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, sometimes in support of the campaigns run by other organisations and sometimes in support of AIA’s own campaigns.
AIA’s Campaigning Activity – from August 2018 to March 2019.
Animal welfare post-Brexit
We wrote to Michael Gove at DEFRA, copy to MPs Craig Mackinlay and Theresa Villiers, on the concerns we had about government initial reluctance – which might still exist – to transfer EU policy on animal sentience to UK legislation, and the ‘improvements’ they intend to make to live exports procedures post-Brexit; you will remember that to ban live exports was a pre-referendum pledge. We also reminded Gove that Scottish unweaned calves were being transported from England on the notorious ship the Joline.
We were happy, however, to compliment P&O Ferries for refusing to transport live Scottish calves.
There is much concern about the primate ‘pet’ trade – Born Free is running a campaign against this, which the discovery of a dead marmoset in London serves to heighten; we wrote therefore to Gove twice on this, since the first reply did not fully address our belief that, as few members of the general public probably know how to provide appropriate care for exotic animals, surely it is best to ban the practice. But they are not interested in the Precautionary Principle, it seems. They maintain some people can care for exotics properly, which seems to them to be an adequate response to campaigners’ concern.
Elephants in zoos and use of the bullhook
Our last request to Michael Gove in this session was in support of the Born Free campaign to end the import, breeding of elephants in zoos, and use of the bullhook.
Swimming with sharks
Animal welfare organisations were surprised to learn that the Shark Trust was prepared to support Bear Grylls’ swim with sharks facility in Birmingham. We asked them to explain the benefits of this activity, and they seemed to support the claim, to us spurious, that such inter-action with other species encourages the general public to respect them, and is educational.
Snaring and killing hares in the Peak District
The trapping, snaring and killing of hares is practised in the Peak District National Park. This is just one of several differences of opinion we have with the NPs – we pointed out to them that all animals, especially those in a vulnerable state of conservation as hares are, should find sanctuary in such places.
We have previously mentioned the Lincolnshire Police Wildlife Crime Section, which has done sterling work against hare coursing in their county. They produced an update on progress and said that some 40 dogs had been confiscated, which has proved to be a very successful feature of the work. It occurred to us to ask what happened to the dogs. They informed us that, upon confiscation, they have been fostered by police officers , but unfortunately they will mostly have to be returned to the ‘owners’, as it is difficult legally to remove them permanently. The police are working with the CPS, the courts and DEFRA to try to change this.
We thanked them again for their work and also for the kind attention they give to our enquiries.
In Scotland, we wrote again to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham about the decline of mountain hares reported on by the RSPB. The First Minister has herself shown concern about this.
The Scottish Greens are very active for the animals. We again thanked MSPs Mark Ruskill and Alison Johnstone for their work on the live transport campaign.
Salmon farms and the killing of seals
We also reiterated our concerns to the Cabinet Secretary about salmon farms and their allowing, under licence, the killing of seals who gain access to the sea pens.
On the positive side, we thanked Minister Mairi Gougeon for her interest in progressing the proposed Animal Welfare Bill, and thanked Alison Johnstone MSP again for her work on it.
Republic of Ireland:
In the Republic of Ireland, there is some movement to end fur farming. We thanked the Fianna Fail TDs (MPs) for their support, receiving replies from 2 of them, and also the Solidarity Party for sponsoring the fur farming bill. This independent party is pro-animal welfare.
Yet again, we asked the Minister and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to bring the futile cruelty of hare coursing to an end, receiving the usual standard reply from Minister Josepha Madigan, whose job it is to issue licences each year.
The Icelandic PM had set up an independent review to establish if whaling brings benefits to their economy. Unfortunately, it found that it does.
We wrote again to the PM to thank her for the sanctuary to be set up in Icelandic waters, which should host the belugas captured in Russia for sale to the Shanghai Aquarium. Despite the conclusions of the review on whaling, we reiterated our request to her to ban the industry on ethical grounds.
We also wrote to the Russian ambassadors in London and Paris on the matter of these captured belugas. We understood that in Russia it was illegal to catch cetaceans for commercial reasons, and to do so for transfer to an aquarium far away seems even more undesirable.
We asked their PM and Ministers to stop the killing of wolves, which, apart from the cruelty involved, is also risking eradication of this vulnerable species in Norway.
