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886 posts from News & Culture


July 16, 2014

Bear Baiters Spread Doughnuts, False Claims, and Fear in Maine

In today’s Bangor Daily News, Maine hunter Joel Gibbs upends the simplistic framing coming from a vocal segment of bear trophy hunters in the Pine Tree State about Question 1 on the November ballot.

Maine black bear
Maine is the only state that allows baiting, hounding and trapping of bears. Photo: Frank Loftus/The HSUS

With Maine’s bear baiting season about to start later this month, the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine is attempting, with fear tactics, to rally hunters, warning them that Question 1 bodes the end of bear management in the state.  In fact, Question 1 would only put a stop to certain inhumane and unsporting methods of take already illegal for other big-game species, such as deer and moose – baiting, hounding and snare trapping.

As Gibbs said in his column today, he’s killed nearly two dozen bears during the last quarter century, but has never needed to rely on shooting the animals over a giant barrel full of meat parts and jelly doughnuts, or taken aim at a bear as it clung to a tree limb after being driven there by a pack of dogs with radio transmitters on their collars. And he’d never think of shooting a bear execution style, after catching one in a snare trap.

As a fair chase hunter, Joel Gibbs is not an outlier – he actually is in the mainstream of bear hunting in America. It’s just that Maine somehow fell out of the mainstream, and it’s allowed a relatively small number of guides to turn the north woods into a vast dump site and an unsporting killing ground, mainly for out-of-state trophy hunters intent on making an easy kill to acquire a trophy.

You see, of the 3,000 to 4,000 bears shot in Maine each fall, out-of-state shooters account for more than 60 percent of the killing.  Calling the baiter a “guide” is a stretch. He’s more like a junk-food distributor and bear pointer.  Hundreds of Maine guides collectively put out millions of pounds of food for bears, in order to gain a fee of $1,500 to $3,000 to create a bear-killing opportunity. Then, they tell a seated client to shoot the biggest bear at the dump site.

The HSUS has worked with rank-and-file hunters like Joel Gibbs in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington to ban these practices by citizen initiative, just as Maine voters are proposing to do in November. Maine is the only state that allows baiting, hounding and trapping of bears.  

The guides and their allies in the trophy hunting lobby say it’s essential for management, but how can that be if no other state allows all three of these practices? And what is the behavioral and population-wide effect of dumping millions of pounds of food out for bears during a critical period prior to hibernation, especially given that every responsible wildlife management agency says it’s a mistake for humans to feed bears? Doing this grows the bear population, habituates bears to human food sources, and causes bear encounters with people.

In the last 10 years, according to Maine’s own state wildlife agency, the bear population has increased by 30 percent. This has happened even though state wildlife managers have allowed the use of these unsporting and inhumane tactics, which have drawn all of these out-of-state hunters but haven’t even stabilized the bear population. In contrast, in the states that have banned bear baiting and hounding, the bear populations and the number of human-bear conflicts have stabilized, and more people have participated in fair-chase bear hunting, generating greater revenue for those states.

I hope the majority of Maine voters follow the voting recommendation of Joel Gibbs and support Question 1. Even if a majority of bear baiters in Maine don’t take Joel’s voting advice, maybe he can teach them a thing or two about how to hunt bears, in a way that doesn’t stack the odds so badly against the bears and violate the basic precepts of hunting itself.

Paid for with regulated funds by the committee of Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, PO Box 15367, Portland, ME 04112.

July 15, 2014

Frankendeer, Captive Hunts, and Captive Politicians

We know that Washington lobbyist and PR operative Rick Berman has shilled for seal clubbers, puppy millers, elephant abusers in the traveling circus industry, and all sorts of factory farming interests. His career portfolio also includes folks who peddle tobacco to teens, enable drunk drivers, promote risky tanning beds, and inject corn syrup, trans fats and mercury-laden fish into American diets. Now he’s added another animal abusing group to that list – captive hunters.

