In addition to AIA’s proactive advocacy work, outlined in its five year strategy 2022-2026, we also react to situations of animal cruelty .
AIA’s International Campaigns Secretary, Marian Hussenbux is responsible for AIA’s global animal advocacy work. This involves writing to people of influence about animal suffering and cruelty around the world, often in support of campaigns run by other organisations.
AIA’S CAMPAIGNING ACTIVITY – FROM OCTOBER 2021 TO JANUARY 2022
Happy New Year to everyone and here is our advocacy report and some updates on our recent work:
England and Wales:
In October, thinking ahead to Remembrance Sunday, and in support of a campaign to treat street pigeons with more kindness and respect, we wrote to the Royal British Legion to ask if, given the sterling work performed by carrier pigeons in time of war, they would give some official credit to these birds. Urged on by their wonderful instincts and flying under attack, pigeons provided help that could not have been done in any other way, and they must have saved many human lives. 32 pigeons were awarded the Dicken Medal by the PDSA, more than any other animal.
Our message passed through many processes at the RBL and was acknowledged each time, but they did not reply otherwise to our repeated message. We intend to reiterate this reasonable request for 2022 Remembrance.
Spikes to deter birds are often put on buildings and they can cause injury and death. Birds affected include red or amber listed gull species, birds of prey, and declining species such as swallows and swifts.
Peat – Rebecca Pow is currently the Environment Minister responsible for the management of peat and peat bogs. This is a precious resource the government promised to take action to preserve years ago, and she does accept that only 13% of peatland is now in a near-natural state.
The government set a voluntary target in 2011 for compost retailers to end sales of peat by 2020. So had it happened at the time it should, the Guardian reported, the 9% increase in 2020, due to the lockdown and more people gardening, would not have happened and would not have put even more pressure on the peat bogs.
We wrote to make several points: voluntary targets are useless – companies are hardly likely to stop doing commercially beneficial actions voluntarily. It seems that at the moment, only private gardeners will not be allowed to buy peat and the government “did not intend to ban the sale of plants in pots that contained peat and that its plans would not affect current licences for peat extraction.”
We think peat extraction should stop as soon as possible, given how important it is for the environment and how aware of this significance the government claims that they are.
The organisation Wildcat Haven campaigns to protect the highly endangered Scottish wildcat. They have been taking legal action to require the Swedish developer Vattenfall to release information on environmental surveys they had done for a windfarm they have permission to build in the Clashindarroch Forest; Wildcat Haven maintains that some wildcats do live in the forest and would be adversely affected by the development.
On their web site they say: “The Royal Zoological Society for Scotland (RZSS), the wildlife conservation charity and lead partner for the Saving Wildcats project, has been managing the UK captive population since 2015 to make sure those wildcats can support the restoration of the species in Britain. In 2020, RZSS celebrated a record breeding year after 57 wildcat kittens were born within the UK conservation breeding programme.”
We wrote and received a very full reply from Nature Scot, which takes a different view from Wildcat Haven’s. One of the points they made is about hybridisation. Having carried out extensive sampling of wild-living cats, they say: “It is questionable whether there are any cats remaining in the wild in Scotland that do not have some domestic cat ancestry.”
We assume therefore, as they mention above ‘restoration’, that they consider the pure wildcat to be functionally extinct in Scotland so their response is to breed wildcats in captivity. What we do not yet know is when and how many of the progeny will be released into the wild.
Republic of Ireland:
Hare coursing – we had been informed that a debate on a ban on this cruelty was to come up at Sinn Féin’s conference in October. We wrote to all their TDs and councillors, showing our strong support. We received two positive replies: Councillor Daithi Doolan (Dublin) said that there was no such motion tabled, but he was totally opposed to coursing and would stay in touch with us. Councillor Noel Connolly (Kildare) informed us that the motion will be on their next conference agenda.
Apparently, such is the virulence of the RHDV2 virus that Irish hares are dying on the coursing field before the dogs even reach them. The use of nets to capture hares and prolonged, unnatural captivity, bunched together in compounds or paddocks to which the hares are subjected by coursing clubs, is all contributing to the spread of this deadly virus.
Post mortem results need to be made public, so we asked Minister Darragh O’Brien, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, with copy to National Parks and Wildlife Heritage, to release these.
Some Irish insurers cover fox hunting, so we wrote to ask them to refrain from this support.
Here is a company you might like to contact – Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty.
Irish Council Against Blood Sports – www.banbloodsports.com writes: “Join us in urging Allianz to immediately withdraw insurance cover for any individual or group involved in hunting, hare coursing, terrierwork, ferreting or any form of terrorising or killing of Irish wildlife.
Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty
Twitter: @Allianz @AGCS_Insurance
Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty Ireland
Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty Ireland
Denmark and Faroes:
The Faroese Grindadràp made even more news and caused even more opposition than usual last year as the number of cetaceans killed was exceptionally high – some 1428 white-sided dolphins – and a second killing of 53 pilot whales was organised after the first hunt.
We contend that, as all marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Viz:
Protected Status – Lagenorhynchus acutus
CITES APPENDIX II
Throughout Its Range
Throughout Its Range – the Grindadràp is therefore illegal.
