Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime – NYTimes.com

Farm-articleLarge-v2If you are not familiar with the term “Ag Gag” it is basically an effort to stop people from filming or photographing an animal enterprise.

On one covert video, farm workers illegally burn the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals. Another captures workers in Wyoming punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air. And at one of the country’s largest egg suppliers, a video shows hens caged alongside rotting bird corpses, while workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks.

Each video — all shot in the last two years by undercover animal rights activists — drew a swift response: Federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged the horse trainer and other workers, who have pleaded guilty, with violating the Horse Protection Act. Local authorities in Wyoming charged nine farm employees with cruelty to animals. And the egg supplier, which operates in Iowa and other states, lost one of its biggest customers, McDonald’s, which said the video played a part in its decision.

But a dozen or so state legislatures have had a different reaction: They proposed or enacted bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures to require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms.

Critics call them “Ag-Gag” bills. Read the rest of the article here.

Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime – NYTimes.com.

Leslie A. Hamilton: Don’t fall for UW spin on experiments : Wsj

It is absolutely untrue that in 2009 the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals received “full access” to UW-Madison records on research involving cats.

As co-counsel for PETA in its open records lawsuit against the university, I take issue with last Saturday’s column, “Cat research, after all the drama,” by Eric Sandgren, director of the Research Animal Resources Center at UW-Madison.

UW did not, and has not to this day, released the so-called “proprietary” details of its experiments on the brains of living cats. And the records and photos that we finally obtained are far from complete.

The primary justification UW gave the court for its refusal to release either the written or photographic documents related to these “surgeries” came in an affidavit submitted to the court in 2011 by the primary researcher: “The surgical technique was developed by a non-UW researcher who shared the technique with me on the condition that I keep the technique confidential.”

Despite several requests for some evidence of this confidentiality agreement, and a promise by the UW to produce it, it was never provided to the court. UW even refused to name this “non-UW researcher” who allegedly extracted this confidentiality pledge.

After several months of digging through publicly available research papers, we found the “non-UW researcher,” and when we spoke with him directly, he stated there was no such confidentiality agreement. In fact, it appeared that the work of this “non-UW researcher” was funded by a National Institutes of Health grant that stipulated he make it freely and publicly available.

In August of 2011, we informed the court of our conversation with this “non-UW research,” and soon after UW expressed an interest in settling our open records case. In January and February of 2012, my client and I met several times with UW’s attorney for the purpose of reaching an agreement on how the photos and records would be blurred or redacted to hide the details the UW still argued were “proprietary.”

In the interest of getting this information to the public as soon as possible, PETA signed a restrictive confidentiality agreement governing the release of the photos and records. In June of 2012, PETA finally obtained the records and photos, still heavily redacted.

Contrary to Sandgren’s claim, even in settlement, PETA was not provided with access to “the complete description of all procedures and medical interventions.”

Sandgren claims he cannot understand why PETA waited until it obtained the dramatic post-surgical photos of the UW’s cats before it publicized its find.

Months of work went into obtaining these records and photos, and as the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This is especially true when 990 of those words are redacted!

Leslie A. Hamilton is a Madison attorney.

Leslie A. Hamilton: Don’t fall for UW spin on experiments : Wsj.

Jeremy Beckham: UW researcher distorts, dismisses cruelty to cats : Wsj

1500-double-trouble-10Regarding Saturday’s guest column, “Cat research, after all the drama,” by UW-Madison research director Eric Sandgren:

UW’s response to criticism about its barbaric taxpayer-funded experiments on cats has been to distort, deny and dismiss the well-documented cruelty and to silence dissent. But the truth is out.

According to records written in UW staff and faculty’s own hands, and captured with their own camera, cats at UW had their heads cut open, steel rods screwed to their skulls, electrodes implanted in their brains, and metal coils placed in their eyes. Some were deafened and had cochlear devices implanted into their ears. They suffered from infections and pain. That the government didn’t cite UW for this abuse speaks to weaknesses of animal protection laws, not morality or science.