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The United States may have upwards of 25 million free-roaming, wild deer. We don't need to breed more in captivity. Photo: John Harrison

Yesterdayreporter Ryan Sabalow, who conducted an 18-month investigation into the world of cervid ranching and captive hunting of deer for the Indianapolis Star, wrote that the industry has hired Berman as its shill  too, specifically to help override the Missouri governor’s veto of a captive deer ranching bill. The lawmakers pushing for deer farms – against the wishes of the Missouri Department of Conservation – are the same ones pushing a “right to farm” measure on the August 5th ballot.

If that measure, Amendment 1, passes, it could forever protect puppy mills, captive hunting operations, hog factories, and other “agricultural” operations from any state regulation whatsoever.

Earlier this year, Sabalow authored a remarkable four-part series, “Buck Fever,” which exposed the breeding and captive shooting of “Frankendeer” featuring bizarrely enormous antlers. The practice of breeding and raising these mutant deer – who are shot at in fenced hunting preserves – threatens native wildlife, livestock and our food supply with potentially deadly diseases and imposes a substantial cost upon taxpayers for multi-million-dollar government eradication efforts.

Sabalow’s report notes that chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been found in 22 states, first detected in captive deer herds before being found in wildlife that interacted with the captive populations. And bovine tuberculosis has spread from deer farms to cattle in at least four states. The evidence is overwhelming, with wildlife officials citing deer escaping from farms and blending in with wild populations, and researchers in Michigan setting up remote cameras along deer fences to document nose-to-nose contact between captive and wild animals. After CWD-infected deer were found on a Missouri preserve, others were found in the wild within two miles of the pen—but nowhere else in the state.

Hunters interviewed for the story rightly criticized the shooting of tame animals inside fenced pens, seeing it as a mockery of fair chase. At the Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch in Bland, Missouri, “one bull elk with a tag in its ear [was] lazily chewing its cud in a grassy meadow. It didn’t bother to turn its head as the Durango drove past…[The owner] paid about $4,500 to have the animal shipped in a few weeks earlier from a farm in South Dakota. He said he’d charge the client who put in his order to kill it about $6,500.”

The trial of one Indiana captive hunt operator included video footage of “a white-tailed deer with majestic antlers…dying of pneumonia, so sickly that a ranch hand had to poke it with a sharp stick to get it to stand. On wobbly legs, it toppled over in a snowy thicket…it appeared to be propped into a standing position, a branch through its antlers. A few yards away, a camouflaged hunter crouched in the snow, his rifle at the ready. A cameraman stood behind him filming the action, all part of a service for which the hunter paid $15,000. In the video, the hunter fires and the deer collapses, legs twitching in the snow…the hunt took place inside a 1-acre pen.”

Is that what Missouri wants, and then to protect this kind of cruelty and “sport” from any regulation?

How often do we see an irresponsible industry putting the rest of society at risk, seeking handouts from the federal government, and expecting the public to clean up the mess it has created? The people who breed tigers and lions for roadside zoos and photo ops dump these dangerous predators into communities, threatening public safety and fobbing off the millions of dollars in costs for their lifetime care to nonprofit sanctuaries. Burmese pythons and boa constrictors peddled over the Internet become established in the natural environment and wipe out native birds and mammals. Millions of dogs churned out by large-scale puppy mills cost unsuspecting pet owners in heartbreak and veterinary bills, and displace healthy dogs who would otherwise be adopted from shelters and spared euthanasia.

The remarkable thing is, the nation may have upwards of 25 million free-roaming, wild deer –the number one game species in the United States in terms of spending and hunter participation. If there’s any species we don’t need to breed in captivity, it’s white-tailed deer. But the greed of some, and the trophy lust of others, have been sufficient motivators to drive the establishment of 10,000 of these deer farms throughout the United States, posing tangible threats to native wildlife and to farm animals – and therefore to the established hunting and farming industries. 

States should follow the lead of Florida, which recently banned the import of captive deer. We don’t need any more of these operations, and they certainly don’t need immunity from regulation as proposed by Republican lawmakers in Missouri. Governor Nixon has it right, and his veto of a captive deer ranching and hunting bill should stand. And on August 5, Missouri voters should reject the second part of their plan – by turning down a ballot measure, concocted by the Farm Bureau and loyally shepherded to passage by Republican lawmakers, that amounts to a get-out-of-jail pass not only for captive hunters but also for puppy millers and foreign-owned hog factories.

