Undercover video targets Wisconsin dairy – Feedstuffs

NESTLÉ Foods’ said it had severed all ties with a Wisconsin Dairy depicted in an undercover video of animal abuse released by animal rights group Mercy For Animals (MFA). The video, released Dec. 10, showed workers kicking, beating and dragging cows in a way that noted animal welfare expert Temple Grandin described as “very abusive, cruel behavior.”

MFA, known for its undercover video and fervent promotion of a vegan lifestyle, used the video to target Nestlé’s DiGiorno Pizza brand, calling on consumers to “ditch dairy, ditch DiGiorno.”

The video was filmed in October at Wiese Brothers Farms in Greenleaf, Wisc., near Green Bay. Nestlé purchases cheese for its pizzas from Foremost Farms, a regional cooperative with several cheese processing facilities throughout Wisconsin, including a plant in Appleton, where Weise Brothers delivered milk.

Foremost Farms said they will no longer accept milk from the dairy, which said that it has terminated two employees as part of its own investigation into what happened in the video. Industry sources tell Feedstuffs that the farm has been cooperating with local authorities, including the sheriff’s department and prosecuting attorney, in addition to bringing in outside animal welfare experts to audit and evaluate the farm’s policies, procedures, training and management.

Grandin, the Colorado State University professor, said that the problems depicted in the video indicate an obvious deficiency in those areas.

“My experience has been that when problems like these occur it can usually be traced back to a lack of supervision,” she said. “There are clear problems of employee training and employee supervision seen in this video. It takes strong management to make it be known that there are certain things you just don’t do and won’t be tolerated.”

Jim Reynolds, a professor of large animal medicine and welfare at Western University in Pomona, Calif., agreed, saying that there was “nothing defendable in the video,” and that the cows shown in the footage were under stress, in fear and probably in pain. He said that the types of behaviors shown by workers in the video should lead to criminal charges of animal cruelty.

“The employees seen in the video completely lacked basic understanding of animal welfare and animal behavior,” said Reynolds. “They showed no empathy for the cows.”

For its part, MFA used the video to encourage the organization’s supporters to bombard DiGiorno’s Facebook page with negative comments, and specifically to promote a vegan lifestyle.

“Although unconscionable cruelty and violence are standard practice for DiGiorno cheese suppliers, caring consumers can help end the needless suffering of cows and other farmed animals by choosing vegan alternatives to milk, cheese and ice cream,” MFA said via its website. “Cows have a natural lifespan of about 25 years and can produce milk for eight or nine years, but the stress caused by factory farm conditions leads to disease, lameness, and reproductive problems that render cows worthless to the dairy industry by the time they are four or five years old.”

According to published profiles of the farm, Wiese Brothers milked more than 4,300 cows in two facilities as of January 2012. Sources tell Feedstuffs that the operation manages as many as 8,600 animals following an expansion project completed last year.

 

Undercover video targets Wisconsin dairy – Feedstuffs.

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PETA Bus Ad Campaign In Madison Targets UW For Use Of Lab Animals | Wisconsin Public Radio News

PETA has taken out over 100 new bus ads in Madison to decry the University of Wisconsin’s use of animals in laboratory research.

Many of the sides and backs of Madison Metro buses now feature a photo of a cat that was used in a science experiment on cochlear implants at the UW-Madison. The cat has a stainless steel bar and screws drilled into its head. The bus reads, “I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!”

Mick Rusch of Madison Metro says he’s been receiving complaints about the ads. However, he says their policy prohibits only libelous, obscene and fraudulent advertising.

“Our buses are designated a public forum,” he says. “People have the right to voice their opinion and there’s just a lot of leeway to doing that.”

PETA’s Jeremy Beckham says the ad campaign is an effort to make the public aware of research that he says goes on in secret at UW.

“I think if people see this image, which is very shocking, they are going to upset,” says Beckham. “And I think that’s a very healthy reaction. I’m upset too. I just think that people who are upset should be contacting UW-Madison to discuss their concerns.”

A UW-Madison spokesperson didn’t want to comment on PETA’s bus ads, but the UW has vigorously defended its research in the past. In an email, UW confirmed the photo PETA used on the buses was taken four years ago from a pilot study at UW. They say two cats are currently used in research at UW that has helped improve cochlear implants for people with hearing loss.

PETA Bus Ad Campaign In Madison Targets UW For Use Of Lab Animals | Wisconsin Public Radio News.

3 Opening Day wolf hunt protest

Friends of Wisconsin Wolf is holding a statewide protest and it is your chance to tell your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and most of all Secretary Stepp and Governor Scott Walker that we will not stand for this wolf hunt. NO SPORT HUNT.

