Displaying items by tag: animal protection

(Washington, D.C., May 11, 2020) When the New York State Legislature finalized the state budget, it included the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. The Act seeks to streamline the approval process for wind and solar energy projects as part of the State’s approach to achieving its renewable energy goals. While it does have some positive elements for wildlife, such as seeking to site projects on degraded lands and creating a bird impact mitigation fund, the Act also fast-tracks facets of renewable energy planning and development, and changes in this process raise red flags with some conservation groups.

“We have concerns about how this will be implemented,” says Joel Merriman, ABC’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director. “A combination of aggressive timelines and the potential for automatic approvals at key steps in the process leaves the door open for wind energy facility plans to inadequately address risks to birds.”

Wind energy development is an important element of fighting climate change, but it does not come without environmental costs. ABC estimates that more than 500,000 birds are killed annually from collisions with wind turbines in the U.S. Given projected industry build-out, that figure is expected to increase to more than 1.4 million annually by 2030. Birds are also killed by powerlines installed to connect wind facilities to the energy grid, and yet others are displaced by facility development. Some species, such as Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles, are more vulnerable to turbine collisions, and due to slow reproductive rates, these birds have less capacity to recover from losses.

The Act creates a new Office of Renewable Energy Siting, which will work with other agencies to review and set conditions for proposed renewable energy projects. The input of wildlife management agencies will be crucial to ensure that birds receive adequate protection, but under the new law, these agencies are given short time windows to participate. Insufficient staffing, busy seasons, and many other factors could prevent meaningful review and input, potentially leaving birds largely out of the discussion.

Further, under the new law, local community input is substantially reduced and comes later in the planning process. This may prevent those with first-hand knowledge of local bird populations from influencing critical project elements that are determined early in the process, including facility and turbine siting.  

“A lot hinges on development of strong standards and conditions for project siting and planning,” says Merriman. “These must ensure that local bird populations are thoroughly assessed, and that turbines are not sited in high-risk areas.”

For example, in an application filed for the Heritage Wind project in western New York in mid-March, the developer proposes placing wind turbines in close proximity to a large wetland complex that includes a National Wildlife Refuge and two state Wildlife Management Areas. Important to both breeding and migratory birds, this block of habitat supports many species of conservation concern and is also considered an Important Bird Area. During the planning process, two local bird conservation organizations raised concerns about the planned facility’s proximity to these sensitive areas, but these points have not been addressed by the developer.

“The bird-related conflict that poorly sited wind facilities create is largely avoidable if good siting practices are required,” says Merriman. “The State can greatly reduce this kind of conflict by establishing no-go zones and other commonsense standards to keep turbines out of high-risk areas.”

Merriman offers some broader advice on meeting renewable energy goals: “Renewable energy development is just one piece of the climate change solution puzzle,” he says. “We encourage the State to be equally aggressive in implementing energy efficiency measures and installing distributed solar energy. Put solar panels on commercial, municipal, and residential buildings, over parking lots…anywhere they can be supported. Birds and people win when energy production is sited where it’s used, away from valuable bird habitat.”

Merriman continues, “In other arenas, New York has done great things for birds. The State can maintain this commitment by making some adjustments to the Act, such as eliminating automatic approvals and setting a positive precedent in the development of standards and conditions for wind energy projects. A recent study by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, ABC, and others shows that the United States and Canada lost nearly 3 billion birds — almost 30 percent of the total population — since 1970. It’s critical that we balance the need for renewable energy development with protecting our vulnerable bird populations.”

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

By Sara Amundson and Kitty Block

As the COVID-19 crisis escalates, we are asking Congress to act quickly on an important bill that would ensure that millions of animals held in research laboratories and enterprises like puppy mills and roadside zoos across the country are not forgotten.

The Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act, H.R. 1042, introduced last year by Reps. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and Peter King, R-N.Y., is ripe for passage, with more than 200 bipartisan cosponsors. The bill would require all facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including commercial animal dealers, exhibitors and research labs, to have emergency response plans for the animals in their care when disaster strikes.