Paid for by The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, CEO, 2100 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037. 

July 14, 2014

Burrowing in on Wild Horse and Burro Management

Burros are among my favorite of the animals residing at our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, with their long ears and friendly stares. We have a couple hundred of rescued burros there, and visitors seem to have a special fascination with them, too. As with all of the animals at the ranch, they've landed there because of some tale of woe - in most instances, because the burros have gotten a raw deal from the federal government, which manages, or mismanages, their populations on the vast reaches of public lands in the West.

Burros
Guatemala has burros of its own and does not need shipments of burros from the United States. Contact BLM now to keep our nation's wild burros here. Photo: Jennifer Kunz/The HSUS

Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the federal government, through the Bureau of Land Management, is mandated to maintain populations of wild horses and burros in the 11 western states where they live. There are only about 40,000 wild horses and only 8,000 burros, and three quarters of the horses are in just two states - Nevada and Wyoming. The remaining states have relatively small populations, typically with 3,000 or fewer animals.  There are millions of cattle and sheep on those federal lands, yet ranchers complain of too many wild equids.

The government has been rounding up and removing horses and burros, ostensibly to control these wild populations and minimize their ecological impact.  In the process, the feds have been building a captive equine population now in the tens of thousands, at short-term and long-term holding facilities. Just last week, the BLM released new information that its personnel and contractors would round up nearly 2,400 more wild horses and burros this year. The cost of the round ups and housing and feeding the animals is now cannibalizing about two-thirds of the budget for the program, which has been widely regarded through the years as a case study of mismanagement.

For years, we have pressed the Bureau of Land Management, which runs the program, to focus instead on fertility programs to manage populations - a solution that the National Academy of Sciences also recommended in a report commissioned by the BLM. The BLM has been slow to implement the recommendations of the NAS.

Now, in what can only be described as a case example of poor decision-making, BLM is undertaking a pilot program with the Department of Defense and Heifer International and intends to allow the transport of 100 burros to residents in Guatemala, for use as working animals. While burros have been traditionally used for this purpose, this use is at odds with the provisions of WFHBA, which requires that the BLM's first priority has to be the humane treatment of wild burros in their care.

We are not insensitive to the difficult and challenging lives of people and animals in Guatemala and other developing countries, and we acknowledge the value and importance of working animals worldwide. Through Humane Society International (HSI) and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Program (HSVMA) affiliates, we have a robust and proactive assistance program that helps provide veterinary care and other resources in these countries. But Guatemala has burros of its own, and does not need shipments of burros compliments of the BLM - a practice that simply relieves pressure on BLM to revamp its program and protect our nation's heritage of responsibly managing wild horses and burros.

We do work with BLM, through our Platero Project, to adopt out burros to suitable owners. So far this year we have placed 190 burros and we remain committed to getting more burros placed in good, local homes. Ultimately though, the solution must be on-the-ground management through fertility control, to obviate the costly and dangerous round-ups and removals and to prevent the population boom of horses and burros in captive holding facilities. 

July 11, 2014

An Exclusive Video Interview with Charla Nash

Yesterday, I wrote about my visit to Capitol Hill with Charla Nash, the courageous woman who five years ago suffered an unthinkable mauling by a pet chimp.  She came to Washington, D.C. at my request to lobby in support of the Captive Primate Safety Act, which seeks to ban the interstate trade in primates as pets.  She spoke at a press conference with me and with lawmakers committed to passing this legislation.

Last night, she sat down with me for an exclusive interview for A Humane Nation. As you’ll see, she’s a remarkable woman with an incredible spirit, and someone who wants to be known not just as a victim, but primarily as an agent of change and reform.

I hope you’ll forward this interview to your two U.S. senators and your U.S. representative and urge them to support S. 1463/H.R. 2856.  I hope you’ll also forward it to friends and colleagues and ask them to help Charla and The HSUS turn around this problem.

July 10, 2014

Will Congress Heed Charla Nash’s Message?

