Displaying items by tag: Legislation

Born Free USA roundup of federal and state bills

Washington, D.C., December 30, 2014 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, works with federal, state, and local legislators to strengthen existing animal protection laws and establish new ones that tackle crucial wildlife issues including exotic animals kept as “pets,” the barbaric trapping industry, and the trade in wildlife parts. This year was significant in legislatures around the country, with animal bills seeing both big wins and frustrating defeats.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “We fight with unsurpassed determination to protect animals and preserve wildlife. We are grateful to those who support our efforts to reduce animal suffering, increase public safety, and help ensure compassionate conservation everywhere. All American citizens can help influence their state and federal leadership and impact the way we treat wildlife. Every voice can be heard, and we are asking people to step up for the sake of wildlife protection and the future of our planet.”

Born Free relies on its dedicated constituents to help persuade legislators to act for animals throughout the year, and encourages everyone to join its eAlert team for regular updates on ways to assist (www.bornfreeusa.org).

Born Free USA’s hit and miss list for 2014 bills:

Exotic animals and other primates:

From the slaughter of wild animals in Zanesville, Ohio in 2011 after a man released them from his property, to the Connecticut woman who was mutilated by her neighbor’s pet chimpanzee in 2009, to the nearly 100 other incidents detailed in the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database throughout 2014, the stories of private ownership of exotic pets are gruesome and preventable. To protect wildlife and the public, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2856/S. 1463)

Purpose: To prohibit the interstate commerce in nonhuman primates for the exotic pet trade.

History: In 2003, the Captive Wildlife Safety Act was signed into law to prohibit interstate commerce in lions, tigers, and other big cats as pets. Because primates face similar inhumane treatment and pose similar threats to public health and safety, advocates seek to add them to the list of species prohibited in commercial trade.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA, along with partners, worked to attract more attention to this bill. The list of cosponsors soared to more than 150, and members of Congress spoke out in passionate support of the bill at a press conference highlighting Charla Nash: a woman who was severely injured in an attack by her neighbor’s pet chimpanzee, and who lent her voice to highlight the importance of this measure.

Outcome: While the bill had strong bipartisan support and passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, it was ultimately overlooked due to other Congressional priorities. Born Free USA will capitalize on the favor it accrued to start strong in the next Congress.

2) Federal Bill: Humane Care for Primates Act (H.R. 3556)

Purpose: To change CDC regulations to allow sanctuaries to import primates into the country for the purpose of providing humane lifetime care.

History: Current CDC regulations allow the importation of primates for “bona fide scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes,” which excludes sanctuaries and prevents needy primates overseas from being rescued by U.S. organizations, such as the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary.

Progress in 2014: After securing introduction of the bill in 2013 with Rep. Ellmers (R-NC) as a sponsor, Born Free USA worked to raise awareness and build support for the bill in Congress. With more than 40 cosponsors, this bill was well-received.

Outcome: While it did not pass, the awareness raised ensures that the bill is well-poised to be reintroduced in the House in 2015, and to find a Senate champion.

3) West Virginia Bill (S.B. 428/H.B. 4393)

Purpose: To prohibit private ownership of exotic species, with that list to be defined by the Department of Natural Resources.

History: West Virginia was one of only six states left lacking restriction or oversight for the private possession of exotic animals. This historic bill was initiated by Born Free USA in 2012, though it failed to pass that year.

2014 SUCCESS: This bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor.

Trapping:

Born Free USA is addressing this cruel, unregulated industry. Tens of thousands of targeted and non-targeted animals are caught in traps that leave them injured, maimed, or dead. To prevent further harm, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 3513)

Purpose: To ban trapping in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The bill aims to restore the original intent of the National Wildlife Refuge System to create havens for wildlife that are safe and free from unnatural intrusion. The bill would also protect people and companion animals incidentally caught by brutal traps.

History: Born Free USA played a key role in drafting the bill when it was originally introduced in the 2009/2010 Congress.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA lobbied to gain support for this bill in the House, and engaged our Members in a grassroots effort to emphasize the need for this ban.

Outcome: This bill failed to gain traction in the 2013-2014 Congress. However, Born Free USA will continue its efforts to educate members of Congress about trapping.

2) Illinois Bill (S.B. 3049)

Purpose: To add the gray wolf, American black bear, and cougar to the list of protected species under the Illinois Wildlife Act.

History: Under Illinois law, it is unlawful for any person at any time to take, possess, sell, offer for sale, propagate, or release into the wild any “protected species,” with exemptions for scientific, educational, or zoological institutions. The gray wolf, American black bear, and cougar populations are in need of these protections afforded to the other threatened species protected under the Illinois Wildlife Act.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA lobbied in support of this bill through grassroots outreach and by submitting testimony to the legislature. The legislature recognized the importance of these wildlife protections, passed the bill, and the governor signed it into law.

