ITALY – Animals dumped in lake
An investigation has been launched after the bodies of dozens of dogs, cats and rabbits were found dumped in an Italian lake. Officials suspect the dogs were bred for illegal fights, but other animals had single knife wounds which some suggest may have been inflicted during a bloody mafia initiation ceremony. There are also fears the dead animals may have been bred for international export to supply labs conducting experiments – in recent years the mafia is said to have made millions from the supply of animals for this reason. The latest discovery was made at Frezza lake in countryside near Naples, an area traditionally a stronghold of the local mafia known as the Camorra. Vets are carrying out post-mortem examinations on the animals at a specialist centre in Naples and prosecutors are waiting for a full report on the macabre discovery. An initial investigation has revealed that none of the dogs have the compulsory microchip inserted under their skin as Italian law insists which has further fuelled suspicions the animals were bred illegally. Italian animal defence group AIDAA said they had no doubt that the Camorra was behind the grizzly discovery of the corpses and suggested that some had been killed by ‘would-be new Camorra members as a sign of their willingness to kill.’ AIDAA President Lorenzo Croce added: ‘We know that the Camorra is running dogfights for illegal gambling and holding dogs in what can only be described as canine concentration camps until they are ready to fight. ‘Other animals are also being used in international trafficking for vivisection purposes – we believe that this discovery is just the tip of the iceberg and there are many other dumping sites around the region.’ According to AIDAA, dog rackets provide the Camorra with annual profits of between 6m -7m euros.
USA – U.S. lab investigated for horrific abuse of test monkeys
A U.S. laboratory has been accused of severe cruelty to monkeys after a whistleblower went to PETA with images and accounts of disturbing abuse. PETA urged the federal Animal Plant and Inspection Service to investigate the U.S. headquarters of Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories in Washington after an ex-employee came forward. The anonymous whistleblower recounted incidents of horrific treatment of the animals who suffered from repeated abuse, torment and torture at the laboratory headquarters in Everett. When it came to drawing blood from the monkeys, the former employee said they would ‘wince, scream, tremble and shake, and try to defend themselves. ‘Eventually, many of the monkeys stop fighting and reacting … it is like the life is gone from them.’ She said they were routinely bruised but not treated for injuries. PETA launched an official complaint which charged that Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories violated the Animal Welfare Act for a number of reasons. PETA Vice President Kathy Guillermo said in a statement: ‘With this video, the public can plainly see what desolate, traumatized lives of deprivation these monkeys lead. ‘We’re calling on the USDA to launch an immediate investigation and hold SNBL accountable if these very serious allegations of animal abuse are borne out.’ The controversial lab has repeatedly come under fire for alleged violations, including the 2008 scalding death of a monkey whose cage was run through a high-temperature washer while the monkey was inside. The company has not responded to requests for comment. Mail 6th Dec
USA – Wild caught primates in US labs
Catching and selling Silver River monkeys is lucrative. For the past 14 years, Scott Cheslak has roamed the forests along the Ocklawaha River, the Florida Greenway and sometimes Silver River State Park, quietly plucking rhesus monkeys for sale to research laboratories. On his annual visits he traps between 20 and 30 monkeys using a dart gun or cages. Until recently, he took them back to Morgan Island, a 3,000-monkey habitat where Alpha Genesis Inc. sold the primates. This year, he’s freelancing and will sell the monkeys himself. It’s a lucrative business, but a controversial one that raises the ire of animal rights groups and could inflame the passions of local nature lovers who have grown accustomed to seeing the spindly primates begging for food along the banks of the Ocklawaha. For their part, state wildlife officials support Cheslak’s efforts because they consider the monkeys a nuisance and a potential health and safety hazard. The Florida Dept of Environmental Protection, which manages Silver River State Park, has not allowed him to hunt on its land for the past 3 years, but the agency reversed itself this year and allowed Cheslak to take monkeys again. He also has trapped monkeys for the Silver Springs Attraction, he said. The attraction did not return telephone calls for an interview. It’s unknown how many rhesus monkeys are on state lands locally. They are non-native and not protected, said Joy Hill, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson. Hill said for Cheslak to capture monkeys, he needs only to obtain a $150 permit from her agency. It is up to state officials to decide which state lands he can hunt on. Ocalo.com. 5 Jan
Uk – Fox clubbed to death in garden