Poland & Hungary:
We appealed to the minister in Poland for a ban on fur farming, and, though dolphinaria are banned in Hungary, there is a proposal to open one, so we asked for that to be refused.
We thanked the Portuguese Minister of Culture, copy to the PM, for speaking up against bullfighting.
Protection for caribou
We wrote on several matters to the Canadian authorities + copies to PM Justin Trudeau, in support of protection for the boreal caribou and the Southern Resident orca pod, which is starving due to the decline in salmon populations.
Whales and dolphins
On the positive side, we thanked the Canadian Greens Leader for sponsoring the Ending the Captivity of Whales & Dolphins Act in parliament.
Animal welfare legislation in Quebec
We asked the Quebec government to make good gaps in their animal welfare legislation – there is, for example, no ban on chaining up dogs.
Wildlife killing contests
We lobbied 3 ministers in British Columbia, asking for these appalling activities, which affect many species such as wolves, coyotes, cougars and raccoons, to be banned.
The United States:
We wrote to Denver Water (Colorado) about their gassing of prairie dogs, protested against the cruel rounding up of mustangs in Modoc National Forest, against the killing of beavers in Orange Massachusetts, to Commerford Zoo in Connecticut, asking them to retire elephants Beulah, Minnie and Karen to PAWS Sanctuary, and to the Governor of Washington State, who is otherwise environmentally-friendly, against the killing of wolves to benefit the activities of ranchers.
We thanked the New Mexico Commissioner for banning wildlife killing contests on state lands, and even more hopeful news is that the New Mexico legislature has approved a ban on coyote killing contests, which actively encourages the indiscriminate killing of animals by awarding prizes, so we have asked the Governor, who is described as animal-friendly, to sign the Bill into law.
We wrote to Representative Marty Moylan to thank him for sponsoring an ivory/rhino horn ban in the state of Illinois, and the Governor of New Jersey for signing Nosey’s Law – which makes NJ the first state in the USA to ban animal circuses.
Hawai’i animal welfare
The state of Hawai’i is shaping up to be a leader in animal welfare legislation in the US.
We thanked Governor Ige for signing into law a ban on wild animal circuses, making Hawai’i the second state to do so.
Under guidance from the excellent Hawai’ian Humane Society, we submitted six official Testimonies to the Legislature, which were debated in the Senate Agriculture Committee in February. These covered allowing dogs to be in restaurants with their families, the cruel tethering of dogs, not permitting the use of trap-neuter-release for feral cats, sexual assault on animals, and others.
Some of these were not passed as they stood, or were deferred, but, at a later stage in the legislative process, we supported the proposed bill on dog tethering, with an amendment.
We also thanked Hawai’ian Senator Gabbard for sponsoring a Fur Bill; we have no news yet of the outcome, but the Senator wrote back to us to say how much he appreciated our support from so far away.
We were informed that some Giant Tortoises were being held in inadequate conditions at a hotel in the Seychelles. Some years ago, QCA was in touch with Island Conservation Seychelles, so we wrote to ask if there was anything that could be done to help the tortoises. They told us they would pass on our query to the relevant bodies, and we await a reply.
Elephant anti-poaching unit
After an exemplary period of protecting their numerous elephants, the Botswana government took the decision to de-militarise their anti-poaching unit. We had just written to the President to ask for this to be reinstated when worse news came: they proposed allowing the trophy hunting of elephants.
Export of elephant claves to China
Once again, Zimbabwe: we appealed to the Minister of the Environment and to their Ambassador in London to ban the export of elephant calves to China, a terribly cruel trade they have been engaged in for some years – and some calves have already died.
We wrote to the Japanese Ambassador in London, asking him to pass on to his government our request that commercial whaling should not be resumed as planned.
Improvements to live export trade
The RSPCA asked for support for their amendments to Minister Littleproud’s suggestions for ‘improvements’ to their live exports trade, which we did. These amendments request Heat Stress Risk Assessments to be made.
Registration of race horses
We also thanked an Australian Green Party Senator for her strong support for a federal enquiry on the registration of race horses, in order to avoid their being abandoned, or sent for slaughter, upon retirement.
OVERALL RESULTS FOR THE PERIOD:
We sent out some 45 letters and received 20 replies, of which 15 were not merely acknowledgments and in several cases were full responses to the points we had made.
~ Marian Hussenbux. March 23 2019
Animal advocacy continued – April 2018 to July 2018