Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Killing Trees While Blaming Cats

(Photo: Care2.com; Clear cut forest)
Everyday I read a new article or receive a new e-alert revealing a sad reality for our planet’s environment. Habitat destruction, land development, global warming, pollution and the use of herbicides and pesticides are all on the rise and their side effects on the natural world are devastating. Every year, the planet is stripped of between 3 and 6 BILLION trees and that is just for paper products and fuel; that figure does not include the number of trees cut down to make room for commercial building or those killed off by herbicides and pollution. YET wildlife organizations are more concerned with managing (aka killing) animal and plant species, claiming invasive species are higher on the list of environmental enemies, than fighting those who are truly responsible for the planet’s declining wildlife. The US Fish and Wildlife Service puts cats as the number one killer of birds—placing them well above pesticides and other man-made causes like building, power line and vehicle collisions. And they seriously expect us to believe this?! When…

According to a New York Times’ article, an herbicide called Imprelis, which is widely used by landscapers because it was thought to be environmentally friendly, has emerged as the leading suspect in the deaths of thousands of trees on lawns and golf courses across the country. Manufactured by DuPont and conditionally approved for sale last October by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Imprelis is used for killing broadleaf weeds like dandelion and clover. But guess what—this supposed “environmentally-friendly” herbicide is now under investigation for killing thousands trees. And DuPont continues to sell the product, which is registered for use in all states except California and New York, claiming there are many places where the product had been used without damaging trees.

“This is going to be a large-scale problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of trees, if not more,” said Dr. Bert Cregg, an associate professor of horticulture and forestry and an extension specialist with Michigan State University. Imprelis is used on athletic fields and cemeteries as well as on private lawns and golf courses, he noted. While landscapers are replacing some of the trees, they cannot replace large mature ones, meaning that some homeowners have lost some of their biggest and oldest trees. There’s your explanation for declining bird populations…loss of suitable habitat, not to mention the adverse affects these chemicals have on birds and other wildlife.

AND WHEN...America's rainforest, the Tongass National Forest, continues to be under attack from legislation that proposes the forest be used for industrial clearcut logging and other private development. Sealaska Corporation has already clearcut some 300,000 acres of the best and biggest trees on the Tongass, exporting the timber to international markets (which requires tons of oil for transportation). And there’s a proposal for the Keystone XL pipeline that will transport some of the world’s dirtiest oil from the tar sands pits of Alberta, Canada across the U.S. to heavily polluting refineries down in Texas. Not only will this project destroy forests, it will also threaten miles of country side with potential toxic spills and contribute to global warming—another hot topic that is responsible for the deaths of wildlife species.

(Photo: Universetoday.com; Air pollution)
According to a newly published study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, climate change is speeding up the rate at which animals and plants are becoming extinct. By the end of the century, one in 10 species could be on the verge of extinction because of the effects of global warming. The Independent, a London newspaper, discussing the study says “The findings support the view that the earth is currently experiencing a global mass extinction where the rate at which species are being lost is many times greater than the historical extinction rate. It is the sixth great mass extinction in the history of life on earth.” Dr. Ilya Maclean of the University of Exeter and co-author of the study says, “Our study is a wake-up call for action. The many species that are already declining could become extinct if things continue as they are. It is time to stop using the uncertainties as an excuse for not acting. Our research shows that the harmful effects of climate change are already happening and, if anything, exceed predictions.” Dr. Robert Wilson, also from the University of Exeter and co-author of the study reiterates, “From birds to worms to marine mammals, from high mountain ranges to jungles and to the oceans, scientists seem to have been right that climate change is a real threat. We need to act now. This means cutting carbon emissions and protecting species from the other threats they face, such as habitat loss and pollution.” Both men agree that their findings are just “further evidence that we are experiencing a global mass extinction.”

How much more evidence do these wildlife organizations need to see that the number one causes for wildlife decline, with at least 10% of today’s species on the verge of extinction, is due to habitat destruction and pollution?! Evidence that human activity is to blame for species extinction is slapping them in the face, yet they continue to advocate for the eradication of countless plant and animal species who have as much of a right to life on this planet as we do. Humans need to take a hard look at our interactions with the planet and see every move we make has a direct or indirect effect on the world around us…before it is too late. Sadly, some of us have been saying this for a long time and only time itself will reveal if we have already passed the “too late” mark. Let’s hope not.