The PM said he would arrange a review of the practice, but so far we have heard nothing more.
We are in regular contact with Whale & Dolphin Conservation, who conducted their usual investigations, and they told us that Zac Goldsmith was dealing with the matter here; we asked him to let us know what action he can take, firstly to persuade the Faroese government to stop all hunts pending the completion of the review, and also to encourage them to see that such cruelty is not the mark of a modern society.
He replied fully to say:
“While we recognise there is a long tradition in the Faroe Islands of killing pilot whales and dolphins for meat and other products, we have long expressed our concern over the welfare and sustainability aspects of the Faroese cetacean hunts and the levels of domestic regulation currently in place…”
“I have written to the Faroese fisheries minister to express the UK’s opposition to the hunt that took place on the 12 September and the continued hunting of cetaceans in the Faroe Islands on both animal welfare and conservation grounds. I will continue to engage with the Faroese government on this important matter…”
…I would like to emphasize that the vessels of the Danish Armed Forces deployed in the area are instructed not to assist or in any other way take part in the Grindadràp…”
In the town of Meaux, a weekend campaign of sterilisation, microchipping and checking of feral cats was organised. This is the responsibility of local Mayors in France, but they do not always comply. We thanked the Mayor of Meaux and a local animal welfare group which facilitated the campaign.
We were also very happy to send thanks to the Mayor of Strasbourg and the Animal Welfare Councillor for ending the serving of foie gras at official functions – and to the Mayor of Grenoble, for banning it in primary schools.
The Coalition Internationale Anti-Fourrure, based in Israël, had successfully worked to achieve bans on the sale of fur in over 20 cities worldwide, in the state of California, and in Israël itself. At present, no legislation in France allows a mayor to ban sales in Paris, so we supported a petition to this effect gathering over 100.000 signatures, and also wrote to President Macron asking for a nation-wide ban if he is re-elected this year.
Once again, the plight of the Southern Resident orcas in the Pacific North West continues to be of great concern. We renewed our plea to the Minister of Energy to breach the four dams which prevent Chinook salmon – the main food for the starving orcas – from taking their usual course through the river. UPDATE 2
It is clear that the Canadian Marineland ‘educational’ dolphin shows are illegal according to Canadian legislation enacted in 2019. Making animals ‘perform’, as in ‘dolphin dance parties’ has nothing edifying about it.
We wrote again to Minister Bernadette Jordan in support of Animal Justice’s legal action to have these shows investigated as soon as possible. What is more, recent videos of orca Kiska appeared to show her floating on her side in her tank. Animal Justice has filed a complaint against Marineland for the treatment of Kiska, citing that “it is illegal under federal and provincial law to cause psychological distress and suffering to an animal.”
Also, in support of Animal Justice’s campaign against the appalling abuse of dairy cows and calves, we protested to British Columbia Minister Lana Popham and also to the Federal Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau.
However, it was gratifying to be able to thank Lena Popham for banning fur farming in British Columbia.
We wrote to the new Secretary General of CITES, Ivonne Higuero, about yet more elephants being captured, this time in Namibia, to be sold to the UAE for display in zoos and safari parks.
CITES seem to have given up responding, and, in the days they did, I regret to say they sent confusing replies that led nowhere.
There is a gleam of hope – the legality of Namibia’s actions will be examined by CITES Standing Committee at the next meeting in 2022.
But by this time, the elephants sold will have already been transported to their destination. Judging by information received about previous sales, some will have died and the others will be living in misery.
The Animal Justice Party informed us about the ‘Parliamentary Inquiry into the Health and wellbeing of kangaroos and other macropods in NSW’, which resulted in a damning report requiring substantive action by the state.
It formalised six findings and made 23 recommendations.
The ‘management’ of kangaroos in NSW was finally under the spotlight, but unfortunately, when the Committee reviewed the impartial draft report, some of its most critical findings were voted out by the Liberal, National and Labor members. For example, the draft report included the unequivocal finding: ‘That kangaroo numbers are in serious decline in NSW, with mobs becoming marginalised and fragmented throughout the landscape’. This was voted out of the final report.
We asked the Minister Matt Kean why this had happened, but to date have received no reply.
Live exports – yet another damning revelation came from an Australia-accredited Indonesian abattoir.
The Leader of the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, had fairly recently stated that Labor would, if returned to power, stop the export of live animals, so we asked him if he was still of this mind and recalled that in 2018, the then Labor leader, Bill Shorten, made the same pledge.
We also strongly support the suggestion to set up an Independent Office of Animal Welfare with the mandate to prioritise the interests of animals. This is a policy that the Australian Labor Party has previously pledged to support so we hope that, if returned to power, this will happen. The general election is likely to be in May.
We hardly need say that we also wrote to David Littleproud, Minister of Agriculture and Northern Australia, strongly protesting about the cruelty inflicted on Australian animals in Indonesia – yet again. Unlike the Labor Party, he does have the power to stop this, but has not seen fit to.
We protested again about calf roping in Queensland rodeos to the Minister of Agriculture, Mark Furner. There had been no reply from him to the five organisations in Australia who had asked him to ban this cruel and futile event.