This commonsense idea has been on the table for many years, but the urgency to pass it is greater today than ever before. With cities and states imposing quarantines and curfews, and businesses shuttering their doors and asking employees to stay home, animals in institutional settings are extremely vulnerable to neglect and/or abandonment. Our federal government has a responsibility to protect them, and to hold such facilities accountable.

The PREPARED Act would require regulated facilities to submit plans that identify emergency situations, including human and natural disasters (pandemics, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.), power outages and animal escapes, and institute specific policies and protocols to respond to these emergencies. Plans would need to include instructions for evacuating the animals, shelter-in-place, provision of backup food and water, sanitation, ventilation, bedding and veterinary care.

We already know that not including animals in disaster plans can lead to terrible outcomes. After Hurricane Katrina, more than 600,000 animals were abandoned. Some people refused to evacuate and lost their lives because they couldn’t bear to abandon their pets. At our urging, Congress then went on to pass the PETS Act, which required state and local authorities to take into account—and to plan for—the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals before, during and after a disaster. Unfortunately, the law did not cover commercially owned animals, which is the reason the Humane Society Legislative Fund has been pushing for the PREPARED Act.

Not requiring commercial facilities to have a plan in place also places undue burden on first responders, the local community and nongovernmental entities involved with rescue efforts. Because of Katrina and many other deployments, the Humane Society of the United States knows firsthand the difficulties of providing care for thousands of animals in a significant disaster, and the COVID-19 crisis is a disaster of a greater scale than our country has ever experienced.

Facilities doing National Institutes of Health-funded research are already required to have disaster plans for their animals, as are those accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The PREPARED Act would simply level the playing field to ensure that puppy mills, roadside zoos and other regulated facilities also have emergency response plans. It’s a win-win for the businesses too, because it helps them safeguard their activity while ensuring animals they use are not abandoned without care in a time of crisis.

The world around us is changing every day. As we focus on keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe, we cannot and should not forget the millions of voiceless animals in puppy mills, roadside zoos and research labs. They need our help now, more than ever. Please take a moment to contact your federal legislators and urge them to cosponsor the PREPARED Act if they haven’t yet, and do all they can to get this bill passed immediately.

Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

The Convention, that took place in Tenerife, Canary Islands, gathered together 850 congress attendees of 47 different nationalities, at an event in which the most worldwide-recognised experts in the field participate

[PRESSWIRE] Tenerife, Spain - 12 October, 2018 -- A resounding success: that is the summary of the IX Parrot Congress organised by the Loro Parque Foundation and held last week in Tenerife, where 850 congress participants of 47 different nationalities met. The experience, unique in the world, counted on the participation of the most recognised experts in the field worldwide.

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This record number of nationalities present has allowed the interaction of the congress participants with various professionals and experts in different scientific areas, native to each continent where the Loro Parque Foundation develops multiple conservation projects among which are those that have managed to save nine parrot species from extinction. Up to now the Loro Parque Foundation has donated over 18 million dollars to support conservation projects for endangered species around the world.

During the Congress some of the most successful results obtained so far by the projects carried out by the Foundation were detailed, which show that the protection of parrot species also favours the protection of other species. Thus, thanks to these projects it has even been possible to identify new species of fauna -especially reptiles- as well as flora.

A total of 22 international speakers, whose conferences were simultaneously translated into four languages, have contributed their experiences and knowledge throughout this week in which, in addition to talks, many other actions were carried out. This year, in response to an unprecedented demand, intensive workshops were given in the days following the Congress, in which different experts have offered direct training in different fields linked to the world of conservation.

