AWI Quarterly » 2015 Spring

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) released a revised wild mute swan management plan in which it backs away (somewhat) from its initial proposal to eradicate all 2,200 mute swans, a nonnative species, in the state.
In many communities throughout the United States, particularly in the Northeast, if you want to rile up the neighbors ask them about deer. Many people see these big-eyed ungulates as real-life Bambis, survivors in a habitat modified by humans, and are thus tolerant of the deer’s transgressions and willing to modify their own behaviors and expectations to live with these elegant animals.
In response to legal pressure from AWI and its allies, Mendocino County, California, officials have agreed to suspend the planned renewal of the county’s contract with the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program, pending an environmental review that will include consideration of nonlethal predator control methods.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) gave the green light in March for two American hunters to import one black rhino carcass each from Namibia as trophies. One hunter, Michael Luzich, had already shot a rhino—having paid the Namibian government $200,000 for the privilege—but had not yet received permission from the US government to import the carcass.
Clean water and healthy aquatic ecosystems are of immeasurable value to people and wildlife. But we need a full picture of what contaminants are circulating in our waterways and where they are originating to properly protect these ecosystems. This knowledge is currently lacking in many parts of the United States, including Montana.
Responding swiftly to the New York Times exposé of cruel experiments involving farm animals at the US Department of Agriculture’s Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Nebraska, members of Congress introduced bills to provide protection for farm animals being used in agricultural research at federal facilities.
A number of bills have been introduced in the 114th Congress that would undermine animal welfare; many of them take aim directly at endangered species (such as wolves), or at the Endangered Species Act itself, through efforts to weaken it and inappropriately inject Congress into the decision-making process for listing species—a job for scientists, not politicians.
The appropriations process offers an opportunity to press for policies that can be implemented by providing or withholding funds for agency activities. On this front, AWI has been working to ensure that any funding increase for the Department of the Interior under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act be used solely for humane, on-the-range management methods such as immunocontraception—and not for unnecessary roundup of wild equines.
In December 2014, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an audit that was highly critical of the department’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (as described in the Winter 2015 AWI Quarterly). Just a month later, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its Strategic Plan 2015–2019, which read as if the audit had never occurred.
Marine mammals and their homes are under assault. Each year, hundreds of thousands of marine mammals are killed, and many more injured, as a result of human activities.
According to Hormel Foods, the producers of SPAM, 3.1 cans of the preserved pork product are consumed every second in the United States. If everyone read Ted Genoways’ The Chain, it is possible that this number would plummet.
Pig Tales, James Beard Award–winner Barry Estabrook’s investigation into the commercial pork industry, travels over ground familiar to many farm animal welfare advocates. Illustrating that “factory raised meat may be cheap, but those inexpensive chops come at a cost,” Estabrook chronicles the negative impacts of intensive animal raising on farmer and worker health, on communities, and on the animals themselves.
John Hargrove was the first of several former orca trainers to appear in Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary Blackfish. A 14-year veteran of SeaWorld, he was a top trainer there until August 2012. Hargrove was working at the company's San Antonio park when Dawn Brancheau was killed in February 2010 in Orlando by Tilikum, Seaworld’s 12,000-pound male orca. He was a first-hand witness to the behind-the-scenes reactions to this tragedy and the corporate response.