Hiding in a tree or behind a blind, hunters lie in wait. They are waiting for the bears to take the bait—usually a large pile of food or a 55-gallon drum stuffed with food. Bears can feed at this free trough for days before taking a bullet, while others, deemed unworthy of hanging in someone's trophy room, can dine for the entire bear-hunting season.
Having learned to find food where humans have been, they may become "problem bears" who wander into back yards and upend garbage cans looking for an easy meal.
Hunters claim that the fundamental principle of hunting is "fair chase," but there is nothing fair about bear baiting. In fact, there is not even a chase. An animal is lured to an area and shot while she is eating. The federal government bans the baiting of migratory birds because it's unfair. Most states ban the baiting of deer and elk and other big game for the same reason. There's no logical reason to allow such an unfair practice to persist in bear hunting.
The hunters typically take the head and hide as trophies and, in rare instances, even pack out the meat, which usually turns out to be less food than they had brought in with them.
The U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service all publish materials telling the public not to feed bears. The Forest Service, for instance, puts out materials that warn "A fed bear is a dead bear," "Do Not Feed Bears!" and "Bears Are Dangerous!"
Bear baiting is banned in some states that allow bear hunting.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Contact your state wildlife agency. If bear baiting is legal in your state, express your outrage to state officials and to your governor.
Write letters to the editor of newspapers in your state and contact the media to investigate.
Submit an Op-Ed to your local newspaper.
Attend state wildlife agency meetings and demand that steps be taken to prohibit bear baiting.
Contact your state legislators and ask them to introduce legislation to ban this practice.
Vivisection, the practice of experimenting on animals, began because of religious prohibitions against the dissection of human corpses. When religious leaders finally lifted these prohibitions, it was too late - vivisection was already entrenched in medical and educational institutions.
Estimates of the number of animals tortured and killed annually in U.S. laboratories diverge widely - from 17 to 70 million animals. The Animal Welfare Act requires laboratories to report the number of animals used in experiments, but the Act does not cover mice, rats, and birds (used in some 80 to 90 percent of all experiments). Because these animals are not covered by the Act, they remain uncounted and we can only guess at how many actually suffer and die each year.
The largest breeding company in the United States is Charles River Breeding Laboratories (CRBL) headquartered in Massachusetts and owned by Bausch and Lomb. It commands 40-50 percent of the market for mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rhesus monkeys, imported primates, and miniature swine.
Since mice and rats are not protected under Animal Welfare Act regulations, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not require that commercial breeders of these rodents be registered or that the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspect such establishments.
Dogs and cats are also used in experiments. They come from breeders like CRBL, some animal shelters and pounds, and organized "bunchers" who pick up strays, purchase litters from unsuspecting people who allow their companion animals to become pregnant, obtain animals from "Free to a Good Home" advertisements, or trap and steal the animals. Birds, frogs, pigs, sheep, cattle, and many naturally free-roaming animals (e.g., prairie dogs and owls) are also common victims of experimentation. Animals traditionally raised for food are covered by Animal Welfare Act regulations only minimally, and on a temporary basis, when used in, for example, heart transplant experiments; but they are not covered at all when used in agriculture studies. Unfortunately, vivisectors are using more and more animals whom they consider less "cute," because, although they know these animals suffer just as much, they believe people won't object as strenuously to the torture of a pig or a rat as they will to that of a dog or a rabbit.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States is the world's largest funder of animal experiments. It dispenses seven billion tax dollars in grants annually, of which about $5 billion goes toward studies involving animals. The Department of Defense spent about $180 million on experiments using 553,000 animals in 1993. Although this figure represents a 36% increase in the number of animals used over the past decade, the military offered no detailed rationale in its own reports or at Congressional hearings. Examples of torturous taxpayer-funded experiments at military facilities include wound experiments, radiation experiments, studies on the effects of chemical warfare, and other deadly and maiming procedures.
Private institutions and companies also invest in the vivisection industry. Many household product and cosmetics companies still pump their products into animals' stomachs, rub them onto their shaved, abraded skin, squirt them into their eyes, and force them to inhale aerosol products. Charities, such as the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes, use donations from private citizens to fund experiments on animals.
Agricultural experiments are carried out on cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys to find ways in which to make cows produce more milk, sheep produce more wool, and all animals produce more offspring and grow "meatier."
There are many reasons to oppose vivisection. For example, enormous physiological variations exist among rats, rabbits, dogs, pigs, and human beings. A 1989 study to determine the carcinogenicity of fluoride illustrated this fact. Approximately 520 rats and 520 mice were given daily doses of the mineral for two years. Not one mouse was adversely affected by the fluoride, but the rats experienced health problems including cancer of the mouth and bone. As test data cannot accurately be extrapolated from a mouse to a rat, it can't be argued that data can accurately be extrapolated from either species to a human.
In many cases, animal studies do not just hurt animals and waste money; they harm and kill people, too. The drugs thalidomide, Zomax, and DES were all tested on animals and judged safe but had devastating consequences for the humans who used them. A General Accounting Office report, released in May 1990, found that more than half of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1976 and 1985 caused side effects that were serious enough to cause the drugs to be withdrawn from the market or relabeled. All of these drugs had been tested on animals.
Animal experimentation also misleads researchers in their studies. Dr. Albert Sabin, who developed the oral polio vaccine, cited in testimony at a congressional hearing this example of the dangers of animal-based research: "[p]aralytic polio could be dealt with only by preventing the irreversible destruction of the large number of motor nerve cells, and the work on prevention was delayed by an erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys."
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reports that sophisticated non-animal research methods are more accurate, less expensive, and less time-consuming than traditional animal-based research methods. Patients waiting for helpful drugs and treatments could be spared years of suffering if companies and government agencies would implement the efficient alternatives to animal studies. Fewer accidental deaths caused by drugs and treatments would occur if stubborn bureaucrats and wealthy vivisectors would use the more accurate alternatives. And tax dollars would be better spent preventing human suffering in the first place through education programs and medical assistance programs for low-income individuals--helping the more than 30 million U.S. citizens who cannot afford health insurance--rather than making animals sick. Most killer diseases in this country (heart disease, cancer, and stroke) can be prevented by eating a low-fat, vegetarian diet, refraining from smoking and alcohol abuse, and exercising regularly. These simple lifestyle changes can also help prevent arthritis, adult-onset diabetes, ulcers, and a long list of other illnesses.
It is not surprising that those who make money experimenting on animals or supplying vivisectors with cages, restraining devices, food for caged animals (like the Lab Chow made by Purina Mills), and tiny guillotines to destroy animals whose lives are no longer considered useful insist that nearly every medical advance has been made through the use of animals. Although every drug and procedure must now be tested on animals before hitting the market, this does not mean that animal studies are invaluable, irreplaceable, or even of minor importance or that alternative methods could not have been used.
Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic, explains, "I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil."
Dr. Edward Kass, of the Harvard Medical School, said in a speech he gave to the Infectious Disease Society of America: "[I]t was not medical research that had stamped out tuberculosis, diphtheria, pneumonia and puerperal sepsis; the primary credit for those monumental accomplishments must go to public health, sanitation and the general improvement in the standard of living brought about by industrialization."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Concerned people should write to their congressional representatives and demand an end to wasteful and inaccurate animal studies in favor of human-based research and treatments that actually help people. The National Institutes of Health, the world's largest funder of research, must be pushed to fund more preventive programs and human-based research. Meanwhile, avoid purchasing any drug unless absolutely necessary. Remember, the manufacture and sale of pharmaceuticals is big business. If you must take a drug, ask your doctor what clinical studies, not animal tests, reveal about the drug.
