A Killing Season
Although fall normally is a favorite season of mine, this year it's brought stories of cruelty to animals which mars enjoyment of the colorful leaves, apple cider and crisp days. Here is a sad sampling:
Pilot Whale Massacre in Faroe Islands
Late summer brings a barbaric tradition to these islands located off the coast of Denmark in the far north Atlantic. The islanders engage in a centuries-old annual whale hunt during which hundreds of pilot whales and others are corralled into a bay and then slaughtered. They drag the frightened animals to shore using hooks and then sever the spinal cord and carotid artery by knife cuts to the neck. As of August 24, 590 of these majestic creatures had been killed this year; since 2010, a total of 2,423 have died. The waters turn red with their blood.
Despite protests by animal and environmental advocates, the government continues to defend the practice as traditional and culturally important, and insists that the hunt is humane citing the veterinarians who monitor the hunt, and the more modern hooks and knives used to dispatch the animals. After the animals are slaughtered, their meat and blubber are distributed among local families, despite the fact that scientists have issued warnings about consuming the whale meat and blubber due to the high mercury content, DDT and PCBs.
These highly social animals are protected under the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, of which Denmark is a signatory. (Photo credit: Faroe Islands Gaff Hook © EIA)
Dolphin Deaths in Taiji
The story of the Taiji slaughter has been chronicled in the academy-award winning documentary "The Cove." Each year on September 1, the dolphin hunting season begins in this small Japanese town along the Pacific ocean. The outrages closely parallel those of the Faroe Island hunt: the corralling of the animals into a bay; the bloody waters; the government defense of the practice as a tradition; and the danger to humans in consuming the mercury-laden meat.
The publicity may be working. The 2011-12 season ended 4 weeks early. September 1 is now known as
"Dolphin Day" with scores of protests worldwide. Volunteer Cove watchers bear witness to the slaughter.
You can read about this year's efforts to stop the hunt at SaveJapanDolphins.org, a project of Earth Island Institute; and view its Ustream Channel from Taiji here.
Pigeon Shoots in Pennsylvania
A recent court case in Pennsylvania brings to the forefront again the fact that live pigeon shoots still are legal there, the only state in the country allowing that "sport". Animal advocates have spent years fighting the practice, most notably the Hegins Pigeon Shoot which was held every Labor Day, and involved stunned pigeons being shot, with young "trapper boys" collecting the carcasses and killing the surviving birds by snapping their necks.
Although Hegins was shut down, other shoots have sprung up, usually sponsored by private gun clubs. One such shoot was held in Berks County, and the prosecutor there refused to pursue the sponsors for animal cruelty. The county's humane officer sued the prosecutor to compel him to bring charges, but lost in a recent decision. The appellate court admitted that the practice was cruel but held that it could not force the prosecutor to bring charges. (One story quotes the majority opinion: "It is truly shocking that live, not clay, pigeons are catapulted into the air for target practice. However, as observed by the district attorney, it is for the Legislature to address this practice." You can read the decision here.)
A "Prison for Animals" in Ohio
Last October, a suicidal owner released 56 wild animals, 49 of whom were subsequently shot to death as they wandered near people-populated neighborhoods. This tragedy highlighted the consequences of allowing private ownership of exotic animals. The tragedy in which law enforcement officials were forced to shoot animals roaming in (people) populated areas forced recalcitrant lawmakers to pass a law which put some conditions on ownership of exotic animals. State officials expect that many of the animals will be surrendered by owners not willing or able to comply with these conditions. Their solution was announced this week. Plans are underway to build a maximum security prison (not my words but those of a state official) to warehouse the animals being turned in by their owners.
Epic Elephant Slaughter in Africa
A stunning story about the slaughter of elephants, the ivory trade, a growing Chinese middle class, and US complicity was published recently in the New York Times by Jeffrey Gettleman. According to the report, "Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter" and some of the most notorious armed groups are participating. In one particularly troubling recent incident, 22 elephants were reportedly killed by members of the Ugandan military from a helicopter. The dead animals were discovered clumped together many killed by a single bullet to the head. Their tusks had been taken. Gettleman quotes one American who works in the area: "What bothers me is that it's probably American taxpayer money paying for the jet fuel for the helicopter."
Published by admin on 09/07/2012 16:00:03