This Congress, unique in the world due to its nature and extraordinary convocation capacity, has moved some 1,000 people around the Island, congress attendees and their companions, who have been able to enjoy the excellence of the climate of Puerto de la Cruz as well as the biodiversity of the Canary Islands. The social programme of the convention also included an impressive typical Canarian dinner in the Plaza del Palacio Municipal in La Orotava; another, no less important, in the Auditorium of Santa Cruz de Tenerife; a visit to the Island of Gran Canaria to enjoy the Poema del Mar Aquarium, and, finally, a memorable Gala Dinner in the gardens of the Botánico Hotel.

Big week in Loro Parque

As part of the celebration of the IX Parrot Congress, Loro Parque has also inaugurated its new installation of Pygmy Hippos. The event was enjoyed by a large number of congress attendees, as well as numerous local authorities and representatives of the private sector, who were able to observe up-close an unparalleled naturalised space designed especially by the Park's team for the new arrivals.

In addition, also as part of the Congress programme, the Loro Parque Foundation has awarded the prestigious Gorilla Prize to Rosemary Low, a passionate defender of parrots who has dedicated her life to these birds through breeding and conservation. This year saw the fifteenth edition of this award, which emphasises environmental responsibility, taking into account strategies and actions to conserve biodiversity and promote the sustainable use of resources.

 

(Washington, D.C., July 19, 2018) The U.S. Department of the Interior is proposing new rules to implement for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that will make it more difficult to recover Threatened and Endangered birds.

“These rules put species listed as ‘Threatened,’ rather than the more dire category of ‘Endangered,’ at greater risk of endangerment by eliminating the blanket protection known as the 4d rule,” said Steve Holmer of American Bird Conservancy. “Under these changes, birds newly listed as Threatened could legally be killed or harmed. The changes would also make it more difficult to list species that the best science indicates should be listed, and to conserve and restore habitat, due to the weakening of Sec. 7 consultation for management of federal lands.

“Several bird species listed as Threatened under the ESA — the Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl in particular — likely owe their current existence to the ESA’s blanket 4d rule against take and the interagency cooperation mandated by Sec. 7,” continued Holmer.

One of the proposed changes is to adopt the 4d rule process currently used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for marine species. Instead of providing blanket protection for species newly listed as Threatened, NOAA puts 4d rules in place as threats arise, leading to delays in conservation action.

For example, because the Hawaiian monk seal is listed as Endangered, NOAA is addressing the emerging threat of the disease toxoplasmosis on the seal. “If the monk seal were listed as a Threatened species instead of Endangered under the ESA, it would require additional protection from toxoplasmosis in the form of new 4-d rule,” said Holmer. “The overall effect could be substantially delayed protection and an increased risk of further population losses.”

Seventy-eight percent of mainland birds listed as Threatened or Endangered under the ESA have populations that are now stable, increasing, or have recovered enough to be delisted, according to a 2016 report published by American Bird Conservancy. The Endangered Species Act: A Record of Success analyzed population trends and recovery success for all U.S. listed birds, including those in the Hawaiian Islands and U.S. territories where the recovery success rate is lower due to the high number of threats.

“Added funding could help continue the upward trend of 41 listed U.S. bird populations and make their eventual recovery possible,” said Holmer. “Black-capped Vireo was recently delisted, and Kirtland’s Warbler and Nene (Hawaiian Goose) are on their way toward delisting due to successful conservation. We are supportive of these delistings provided that adequate conservation measures are assured moving forward.”

A proposed definition change to the ESA would make it easier to eliminate critical habitat, because any loss would have to be considered “as a whole.”

“Critical habitat is essential for maintaining and recovering species, but this change would allow the loss of habitat to occur drip by drip,” Holmer said. “Eventually there could be little critical habitat left.”

Another change could undermine the listing process by allowing for misleading economic analysis to be included in the listing rule, potentially inviting political interference. The benefits of wildlife conservation, which provide billions of dollars to the economy, are undervalued or not even included in these analyses.