The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy - raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated then transported to wherever it will be sold. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money.
Benefits of Reducing and Reusing
- Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials
- Saves energy
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations
- Saves money
- Reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators
- Allows products to be used to their fullest extent
Ideas on How to Reduce and Reuse
- Buy used. You can find everything from clothes to building materials at specialized reuse centers and consignment shops. Often, used items are less expensive and just as good as new.
- Look for products that use less packaging. When manufacturers make their products with less packaging, they use less raw material. This reduces waste and costs. These extra savings can be passed along to the consumer. Buying in bulk, for example, can reduce packaging and save money.
- Buy reusable over disposable items. Look for items that can be reused; the little things can add up. For example, you can bring your own silverware and cup to work, rather than using disposable items.
- Maintain and repair products, like clothing, tires and appliances, so that they won't have to be thrown out and replaced as frequently.
- Borrow, rent or share items that are used infrequently, like party decorations, tools or furniture.
One person's trash is another person's treasure. Instead of discarding unwanted appliances, tools or clothes, try selling or donating them. Not only will you be reducing waste, you'll be helping others. Local churches, community centers, thrift stores, schools and nonprofit organizations may accept a variety of donated items, including used books, working electronics and unneeded furniture.
Dolphins are often regarded as one of earth's most intelligent animals. They are social, living in pods of up to a dozen individuals. In places with a high abundance of food, pods can merge temporarily, forming a superpod; such groupings may exceed 1,000 dolphins. Individuals communicate using a variety of clicks, whistles and other vocalizations. They make ultrasonic sounds for echolocation. Membership in pods is not rigid; interchange is common. However, dolphins can establish strong social bonds; they will stay with injured or ill individuals, even helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed.
Dolphins also display culture, something long believed to be unique to humans. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are known to teach their young to use tools. They cover their snouts with sponges to protect them while foraging. This knowledge is mostly transferred by mothers to daughters. Using sponges as mouth protection is a learned behavior. Another learned behavior was discovered among river dolphins in Brazil, where some male dolphins use weeds and sticks as part of a sexual display.
Play is an important part of dolphin culture. Dolphins play with seaweed and play-fight with other dolphins. They play and harass other local creatures, like seabirds and turtles. Dolphins enjoy riding waves and frequently surf coastal swells and the bow waves of boats, at times “leaping” between the dual bow waves of a moving catamaran. Occasionally, they playfully interact with swimmers.
DOLPHINS AT RISK
Some dolphin species face an uncertain future, especially the Amazon river dolphin and the Ganges river dolphin, which are critically or seriously endangered. A 2006 survey found no individuals of the Yangtze river dolphin, which now appears to be functionally extinct.
Pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, and other industrial and agricultural pollutants that do not disintegrate rapidly in the environment concentrate in predators such as dolphins. Injuries or deaths due to collisions with boats, especially their propellers, are also common.
Various fishing methods, most notably purse seine fishing for tuna and the use of drift and gill nets, kill many dolphins. By-catch in gill nets and incidental captures in antipredator nets that protect marine fish farms are common and pose a risk for mainly local dolphin populations. In some parts of the world, such as Taiji in Japan and the Faroe Islands, dolphins are killed in harpoon or drive hunts. Dolphin meat is high in mercury, and may thus pose a health danger to humans when consumed.
Dolphin safe labels attempt to reassure consumers fish and other marine products have been caught in a dolphin-friendly way. The original deal with "Dolphin safe" labels was brokered in the 1980s between marine activists and the major tuna companies, and involved decreasing incidental dolphin kills by up to 50% by changing the type of nets being used to catch the tuna. Dolphins continue to be netted while fishermen are in pursuit of smaller tuna. Albacore are not netted this way, which makes albacore the only truly dolphin-safe tuna.
Loud underwater noises, such as those resulting from naval sonar use, live firing exercises, or certain offshore construction projects, such as wind farms, may be harmful to dolphins, increasing stress, damaging hearing, and causing decompression sickness by forcing them to surface too quickly to escape the noise.
A number of militaries have employed dolphins for various purposes, from finding mines to rescuing lost or trapped humans. The military use of dolphins drew scrutiny during the Vietnam War when rumors circulated that the United States Navy was training dolphins to kill Vietnamese divers. Dolphins are still being trained by the United States Navy on other tasks as part of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program. The Russian military is believed to have closed its marine mammal program in the early 1990s. In 2000 the press reported that dolphins trained to kill by the Soviet Navy had been sold to Iran.
DOLPHIN DRIVE HUNTING
Dolphin drive hunting, also called dolphin drive fishing, is a method of hunting dolphins and occasionally other small cetaceans by driving them together with boats and then usually into a bay or onto a beach. Their escape is prevented by closing off the route to the open sea or ocean with boats and nets. Dolphins are hunted this way in several places around the world, including the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, Peru and Japan, the most well-known practitioner of this method. Dolphins are mostly hunted for their meat; some are captured and end up in dolphinariums.
Despite the highly controversial nature of the hunt resulting in international criticism, and the possible health risk that the often polluted meat causes, many thousands of dolphins are caught in drive hunts each year.
In Japan, striped, spotted, Risso's, and bottlenose dolphins are most commonly hunted, but several other species such as the false killer whale are also occasionally caught. A small number of orcas have been caught in the past. Relatively few striped dolphins are found in the coastal waters, probably due to hunting.
The Japanese town of Taiji on the Kii peninsula is, as of now, the only town in Japan where drive hunting still takes place on a large scale. In the town of Futo the last known hunt took place in 2004. In 2007 Taiji wanted to step up its dolphin hunting programs, approving an estimated ¥330 million for the construction of a massive cetacean slaughterhouse in an effort to popularize the consumption of dolphins in the country.
Dolphin welfare advocacy groups such as Earth Island Institute, Surfers for Cetaceans and Dolphin Project Inc., assert that the number of dolphins and porpoises killed is estimated at 25,000 per year.
In Japan, the hunting is done by a select group of fishermen. When a pod of dolphins has been spotted, they're driven into a bay by the fishermen while banging on metal rods in the water to scare and confuse the dolphins. When the dolphins are in the bay, it is quickly closed off with nets so the dolphins cannot escape. The dolphins are usually not caught and killed immediately, but instead left to calm down over night. The following day, the dolphins are caught one by one and killed. The killing of the animals used to be done by slitting their throats, but the Japanese government banned this method and now dolphins may officially only be killed by driving a metal pin into the neck of the dolphin. It is not clear if this ban is strictly enforced however.
Some of the captured dolphins are left alive and taken to dolphinariums. Dolphins have also been exported to the United States for several parks including the well known SeaWorld parks. The US National Marine Fisheries Service has refused a permit for Marine World Africa USA on one occasion to import four false killer whales caught in a Japanese drive hunt. In recent years, dolphins from the Japanese drive hunts have been exported to China, Taiwan and to Egypt. On multiple occasions, members of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA) have also been observed at the drive hunts in Japan.