Today, I shared the podium on Capitol Hill with the brave Charla Nash who, five years ago, suffered one of the most extensive and life-changing animal attacks in American history. After being called to help calm her boss’s adult male pet chimpanzee Travis at home, Nash suffered a disfiguring attack from the powerful 200-pound animal that left her barely alive.

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Charla Nash and I were joined  on Capitol Hill today by members of Congress, including Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. (left) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. Photo: Pete Marovich/The HSUS

Today, for the first time in Washington, she told her story, advocating for the swift passage of the Captive Primate Safety Act, S. 1463/H.R. 2856, which seeks to ban the interstate transport of primates for the pet trade.

In February of 2009, the enraged Travis bit off Charla’s hands and toes and essentially tore off her facebefore a police officer shot Travis to save his own life.  Travis suffered a mortal wound and staggered into his home and died in his bed minutes later.

As Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said today, the House passed his bill to ban the trade in primates as pets in 2008, but the Senate failed to act.  Just as our push for a national no-downer policy in 2003 preceded the finding of a downer cow in the food supply some months later – and a major disruption in world beef markets -- our warning about inaction in stemming the trade in primates as pets preceded the grisly and tragic circumstance of Ms. Nash and Travis in Connecticut.

Sensible policy action should not require these sorts of cataclysmic outcomes. But to have these sorts of events, and then to fail to act on policy reforms to prevent these tragedies from happening again, compounds the gravity of the inaction by Congress.

Connecticut’s two U.S. senators, Democrats Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, in joining Blumenauer and House lead sponsor Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-PA. at today’s event, said a similar thing. They said they’d use all their power to shepherd this legislation through Congress, in honor of their one-time constituent. You can help by calling your U.S. senators and representatives and asking them to pass the Captive Primate Safety Act.

Charla Nash
Charla, who was attacked by a 200-pound chimpanzee, told reporters that she did not want anyone to suffer the same fate she did. Photo: Pete Marovich/The HSUS

Charla is as compelling an advocate for any bill as I’ve ever seen. And today she told a wall of reporters and TV cameras that she doesn’t want anyone to suffer the same fate she did. 

Who can argue with that from this modest and courageous woman?

In the coming days, I’ll be posting a video blog of an exclusive interview I’ve conducted with Charla.

P.S. It was a big day on the Hill for other reasons, too – with two hugely positive results for animals. First, the U.S. Senate blocked the so-called Sportsmen’s Act, which had terrible provisions I wrote about recently. These include expanding trapping in wilderness areas, blocking the Environment Protection Agency from regulating toxic lead ammunition, and allowing trophy hunters to import sport-hunted polar bear trophies. A combination of pro-animal Democrats and pro-gun Republicans (concerned they would not be allowed to offer amendments) blocked the bill. Here’s the cloture vote, with the “No” vote serving as the pro-animal vote. 

Second, Congressman G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., became the 300th House cosponsor of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 1518, the bill that cracks down on the sickening practice of horse soring. After such a remarkable showing of support for our position, I hope that House leaders will finally take up the bill on the House floor.

July 09, 2014

Howling for Wolves and Voting Rights in Michigan

Almost three decades ago, I spent a summer as a Student Conservation Association ranger at Isle Royale National Park, in the farthest reaches of northern Michigan. I hiked through the beautiful boreal forests of this World Heritage site, drawn there because of the stories I’d read as a child about the relationship between the wolves and the moose on the island. Not for a moment did I ever worry about a wolf attack – in fact, I yearned for a glimpse of these elusive creatures.

Wolf
Michigan's small population of wolves has to be protected from trophy hunters. Photo: Alamy

I’m back today in the lower peninsula, enjoying the Michigan summer and speaking up for wolves as the human population of 10 million grapples with the question of how it handles the 650 or so wolves who’ve reclaimed a small portion of their range, in the state’s Upper Peninsula.

Immediately after the federal government removed wolves from the list of endangered species, a majority of state lawmakers voted to open up a trophy-hunting season for wolves. The HSUS joined a larger coalition, called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, and conducted a referendum to give voters the opportunity to nullify the legislature’s precipitous and controversial action. We’re pleased to stand with the Detroit Zoo, Michigan’s native American tribes, Audubon chapters, the Michigan Sierra Club, hundreds of other groups, businesses, veterinarians, wolf scientists, and thousands of volunteers working on the ground who favor the restoration of basic protections for the state’s small population of wolves.