We received a reply from his office, which in nearly two pages mentioned their concern for animal welfare – but contained one concrete sentence: “The Queensland government has committed to reviewing the rope-and-tie event in five years”.
The aerial shooting of Brumbies (wild horses) was planned in the Victorian Alpine Park.
The Australian RSPCA told us that an independent vet would attend these shootings. As the Brumbies are not considered a native species and it is maintained by conservationists that they do considerable damage to native flora and small fauna, their numbers are perceived as problematical and the RSPCA is not apparently opposed to their being shot.
Visiting Corella parrots are being killed at Bendigo golf course. We asked for this to be halted. Not only is it cruel, but the Corellas are a native species and the 2020 Action Plan for Australian Birds shows that parrot numbers have declined.
Zoos in Europe
Because of an over-population of western lowland gorillas in European zoos, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria is considering killing adult males of the species. EAZA zoos hold 463 individuals (212 males, 250 females and one of unknown sex) at 69 institutions.
We protested about this proposed course of action, asking how they have let this matter arise, when, by sterilising the animals at an appropriate age, separating, isolating and killing would not need to be considered.
In the wild these gorillas are critically endangered – because of poaching and disease the gorillas’ numbers have declined by more than 60% over the last 20 to 25 years. However, we wonder if it would be practicable for captive animals to be released, as they must be habituated to humans.
Hopefully EAZA will not allow this over-breeding to continue. Fortunately, they are not rushing to take action yet.
1. Wildcat Haven (not the national organisation working to conserve wildcats) reported this month:
“There is a high degree of agreement between our database and the government’s database, confirming that the Clashindarroch does indeed contain the highest density of Wildcats in Scotland and Vattenfall even concede that the forest is a site of National importance for wildcats…
Vattenfall concede that their planned windfarm expansion will directly impact 5 wildcat territories which constitutes disturbing and displacing up to 20% of the world population…”
This is the very well supported petition raised by Wildcat Haven, which you might have already signed:
Scottish Government: Save the Scottish wildcat by protecting Clashindarroch Forest!”
Please bear in mind this is a much contested matter and AIA has received a full reply from NatureScot.
An update has arrived from Earthjustice:
“There’s finally good news for Snake River salmon. After more than twenty years of litigation, Earthjustice, our partners, and federal agencies responsible for operating dams on the lower Snake River have agreed to pause further litigation until July 22, 2022. The reason: the Biden administration announced its commitment to finding a comprehensive solution that restores Snake River salmon, provides long-overdue justice for Northwest Native American tribes, and invests in clean energy and communities. As part of the agreement, we also won stopgap protections to help migrating salmon, such as increased spill of water over the top of the dams to help juvenile fish survive passage over these deadly obstacles.
|Snake River salmon desperately need the Army Corps of Engineers, the government agency that owns these dams, to breach them and restore the river. These four federal dams impede salmon passage through an essential migration corridor that joins with the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean downstream and flows out of millions of acres of wilderness in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon upstream. As long as these dams remain in place, salmon and steelhead migrating along this route will continue their slide to extinction.|
|Dismantling those dams would set in motion one of the greatest river restorations ever, opening free-flowing access to some 5,500 miles of pristine salmon-spawning habitat, the best remaining salmon incubator in the lower 48 states and one that will remain relatively cool and productive even as the climate warms.”|
Thanks to Earthjustice for this positive update. As this excellent organisation says:
‘Because the earth needs a good lawyer.’ http://www.earthjustice.org
3. The State of Hawai’i
The state legislative session opened on January 20 and bills are beginning to be filed. We will receive bill numbers for the measures that are most significant to animal welfare in Hawai’i, and, as in the past two years, AIA will be formally supporting three new bills being planned by the Hawai’ian Humane Society.
These are: Allowing veterinarians licensed in other US states and in Canada to assist local vets as there is currently a shortage in the islands, funding for the spaying and neutering of companion and free-roaming cats, and various ordinances for the increased protection of dogs. More details to come.
4. And finally- Positive news from Colombia
Andrea Padilla Villarraga has devoted many years of her life to the defense of the rights of animals in all fora in Colombia.
This is a dream which will only materialize with the support of thousands of people’s awareness that the animals need them to be their voice in the democratic arenas where the most important decisions in the country are taken.
They now have the opportunity to access the Colombia Senate Congress, in order to carry on working for animal rights on a national level. Their successes have included the suspension of bullfighting in Bogotá, an end to the selling of animals in the marketplaces, normative tools for the prosecution of cockfighting, and creation of the “Ruta Animal” to sterilize cats and dogs in Colombia.
Andrea was also called by the Constitutional Court to act as an expert witness and assistant in the public hearing of the work of her friend and political colleague Luis Domingo Gómez. Their testimony defended the personal freedom of the bear Chucho – a previously unheard of case of habeas corpus in Colombia. All of this testifies to their excellent work for this cause over the years.
Andrea is standing as candidate for the Senate, representing the animals in a coalition of 14 Green Alliance parties.
Photos and more information in Spanish here:
Previous Campaign Reports
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