Protest and campaigns are now common in Taiji. Some of the animal welfare organizations campaigning against the drive hunts are Sea Shepherd, One Voice, Blue Voice, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Since much of the criticism is the result of photos and videos taken during the hunt and slaughter, it is now common for the final capture and slaughter to take place on site inside a tent or under a plastic cover, out of sight from the public.
On a smaller scale, drive hunting for dolphins also takes place on the Solomon Islands, more specifically on the island of Malaita. Dolphin's teeth are also used in jewelry and as currency on the island. The dolphins are hunted in a similar fashion as in Japan, using stones instead of metal rods to produce sounds to scare and confuse the dolphins. Various species are hunted, such as spotted and spinner dolphins. The amount of dolphins killed each year is not known, but anecdotal information suggests between 600 and 1,500 dolphins per hunting season. The hunting season lasts roughly from December to April, when the dolphins are closest to shore. As in Japan, some dolphins (exclusively bottlenoses) from the Solomon Islands have also been sold to the entertainment industry. There was much controversy in July 2003, when 28 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops trancatus aduncus) were exported to Parque Nizuc, a water park in Cancun. A large portion of the animals were later transported to Cozumel, to do interaction programs. Though the export of dolphins had been banned in 2005, the export of dolphins was resumed in October 2007 when the ban was lifted following a court decision, allowing for 28 dolphins to be sent to a dolphinarium in Dubai. A further three dolphins were found dead near the holding pens. The dealer that exported these dolphins has stated that they intend to release their 17 remaining dolphins back into the wild in the future.
On the Faroe Islands mainly Pilot Whales are killed by drive hunts for their meat. Other species are also killed on rare occasion such as the Northern bottlenose whale and Atlantic white-sided dolphin. The hunt is known by the locals as the Grindadráp. There are no fixed hunting seasons, as soon as a pod close enough to land is spotted fishermen set out to begin the hunt. The animals are driven onto the beach with boats, blocking off the way to the ocean. When on the beach, most of them get stuck. Those that have remained too far in the water are dragged onto the beach by putting a hook in their blowhole. When on land, they are killed by cutting down to the major arteries and spinal cord at the neck. The time it takes for a dolphin to die varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the cut. When the fishermen fail to beach the animals all together, they are let free again. About a thousand pilot whales are killed this way each year on the Faroe Islands together with usually a few dozen, up to a few hundred, animals belonging to other small cetaceans species...but numbers vary greatly per year. The brutal appearance of the hunt has resulted in international criticism especially from animal welfare organizations. As in Japan, the meat is contaminated with mercury and cadmium, causing a health risk for those frequently eating it.
Though it is forbidden under Peruvian law to hunt dolphins or eat their meat, a large number of dolphins are still killed illegally by fishermen each year. Although exact numbers are not known, the Peruvian organization Mundo Azul (Blue World) estimates that at least a thousand are killed annually. To catch the dolphins, they are driven together with boats and encircled with nets, then harpooned, dragged on to the boat, and clubbed to death if still alive. Various species are hunted, such as the bottlenose and dusky dolphin.
On the Penghu Islands in Taiwan, drive fishing of bottlenose dolphins was practiced until 1990, when the practice was outlawed by the government. Mainly Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins, but also common bottlenose dolphins, were captured in these hunts.
Each year thousands of seals are killed in Canada. The seals suffer painful and lingering deaths. The weapon used is a club, the brutal hakapik. Sometimes the seals are skinned alive. Sealers often use sharpened steel hooks to drag the creatures on board their vessels. Seal-clubbing is justified by the Canadian government because its victims are adversely affecting the profits of the Newfoundland fishing industry.
A harp seal can be legally killed as soon as it has begun to moult its white hair, around 2 weeks after birth. Adult seals are also killed. The seal hunt is one of the very few hunts that occurs in the spring when young are being born. As a result, roughly 80% of the seals killed in the commercial hunt are 'young of the year' - between approximately 12 days and 1 year old.
Younger seals (ragged jackets and beaters) are usually killed on the ice with clubs or hakapiks (a device resembling a heavy ice-pick). Later in the season, beaters and older seals are usually shot with a rifle, both on the ice and in the water. It is also legal to use a shotgun firing slugs. It is illegal to deliberately capture seals using nets, although seals are often caught incidentally in nets set for other fisheries.
Six species of seals -- including the harp, hooded, grey, ringed, bearded and harbour -- are found off the Atlantic coast of Canada. Harp and hooded seals are the two most common species hunted commercially.
Although harp seals make up 95% of the commercial hunt, they are not the only seals hunted in Atlantic Canada: there is also a quota for 10,000 hooded seals, and in recent years small numbers of grey seals have been hunted for commercial use. In addition to the commercial hunts, seals of all species are taken for subsistence purposes in Labrador and the Canadian Arctic, and harp and hooded seals may be killed for personal use by residents of sealing regions. The seal hunt quota was introduced in 1971.
The majority of seal pelts are still exported to Norway for processing. The seal pelts are either used for furs or leather. A small amount of seal meat, particularly the flippers, is consumed locally by Newfoundlanders, and some claim it to have an aphrodisiac effect. Seal penises are shipped to Asian markets and can sell for upwards of $500 US each. Penises are often dried and consumed in capsule form or in a tonic.
Seal hunting is inhumane. Groups have campaigned on the issue for years and their evidence shows all the horror of the hunt -- dragging conscious seal pups across the ice with sharpened boat hooks, stockpiling of dead and dying animals, beating and stomping seals, and skinning seals alive. In 2002, an international team of veterinary experts attended the hunt. They observed sealers at work from the air and from the ground, and performed post-mortems on 73 seal carcasses.
Their study concluded that:
79% of the sealers did not check to see if an animal was dead before skinning it.
In 40% of the kills, a sealer had to strike the seal a second time, presumably because it was still conscious after the first blow or shot.
Up to 42% of the seals they examined were likely skinned alive.
Many people remember the worldwide protest that arose in the 1970s over Canada’s killing of whitecoat seal pups (under two weeks old). The massive protest, with international campaigning against the Canadian seal hunt during the 70s & 80s, led to the European Union ban on the importation of whitecoat pelts in 1983, and eventually to the Canadian government banning large-vessel commercial whitecoat hunting in 1987.
Canada's cod fishery collapsed in the early 90s, and some in Canada blamed the seals, despite the fact that the greatest cause was clearly decades of over-fishing by humans. The collapse of fisheries around Newfoundland, due to mismanagement, is a major driver in the expansion of the seal hunt.
Although the Canadian seal hunt is the largest in the world and has the highest profile internationally, sealing is also carried out in a number of other countries across the world including Greenland, Namibia, Russia, Norway and Sweden.
Despite ever shrinking green space, the animals that share the Earth with us are trying to survive. Our homes, offices and shopping centers were developed on what was once forest and fields. Chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, possums, skunks, raccoons, ground hogs and deer are not the invaders. We are. Please remember this when these displaced animals forage for food on your property or try to find places to bear and rear their young.
With education and raised awareness, more and more people are choosing the enlightened and compassionate way to protect their homes and gardens from unwanted animal visitors. There are many humane alternatives to killing. Simple commonsense and prevention are the best forms of animal control.
Raccoons and possum are attracted by garbage. Keep all leftover food inside until the night before trash pick-up. Seal organic garbage in plastic bags (a good way to reuse sandwich or storage bags) and refrigerate or, better yet, freeze it. The less your garbage smells, the less likely it will attract an animal. Use trashcans, with locking lids, where allowed. Otherwise, use heavy-duty, tightly tied trash bags.