Before the public could even vote on the issue, lawmakers found a different means of allowing trophy hunting – by ceding authority to the seven-member Natural Resources Commission to establish hunting seasons for almost any species. They clearly feared that the voters would side with us, and tried to derail our referendum.

We responded with a second referendum, to give voters the chance to nullify the second legislative maneuver against wolves. We met their attempt to suppress voting rights with more citizen democratic action and a new opportunity to vote.

This time, the trophy-hunting lobby gathered signatures for its own wolf-hunting measure, ironically and counterintuitively as a third attempt to thwart a vote of the people. Their measure is called the “Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act” – a well-dressed-up wolf hunting measure – and they have publicly stated that they want the legislature to approve it later this month or in August. The trophy-hunting lobby, by various means, wants legislators to control this issue, so they can have their way with wolves.

There’s one overriding conclusion I’ve come to in talking to people in this state. We at The HSUS and Keep Michigan Wolves Protected have confidence in the people of Michigan to weigh the issues and make the right decision. Our opponents don’t trust the citizens of the state, and they are making extraordinary efforts to block a public vote in a fair election.

Our system of government is grounded on the principle that regular people are entrusted to make election decisions, whether for candidates or issues. Thomas Jefferson said it best: “Men by their makeup are naturally divided into two camps: those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of higher classes; and those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them the safest and most honest, if always the wisest repository of the public interest.”

It’s a sad circumstance when lawmakers and their allies in the trophy-hunting community try to squelch the voting rights of citizens, in their zeal to kill animals who are rare, who’ve harmed no one, and who have a rightful place in this great state.  

July 07, 2014

A Bill for the One Percent – of Sport and Trophy Hunters

Just a few days ago, it was the 50th anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act. The act was the goal of the 1963 March on Washington and a year later it was muscled through Congress by President Lyndon Johnson and several key Democrats and Republicans. That was Congress at its best, doing something in the national interest and honoring the moral standards of our country.

That same year, Johnson signed into law another piece of landmark legislation – the Wilderness Act, which sought to preserve wild areas “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

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One provision  in the Sportsmen's Act would provide a sweetheart deal to help 41 polar bear trophy hunters import the heads of rare polar bears they shot in Canada. Photo: Alamy

The Wilderness Act is about to be weakened by Congress, and there’s nary a howl, screech, or a primal scream about it.  Today, the Senate is scheduled to take up S. 2363, the so-called “Sportsmen’s Act,” which has three particularly odious elements to it and represents a giveaway to the National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, and others who represent the extreme wing of the Washington trophy hunting lobby. This is Congress at its worst, with Democratic leaders teeing up the bill to give a couple of southern Democrats – lead sponsor Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas – a political talking point as they campaign in the rural areas of their states. The fact is, though, hardly one of the hunters whom Hagan or Pryor may run across will benefit much at all from any of these provisions of this bill.

One provision would roll back the Marine Mammal Protection Act and provide a sweetheart deal to help 41 polar bear trophy hunters import the heads of rare polar bears they shot in Canada. It’s one thing to shoot a deer and eat the meat, and it’s another to fly up to the Arctic Circle, drop $40,000 on a guided hunt, and shoot a threatened species – all for the head and the hide and the bragging rights that go along with it. I don’t think too many guys in small town North Carolina or Arkansas will be the least interested in that kind of hunting. It’s just the latest in a series of these import allowances for polar bear hunters, and it encourages trophy hunters to kill rare species around the world and just wait for a congressional waiver to bring in their trophies.

A second provision of the bill would allow sport hunters and trappers priority use in wilderness areas, even though these lands were never designed specifically for this use. This is the provision that weakens the landmark Wilderness Act that Congress established a half century ago. We’re talking here about more than 100 million acres with this change in management priorities – subordinating wilderness values and prioritizing wildlife trapping, and all the misery that comes along with it for animals.