“Maintaining the existing science-based listing process is crucial to conserve declining bird populations,” said Holmer. “Just this decade, seven new populations of birds were listed. If slanted economic analysis were included, it is likely that some of these species — such as the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red Knot, and Gunnison Sage-Grouse — may not have been granted ESA protection due to political interference. American Bird Conservancy is urging that the existing science-based listing process be retained.”

A 60-day comment period has been set for these proposed changes. Submit comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Photo: Changes to the ESA may reduce protections for birds such as Red Knots. Photo by Ray Hennessy/Shutterstock

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@abcbirds1).

AMERICA’S TOP TEN ANIMAL DEFENDERS STAND UP FOR THE VOICELESS

Animal Protection Heroes to Be Honored During National Justice for Animal Week

 

COTATI, California—The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, has chosen America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders – the list of top prosecutors, law enforcement officials, lawmakers and others who champion the cause of animal crime victims honored during National Justice for Animals Week, Feb. 25 – March 3, 2018. Each year, National Justice for Animals Week recognizes these individuals’ outstanding contributions to the protection of animals, raises public awareness about animal abuse and advises advocates how to pass stronger laws and demand better enforcement for acts of animal cruelty

 

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is also honoring two horses, Willow and Stormy, by naming them the mascots of National Justice for Animals Week 2018. The horses were victims of severe neglect, both pregnant and severely malnourished when law enforcement found them. They

were lucky to survive, but, thanks to the great work of the prosecutor and local rescuers, today Willow and Stormy are thriving, as are their foals. Their abuser is behind bars because the prosecutor knew how important it was to win justice for Willow, Stormy, and the other horses. Each year countless animal victims endure criminal cruelty. Willow & Stormy remind us that with persistence, we can make sure more animal abusers are brought to justice.

 

America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders include:

 

Jessica Rubin,director of legal practice program, University of Connecticut Law School. Professor Rubin was instrumental in creating Desmond’s Law, which created the nation’s first statutory animal advocate position in criminal cruelty cases. Professor Rubin is among the first attorneys approved to volunteer as an animal advocate.

 

Diana Urban, state representative, Connecticut. Rep. Urban sponsored Desmond’s Law, which allows judges in criminal animal cruelty cases to appoint advocates for animal victims. The law honors the memory of Desmond,a shelter dog who was starved, beaten and strangled to death by his owner, who, despite having admitted his guilt upon arrest, was able to avoid jail time and have the crime left off his record after rehabilitation.

 

Tom Demmery, assistant chief of police, Hollywood, Florida. Ollie the pit bull was stabbed 50 times and left in a suitcase to die. Demmery treated the case with the seriousness it deserved, and instructed detectives to “treat this like a homicide.” They found the abuser, who is now behind bars facing charges of animal cruelty.

 

Patrick Harrington, prosecutor, Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Recognizing the need to address the county’s uptick in animal cruelty situations, Harrington assembled an animal advisory committee. The group includes a deputy prosecutor, animal control officers, veterinarians and local animal advocates – all working together toward the goal of bringing animal abusers to justice.

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, Massachusetts. Dr. Smith-Blackmore is a veterinarian, public safety and animal advocate. She uses her expertise in veterinary forensics to assist law enforcement and prosecutors in animal cruelty cases throughout the United States. Her scientific contributions have been critical in countless cases, helping to ensure the animals' conditions are fully documented and animal abusers are brought to justice. 

Richard Alloway, state senator, Pennsylvania. Senator Alloway co-sponsored Libre’s Law, a 2017 update to Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws. The new law strengthens protections for animals and allows legal punishments for animal cruelty to match the severity of the crime. Sen. Alloway advanced these needed changes in the wake of public support for Libre, a puppy who suffered such extreme neglect he only lived thanks to intensive veterinary care.

 

Todd Stephens, state representative, Pennsylvania. Representative Stephens co-sponsored Libre’s Law, a much needed update to Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws. The new law offers more appropriate penalties for animal cruelty crimes so that animal abusers are not let go with a slap on the wrist.