About 40 hunting hounds burst into a garden in Bradfield, Essex as they chased down a fox. Neighbours looked on in horror as a member of the Essex and Suffolk Hunt strolled across the patio before clubbing the fox to death just feet from where they were stood watching. The RSPCA have been informed of the attack and are now understood to investigating whether an offence took place. The whipmaster just walked away with the fox leaving a pool of blood on the patio. It is thought that the hunt was using the hounds to try to flush out smaller animals and then use the hawk to make a kill – which is legal under the terms of the Hunting Act. The blood from the kill remained on the shared patio area despite heavy rainfall during the weekend. Neighbour Mr Heath said: “They could have taken that fox away from our view and shot it – no one should have to witness those events on a Saturday afternoon. “The fox was still alive so for the hunt to claim the hounds had killed it is simply not true – there are some mistruths being told.” The Essex and Suffolk Hunt has denied that the fox was clubbed to death. James Buckle, a senior huntsman, said: “It was a horrible situation where we virtually had to watch and could not intervene. “The fox was killed by the dogs – there is no way that the hounds would do half a job. “I can see how it would have looked like that to a bystander and it would have been horrendous. “The huntmaster was whipping the pack to get the dead fox from them. “We have apologised to the owner of the garden and they have accepted the apology.” An Essex Police spokesman said: “They were hunting with a bird of prey and the pack accidentally picked up on the scent of a fox which attracted the hounds. Telegraph 12th Dec
Uk – Badger baiters jailed
4 thugs who were caught laughing as their dogs tore wild animals to pieces have been jailed for their part in ‘barbaric’ and ‘abhorrent’ badger baiting. Scarborough Magistrates’ Court heard how a group of 6 men and a teenage boy dug out and killed 2 badgers from a sett on farmland at Howsham, near York, in January last year. Dogs played tug-of-war with one of the badgers before it was shot in the head and slung into undergrowth, while a pregnant badger was torn to pieces and bled to death. Alan Alexander, Richard Simpson, and Paul Tindall, all from York, and William Anderson, from Pickering, N. Yorkshire, were jailed for 16 weeks at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court after being found guilty of wilfully killing a badger, hunting a mammal with dogs, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett. Alexander and Simpson were also convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal. Another 2 men, Christopher Holmes, and Malcolm Warner, both from York, were handed 12-week custodial sentences suspended for 12 months after they pleaded guilty to wilfully killing a badger, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett. A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a youth rehabilitation order. 2 witnesses, including wildlife photographer Robert Fuller, heard the sound of dogs barking excitedly and a badger squealing in distress and went to investigate. When they reached the scene, they saw 2 large dogs attacking a badger. Mr Fuller recalled how the men ‘laughingly’ encouraged the beasts before they spotted Mr Fuller and fled the rural scene. After some time, the badger was shot dead by Anderson and the men, who had become aware of the witnesses and tried to cover their tracks by throwing the dead badger into the undergrowth. They then buried a second dead badger – a pregnant animal which had been torn to pieces by the dogs – back into the hole from which it had been dug. The witnesses called the police and the men and teenager were arrested a short time later. Alexander, Anderson, Simpson and Tindall were told they would serve 8 weeks of their sentences before being released on licence. They were each ordered to pay £750 costs and £100 compensation. Each of the 4 defendants was handcuffed and led out of the crowded courtroom by security guards while members of their families sobbed. Holmes and Warner were told to pay £250 costs and £100 compensation and the 17-year-old was told he would be placed under supervision for 12 months and would have to undertake a number of programmes, including one run by the RSPCA, as part of his youth rehabilitation order.
USA – Mother bear shot dead
A resident of Anchorage’s Bear Valley who shot a grizzly bear in the back, killed her and orphaned 3 cubs has abandoned the claim he was acting in self-defence and pleaded guilty to illegal hunting. District Court Judge Paul Olsen sentenced Brian Garst to 30 days in jail and a fine of $5,000, but then suspended all of the jail time and half of the fine. Garst will be on probation for 3 years, and if he commits some other offence in that time could be hit with the rest of the fine and the jail time for killing the mother of Boo, Thor and Mike – as the bears have been named in Detroit Zoo. The bear was fleeing the house where Garst was staying. It had a chunk of moose meat in its mouth. Garst had left the moose meat in the yard, though he knew well that bears still regularly roam aptly-named Bear Valley above Alaska’s largest city. Some questioned whether Garst should also have been charged with illegal bear baiting for leaving fresh meat out with bears around. Many wildlife biologists have noted the outcome for the cubs is probably not so bad. Rarely will a grizzly manage to successfully raise 3 cubs in the wild. Usually one or more will fall victim to another bear, starvation or an accident.