And finally, the bill would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating lead ammunition, which is a known toxin that threatens hunters who consume wild animals and also threatens wild animals who incidentally consume prey with lead. Lead poisoning is known to be the leading cause of death for endangered California condors, and it poisons and kills as many as 130 other species, including other threatened and endangered animals. Given that hunters can use non-toxic shot – which ultimately makes their wild game meals at home much safer for their families – there’s just no reason to stifle the judgment of scientists at the EPA. President George H.W. Bush required non-lead ammunition for all waterfowl hunting in 1991, and for more than two decades hunters have used it for duck and goose hunting. Why not for other forms of hunting, too – especially now that we have so much more information to warrant this transition to a safer form of hunting?

The Senate has appropriations bills to consider, and it’s got a raft of strong animal protection bills it can take up. It is a shame that it’s filling its docket as a purely political act for vulnerable Democrats, to throw a bone to the extremist segment of the trophy hunting lobby. Rank-and-file hunters won’t know the difference, but millionaire trophy hunters will be the ones who benefit from this shameful legislation.

More than 100 humane and environmental organizations co-signed a letter sent today to the Senate opposing the bill. Let’s hope lawmakers pay attention. You can take action by contacting your two U.S. Senators, and urging them to shoot down S. 2363.  

July 03, 2014

Don’t Let Hot Cars, Fireworks and Extreme Weather Ruin July 4th Celebration – for Pets

A father who left his 22-month-old son in an SUV in Atlanta on a hot day is now under investigation for the boy’s death. The story’s been front page news across the nation, and it's a vivid and tragic reminder that any creature – a toddler, a dog, a cat or another – who’s unable to get out of a hot car, is vulnerable to the punishing and fatal effects of trapped, searing heat.

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This Fourth of July, resist the temptation to bring your pet along on holiday travels.  Photo: iStockphoto

What’s even more shocking is how often it happens: already, this is believed to be the 14th case of a child dying of heatstroke in a parked car this year -- a statistic that reminds us that raising public awareness about the dangers of summer heat can save lives.

We at The HSUS for several decades have reminded people about the dangers of dogs in parked cars, especially during the summer months. Leaving a dog inside a car for a few minutes while you run out for a quick errand might seem harmless enough, but it can be deadly. On a balmy, 80-degree day, it takes just 10 minutes for the interior of a car to heat up to 99 degrees. Rolling down the windows has little effect. Quickly rising temperatures can often lead to brain damage or the pet could die from heatstroke or suffocation.

One way to remind yourself to stay committed and aware is to sign our pledge that you will not leave your dog or other pet in a parked car. Then, share it with friends, along with these tips on what to do if you see a dog in a parked car. The HSUS also has a great infographic that explains the dangers of leaving dogs in parked cars.

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Click infographic for larger view

This Fourth of July, we also ask that you resist the temptation to bring your pet along on holiday travels to barbecues and other celebrations. Ask yourself if it’s in your pet’s best interest to be exposed to extreme noise, startling displays of pyrotechnics and frightening smells, when the alternative is an evening lounging on the bed at home, with the TV on to dampen the strange sounds of our nation’s birthday party. Here are some tips on how to give your pet a safe and happy Fourth. Mid-year is also a great time to double check your pet’s ID tags and microchip information and update or replace them as needed, and – as hurricane season rolls in -- to come up with a disaster preparedness plan for your family and pets.

Many local and state governments are tightening restrictions on leaving pets in cars, and expanding law enforcement’s latitude to free an animal believed to be in danger. You can contact your local elected officials to discuss how your community can protect pets in this way. Let’s make it a priority to keep our pets safe and healthy.

July 02, 2014

New Digs, New Chance for New Iberia Chimps

I have a fantastic update to share with you today. All of the federally owned chimpanzees from New Iberia Research Center – more than 100 individuals – have officially moved to Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana. This is the largest group of government-owned chimpanzees to be retired, and, with this transfer, Chimp Haven’s population has doubled in less than two years. This very significant development comes as a direct result of the decision by the National Institutes of Health to work with Chimp Haven and The HSUS on a plan to transition the nation’s population of nearly all government-owned laboratory chimps to sanctuaries.