 

Earl Blumenauer, U.S. representative, Oregon. When the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) abruptly eliminated public access to thousands of online records concerning enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (the federal law regulating research labs, puppy mills, zoos, circuses and more), Rep. Blumenauer led the charge to urge the USDA to return the records to the USDA website. Long a champion for animals, Rep. Blumenauer co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus.

 

Judge Susan Skinner, Bexar County, Texas. Judge Skinner recognized the importance of taking animal cruelty seriously, and decided to implement the first animal abuse docket in her county. By presiding over these cases she ensures that bringing justice to animal victims is not overlooked in Bexar County the way it is in many other jurisdictions nationwide.

 

Greg Allen, chief of police, El Paso, Texas. Chief Allen assembled El Paso’s first animal cruelty investigations unit, responsible for handling cruelty cases and training other officers to better respond to calls about animal cruelty. A dedicated animal cruelty unit goes a long way toward securing justice for animals.

 

For more information, please visit aldf.org.

 
 

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About the Animal Legal Defense Fund

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visitaldf.org.

 

 

Best And Worst States For Animal Protection Laws, 2017 Report Released

Posted on January 18, 2018

Illinois holds on to first place, Kentucky bottoms out for eleventh year in a row 

SAN FRANCISCO—The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, released the 12th annual year-end report (2017) ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states. For the 10th year in a row, Illinois is in first place—followed by Oregon (2), California (3), Maine (4), and Rhode Island (5). Kentucky holds firmly to last place for the 11th consecutive year. It trails Iowa (49), Wyoming (48), Utah (47), and North Dakota (46) as the state with the weakest animal protection laws.

The patchwork of state and local laws is animals’ primary protection. The strength of these laws varies widely, making the Rankings Report a vital resource for anyone interested in helping animals. The Rankings are based on a comprehensive review of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws including over 4,000 pages of statutes. This is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, and tracks which states are taking animal protection seriously.

Pennsylvania is the most-improved state this year, jumping 20 places up to number 24. This achievement is thanks to major improvements like a new felony provision for first-time offenders of aggravated animal cruelty (including torture), and granting civil immunity to veterinarians who report suspected animal abuse.

The 2017 Rankings Report also highlights a trend in laws aiming to end the tragedy of animals dying in hot cars. Public awareness campaigns have helped improve the situation, but legislation is also a key component. This year’s Rankings Report is promising, showing more states granting civil immunity for removing animals from hot vehicles. Immunity laws ensure that people who rescue animals from vehicles in emergency situations are not then faced with lawsuits from owners. Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon all enacted these “reckless endangerment” provisions this year. In all, more than 25 states now have some type of “hot cars” law on the books.

More than half of all states significantly improved their animal protection laws in the last five years. Improvements come in many forms including stiffer penalties for offenders, stronger standards of care for animals, animal cruelty reporting by veterinarians, mental health evaluations and counseling for offenders, banning animal ownership following cruelty convictions and including animals in domestic violence protective orders.

“Unfortunately, laws protecting animals can vary widely from state to state,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Our annual U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings provides a tool for animal advocates, shelters and even legislators to gauge the relative effectiveness of their state’s animal protection laws and provides guidance for making positive changes.”

The full report, including details about each state, is available here for download (PDF).  The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s complete “Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and Canada” compendium, on which the report is based, is available at aldf.org/compendium.

 

Animal Protection Coalition continues fight for transparency

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund appealed a court’s recent decision to dismiss its lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for removing tens of thousands of animal welfare records from the agency’s website. As the preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is leading the challenge to the information blackout with a coalition of animal protection groups including Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, Companion Animal Protection Society and Animal Folks.