This isn’t helping people. None of this laboratory’s cochlear implant experiments on cats has ever been published in a scientific journal. Records show some couldn’t even be completed because the mutilated cats became too sick and were killed.

UW’s approach to dealing with peoples’ objections has been to block emails from the public, to delete messages from its Facebook page, and to remove Board of Regents members’ contact information from its website.

Despite UW’s shenanigans, hundreds of thousands of people have protested. The photos that show why are available for all to see at PETA.org/DoubleTrouble.

— Jeremy Beckham, Salt Lake City, research project manager, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Jeremy Beckham: UW researcher distorts, dismisses cruelty to cats : Wsj.

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: DNR creates culture of violence, slaughtering innocents

“With the wolf hunt season winding down, I think Ted Nugent said it best: ‘It’s a free-for-all, baby’… all I gotta say is wack n stack.” — from the Wisconsin Wolf Hunting facebook page

It was just a few days before the school massacre at Newtown, Conn. At the Natural Resources Board meeting on Dec. 11, 66 people had assembled from all over Wisconsin, most to speak against Act 168, imposing hunting and trapping on state and county parks.

Christine Thomas, the board member who earned her seat by starting the organization Become an Outdoor Woman (BOW), showed up in a full length fur coat, knowing most people had come to protest trapping in our parks. The first order of business was a celebration of the “successful” deer kill. Thomas raised her arms in a victorious hoot to the revelation that 33 percent of 29,000 first-time deer hunters were women. Another holler celebrated the 10 percent increase in 10- and 11-year-olds buying the new $5 cheapie “kill your first deer” license.

Visitors complained afterward that the board, in its special-interest delirium, is obviously out of touch with the general public.

Several state representatives spoke. Rep. Jeffrey Mursau, author of the amendment to take over state and county parks for trapping and hunting, put the audience in its place: “Hunting, trapping and fishing are constitutional rights. Peace and quiet are not constitutional rights.” Rep. Brett Hulsey, who voted for the bill, said that he had been hearing from his constituents. “It is too broad. We may have gone too far, and may have to fix it.”

Friends of State Parks have raised millions of dollars and volunteered thousands of hours for our parks. Alienated, they may disband.

Board member Jane Wiley revealed that 7.5 million acres of public land, over 99 percent of the total, are open to the 10 percent who hunt. About 60,000 acres, less than 1 percent, were previously set aside as for the 90 percent of the public enjoying safe quiet sports and wildlife viewing.

As one speaker said, “That is a lot of sharing.”

After four hours of testimony, board member William Bruins proposed that the board tell the Legislature that having already reviewed the parks for hunting and safety issues, and given public sentiment, they would vote to keep the parks at the previous level of hunting, without trapping. The Legislature had been hearing from an awakening irate general public. Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp intervened, saying that this would violate the intention of the Legislature. (So much for the people.)

Chairman David Clausen, a farm veterinarian and an avid hunter, cast the deciding vote against leaving the parks at 2012 hunting levels. He also nixed an amendment to flag traps so that the public could avoid them, saying that the 8,000 trappers “would be upset and might have traps or dead animals stolen.” No mention of wildlife and safety stolen from millions of park supporters. So it was proposed, and unanimously passed, that all parks be newly opened to trapping and hunting Nov. 15-Dec. 15 and for all of April.

Who do they kill in April, when wildlife have babies? Turkeys are killed April 10-May 21. Otters and beavers can be trapped for six months Nov. 3-April 30. Coyotes, possums, skunks, weasels, and snowshoe hares can be killed year-round, with no reporting and no limit, leaving babies to die.

Michael Moore, filmmaker of “Bowling for Columbine,” speaking the morning of the Newtown school killing, said that even if we banned assault weapons, required background checks for all gun sales, and provided free mental health care, “We would still be the sick and twisted, violent people we have been for hundreds of years.” I would add we teach kids of any age to trap, and 10-year-olds to handle guns and kill innocent animals for sport. How can adults live in denial that teaching senseless state-sponsored violence to children can have any good result?