3) Virginia Bill (S.B. 42)

Purpose: To prohibit the construction of new fox penning enclosures, although current fox pens may continue to operate until 2054.

History: There has been an ongoing battle to ban fox penning, a cruel “sport” in which organizers force dozens of dogs to compete in a fenced-in area to chase—and sometimes rip apart—foxes and coyotes. The wild animals are caught in leghold traps that cause anguish through broken bones or other wounds, and are transported in cages to the pen. With dogs tearing apart the captive animals, there is a constant demand for fresh wildlife for the fox pens.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with a coalition of groups to usher this bill through the legislature, where it ultimately passed and was then signed by the governor. While it is not an outright ban, it is a positive step in a state in which the practice is so entrenched.

Wildlife trade:

Illegal wildlife trade is ranked among the top five global crimes in terms of profitability. The trade in bear gallbladders, sport-hunted wildlife trophies, and other animals—including threatened and endangered species—could drive some populations or species to the brink of extinction. In particular, Born Free USA’s two groundbreaking reports, Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa, revealed the insidious links between terrorist networks and the ivory trade. To address this crisis, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Targeted Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants in their Range (TUSKER) Act (H.R. 5454)

Purpose: To require certain nations to work with the U.S. on anti-poaching efforts, or face sanctions if they fail to cooperate.

History: As Born Free USA’s Ivory’s Curse report revealed, African nations must play a significant role in cracking down on corruption within governments and poaching within their boundaries. This bill is designed to incentivize African nations to make the poaching crisis a priority.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA assisted sponsor Rep. DeFazio (D-OR) with crafting the language of the bill. It contributed to the ongoing discussion in Congress about how to best tackle the poaching crisis, and demonstrated that the U.S. is serious about finding a solution.

Outcome: This bill did not make any progress in 2014, but Born Free USA will continue to promote it, as well as other Congressional efforts to end the ivory trade, in 2015.

2) Federal Bill: Rare Cats and Canids Act (H.R. 5836)

Purpose: To provide a source of funding for projects to enhance conservation of international felids and canids.

History: This bill was previously introduced in 2007 and 2009, and it passed the House of Representatives both times. Wild cats and dogs desperately need these conservation efforts. Of the 37 wild felid species worldwide, all but three are currently recognized as species in need of protection. Of the 36 wild canid species worldwide, 20 are recognized as being in need of protection.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA worked with sponsor Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ) to update the language, find original cosponsors, and recruit the support of other groups before it was introduced.

Outcome: This bill was introduced too late in the session to make progress, but will be reintroduced in 2015.

3) Massachusetts Bill: Shark Fin Ban (H.B. 4088)

Purpose: To prohibit the possession and sale of shark fins, with exemptions for certain species and purposes.

History: Shark finning is a cruel practice in which people cut the fins off of live sharks and return their bodies to the water, where the sharks inevitably die. Similar laws exist in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington, Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with a coalition to usher this bill through the legislature, where it ultimately passed and was signed by the governor. While it is not an outright ban, it is a positive step in a state with a large fishing industry. 

4) New York Bill: Restrict the Sale of Ivory and Rhino Horn (A. 10143/S. 7890)

Purpose: To prohibit the sale, purchase, trade, barter, and distribution of ivory and rhino horn articles, but with certain exemptions.

History: New York had a much weaker law regulating the sale of ivory, but it was not sufficient to ensure that no illegal ivory was sold in the state. As the elephant and rhino poaching crisis grows, New York was one of the first states to recognize the need to crack down on the trafficking of these products.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked with partners to provide grassroots support of the bill. The legislature recognized the urgency of this matter and passed the bill, allowing the governor to sign it into law.

5) New Jersey Bill: Ban the Sale of Ivory and Rhino Horn (S. 2012/A. 3128)

Purpose: To prohibit the sale, purchase, or barter of ivory or rhino horn.

History: This bill passed the first year it was introduced, establishing New Jersey as the state with the strongest prohibition on ivory and rhino horn.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with partners to secure this bill’s passage, including testifying before a committee, engaging with media, and providing grassroots support. The bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor.