The coalition filed suit in February 2017 arguing that the USDA’s decision to remove the records previously posted in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) database violates both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). United States District Judge William H. Orrick dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that FOIA does not provide a remedy to enforce the government’s obligation to publish certain types of records.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s claims under the APA were also dismissed. The APA authorizes courts to set aside agency actions if they are "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law" if there is no adequate alternative remedy available elsewhere in the law. Without addressing whether the USDA’s action was arbitrary or capricious, the court dismissed the APA claim on the basis that FOIA provides an adequate remedy because coalition members could submit a traditional FOIA request to the USDA for records. But obtaining animal welfare records through traditional FOIA requests significantly burdens countless animal protection organizations and other agencies. Records which were previously immediately accessible at no cost now require each individual organization to manage voluminous FOIA requests that take several months or even years to process, not to mention the possibility of large fees.

The removed documents revealed inhumane treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, roadside zoos and puppy mills across the country. The coalition used these records to advocate for stronger animal protection policies, confront the USDA over inadequate regulation of substandard facilities, supply evidence for law enforcement action and build legal cases against especially egregious violators.

In August, the USDA unveiled a new limited database to search for inspection reports and research facility annual reports. However, the documents posted have significant information redacted, including the name of some of the permitted facilities, and does not provide previously included information such as animal inventories. To date, the USDA also continues to withhold important enforcement action records such as administrative complaints and official warning letters

“The USDA cites our lawsuit in its announcement of a new public database, so they recognize the importance of providing animal welfare information,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “However, the USDA continues to withhold important information under the new system—which is insufficient.”

The organizations are represented pro bono by Margaret Kwoka, Associate Professor at University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

For more information visit, aldf.org.

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About the Animal Legal Defense Fund

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.

 

-Wildlife Groups Seek to Save Species from Silent Extinction-

WASHINGTON (April 19, 2017) — In response to recent scientific consensus on giraffes’ vulnerability to extinction, five wildlife protection groups today petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect Earth’s tallest land animal under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The legal petition, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare and Natural Resources Defense Council, seeks “endangered” status for the species. Facing mounting threats from habitat loss, being hunted for their meat, and the international trade in bone carvings and trophies, Africa’s giraffe population has plunged almost 40 percent in the past 30 years and now stands at just over 97,000 individuals.

“Giraffes have been dying off silently for decades, and we have to act quickly before they disappear forever,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are now fewer giraffes than elephants in Africa. It’s time for the United States to step up and protect these extraordinary creatures.”

New research recently prompted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to elevate the threat level of giraffes from ““least concern” to “vulnerable” on the “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Yet giraffes have no protection under U.S. law. Species designated as “endangered” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act receive strict protections, including a ban on most imports and sales. The United States plays a major role in the giraffe trade, importing more than 21,400 bone carving, 3,000 skin pieces and 3,700 hunting trophies over the past decade. Limiting U.S. import and trade will give giraffes important protections.

“Previously, the public was largely unaware that trophy hunters were targeting these majestic animals for trophies and selfies. In the past few years, several gruesome images of trophy hunters next to slain giraffe bodies have caused outrage, bringing this senseless killing to light,” said Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist with the wildlife department of Humane Society International. “Currently, no U.S. or international law protects giraffes against overexploitation for trade. It is clearly time to change this. As the largest importer of trophies in the world, the role of the United States in the decline of this species is undeniable, and we must do our part to protect these animals.”

Known for their six-foot-long necks, distinctive patterning and long eyelashes, giraffes have long captured the human imagination. New research recently revealed that giraffes live in complex societies, much like elephants, and have unique physiological traits, like the highest blood pressure of any land mammal.

  

“I was lucky enough to study giraffes in the wild in Kenya many years ago.  Back then, they seemed plentiful, and we all just assumed that it would stay that way,” said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “Giraffes are facing a crisis.  We cannot let these amazing, regal and unique creatures go extinct – it would be a dramatic loss of diversity and beauty for our planet.  This listing petition is rallying the world to help save the giraffe.”

The IUCN currently recognizes one species of giraffes and nine subspecies: West African, Kordofan, Nubian, reticulated, Masai, Thornicroft’s, Rothchild’s, Angolan and South African. Today’s petition seeks an endangered listing for the whole species.