There are two main events planned in Wisconsin, however we encourage anyone who can’t be in either of these locations, to help organize in your community. Here in Madison, we are gathering outside the State Capitol, outdoors where we do not need a permit and also in Superior, Wisconsin from 4-6pm OCT 15th. We hope you can attend but you can take part from your home or office too! Make this Statewide! Click the link below for more information.

3 Opening Day wolf hunt protest.

Inspector: Circus World elephant had ‘thin body’ : Wsj

BARABOO — An animal rights group is calling on Circus World Museum to re-examine its use of performance elephants after a federal inspector found an animal at the facility had “thin body condition.”

But a veterinarian says the animal is not sick. She says Nina, a 50-year-old circus elephant, always has had a slender body composition.

During an unannounced visit to Baraboo in August, a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector noticed that Nina’s “hip bones and shoulder blades were visible,” documents show.

The animal’s handler told the inspector that a veterinarian examined Nina in April. The handler said the elephant was receiving appropriate care.

However, Carson and Barnes was unable to produce medical records or put the inspector in touch with the veterinarian. Because handlers are required to have such records readily available, the inspector found Carson and Barnes Circus — which contracts with Circus World — to be noncompliant.

A USDA spokeswoman said Friday the federal agency has not been able to determine what caused Nina’s thinness.

“We were not provided access to the medical records, so we are not able to determine that,” USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said.

The USDA will conduct an unannounced follow-up inspection at a later date and then determine the appropriate course of action, Espinosa said. Read more here:

Inspector: Circus World elephant had ‘thin body’ : Wsj.

Charlie Talbert: Why is taxpayer money being spent to promote hunting and trapping? : Ct

Cathy Stepp recently declared that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which she heads, will take direct control of the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center, currently operated by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

What vital interest do Wisconsin taxpayers have in taking jobs from the private sector and adding them to the government payroll? Secretary Stepp explains that the state needs to recruit more hunters, anglers and trappers. Left largely unanswered is why all taxpayers must ante up to promote pastimes practiced by a dwindling few. The secretary has attempted to cost-justify her decision this way: “Hunting, fishing and trapping is our heritage, it is in our DNA, and it makes us Wisconsin.” More on that notion in a moment. First, consider the DNR’s current numbers about one of our legacies: trapping.

The DNR’s most recent fur harvest summary, for 2011-12, shows the commercial nature of trapping. Muskrats and raccoons comprised 87 percent of fur-bearing animals trapped and killed in Wisconsin, and the skins of 90 percent of them were sold. That 90 percent is about the same percent for the total of all 12 of the fur-bearing species tracked by the DNR. Of the 588,000 mammals snared and skinned, trappers made money on 516,000 of them.

These statistics raise the question: Who is buying all these skins? Most of the trappers’ “harvest” in the U.S. is sold overseas, especially to China.

The Chinese and other countries with low labor costs convert the fur into clothing, much of it exported back to the U.S. as trim on parkas and other winter wear.

But these days you seldom see a “made from” clothing tag that lists muskrat or raccoon, or the third most trapped animal in Wisconsin, opossum.

That’s because the clothing manufacturers know that most Americans have become repelled by the idea of wearing fur. Today many humane alternatives exist. So some manufacturers and marketers mislabel the actual fur as “faux fur” or “fake fur.” It’s a good deal for the trapper and dishonest dealer, but not for all involved.

Within the first 30 minutes of capture, a trapped animal can tear her flesh, rip tendons, break bones, and even knock out teeth as she bites the trap to escape.

Some animals will even bite off their own limbs in a desperate attempt to escape. The fact that an animal would sever her own limb shows how horrible the experience of being caught in a trap is. One study found that 28 percent of mink, 24 percent of raccoon, and 26 percent of trapped fox would actually bite their limbs off in hopes of surviving.

In Wisconsin centuries ago, clothing options were few. People often needed to trap to survive. But what in those days was a violent necessity — and they didn’t call it a sport — is today just a cruel money-maker.

Perhaps barbarity like this is part of our DNA, as Cathy Stepp suggests. But not all human urges deserve celebration or taxpayer support. If we want to use our past as a guide to our decisions and actions today, look to Wisconsin’s progressive heritage of adapting to the times — of challenging traditions that have become unjust, unwarranted and unnecessarily violent. That would be a vision of leadership desperately needed right now at the DNR.

Charlie Talbert  is president of the board of the Madison-based Alliance for Animals and the Environment.

Charlie Talbert: Why is taxpayer money being spent to promote hunting and trapping? : Ct.

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Honoring Giggles the fawn with real reform of the DNR : Ct

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Honoring Giggles the fawn with real reform of the DNR : Ct.

