Digging Up Dirt – to Expose Cruelty, and to Help Tortoises
Last week in Florida, we hosted a remarkable HSUS Animal Care Expo – a signature event held principally for animal care professionals throughout the nation.
But we were also hard at work in the field in the Sunshine State. Our staff and volunteers were unearthing threatened gopher tortoises at a construction site in Apopka, Florida, to avert an imminent tragedy. Rather than crush or bury the animals alive in their burrows, the developer chose to work with The HSUS to dig out and relocate the defenseless animals.
Carefully digging deep to reach these gentle creatures in their nest chambers -- which can be found up to 20 feet underground -- is a tedious task. But with years of experience, our wildlife team gets the job done. Since the tortoise rescue efforts started in 2006, we’ve rescued more than 4,000 tortoises from being entombed and relocated them to Nokuse Plantation, a wildlife preserve.
The George V. Hand Jr. Tractor Service, which has specialized in gopher tortoise excavation for almost 20 years, has partnered with us from the beginning to help dig out the tortoises. We are also working with the state wildlife agency, developers, environmental consultants, private businesses, local governments, foundations, biologists and average citizens, all coming together and providing solutions for wildlife-human conflicts.
It was, in all, a pretty remarkable week for us, a reminder to our supporters and adversaries alike that The HSUS is uniquely suited to conduct rescue and reform efforts on an extraordinary scale, on a wide range of issues.
Here are a few more of our other takeaway successes from last week.
- The Louisiana legislature gave final approval to legislation to fortify the state’s anti-cockfighting statute, by increasing penalties and banning cockfighting weapons and paraphernalia – just six years after we finally made cockfighting illegal there. We are urging Gov. Bobby Jindal to sign the bill, introduced by Sen. J.P. Morrell.
- We helped to get a puppy mill measure enacted in Minnesota – the 25th state to adopt more humane breeding standards within the last six years. At Animal Care Expo, Maddie’s Fund announced a spectacular $4 million grant to The HSUS to combat puppy mills using online tools and strategies.
- We won a critical vote in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, to block horse slaughter on American soil. The vote was 18-12, with Sens. Mary Landrieu and Lindsey Graham carrying the amendment.
- We won a final ruling from the World Trade Organization upholding the right of the European Union to ban trade in seal products. This is perhaps one of the most significant legal victories for our movement in the last quarter century.
- India made final its ban on cosmetic testing.
- Also in India, we have tentatively secured $5 million for street dog work in a large state in the north of the subcontinent.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked the permit for the Collins Zoo in Mississippi and fined the owner $39,375 for violating the Animal Welfare Act. The problems came to light as a result of an investigation by The HSUS, which led to the Mississippi state wildlife agency seizing 11 exotic animals, including three tigers who now reside at our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.
Every week, you can count on The HSUS to drive reforms forward, saving lives and getting results.