“I can’t – and won’t – imagine Africa’s landscape without giraffes,” said Elly Pepper, deputy director of NRDC’s wildlife trade initiative. “Losing one of the continent’s iconic species would be an absolute travesty. Giving giraffes Endangered Species Act protections would be a giant step in the fight to save them from extinction.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to review and respond to the petition and determine whether a listing may be warranted.


The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org.

The Humane Society of the United States is the most effective animal protection organization, as rated by our peers. For more than 60 years, we have celebrated the protection of all animals and confronted all forms of cruelty. We and our affiliates are the nation’s largest provider of hands-on services for animals, caring for more than 150,000 animals each year, and we prevent cruelty to millions more through our advocacy campaigns. Read more about our more than 60 years of transformational change for animals and people. HumaneSociety.org.

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook/IFAW and Twitter @action4ifaw.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us atwww.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Ricky Gervais awarded for animal protection advocacy

Animal Defenders International (ADI)has presented multi-talented comedian Ricky Gervaiswith the prestigious Lord Houghton Award for his high-profile advocacy on animal protection issues, creating awareness in a unique wayto worldwide audiences.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “Ricky Gervais is an outstanding and outspoken campaigner for animals who has raised animal protection issues with new and growing audiences. This award is in recognition of the longstanding and passionate role Ricky plays in giving animals a loud and powerful voice.”

On receiving the award, Ricky Gervais said: “I am honoured to receive the Lord Houghton Award for a cause so close to my heart. The suffering of animals absolutely sickens me and I will continue to speak out and support the sterling work of organisations like Animal Defenders International.”

Ricky is currently on tour with his ‘Humanity’ show, and has been a supporter of ADI for many years, being one of the first to champion their Stop Circus Suffering campaign. While at XFM in the late 1990s, Ricky spoke out against the horrific abuse of elephants, a baby chimpanzee and others documented by ADI at animal trainer Mary Chipperfield Promotions, which resulted in cruelty convictions for the owners and their elephant keeper. Ricky has continued to be an outspoken advocate for the campaign, urging governments in both the UK and US to introduce legislation to prohibit travelling wild animal acts.

The shocking violence inflicted on Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus in 2011 and exposed by ADI “graphically displays why the government should ban wild animals in circuses” Ricky said, continuing “I am appalled that wild animals are still kept in circuses and fully support the call for a ban. It is high time that government got on and implemented one.”ADI’s evidence led to agovernment commitment to ban and a cruelty conviction for Anne’s owner – yet five years later, the government’s bill has still not been presented to Parliament.

The comedian, writer and producer, who has over 12 million twitter followers is an outspoken advocate on several animal issues including trophy hunting, blood sports and animal experiments.

Last year, supporting proposals to uplist the African lion to Appendix I (greatest protection) at the CITES conference in Johannesburg,Ricky said "The survival of the African lion hangs in the balance. We must stop blood-thirsty hunters from decimating our wildlife for a barbaric adrenaline rush or trophy piece to show off to their mates.” Sadly, fierce opposition from lion bone/body part traders fought off lion protection this time, but the campaign continues.

The Lord Houghton Award was initiated in 1980 as a lasting recognition of the significant contribution made by Lord Houghton to the animal welfare movement. During his long parliamentary career, he was a passionate animal welfare advocate, actively campaigning for changes in legislation to bring about improvements in animal welfare, even into his nineties.

Each year one of the four participating organizations – Animal Defenders International, OneKind, Cruelty Free International and League Against Cruel Sports – selects the recipient of the award.

In 2012 ADI presented the award to legendary multi-Emmy award winning TV host Bob Barker – an ardent public advocate for animals who, among other achievements, had ended each episode of his iconic show ‘The Price is Right’ with a plea to his audience to spay and neuter their pets.