National Rifle Association members should be shunned like dealers in tobacco, alcohol, domestic abuse and child trafficking. They peddle death. Gun violence kills 9,000 people a year in this country. Nine children are killed every day. Compare that to 150 gun deaths a year in Canada or Germany.

In 1996, 35 people were killed in an Australian massacre. That country of macho gun lovers banned semi-automatic weapons and it bought back 650,000 guns. They have not had a mass shooting since. If there is no buyback and millions of semi-automatics are left in circulation, we can expect more massacres. But we have massacres daily in Wisconsin – loving, innocent animals just like our pets bludgeoned, tortured and killed en masse.

This is a death culture. As President Obama said, “We don’t have to tolerate this. …We have to change.”

Please sign the petition to keep Wisconsin parks safe.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. madravenspeak@gmail.com or www.wiwildlifeethic.org

 

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: DNR creates culture of violence, slaughtering innocents.

Board approves reduced plan for state park hunting and trapping – JSOnline

With these “taking public input” meetings such as this, at which boards hear over four hours of testimony against such issues, and are ultimately ignored, one wonders just what the purpose of these  public hearings are.

Responding to significant public opposition to Act 168, the Natural Resources Board on Tuesday approved a drastically reduced plan for hunting and trapping in Wisconsin state parks and trails.

The board voted to allow hunting and trapping on most state park and trail properties from:

– Nov. 15 to Dec. 15.

– For the first three turkey hunting periods in April (three weeks).

– Archery hunting for deer would be allowed from Nov. 15 through the end of the late archery season (the first Sunday in January).

In addition, the board approved measures to allow only dog-proof traps and to prohibit shooting across trails.

Act 168, also known as the Sporting Heritage Act, opened all state park and trail properties to hunting and trapping. The legislation was approved in April by large margins in the Senate and Assembly. The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

The law allowed the Natural Resources Board to close state park and trail properties to hunting and trapping to protect public safety or unique animals and plants.

The DNR was charged with developing an implementation plan for the legislation. It proposed a hunting and trapping season from Oct. 15 to late May on 64% of the acreage in the state park and trail system.

But public comments on the plan were overwhelmingly negative. Four hours of testimony at Tuesday’s meeting were dominated by opponents to the plan.

“The people have spoken,” said board member William Bruins.

Bruins offered a motion that would have resulted in no new hunting and trapping on state parks and trails. Bruins argued that, given public opposition to hunting and trapping in state parks, perhaps the department should focus its attention on increasing opportunity on other state lands.

It was defeated by a 4 to 3 vote.

Board member Terry Hilgenberg then made the motion to accept the basic DNR plan but curtail the length of the open season.

The board supported the reduced framework by a 7-0 vote.

We’ll have more details of the meeting as well as reaction to the vote in the Wednesday edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Board approves reduced plan for state park hunting and trapping – JSOnline.

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Come January, state parks no longer safe

Hunters and trappers are not satisfied with the millions of acres already open to hunting and trapping in Wisconsin. They want it all.

Read the article here: Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Come January, state parks no longer safe.

PETA’s Martin Mersereau: Require vets to report cruelty to animals

Dear Editor: The case in which a Wausau woman allegedly poisoned and killed her boyfriend’s dog after the dog’s veterinarian failed to report a history of possible abuse is extremely disturbing. Veterinarians in Wisconsin (and every state) should be legally required to notify authorities immediately if they suspect an animal is being harmed, particularly since repeat offenses are common.

Letting cruelty go unreported not only puts animals in grave danger, it also compromises the entire community’s safety. Animal abusers are cowards who take their issues out on “easy victims” — and their targets often include members of their own species. In my work, I have seen case after case in which people who abuse animals commit similar crimes against members of their own families and communities.

Many batterers try to control their victims, such as a partner or spouse, by threatening, torturing, and/or killing the victim’s animals. The FBI has also found that a history of cruelty to animals regularly appears in its records of serial rapists and murderers.

Protecting animals protects us all. Please, report suspected cruelty to animals immediately.

Martin Mersereau

director, Emergency Response Team in Cruelty Investigations Department

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

PETA’s Martin Mersereau: Require vets to report cruelty to animals.