal Services revealed in a Friday Facebook post that the creature seen standing in a forested area is an 8-foot wooden statue of a Bigfoot and not the real thing.
“This handsome fellow stands on Pine Ridge Road,” says the county’s post. “If you are traveling this road at night, please be advised that the eyes appear to glow. If you see this phenomenon, you do not need to call animal control to report seeing Bigfoot, Sasquatch or any other large creature. Thank you.”
Animal services told the Charlotte Observer the statue’s eyes are embedded with red glass marbles, which are reflecting the headlights of passing cars.
The department has had multiple calls about the statue -- all at night -- from people who believed they were seeing the legendary creature believed by some to live in deeply forested areas.
The existence of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, has yet to be proven, but sightings have been reported for decades across the nation.
Davie County’s warning immediately drew disbelief from Facebook commenters, prompting animal services to add more explanation.
“The ACOs (Animal Control Officers) asked for this post, because they are tired of answering calls,” The carving is on private property, and does not violate any laws, officials told the Charlotte Observer.
North Carolina has been the scene of multiple alleged Bigfoot sightings, including one reported by the Charlotte Observer in the woods of McDowell County in August. That sighting, made by members of the Bigfoot 911 research group, was never explained.
National Geographic reports the existence of the creature is supported largely by circumstantial evidence, including grainy videos and oversized footprints. Experts believe most reported sightings are a case of mistaken identify involving other animals.
Dozens have commented on Davie County’s Facebook post and hundreds more have shared it. Most were amused.
“This is why I love living in the backwoods!” wrote Amber Wilson on the animal services Facebook page. “You can’t make this stuff up!! Thanks for the laugh!”
A trio of abandoned kittens in New Zealand is lucky to be alive after being found by a trucker in Cormack. The young cats, estimated to be between 10 and 12 weeks old, were noticed by Clyde Compton as he was driving his milk tanker.
Compton waded through waist-deep snow to check out the black huddled mass he saw from high up in the cab of his truck. He scooped up the kittens and brought them to his home in Deer Lake before continuing on his route to St. John’s with the milk delivery.
The kittens were feeling a lot better once they warmed up. In a post on Facebook though, he noted, the cats likely would have been buried in by a snowplow that was just about five minutes away from their location.
The cats were eventually picked up from the Compton home by Deer Lake Kitty Rescue. Tanya White, chair of the rescue group, is fostering the cats on behalf of the NL West SPCA, which has agreed to help get the fortunate animals adopted.
White said it seems the animals were tossed into the snowbank from a vehicle. She said there were no tracks, human or animal, around where they were found and it was unlikely they had been there for long because they would not have survived any more than a few hours in the conditions.
There are farms in the area where they were found, but White doesn’t believe they are barn cats that have adapted to living in harsher conditions.
She wonders if whoever left them may have thought the cats would somehow become toughened barn cats.
The RCMP have been notified of the incident and White is encouraging anyone who knows anything about where the cats came from to please notify the Deer Lake detachment to help with the investigation.
The cats, which White said were hypothermic when rescued, were all checked by a veterinarian. Despite needing to be dewormed and one having an upper respiratory infection, they are all doing fine.
They even now have names related to the weather conditions they were found in. A long-haired female has been named Shiver, while the short-haired female and male have respectively been named Stormy and Flurry. Anyone who would like to make a donation to help cover the costs to care for the cats, or is interested in adopting them, can contact the NL West SPCA.
Matthew Oropeza, 24, turned himself into police Thursday after they say his single punch killed a data programmer who asked him to put his pit bull on a leash. Philadelphia police have charged a man with involuntary manslaughter after he punched a fellow dog walker who fell to the ground and smashed his head- and ultimately died from the impact.
Matthew Oropeza, 24, turned himself into the police on Thursday. Police say he punched Drew Justice, 38, Saturday night around 9.15pm during an argument in which Oropeza was asked to put his pit bull on a leash because Justice was concerned for the safety of his little Shih Tzu.
Police say he punched Justice in the face, causing him to fall backward and hit his head on the ground. After Justice hit the ground, Oropeza bolted from the scene. Justice was with his fiancée Kristi Buchholz and were walking their black Shih Tzu at Gold Star Park when they came across Oropeza whose pet pit bull was running free and the argument ensued.
Police responding to Saturday night's scene canvassed the area, but Oropeza had already fled Police were dispatched to the scene after a neighbor reported hearing someone screaming in the park following the assault. When officers arrived, they found Justice laying on the ground unconscious as another person administered CPR.
The victim was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead soon after. His death was officially ruled a homicide on Tuesday. Witnesses said they don't believe the Oropeza intended to kill Justice, but said it was inexcusable that he ran off immediately after striking him. Multiple people tried to resuscitate the victim, but the medical examiner determined he died instantly of 'blunt impact trauma injury to the head'. Justice's neighbor Julie Abruzzese told NBC10: 'I heard the screaming. But it was already done. He was laying on the ground.'
Bucholz has not spoken publicly since her fiance's sudden and tragic passing. One neighbor said: '[Justice] and his fiancée were ready to get married. It's heartbreaking'. Justice and Bucholz lived across the street from the park and were described as 'enthusiastic' members of the community, according to Regan Cooper, chair of the Friends of Gold Star Park group.
Cooper said in a statement: '[Justice] raked leaves at cleanup days, hung lights for our winter celebration, and was always up for firing up the grill to feed volunteers or raise money for the park. 'He will be greatly missed.'
According to a post on the Gold Star Park Facebook page, dogs are required to be kept on a leash at all times. Oropeza is facing the charges of involuntary manslaughter, simple assault and reckless endangerment of another person.