With so few places left to burrow or nest, raccoons, possums, skunks and ground hogs will look for safe haven wherever they can find it. They will seek out the weak spots around your home. Neglect invites these animals. A well maintained home does not.
Install lattice under porches and decks to block animals from nesting. Another option is stainless steel screening that can be sunk into the ground around the inhabited area. A one-way gate is installed that allows the animal to leave, but will not allow it to return. Only install this form of prevention when there are no babies in the nest.
Keep your garage or shed door tightly closed and repair broken boards at the bottom of cracks in the foundation.
Seal all openings under the roofline and cap your chimney. Do not do this if an animal has already entered. Wait until the animal has left to look for food. And be certain that there are no babies left behind. Do not use mothballs or ammonia to flush the animal out. You will kill the babies. A radio tuned to a talk show will sometimes disturb the mother enough to cause her to move out with her babies.
Your garden, whether it is a flower garden or you grow vegetables, will tempt any animal that forages for vegetation. There are a variety of repellants commercially available that claim to keep animals away. These range in cost and effectiveness. And there are recipes for homemade, foul smelling deterrents all over the Internet. The same commercial products used to repel cats and dogs often deter raccoons.
Another option is a mechanical device. Motion-activated sprinklers can be purchased that shoot a stream of water at an intruder, like a remote squirt gun. Loud or annoying sounds can also be set to go off like a security alarm, whenever movement is detected.
Polypropylene netting is sold to cover plants and keep deer and rabbits from eating them, but this netting can put other wildlife at risk. Small birds, toads and other animals could become trapped in the mesh. The netting is also very difficult to work with and expensive in large quantities.
By far the most effective “critter control” is fencing. A low voltage, electrified fence can be effective for all animals, but this option can be expensive. Chicken wire has served the purpose for years. A picket fence may be charming, but deer can jump those of average height. Decorative metal fencing looks good and should keep out all but the most intrepid deer. A low-tech method is simply a nylon string, stretched across your garden perimeter, chest-high. A deer will back off when it feels the tension.
Deer can be the most destructive of all the animals that come into your garden to forage. In addition to the measures above, you could simply plant as many deer resistant plants as possible. The following is a list of plants that deer will “rarely” damage or “seldom severely” damage. Ask your nursery expert or search online. You can find photos of beautiful plants that won’t tempt the creatures in your garden.
Overpopulation is not what's bringing about ecological catastrophe; overconsumption is. Overconsumption is the state where consumption surpasses the planet’s natural replenishing capabilities.
Living and consuming are interconnected activities. You can’t live without consuming. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, including goods and services such as electronics, furniture, appliances, cars, books, entertainment, and travel. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without.
Nowadays, we buy mainly to draw emotional satisfaction rather than meeting our actual needs. Advertising creates virtual problems and triggers negative feelings about them; then, it conveniently presents you with a solution. This cycle results in a deterioration of the quality of life, overworking, and overconsuming, which also damages the environment significantly.
Corporations manipulate consumers. They promise us privileges, connection, and happiness, which makes us keep buying more and more. The message’s effectiveness is so high that, despite being left in debt, overstressed, and buried under tons of possessions, we continue wanting more. But, worse of all, our overconsumption is based on our society’s reliance on it. The modern Western economy relies on us consuming more, so it focuses on fueling our wants and desires, and encourages us to upgrade more, buy more, waste more and pollute more.
Consuming Consequences To The Environment
This unrelenting consumption does not come free of charge. The natural world provides everything we consume, through mining, extraction, farming, and forestry – and there is a limit on the planet’s resources. As we keep consuming more and more, pursuing an elusive “comfortable” life, the planet is overstressed by this over-exploitation of soil, water, minerals, forests, fish, etc. As a result, species, habitats, and even entire ecosystems are collapsing. What’s more, with increased consumption comes more waste and pollution, compromising the quality of life’s very basic elements: air, water and land.
Consumption Consequences For Societies
Wealthier nations consume the biggest share of the Earth’s resources, depriving others of their fair share. 80 percent of the planet’s resources are consumed by a mere 17 percent of the total population. Valuable resources flow from the Earth’s South to the North. We exploit and use these resources to create services and goods for a small percentage of the population, instead of utilizing them to ensure that the rest of the world also has access to the essentials for life, such as water, food, health and sanitation. To satisfy the virtual needs of the rich, valuable resources are used up to produce meaningless items of luxury, further increasing the gap with the poor.
An Ecological Footprint measures the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources. Natural resources provide the materials for everything we use for our day to day activities and needs. The Eco-Footprint, calculated in acres or hectares, expresses how much bio-productive space a defined population needs to sustain its current levels of life and consumption.
The following resources are factored into the measurement:
Arable Land Required: how much land is needed for growing crops for fiber, food, animal feed, etc.
Forest Resources: the resources required for furniture, fuel, houses, etc., and for ensuring the ecosystems are secured from climate change and erosion.
Ocean Resources: water required for fish and related products.
Pasture Land Required: how much land is needed to raise animals for meat, dairy production, hides, etc.
Energy Costs: the amount of land needed to absorb carbon dioxide emissions and other waste products.
Infrastructure Needed: how much land is required for transportation and creating factories, houses, etc.
Land, water and air pollution, and species extinction, are not yet factored in for the calculation of this Eco-footprint.
The planet has a biocapacity of about 4.7 acres (1.9 hectares) per individual. On a global scale, we currently use 5.4 acres (2.2 hectares) per individual. This means that we have surpassed the Earth’s sustainable biocapacity by 15 percent, a deficit of 1 acre (0.3 hectares) per individual. This deficit is self-evident by the cascading failure of the natural ecosystems –oceans, forests, fisheries, rivers, coral reefs, water, soil, global warming, etc.
It is possible to estimate the Eco-Footprint for a single person, a city, a region, a country, and the whole world. Several countries are in the “red zone”, meaning they have a larger Ecological Footprint than their ecosystems’ biocapacity, putting them into an “ecological deficit.” Conversely, countries that feature a smaller Eco-Footprint than their ecosystems’ biocapacity are in “ecological reserve.”
Cities, states, and nations are put in ecological deficits by abolishing their natural resources, for example, by overfishing, with resource imports from elsewhere and by surpassing their ecosystem’s natural capacity of carbon dioxide absorption.
Overshoot is the phenomenon of the entire planet being put in an ecological deficit. Overshoot and ecological deficit are the same from a global point of view because it is impossible to import new resources to the planet.
Currently, our planet needs 1.5 years to replenish the resources we use in one year. We keep this overshoot by abolishing the planet’s resources. We have not taken seriously how big of a threat overshoot is to humanity’s future, and have not begun to address it properly.
Earth’s Ecological Limits
In contrast to the growing populations, economies and resource demands, Earth’s size doesn’t change. It is only possible to sustain an overshoot for a small window of time, after which ecosystems start degrading and collapse. Ecological overconsumption is becoming increasingly apparent in the form of desertification, deforestation, water shortages, soil erosion, reduced crop production, overgrazing, rapid extinction of species, fish declines, coral reefs collapse, and increased carbon levels in the atmosphere.