To find out more about these bills, and how to take action, visit http://bornfreeusa.org/b4b_lawmakers.php.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. www.bornfreeusa.org; twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Senate Bill 1248/House Bill 1191 passed Tennessee General Assembly on Wednesday;
Bill would have harmful impact on farm animal welfare and food safety
NEW YORK—In response to the Tennessee General Assembly’s passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1248/House Bill (HB) 1191 Wednesday, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is urging Governor Bill Haslam to veto this dangerous anti-whistleblower/ag-gag legislation. SB 1248/HB 1191 is aimed at suppressing whistleblowers and protecting animal abusers instead of working to prevent such mistreatment.
This bill would require individuals who record cruelty to farm animals to report such violations and turn over their evidence to law enforcement officials within 48 hours. Superficially, the bill appears to be focused on preventing animal cruelty at agricultural facilities; in reality, the mandatory reporting provision that is the crux of SB 1248/HB 1191 would impose an arbitrary and short reporting deadline, precluding thorough investigations that could reveal a pattern of abuse. In addition, would-be whistleblowers could be dissuaded from turning over evidence after the prescribed period of time for fear of prosecution, and evidence that was turned over after the designated deadline could potentially be excluded from legal proceedings, thereby hindering prosecutions.
“The ASPCA urges Governor Haslam to prevent this harmful and unnecessary bill from becoming law,” said Sherry Rout, state legislative director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Southern region, and Tennessee resident. “Tennesseans have a right to know about how animals in the state are treated and potential dangers regarding the production of our food supply.”
SB 1248/HB 1191 would suppress whistleblower investigations on farms, which have been extremely successful in documenting the inhumane treatment of animals, uncovering crucial health and welfare information, and spurring many groundbreaking reforms. Should this bill become law, these types of investigations—such as the one last year that revealed the gruesome practice of beating and soring Tennessee Walking Horses—would remain hidden from the public. The video that was taken in this case led to a federal grand jury indictment of Jackie McConnell, a former trainer. McConnell was subsequently arraigned last month on 22 counts of animal abuse.
“The bill suggests that Tennessee’s agricultural industry had something to hide,” added Suzanne McMillan, director of the ASPCA’s Farm Animal Welfare Campaign. “We need additional transparency, not less, when it comes to animal welfare and food safety. Where there are problems, industry should direct its energy toward resolving them, not covering them.”
SB 1248 was introduced in February by Senator Dolores Gresham, who represents the district where Jackie McConnell’s barn was located. A companion bill in the House, HB 1191 sponsored by Representative Andy Holt, was also introduced in February.
In addition to Tennessee, anti-whistleblower/ag-gag legislation has been introduced this year in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wyoming. No bills have been successful. The ASPCA is working to oppose these bills in all the states where they have been proposed. For more information on this issue, please visit www.aspca.org/Fight-Animal-Cruelty/Advocacy-Center/ag-gag. To join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/advocacy-center/.
About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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Sens. Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirk (R-Ill.), Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Vitter (R-La.)
reintroduce Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act
to criminalize attendance at animal fights

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and David Vitter (R-La.) for reintroducing legislation to strengthen laws against animal fighting. The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and would impose additional penalties for bringing a minor to an animal fight. The bill will apply federal criminal penalties of up to one year imprisonment and fines for attending an animal fight, and up to three years imprisonment and fines for bringing a minor to an animal fight.

“Animal fights are cruel and gruesome spectacles conducted solely for profit and entertainment,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “A host of other dangerous and illegal activities are frequently associated with animal fighting, including drugs, weapons, and gambling, and this measure would help law enforcement pursue the spectators who drive the market for animal fighting. The ASPCA applauds Senators Blumenthal and Kirk for their persistent leadership in strengthening laws to combat animal fighting and protect public safety.”

Spectators at animal fights are not there accidentally; they intentionally seek out the criminal activity at secret locations, often travelling long distances and crossing state lines for the entertainment of watching animals fight to the death and the opportunity to gamble on the barbaric event. When animal fighting operations are raided, it is a common practice for the organizers, promoters, and animal owners to blend into the crowd of spectators in order to escape law enforcement. This legislation discourages individuals from enabling animal fights with their attendance and ensures that organizers cannot easily hide in the crowd when law enforcement officials arrive.

“Despite efforts by Congress to put an end to animal fighting, this blood sport continues to exist throughout the country, and is financed by thousands of dollars from spectators who contribute to it,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “When animal fighting involves players from a number of different states, local law enforcement simply lacks the power to deal with it and to root out the entire operation. This legislation would prohibit knowingly attending an animal fight, and extend stricter penalties for any individual who knowingly brings a child to an animal fight–closing a final key loophole in federal animal fighting legislation. These crimes are a federal matter and the federal response ought to be as strong as possible. Animal fighting encourages the worst in the human condition, and members from both sides of the aisle have been vocal in their commitment to putting an end to this inhumane activity.”