USA – bear hunt
Around 200 bears were killed on the first day of a controversial black bear hunt that animal rights groups had done all they could to block. New Jersey state officials have said the 6-day hunt is needed to reduce the state’s bear population, now estimated at about 3,400. But critics say the state’s bear management policy is flawed and is illogical, while animal advocates went to court in an attempt to block the hunt. They were rebuffed by an appeals court and spent part of Monday gaining permission to protest at various bear check stations. The group wanted to protest at the Franklin bear check station in Sussex County, which they said was the most visible spot for their message. But wildlife officials wanted to keep them away from there over safety concerns, noting its limited space and location on a major highway. A state Superior Court ruled up to 25 people could protest there and gave demonstrators the right to have larger protests at 2 other weigh stations. One protester was arrested at the Franklin site for refusing to move from a restricted area. Officials said the hunt’s first day went smoothly. The hunt comes with rules on weapons, ammunition and transportation. Officials weigh the bears and take skin, blood and tooth samples. Around 6,500 hunters have been given permits for this year’s hunt, allowing them to patrol 1,000 sq miles of northern New Jersey. Officials say this area has one of the highest population densities of black bears in the U.S. But critics are not happy with the hunt taking place. ‘A bear hunt doesn’t solve nuisance complaints,’ Bear Education and Resource Group spokesman Angie Metler told Fox News. ‘A bear hunt doesn’t protect property, a bear hunt doesn’t protect public safety and the bear hunt will not reduce the population.’ Susan Kehoe, another protester, said there is ‘no need for the hunt’ and said it’s all about a ‘trophy hunt’ rather than safety. But state officials say there has been a rise in ‘public complaints about bear and human encounters’ and so the population must be reduced. Dr Larry Rudolph, of Safari Club International, said that bears can ‘definitely be a danger in New Jersey this year’. ‘New Jersey’s Dept of Environmental Protection cited almost 3,000 instances where there was human-bear interface,’ he told Fox News. 46 of those involved bears going into a residential home, he said. ‘I don’t think you want to come home and find a black bear in your kitchen when you are ready to make dinner,’ Dr Rudolph added. Mail 6th Dec
Germany – Drive hunts
From Nov to Jan thousands of hunters swarm the countryside killing wild boar, deer, hare and everything else that tries to escape when the drivers and the dogs come near their den or hiding place. The reasons given by the hunters and their supporters for this annual massacre are – Wild boar: too many of them; breeding too fast. The real reasons for the “problem”: with huge numbers killed, often the leading (and often pregnant) females also, sexual maturity sets in earlier and nature tries to make up for lost numbers. Also, much of the agricultural land is given over to growing corn for biogas facilities these days. Wild boar love corn. With such an oversupply of food the high reproduction rates should really surprise no one. Deer: deer being responsible for damage caused to valuable tree stock (the multi-billion Euro forestry industry in Germany is a hugely influential lobby and has called for years for massive culls of deer and other wild animals to protect their stocks) The real reasons for the “problem”: deer dare not graze in the open anymore – as would be natural – for fear of the omnipresent hunters. So they retreat to the forests and eat what they find there – often the bark of trees and saplings. Foxes: said to be a source for rabies and fox tape worm – potentially dangerous to humans. Foxes are ill with mange. There is no problem really, as foxes mainly eat mice, and even carrion – so actually serve as a “health police”. There have been huge problems in some areas with mice breeding unchecked, AFTER foxes had been killed in large numbers in these areas. The solution of course: first shoot the foxes, then poison the mice. In most areas in Germany rabies is officially eradicated (by use of vaccination bait); the risk of contracting tape worm from fruit shit or pissed on by foxes has been proven to be miniscule; and mange … the dead foxes shot are stunningly beautiful, completely healthy. No mange whatsoever. Hare: no reason given. Indeed, hare are on the list of endangered species. Hunters have also been observed hunting rabbits – chasing them from their dens and shooting them as they run – right next to a busy motorway. Nobody says anything … Hunters are having fun at the moment. For them, Christmas is indeed something to celebrate. Only last week I came upon the remains of a baby deer in the disposal unit one day after the local drive hunt. Head and skin lay atop a pile of boar skins, legs, intestines. Possibly she just followed her mother who tried to flee to safety from the hunters, and never made it.
Japan – Japanese whale hunt
Japan caused outrage as authorities confirmed it is diverting millions of pounds tagged for the reconstruction of its tsunami-devastated coast to protect its annual Antarctic whale-hunt. Roughly 2.28bn yen (£19m) from a reconstruction fund for areas badly hit by the crippling 11 March earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster will be used to beef up security for the Japanese whaling fleet, which left port under heavy guard in December. The money is part of about 500bn yen in “fisheries-related spending” green-lighted by parliament. Japan’s Fisheries Agency justified the decision by saying that “safer hunts” would ultimately help whaling towns along the coast to recover. Conservationists immediately condemned the plan. “Not only is the whaling industry unable to survive without large increases in government handouts, now it’s siphoning money away from the victims of the 11 March triple disaster, at a time when they need it most,” said Junichi Sato, executive director of Greenpeace Japan. “This is a new low for the shameful whaling industry and the callous politicians who support it”. The whaling boats left in secrecy from Shimonoseki in southern Japan, guarded by an unspecified number of coast guard officers, a patrol ship and other “security measures,” according to local media reports. The fleet’s target catch is said to be about 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales.