Data from the Global Footprint Network reveal that if our current level of demand remains the same, we would need a second Earth by the year 2030. Consuming at this same rate will endanger the future of large portions of the planet’s inhabitants.
It's Time To Move Beyond Recycling
Everyone must work together to reduce consumption — public and private sectors, poor and rich, men, women, and children. The one thing we all have in common is the planet we live on. However, the larger burden of responsibility to shift behaviors lies with the wealthier nations, which have to move beyond just separating metal, glass and plastic to not consuming so much of them in the first place.
More than 30 percent of the total waste in the world is produced in America, by less than 5 percent of the total population of the planet. Since we create most of the problem, we are burdened with a higher responsibility to change our behavioral pattern. If every person on the planet adopted the lifestyle of the average American, we would need five Earths.
We must rethink what consumption is, and do our best to reduce it. The planet is being destroyed by the way societies function right now. It’s not just about recycling anymore; it’s about how to stop feeding the cycle altogether.
Along with the bald eagle, the bison perhaps best symbolizes the spirit of American wilderness. While many people are aware that both animals teetered on the brink of extinction in the past due to human encroachment, few realize that wild bison continue to be the victims of a calculated, annual slaughter in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
During the mid to late 1800s, government agents orchestrated one of the most aggressive and wanton animal massacres in history, killing bison indiscriminately in an attempt to subjugate Native Americans. With the addition of market hunters and settlers killing bison for profit and for fun, America's wild bison herds were reduced from an estimated 60 million to perhaps as few as 100.
With the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 and the National Park Service in 1916, the 25 bison remaining in the Park finally were afforded some protection. Initially, management policies allowed for the active manipulation of populations by culling what was perceived as "surplus" animals. But eventually, the management strategy evolved to an approach which permitted natural regulation to occur, for the most part letting nature take its course rather than relying on human intervention.
This was good news for the bison, but sadly their fortune was short lived. Since the mid 1980s, more than 3,000 bison have been massacred under the supervision of government officials bowing to the pressures of the livestock industry and its cohorts.
WHY ARE BISON BEING KILLED?
In 1917, officials discovered that some Yellowstone bison were infected with Brucella abortus, the bacteria which causes the disease brucellosis in domestic cattle. In cattle, the disease produces spontaneous abortions, but bison do not appear to be similarly affected. In fact, over the past 80 years in the entire Greater Yellowstone Area, there have been only four documented bison abortions, which may or may not have been caused by the bacteria.
Over the past decade, bison have been emigrating from the Park over its northern and western boundaries into the state of Montana during winter months. Because of several mild winters, and the National Park Service's continued grooming of snowmobile trails which makes it easier for bison to exit the Park, more and more bison have been stepping hoof over Park boundaries.
The livestock industry and federal and state livestock agencies contend that bison can transmit the Brucella abortus bacteria to cattle under natural conditions. In reality, there has never been a documented case of this occurring. Despite this fact, they continue to wage a war against Yellowstone bison.
HOW THE BACTERIA IS TRANSMITTED
The primary route of transmission is direct contact of susceptible animals with infected reproductive products, such as fetuses and afterbirth, or with contaminated feed. Given that bison abortions are extremely rare, the risk is remote at best. Bull bison and calves pose virtually no threat of transmitting the bacteria -- because males and juveniles obviously do not give birth or have abortions -- yet shockingly hundreds have been killed. Of the blood and tissue samples taken from 218 of the bison slaughtered during the winter of 1991-92, not a single bison was infectious at the time of death.
In the event a bison abortion were to occur, the bacteria is sensitive to sunlight and heat, and in all likelihood, would die quickly outside the body, although it is possible for it to remain viable for longer periods of time if frozen. Nevertheless, in nature, aborted fetuses are consumed either by the bison themselves or by scavengers almost immediately. In addition, abortions probably would happen during January through June, a period of time which cattle are not permitted on public lands and do not come into contact with wild bison.
CATTLE PERMITTED ON PUBLIC LANDS
The U.S. Forest Service issues grazing permits on lands adjoining Yellowstone National Park, generally for the months of June through October. Cattle grazing is even allowed in Grand Teton National Park. The interests of wildlife, and not cattle, should take precedence on public lands. The grazing allotments should be either closed or modified to minimize any contact between bison and cattle. Also, mandatory vaccination of domestic calves against brucellosis within the counties surrounding the Park could further reduce the risk, if any risk exits at all, of infection. Currently, vaccinations are not mandatory in Montana or Wyoming.
AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE FOR BISON BEING KILLED
With increased bison migrations into Montana, the Montana Legislature listed bison as a game animal in 1985, giving the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks authority to initiate a public hunt. During the winter of 1988-89, sport hunters shot 570 bison at point-blank range. Due to national media coverage, this cruel fiasco generated outrage across the country. Shortly thereafter, the Legislature decided to no longer issue bison permits to sport hunters, although state officials retained the right to implement lethal control.
Today, control has been vested in the Montana Department of Livestock, an agency which views bison as nothing more than brucellosis-infected pests who must be controlled to maintain Montana's brucellosis-free status. With the cooperative services of Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and National Park Service officials, government officials continue to gun down hundreds of bison each year. During the winter of 1996-97 alone, nearly 1,100 bison were killed.
Much of the hysteria derives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agency responsible for brucellosis eradication in domestic livestock. APHIS, without legal authority, has threatened to revoke the brucellosis-free status of both Montana and Wyoming if measures aren't taken to eliminate Brucella abortus in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Brucellosis-free status permits cattle producers to market their cattle without being subject to disease testing requirements. Recently, Wyoming capitulated to these threats by establishing a bison sport hunt outside the eastern boundaries of Yellowstone National Park where a small number of bison occasionally exit.
The APHIS brucellosis eradication program launched in the 1930s was intended to apply only to domestic livestock, but it appears that APHIS and other industry interests will not be satisfied until the Brucella abortus organism is eliminated in all domestic animals and wildlife.
OTHER WILD ANIMALS POSE A RISK
In addition to bison, elk can also be infected with the bacteria and can carry the disease. With more than 90,000 elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area, the likelihood of eliminating the bacteria using available technologies is virtually nonexistent. Moreover, if all infected bison were destroyed, exposure to elk would result in reinfection in the remainder.
This is particularly a problem in Wyoming where over 23,000 elk congregate on artificial feedgrounds, creating prime conditions for bacteria transmission. In fact, bison from Grand Teton National Park, just south of Yellowstone, have discovered the "free meals" being provided on the National Elk Refuge each winter in the Jackson Hole area. It is speculated that this herd of bison contracted the bacteria from elk on the feedground.
State officials rarely admit that elk may also carry the disease. Elk, of course, are a prime money maker for Montana and Wyoming state officials, who encourage propagation of elk herds so they can profit from the sale of sport hunting licenses.
Ironically, bison are being targeted allegedly to protect the livestock industry, but the general consensus among scientists is that cattle probably introduced the bacteria into the Yellowstone bison herd shortly before 1917. Victims then and victims now.
We cause our wild animal neighbors far more trouble than they do us, as each day we invade thousands of acres of their territories and destroy their homes. Here are some ways to live in harmony with them.