“By making it a crime to knowingly attend an animal fight, this bill is consistent with state animal fighting laws and will deny event organizers the revenue that funds future events,” said Sen. Kirk. “This bipartisan legislation achieved unanimous approval in the Senate last year. I hope to push for this success again so we can close the loophole that has allowed animal fighting to continue its vicious cycle.”

In the 112th Congress, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act gained strong bipartisan support in both the U.S. House and Senate and passed the Senate by a voice vote on Dec. 4, 2012. Similar language was also included in the Farm Bill in both the House and Senate last Congress, but efforts to pass a final Farm Bill stalled. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House earlier this year by U.S. Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), John Campbell (R-Calif.), and Jim Moran (D-Va.). The measure is broadly supported by animal welfare groups and approximately 300 law enforcement organizations.

Last month, at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the United States Attorney’s Office, the ASPCA, in conjunction with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office and Henry County Sheriff’s Office, assisted in a multi-state, federal dog fighting raid in Missouri, Kansas and Texas. The ASPCA managed the removal and transport of nearly 100 dogs involved in the investigation, and is overseeing forensic evidence collection, as well as the dogs’ veterinary care and sheltering.

For more information on the ASPCA’s efforts to tackle animal fighting and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.

About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act ensures survival of Outer Banks’ historic horse herd

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauds Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for introducing legislation to protect the free-roaming wild horses living on the Outer Banks in Currituck County, N.C. The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act, S.3448, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to enter into a new agreement with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Currituck County, and the state of North Carolina to provide for the management of wild horses in and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.

“These iconic horses have played an important role in North Carolina’s history, and it is vital that they continue to flourish for years to come,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “The management agreement creates a safety net so that the Corolla horses will be able to thrive in their natural habitat in the event of a disease outbreak, natural disaster, or other similar threat.”

The Corolla wild horse herd can be traced back to the arrival of Spanish explorers on the Outer Banks in the 16th century. Despite access to roam across 7,500 acres of public and private land, the current law caps the maximum number of horses at 60, a population deemed too low to maintain the herd's genetic viability. The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act allows for a herd of no fewer than 110 horses, with a target population between 120 and 130 horses.

“The bipartisan Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act is a step in the right direction toward ensuring the long-term prosperity of the Corolla herd,” said Sen. Hagan. “These horses are a state treasure and should be protected for future generations of North Carolinians to enjoy."

“The Corolla wild horses are one of the many natural treasures of our state, and people travel from across North Carolina and the country to see these wild horses in their natural habitat,” said Sen. Burr. “I am proud to cosponsor this bill that will provide for the care and management of these wild-roaming horses and give local organizations and authorities the tools they need to manage these horses without excessive federal involvement.”

In February, the House passed an identical version of the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act, H.R. 306, introduced by Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.).

The ASPCA has an extensive history of equine protection around the country and continues to assist domestic and wild horses through legislation, advocacy, targeted grants and enforcement of the carriage horse and cruelty laws in New York City. For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.

About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

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Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act creates new designation for
retired military dogs and sets up a system of care

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the “Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act.” This legislation streamlines the adoption process for military dogs and ensures veterinary care for retired dogs at no expense to taxpayers. Originally introduced in the House by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., the language was passed by the House today as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.

Military dogs effectively perform a large number of important tasks that can be difficult, if not impossible, for humans. Despite their unique importance, they are currently classified by the Department of Defense as “equipment.” Not only does this classification trivialize the dogs’ contributions, but it also makes it difficult to transport retired dogs from foreign locations back to the United States for adoption.

This legislation reclassifies military dogs as “Canine Members of the Armed Forces” and bars the military from considering the dogs as equipment. The bill also streamlines the adoption process for retired dogs and directs the Department of Defense to provide for their veterinary care, paid for and administered by a private non-profit entity.

“Military dogs are true heroes—they play a critical role in our nation’s defense,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Military dogs should be humanely trained and responsibly cared for during and after their important service to their country. We thank the House of Representatives, and Rep. Jones, for ensuring good care for retired military dogs.”

“It is time that we as a nation recognize the importance and contributions of military working dogs,” said Representative Jones. “And this can be done by elevating their status to Canine Members of the Armed Forces. These dogs are a crucial asset to the U.S. Armed Forces and have saved countless American lives during the past decade of conflict.”

The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act is still awaiting consideration in the Senate (S. 2134), where companion legislation has been introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. For more information about this legislation and to join the ASPCA’s Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org/Home/Fight-Animal-Cruelty/Advocacy-Center.


About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. One million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org.

To become a fan of the ASPCA on Facebook, go to http://www.facebook.com/aspca. To follow the ASPCA on Twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/aspca.

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