Julius
Julius, a 46-year-old chimpanzee, will join six of his offspring at the sanctuary. Photo: Chimp Haven

Chimp Haven’s total population currently stands at 212 chimpanzees, and it’s no easy feat to welcome so many chimpanzees in such a short amount of time. Chimp Haven’s decision to accept these chimps required an array of activities, including fundraising, construction of new chimpanzee housing, humanely transporting the animals, integrating them into large social groups, and getting each of them settled in their new homes.

An investigation at New Iberia conducted by The HSUS and broadcast by ABC News in 2009 was a pivotal moment in our efforts to end chimpanzee research and retire  chimpanzees to sanctuary.  To their great credit, the leadership at New Iberia has been very positive about moving this process ahead and providing a new life for the chimps.  

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Ned, who had difficulty with social interactions, already has many new friends at the sanctuary.
Photo: Chimp Haven

There’s Julius, a 46-year-old chimpanzee who fathered 29 children in captivity and who will join six of his offspring at Chimp Haven.  There’s Monkey, who once suffered severe trauma to his chin and lower lip because of a seizure and is receiving medical care. There’s Ned, who experienced head trauma as an infant, causing impaired mobility and cognition that made social interactions difficult, but who – with care and encouragement -- has already made several friends among staff and other chimpanzees in his new home.

Back in September of 2012, this group of chimpanzees was declared permanently ineligible for research but most were slated to move to another laboratory in Texas when New Iberia decided it no longer wished to maintain chimpanzees for NIH. While we supported the ineligible designation, we urged NIH to work with us to send all of these chimpanzees to sanctuary. In December of that year, a joint effort was announced between NIH, the Foundation for NIH, Chimp Haven, and The HSUS to send these chimpanzees to Chimp Haven if $2.3 million in funds could be raised for construction.

Monkey
Monkey, who had suffered severe trauma to his chin and lower lip because of a seizure, is receiving medical care. Photo: Chimp Haven

The HSUS was able to help kick off the fundraising with $500,000, thanks to one of our most dedicated and generous supporters, Audrey Steele Burnand. We were later able to add more than $100,000 on top of that to provide critical support to Chimp Haven. Fortunately, Chimp Haven was able to secure the remainder of the needed funds for construction and immediately got down to the hard work of making the retirement of these chimpanzees a reality.

We couldn’t be more thrilled for the chimpanzees who will now get to live out the remainder of their lives climbing trees, relaxing in the sun, and living in larger social groups. The HSUS extends our congratulations to Chimp Haven for this amazing milestone and looks forward to more great news like this in the future as the National Institutes of Health continues its plan to retire more than 300 federally owned chimpanzees.

P.S. If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a moment to check out our People’s Silver Telly Award winning video about the retirement of this group of chimpanzees. This evocative and award-winning video, made by The HSUS last year, demonstrates the great job Chimp Haven has been doing in giving the chimpanzees a better life in their golden years.

July 01, 2014

Jon Bernthal: 'Walking Tall' for Animals

AD_BERNTHAL_12_13_HIGHRES_183043I was a Jon Bernthal fan before he burst onto the screen in the fabulously successfully, award-winning first two seasons of AMC’s The Walking Dead. He played the tightly wound and fiercely protective former law enforcement officer who helps lead a band of people fighting for survival against hordes of zombies overrunning the human race in a post-apocalyptic world.  I knew that he was a big animal person, thanks to a tip from his dad, Rick Bernthal, who is the chairman of the board of The HSUS.  I met Jon’s two dogs, Boss and Venice, at Rick’s house and knew of Jon’s passionate advocacy for pit bulls and his support for our efforts to crack down on puppy mills, dogfighting and other forms of abuse. 

Jon and I caught up on Saturday, just before the start of our 60th anniversary gala in Washington, D.C., and talked about his views on animal issues, his animal-loving dad, and just a bit about his movies. The gala, hosted by actor Ben Stein and also featuring CNN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell, was both inspirational and motivating, and we were so pleased that Jon took the time from his movie making and other activities to join us.  Here’s the trailer for one of his movies, Fury, with Brad Pitt, due out November 15th across the nation.  And here’s my interview with him for today’s video blog.