AROUND THE HOUSE
Cap your chimney. When birds sit atop chimneys for warmth they can inhale toxic fumes, and if the chimney is uncapped they can fall in and die. Because we have destroyed so many den trees, many raccoons nest in chimneys. If you hear mouse-like squeals from above your fireplace damper, chances are they're coming from baby raccoons. Don't light a fire--you'll burn them alive. Just close the damper securely and do nothing until the babies grow older and the family leaves. When you're absolutely sure everyone's out, have your chimney professionally capped--raccoons can quickly get through amateur cappings. Also, a mother raccoon or squirrel will literally tear apart your roof if you cap one of her young inside your chimney.
If for some reason you must evict a raccoon family before they leave on their own, put a radio tuned to loud talk or rock music in the fireplace and hang a mechanic's trouble light down the chimney. (Animals like their homes dark and quiet.) Leave these in place for a few days, to give mom time to find a new home and move her children. You might also hang a thick rope down the chimney, secured at the top, in case your tenant is not a raccoon and can't climb up the slippery flue. If the animal still cannot get out, call your conservation department for the name of a state-licensed wildlife relocator. Don't entrust animals' lives to anyone else, especially "pest removal services," no matter what they tell you.
You can also use the light-radio-patience technique to evict animals from under the porch or in the attic. (Mothballs may also work in enclosed places like attics, although one family of raccoons painstakingly moved an entire box of mothballs outside, one by one.) Remember, when sealing up an animal's home, nocturnal animals, like opossums, mice, and raccoons, will be outside at night, while others, like squirrels, lizards, and birds, will be outside in the daytime.
If an animal has a nest of young in an unused part of your house and is doing no harm, don't evict them. Wait a few weeks or so, until the young are better able to cope. We owe displaced wildlife all the help we can give them.
Wild bird or bat in your house? If possible, wait until dark, then open a window and put a light outside it. Turn out all house lights. The bird should fly out to the light.
Uncovered window wells, pools, and ponds trap many animals, from salamanders to muskrats to kittens. To help them climb out, lean escape planks of rough lumber (to allow for footholds) from the bottom to the top of each uncovered window well, and place rocks in the shallow ends of ponds and pools to give animals who fall in a way to climb out. Also, a stick in the birdbath gives drowning insects a leg up.
Relocating animals by trapping them with a humane trap is often unsatisfactory; animals may travel far to get back home. Also, you may be separating an animal from loved ones and food and water sources. It is far better and easier to use one of the above methods to encourage animals to relocate themselves.
Bats consume more than 1,000 mosquitoes in an evening, so many people encourage them to settle in their yards by building bat houses. Contrary to myth, bats won't get tangled in your hair, and chances of their being rabid are miniscule. If one comes into your home, turn off all lights and open doors and windows. Bats are very sensitive to air currents. If the bat still doesn't leave, catch him or her very gently in a large jar or net. Always wear gloves if you attempt to handle a bat, and release him or her carefully outdoors. Then find and plug the entrance hole.
Leave moles alone. They are rarely numerous, and they help aerate lawns. They also eat the white grubs that damage grass and flowers.
Gophers can be more numerous, but they, too, do a valuable service by aerating and mixing the soil and should usually be left alone.
Snakes are timid, and most are harmless. They control rodent populations and should be left alone. To keep snakes away from the house, stack wood or junk piles far from it, as snakes prefer this type of cover. Your library can tell you how to identify any poisonous snakes in your area; however, the vast majority are nonpoisonous.
People unintentionally raise snake and rat populations by leaving companion animal food on the ground or keeping bird feeders. It is far better to plant bushes that will give birds a variety of seeds and berries than to keep a bird feeder.
Denying mice and rats access to food in your home will do the most to discourage them from taking up residence there. Do not leave dog and cat food out for long periods of time. Store dry foods such as rice and flour in glass, metal, or ceramic containers rather than paper or plastic bags. Seal small openings in your home.
If you must trap an occasional rodent, use a humane live trap made for this purpose. If the trap is made of plastic, make sure it has air holes and check it often.
Be careful not to spill antifreeze which is highly toxic to animals, who like its sweet taste. Better, shop for Sierra antifreeze, which is non-toxic and biodegradable.
GARBAGE DUMP DANGERS
Many animals die tragically when they push their faces into discarded food containers to lick them clean and get their heads stuck inside. Recycle cans and jars. Rinse out each tin can, put the cover inside so no tongue will get sliced, and crush the open end of the can as flat as possible. Cut open one side of empty cardboard cup-like containers; inverted-pyramid yogurt cups have caused many squirrels' deaths. Also, cut apart all sections of plastic six-pack rings, including the inner diamonds. Choose paper bags at the grocery store, and use only biodegradable or photodegradable food storage bags.
Be sure any garbage cans under trees are covered--baby opossums and others can fall in and not be able to climb out. If animals are tipping over your can, store it in a garage or make a wooden garbage can rack. Garbage can lids with clasps sometimes foil the animals. One homeowner solved the strewn garbage problem by placing a small bag of "goodies" beside his garbage can each night. Satisfied, the midnight raider left the garbage alone.
Dumpsters can be deadly--cats, raccoons, opossums and other animals climb into them and cannot climb out because of the slippery sides. Every dumpster should have a vertical branch in it so animals can escape. (Ask your local park district to put branches in park dumpsters.)
ORPHANED & SICK ANIMALS
Wild youngsters are appealing, but never try to make one your pet. It's unfair; they need to be with others of their kind. If you tame one, when the time comes for release, the animal will not know how to forage for food or be safe in the woods. Tame released animals normally follow the first humans they see, who often think, "Rabies!" and kill them. If you find a youngster who appears orphaned, wait quietly at a distance for a while to be certain the parents are nowhere nearby. If they are not, take the little one to a professional wildlife rehabilitation center for care and eventual release into a protected wild area. An injured bird can be carried easily in a brown paper bag, loosely clothes-pinned at the top.
On very hot days, some animals come out of hiding. Foxes have been known to stretch out on patios. Normally nocturnal adult animals seen in daytime should be observed--if they run from you, chances are they are healthy. If sick, they may be lethargic, walk slowly, or stagger. Distemper is more often the culprit than rabies. (Distemper is not contagious to humans.) Call a wildlife expert.
Get names and telephone numbers of wildlife rehabilitators from your local humane society or park authority; keep them in your home and car at all times in case of an emergency.
CREATE A BACKYARD HABITAT
Don't use pesticides on your yard and leave part of it natural (unmanicured). Dead wood is ecological gold--more than 150 species of birds and animals can live in dead trees and logs and feed off the insects there. The U.S. Forestry Department says saving dead wood is crucial to kicking our pesticide habit. Top off, rather than chop down, dead trees 12 inches or more in diameter. Save fat dead logs. Leave plenty of bushes for wildlife cover. Keep a birdbath filled with water, and a pan for small mammals, and use heating elements in them in the winter.
In 1971, more letters poured into Congress over the threat to our nation’s wild horses than over any issue in U.S. history, except for the Vietnam War. And so Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, declaring that “wild horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) were appointed to implement the Act. Most herd areas are under BLM jurisdiction.
Fast-forward thirty years: in 2001, after decades of failed herd management policies, the BLM obtained a 50% increase in annual budget to $29 million for implementation of an aggressive removal campaign; in 2004, the 1971 Act was surreptitiously amended, without so much as a hearing or opportunity for public review, opening the door to the sale of thousands of wild horses to slaughter for human consumption abroad.