Friday, July 15, 2011

International Day of Action for South Korean Dogs and Cats

In South Korea, there thrives an industry that subjects companion animals to some of the cruelest forms of abuse and exploitation. Each year two million cats and dogs are tortured, slaughtered, and consumed for the meat’s supposed medicinal properties. Kept in tiny, filthy cages, cats and dogs are killed in unimaginable ways. Despite laws protecting cats and dogs from this mistreatment, the Korean government has refused to uphold its responsibilities and enforce these laws.

In stopping this horrific tradition, International Day of Action for South Korean Dogs and Cats was borne. On Tuesday, August 16th, In Defense of Animals will support animal allies on the ground in South Korea - Coexistence for Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) and Korean Animal RightsAdvocates (KARA). Both organizations hold protests, conduct investigations, report illegal activity at dog farms and slaughterhouses, engage in rescues, offer education, and pressure the South Korean government to strengthen legislation. Another organization involved in helping animals in Korea is International Aid for Korean Animals (IAKA); their brand new adoption and education center is now home to dozens of stray animals and provides a wealth of information to the community.

This day is used to organize outreach events to educate communities around the world about this needless suffering. Individuals are encouraged to hold protests or leafleting in a public place to raise awareness or to have a table at a local venue or event. For more information and to register your event, please click here. Also, please take a moment to visit ACR’s Call to Action page for contact information to send letters to the Korean embassy in Washington, DC.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Columbia Missouri Passes Not-So-Friendly Feral Cat Ordinance

Yes, Columbia city council passed an ordinance that permits individuals to practice TNR for stray and feral cats HOWEVER the requirements spelled out in this piece of legislation will make actually carrying our TNR almost impossible. According to the new ordinance, all cats in a colony are now required to be annually tested for feline diseases like FeLV and FIV. Plus, along with ear-tipping the cats, city council is also requiring that every cat also be micro-chipped.

These requirements are ridiculous and basically undermine the entire point of implementing such a program. Requiring individuals to annually test for feline diseases and to micro-chip all cats is highly unnecessary and the added cost of such services is counterproductive to the program. If Columbia wants to reduce its feral cat population then all funding needs to be allocated to actual spaying and neutering (and vaccinating) community cats, not wasted on unnecessary procedures.

The percentage of cats who actually have FeLV or FIV is very small and sterilization helps prevent both diseases from being transmitted. Not to mention, mass screenings of healthy cats can result in large numbers of false positives. And neither disease is a death sentence; cats can live long healthy lives despite having either disease. Although many people still deny this, which leads to wrongly requiring that cats who test positive for either disease be killed. This new ordinance provides an excuse to kill cats, when its purpose is to support a life-saving program.

And requiring that all cats be micro-chipped is beyond a waste of resources. A vital part of the TNR process is to ear-tip each cat for identification purposes. Ear-tipping is a widely accepted means of marking or tagging a feral cat who has been spayed or neutered. It often identifies a cat as being part of a managed colony. Ear-tipping is safe and rarely requires special aftercare. Ear-tipping is especially important as it prevents an already spayed or neutered cat the stress of re-trapping and more importantly, an unnecessary surgery. The silhouette of an ear-tipped cat is very distinct and easily recognizable.

It is clear where Columbia’s city council stands on the issue of TNR. This ordinance was simply a strategic way for the city to look as if it supports TNR, while imposing restrictions that cripple the possibility of it actually being carried out. If Columbia is serious about humanely managing its community cats and reducing their populations, then annual testing and micro-chipping must be removed from the ordinance, so the majority of the funding can be spent on sterilization and vaccination. Dr. Julie Levy is right on when she says, "that reproduction causes more miserable deaths (in colonies) than do these viruses. We have to remember that the largest cause of death of cats in the U.S. is overpopulation and homelessness. Euthanasia of unwanted cats claims the lives of more cats than all infectious diseases combined."