“Knowing her changes everything.” — Michael Smith, former hunter, who saved a fawn like Giggles from the DNR

The DNR continues to expand its national reputation for cruelty to wild creatures and the non-hunters who want to protect them. In July, 13 heavily armed people stormed the St. Francis No Kill Shelter in Kenosha to drag out a 2-week-old fawn in a bag. Even the way the DNR killed her was heavy-handed: “a bolt gun via depression of the cerebral cortex of the brain.” Though the DNR forbids citizens from raising deer due to health concerns, “Giggles” was not tested for chronic wasting disease. She was cremated. …

Rick Bogle: Time to revisit experiments on animals : Ct

RickIn June 2013, in a talk at the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md., Dr. Elias Zerhouni, NIH Director from 2002 to 2008, ended his presentation with three key lessons. The agency’s online newsletter, NIH Reporter, summarized one of them like this:

“We have moved away from studying human disease in humans,” he lamented. “We all drank the Kool-Aid on that one, me included. With the ability to knock in or knock out any gene in a mouse — which can’t sue us,” Zerhouni quipped, “researchers have over-relied on animal data. The problem is that it hasn’t worked, and it’s time we stopped dancing around the problem. … We need to refocus and adapt new methodologies for use in humans to understand disease biology in humans.”

More than 45,000 dogs and 68,000 monkeys have been killed in Madison at UW-Madison and Covance over the past 10 years, according to reports submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture by each facility. Many of these animals have endured multiple experimental procedures and profound environmental and social deprivation.

Supporters of this use of animals claim that their suffering is justified by the medical advancements that are being made, but verifiable evidence of much medical progress as a result of using these animals does not appear to exist.

Once upon a time it was possible to learn something that might have shed some light on human biology by experimenting on animals, but those days are long gone. We don’t need to open a dog’s chest and watch her heart beat to understand the circulatory system. Questions about human biology that are being researched through animal experimentation today aren’t being accurately answered.

This lack of clear benefit has resulted in scientists calling attention to what is sometimes referred to as the “translation problem.” Translating the results of experiments on animals into improved health care for humans has proved to be devilishly difficult. Senior scientists like Zerhouni are questioning the fundamental and explicit claim that what’s learned from experiments on one species can be productively applied to another species.

It is becoming more commonplace for scientists to look carefully at the real results of animal experimentation and to ask whether or not human patients have benefited from the use of animals as models of human biology. In an article published in May from Independent Science News, “The Experiment Is on Us: Science of Animal Testing Thrown Into Doubt,” the writers report that a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by a consortium of researchers suggests that product safety testing on animals (like much of that done at Covance on dogs and monkeys) may be worthless (Seok et al. 2013). The authors address the translation problem:

“The results of these experiments challenge the longstanding scientific presumption holding that animal experiments are of direct relevance to humans. For that reason they potentially invalidate the entire body of safety information that has been built up to distinguish safe chemicals from unsafe ones. The new results arise from basic medical research, which itself rests heavily on the idea that treatments can be developed in animals and transferred to humans.”

In late 2011, the National Academy of Sciences published a report on the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research and argued that most research using them or even keeping them in standard laboratory environments is unethical. Earlier this year, the NIH announced it was adopting most of the academy’s recommendations and dramatically reducing its sponsorship and involvement in medical research using chimpanzees. Both groups acknowledged that chimpanzees’ similarity to humans makes the standard experimental use of them ethically problematic.

This change in perspective and policy by such conservative bodies is due to the increasing recognition that many other animals share with us the capacity for both satisfaction and suffering, desire and a sense of loss. In fact, India announced just last month that dolphins are now “non-human persons” in the eyes of the law and has forbid the use of any cetaceans for entertainment purposes.

The change in NIH policy on chimpanzees brings the U.S. closer to the Western world’s norm. Prior to this change, only Gabon and the U.S. continued to allow experiments on chimpanzees. The NIH change is three-quarter’s of the way to endorsement of the modern ethical consensus.

These changes in understanding should cause us to think carefully and very critically about the thousands of dogs, monkeys, and other animals being hurt and killed in Madison in the name of science.

We should have an open discussion about this matter; increasing evidence of the very poor results from using animals, the realities of what they endure, and the accelerating consensus regarding their cognitive and emotional similarity to us — of at least the members of some other species — seems to demand this of us.

The secrecy that shields the laboratories’ use of animals from the public makes this hard to do. The lack of investigative journalism and reporting on the changing consensus and the many problems and accidents at the labs help to keep the matter hidden and out of sight. It’s past time for full disclosure and inclusive public discussion about the things being done to animals in the name of science and product safety here in Madison and throughout the country.

Madisonian Rick Bogle works for Alliance for Animals.

Rick Bogle: Time to revisit experiments on animals : Ct.