Injuries, abortions, trauma and death are the common results of wild horse round-ups (or “gathers,” to use a placating euphemism). Horses seen galloping during a round-up are terrified wild animals chased by helicopter and running for their lives. It has been documented that, long after they have been adopted out, BLM-captured horses will still react in terror to a helicopter flying overhead.
As wild horses are driven into holding pens, closely-knit family bands are broken up; foals may be separated from their mothers, trampled, or sometimes, too exhausted to keep up with the herd, left behind to fend for themselves out on the range; stallions, suddenly crammed in close quarters, will fight. At the holding site, BLM makes “liberal” use of its euthanasia policy: horses with physical defects such as club-feet are euthanized, including adults that had managed to thrive for years in the wild.
ABUSE, NEGLECT & SECRECY
BLM routinely turns a blind eye on abuse by its two main round-up contractors. To quote an eye-witness to the 2006 Sulphur round-up in Utah: “In all my life I have never seen such blatant abuse and neglect and just plain lack of compassion for horses, or animals in general for that matter.” It is not uncommon for contractors to drag a listless body into the round-up pen to collect their fee, as they get paid per horse, dead or alive.
Round-ups are often conducted in secrecy, with heavy police presence to keep the public at bay. Once in a while, BLM and its contractors will invite the public and the media to a carefully staged capture, where a few horses are trotted into a pen. Members of the public are positioned at the holding pens, usually during the first few days of a round-up, so they are generally witnessing the horses coming in from areas closest to the round-up site. As days go by, the further out the wranglers go, the more challenging for the horses who are run in large numbers over much longer distances.
THE REAL REASON
The current situation is the result of a long history of failed policies, land allocation issues, and an intricate money trail. The BLM and the USFS, among others, are responsible for managing the nation’s public lands and are foremost the managers of wild horses and burros. Their responsibilities also include issuing public land grazing permits to cattle ranchers. These grazing permits cover limited areas of public land that are available for lease. So, for every wild horse removed from a grazing permit allotment, a fee-paying cow gets to take its place, and a public land rancher gets the benefit of public land forage at bargain rates. This is the number one reason wild horses are removed from public lands.
PLAYING WITH NUMBERS
The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandated that wild horses be managed at their then-current population level, officially estimated by the BLM at 17,000 (three years later, BLM’s first census found over 42,000 horses). To the horses' detriment, both sides agreed to allow the government to manage wild horse populations at that “official” 1971 level. Eleven years later, a study by the National Academy of Sciences found BLM’s 1971 estimate to have been “undoubtedly low to an unknown, but perhaps substantial, degree,” given subsequent census results and taking into account the horses' growth rate and the number of horses since removed. But the damage had already been done; management levels had been etched in stone, and processes for removal of "excess" horses were well in place.
The fact is that the 1982 National Academy of Sciences report and two General Accounting Office reports have countered key points in BLM's premise for its current herd reduction campaign. These government-sanctioned documents concluded that: (i) horses reproduce at a much slower rate than BLM asserts, (ii) wild horse forage use remains a small fraction of cattle forage use on public ranges, (iii) “despite congressional direction, BLM did not base its removal of wild horses from federal rangeland on how many horses ranges could support,” and (iv) “BLM was making its removal decisions on the basis of an interest in reaching perceived historic population levels, or the recommendations of advisor groups largely composed of livestock permittees.”
From over 2 million in the 1800s, America’s wild horse population has dwindled to fewer than 33,000. There are now more wild horses in government holding pens than remain in the wild, with many of the remaining herds managed at population levels that do not guarantee their long-term survival. Still, the round-ups continue.
Over the past forty years, federal law enacted by the people on behalf of their wild horses has been ignored. No strategic plan to keep viable herds of wild horses on public lands was ever developed.
You can make a big difference for ocean conservation and species preservation. There are many easy lifestyle changes that can aid in the effort of saving our oceans and the animals that inhabit them.
Give Power To Your Vote
Sound ocean policy depends on the election of proper public officials. Do your homework and decide wisely before casting your vote. Don’t forfeit your right to vote; on the contrary, remain politically active even after Election Day. Contact your representative and voice your questions and concerns. Be active.
Collect Litter And Garbage Near Beaches
A large percentage of the plastic garbage polluting the oceans begins as litter on a beach. Enjoy your day at the beach without engaging in activities that will destroy our oceans. Properly dispose of your trash, pickup litter that other people carelessly left behind, and participate in beach clean-up initiatives.
Consume Less Energy
Carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel burning contributes to the acidification of our oceans. A grave danger from this phenomenon is the demise of coral reefs worldwide because the water’s lower pH dissolves their calcium framework. There are several easy ways in which you can decrease your energy consumption. Use public transportation, ride a bicycle, or even walk. Purchase home appliances that are highly efficient. Turn off devices that you aren’t using. Adjust your home temperature a bit higher during summertime, and a bit lower in wintertime. Opt for eco-friendly light bulbs in your home.
Use Reusable Plastic Products
Marine habitats are compromised by the presence of plastic remnants in the ocean, which are also to blame for the direct deaths of many marine creatures. Various creatures of the sea such as sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals mistakenly take floating plastic objects for food, leading to their death due to choking or starvation from blocked digestive systems. You can help cut down that unnecessary loss of life by using reusable water bottles and grocery bags made from cloth.
Global fisheries are very close to the point of collapse. According to FAO, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 75 percent of fisheries worldwide are now fully or over-exploited, or severely depleted. Animals are on the edge of extinction due to corporate greed and over-consumption. Don't participate in their destruction.
Properly Dispose Of Hazardous Materials
Many harmful and toxic materials, such as motor oil, end up in aquatic ecosystems because people don’t follow sound disposal practices. The result is water pollution and further degradation of oceanic health. It is important to follow environmentally friendly practices when disposing of hazardous materials.
Minimize The Use Of Fertilizers
The use of fertilizers in agriculture and gardening usually results in excess material reaching the ocean. This can cause “dead zones”, which are areas depleted of oxygen in the water. Because all aquatic life depends on oxygen to live, fish and shrimp included, they can only abandon the area to survive. So, minimize your use of fertilizer, or eliminate it altogether.
Buy Products That Are Ocean-Friendly
Don’t use products that have been made using unsustainable methods that harm the oceans. Such products include cosmetics that contain shark-derived squalene, or jewelry made with sea-life parts such as corals or sea-turtle shells. These products are destructive and eliminate whole ecosystems.
Inform people of the situation of the oceans of the world and the need for action. Share the message and actively participate in conversation.
The single most effective way of helping the oceans is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption and pollution. It has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the principle cause of dead zones in the oceans. Overexploitation of fisheries leads to the extinction of entire species. Unsustainable fishing methods destroy marine habitats and ecosystems. By opting to consume exclusively plant-based food, you aid in the rescue of our oceans, while easing animal suffering at the same time.
Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment.
Benefits of Recycling
- Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials
- Saves energy
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations
- Helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries.
Steps to Recycling Materials
Recycling includes the three steps below, which create a continuous loop, represented by the familiar recycling symbol.
Step 1: Collection and Processing
There are several methods for collecting recyclables, including curbside collection, drop-off centers, and deposit or refund programs. After collection, recyclables are sent to a recovery facility to be sorted, cleaned and processed into materials that can be used in manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like raw materials would be, and prices go up and down depending on supply and demand.