This presentation of the 2016 Lord Houghton Award to Ricky was delayed for the completion of a record-breaking 18-month rescue mission in South America. ADI rescued over 100 wild animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade in a mission to assist the governments of Peru and Colombia with enforcement of their new laws ending the use of wild animals in circuses. Native wildlife such as bears, monkeys, birds and others were rehomed in Amazon sanctuaries, a tiger to a sanctuary in Florida and 33 Africa lions were rehomed to their native Africa.

 

Lawsuit argues removal of online animal welfare records violates the Freedom of Information Act and the Administrative Procedure Act

SAN FRANSICO – Today, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed suit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for removing tens of thousands of animal welfare records from the agency’s website. According to the lawsuit, the USDA’s decision to remove the records violates both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The removed documents revealed inhumane treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, roadside zoos and puppy mills across the country.

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California on behalf of a coalition of animal protection organizations, contends that the USDA violated FOIA, which requires federal agencies to affirmatively disclose final orders and frequently requested records. It also argues that the USDA violated the APA, which prohibits agencies from taking actions that are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law[.]” If the coalition is successful with its claim under the APA, the USDA would be required to resume posting the records online so they are available to the public.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is joined in the lawsuit by Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, Companion Animal Protection Society and Animal Folks. The USDA’s decision to stop posting records significantly burdens the organizations because they must now manage voluminous FOIA requests to access the same records, potentially pay large fees, and wait for several months or even years to obtain records previously accessible immediately online at no cost.

Public access to these records is especially important in light of the USDA’s chronically lackadaisical enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The Office of Inspector General, an oversight division of the USDA, regularly finds that the USDA renders its enforcement of the AWA largely ineffective by not aggressively pursuing enforcement actions against substandard facilities and by significantly discounting penalties even when it does pursue enforcement action.

“The USDA itself needs oversight due to its continual failure to adequately enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The information blackout is a tremendous blow to transparency and undermines advocates who are working to protect hundreds of thousands of animals across the country.”

The plaintiffs filing today’s lawsuit regularly utilized the USDA database and enforcement actions page to obtain records about the conditions of animals at facilities regulated under the AWA, such as research laboratories, puppy mills and zoos around the country. In turn, these organizations use the records to advocate for stronger animal protection policies, confront the USDA over inadequate regulation of substandard facilities, supply evidence for law enforcement action and build legal cases against especially egregious violators. The Animal Legal Defense Fund relied on these records in its groundbreaking Endangered Species Act (ESA) victory against the Cricket Hollow Animal Park (previously Cricket Hollow Zoo), a roadside zoo that cruelly confined endangered animals in inhumane conditions. It was the first victory applying the ESA to protect animals in captivity.

The organizations are represented pro bono by Margaret Kwoka, Associate Professor at University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and Perkins Coie LLP.

For more information visit, aldf.org.

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About the Animal Legal Defense Fund
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.

About the Companion Animal Protection Society
Founded in 1992, the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is the only national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy/kitten mills. CAPS addresses animal suffering through investigations, legislation, education, media relations, consumer assistance, and rescue.

About Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!

SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!) is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization dedicated to the rights of all animals.  Our mission is to end the exploitation of animals imprisoned in laboratories by educating the public with the reality of what is happening inside the vivisection industry and engaging government agencies to enforce laws, issue citations, and levy fines against criminal labs.  Through in-depth investigations of laboratories and national media campaigns, SAEN exposes and ends the misery of animals.

About Animal Folks

Animal Folks is a nonprofit organization devoted to protecting the lives of animals by modernizing the animal law enforcement system in Minnesota. Animal Folks is focused on systemic change — finding new, innovative ways to prevent animal cruelty and improve how animal law is enforced throughout Minnesota. To achieve this mission, Animal Folks conducts research on animal cruelty issues and cases, creates training materials and resources, files criminal and civil complaints against abusers, and collaborates with state, local and national authorities and organizations for sustainable reforms. www.animalfolks.org.

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