Australia – Despite decades of protests against whaling, the importation of whale products into Australia was covertly authorised for “scientific research”, an investigation has found. Since 2005, 4 companies have been granted 2-year permits to import fresh whale products including blood, according to federal government documents obtained under Freedom of Information. The unspecified products, including from humpback and right whales, are limited to 20g or 20ml at each time for “laboratory” use. However, activists want a public register to identify what research the products are being used for and if it is to assist endangered species. Details of the importation were obtained from the Dept of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, which would not reveal the nature of the research for which they were destined. A department spokesman said it was very unlikely the companies involved would consent to “commercial-in-confidence” material being released to the public. Herald Sun 27th Dec
China suspends seal trade
A grassroots revolt in China against Canadian seal products that led to a trade deal suspension portrays a shift in China’s consumer conscience. As industries that allegedly practice animal cruelty have tried prying open the Chinese market, while they meet resistance in other countries, Chinese consumers are pushing back. On Nov 19, Chinese conservationists and animal rights groups staged an awards ceremony for a poster-design competition oriented around protesting seal products. NGO representatives, professors and celebrities attended. China Animal Protection Media Saloon founder Zhang Dan points to sales of seal products and the introduction of the United States rodeo as representatives of cruel to animal industries trying to expand in China. “It’s a trend that industries involved in animal cruelty look toward China’s massive market potential as their sales slump elsewhere,” Zhang says. The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail quotes seal-oil supplement manufacturer DPA Industries’ chairman Wayne MacKinnon as saying, “The Chinese eat anything. And they simply don’t understand why you would put one animal above another.” Other foreign reports say the Chinese have no regard for animal welfare and no relevant legislation. “Because of prejudice, they believe most Chinese don’t care about animals and eat anything,” Zhang says. “But they’re perfectly wrong.” The Chinese government announced in 2010 the suspension for further review of a trade deal to import Canadian seal products. Pressure from animal rights groups led to the indefinite postponement of the rodeo scheduled for Oct 1 at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest. But seals have become the movement’s current focus. The backlash against the Canadian trade in seal products comes after Panjin Spotted Seals Protection Volunteer Association founder Tian Jiguang led a successful online campaign in April to reroute a coastal highway that would have disrupted the spotted seals’ Northeast China breeding grounds. The recent award ceremony featured a film by the event’s organizer, the NGO Green Beagle, showing commercial seal hunting on the Canadian ice floes. The bloody footage was shot by Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Humane Society International Canada (HSI Canada), who also joined the Beijing event. Aldworth has spent the past decade observing Canada’s commercial seal hunts firsthand. She has escorted more than 100 scientists, parliamentarians and journalists to the ice floes to witness the slaughter. “The attitude of Chinese consumers is crucial,” Aldworth says. “Now, you have the opportunity to terminate the massacre of seal pups in Canada. You are at a crossroads to open to the dying cruel industry, or stand with other countries to ban the seal products.” More than 30 countries and regions, including the USA, the EU and Russia, have banned imports of Canadian seal products.” But despite activists’ objections to seal products, oil, hats and wallets made from the animals are still sold on China’s largest online shopping website, Taobao. A seal leather belt costs from $100 to $220.
Russia Bans Harp Seal Imports
Information that Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, have banned the import of harp seal products has come out and is being applauded by organisations including IFAW and the Humane Society International (HSI), who have been fighting for the end of Canada’s brutal seal slaughter for years. According to the Canadian government, Russia was one of the only major markets left for seal products, importing up to 90% of seal pelts. “The writing is on the wall” said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW’s Seal Program. “The Canadian government knows seal products are not wanted, and has had ample time to transition sealers out of this industry with compensation. Instead they have done nothing but dispute the rights of other nations by challenging seal product bans at the WTO.” Numerous countries including the U.S. have banned seal products. The EU enacted a trade ban in 2009, and a trade agreement to import seal meat to China has gone nowhere …a deal that many Chinese animal lovers and more than 60 animal protection organizations in the country continue to protest. “Global markets for seal products are closing fast and Canada increasingly stands alone in its promotion of the seal hunt. The world is clearly moving beyond commercial sealing and it is time Canada did the same,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada. The HSI is pushing for the Canadian government to buy out the remaining sealers and help them transition into other jobs, which is something more than half of sealers would reportedly support, and is a move that is estimated to cost less than what is currently spent subsidizing this dying industry, which includes paying for ice breakers, Coast Guard services and DFO salaries, in addition to spending millions on marketing efforts. 19th Dec
News with thanks via Sue at the SP, England.