Step 2: Manufacturing
More and more of today's products are being manufactured with recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled materials include the following:
- Newspapers and paper towels
- Aluminum, plastic, and glass soft drink containers
- Steel cans
- Plastic laundry detergent bottles
Recycled materials are also used in new ways such as recovered glass in asphalt to pave roads or recovered plastic in carpeting and park benches.
Step 3: Purchasing New Products Made from Recycled Materials
You help close the recycling loop by buying new products made from recycled materials. There are thousands of products that contain recycled content. When you go shopping, look for the following:
- Products that can be easily recycled
- Products that contain recycled content
Below are some of the terms used:
Recycled-content product - The product was manufactured with recycled materials either collected from a recycling program or from waste recovered during the normal manufacturing process. The label will sometimes include how much of the content was from recycled materials.
Post-consumer content - Very similar to recycled content, but the material comes only from recyclables collected from consumers or businesses through a recycling program.
Recyclable product - Products that can be collected, processed and manufactured into new products after they have been used. These products do not necessarily contain recycled materials. Remember not all kinds of recyclables may be collected in your community, so be sure to check with your local recycling program before you buy.
Some of the common products you can find that can be made with recycled content include the following:
While there are many lifestyle changes you can make to help the environment, no other lifestyle decision can compare with the positive environmental impacts of veganism.
Veganism is a compassionate lifestyle of daily decisions that reject the exploitation and harm of animals. Vegans do not consume food that is derived from animal sources, do not purchase products made from animal sources, do not use services in which animals are harmed, and do not involve themselves in activities that cause intentional harm or exploitation of living beings. Vegans attempt, as much as possible, to live their lives free from all forms of animal exploitation. It is a humane, responsible and healthy choice.
And not only does veganism help animals, it helps the planet – in a big way. Becoming a vegan is the single, most effective action you can take to help the environment. Adopting a compassionate lifestyle can have a profound impact not only on you and your family, but also on the planet. Our fragile environment benefits immensely by your vegan choices.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. Factory farms are a primary driver of topsoil erosion, rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss and ocean dead zones. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and causes immense animal suffering.
It takes 12 times as much land, 13 times more fuel and 15 times more water to make a pound of animal protein than to make a pound of plant protein. Adopting a vegan diet saves 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, 45 pounds of grain, 1,100 gallons of water, 30 square feet of forest land, and one animal every day!
ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF VEGANISM
Vegans save more than farm animals. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, habitat destruction and wildlife culling. Each year the USDA kills millions of wild animals.
Vegans help save aquatic animals and ecosystems. Commercial fishing methods often clear the ocean floor of all life and destroy coral reefs. Thousands of dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and other “bycatch” animals are killed each year. Fish farms release antibiotics, feces, parasites, and non-native fish into aquatic ecosystems, and farmed fish are often fed massive amounts of wild-caught fish.
Vegans reduce the adverse impact of climate change. Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry combined. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Methane (CH4) emissions have over 20 times the global warming potential of CO2.
Vegans reduce the destruction of forests. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. Up to 91% of Amazon Rainforest destruction is caused by animal agriculture. One of the main crops grown in the rainforest is soybeans used specifically for animal feed. Plant-based diets require 20 times less land than animal-based diets.
Vegans reduce pollution caused by animal breeding, animal processing and food processing. Deforestation for animal grazing and feed crops is estimated to emit 2.4 billion tons of CO2 each year. Burning fossil fuels to produce fertilizers for animal agriculture may emit 41 million metric tons of CO2 each year. Animal agriculture contributes to air pollution by releasing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, methane and ammonia.
Agriculture animals produce many times more excrement than does human population – a staggering 500 million tons of manure each year in the US alone. There are no animal sewage processing plants; most of the sewage is stored in waste “lagoons” or sprayed into the air.
To prevent disease in crowded, filthy conditions and to promote faster growth, farm animals are fed numerous antibiotics. Around 75 percent of these antibiotics end up undigested. These antibiotics can contaminate crops and waterways through urine and manure, and can ultimately be ingested by humans.
Vegans save and protect precious water resources. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of all fresh water pollution, the leading cause of ocean dead zones, and the leading cause of Great Barrier Reef die-off. Bacteria and viruses can be carried by runoff and contaminate groundwater. Runoff is one of the leading causes of pollution in rivers and lakes.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 55% of US water consumption. It takes 683 gallons of water to produce just 1 gallon of milk, and more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. 1 pound of tofu requires only 244 gallons of water to produce. Every vegan saves approximately 219,000 gallons of water every year.
Veganism feeds more people and could end world hunger. Animal agriculture contributes to world hunger. Livestock consumes up to 50% of all grains produced each year. 45% of the earth's entire ice free land is used for animal agriculture.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF VEGANISM
While going vegan helps us help nature, nature rewards our efforts with a bounty of health benefits. You can reduce the risk of many diseases by modifying your diet habits and becoming a vegan.
A plant based diet reduces the risk of cancer as carcinogens and other harmful chemicals are used in growing, processing and storing animal based food products.
Vegans have less risk of heart disease and high blood pressure as most plant foods do not add bad cholesterol to your body and clog your blood vessels. Animal foods saturated with excessively high amounts of fat and other enzymes have an adverse impact on the natural body processes.
Veganism can help prevent the onset of diabetes as most plant based foods tone up the glucose handling mechanism of your body, adding strength and boosting the natural metabolic process without the harmful enzymes and secretions you normally get with animal based foods.
Vegans have less chance of getting rheumatoid arthritis as plant based foods do not create toxins in your body during their natural metabolism.
A vegan lifestyle helps animals, the environment and you. By opting for plant based foods and products, you are choosing compassion, health and responsible living. And choosing to go vegan really could save the world.
The hippopotamus outweighs all the many fresh water semi-aquatic mammals that inhabit our rivers, lakes and streams. After elephants and the white rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal on Earth. Its hide alone can weigh half a ton.
The ancient Egyptians both feared and revered the hippopotamus. The word hippopotamus comes from the Greek for "river horse" and the hippo, once indigenous to Egypt, flourished there, grazing along the fertile banks of the Nile River and swimming in its muddy waters. Hippos may seem slow and lumbering, but they can be ferocious, deadly killers. These prolific animals multiplied until the river was thick with them. They destroyed crops, up ended fishing boats and killed the men as they fell into the river. The ancient kings found sport in great hippopotamus hunts that would thin out the herds. Hunts became bloody battles between man and beast. The hippo is no longer found in Egypt. They were wiped out of that country in modern times because of the crop damage they caused, but the hippo still thrives in other parts of Africa.
Hippopotamus are of the Order Artiodactyla: Even-toed ungulates. On land, the enormous weight of a hippo is distributed evenly and is adequately supported by the four webbed toes on each of its feet. These animals are grayish in color with thick skin that is virtually hairless. The hippo has no sweat or sebaceous glands and must rely on the water to keep cool. A hippo’s hide has the unusual property of secreting a viscous red fluid that protects it from the sun. This specialized excretion may also be a healing agent.
Female hippopotamus bear a single young and will give birth either on land or in shallow water. The mother helps the newborn to the surface of the water. In time, she will teach her baby to swim. Newborns can be seen in the river, resting on their mothers' backs. At birth, a baby hippo will weigh from 55 to 120 pounds. The mother must protect it from crocodiles in the water and lions on land. She must also ward off male hippos. Males do not bother baby hippos when on land, but they will attack them in the water.
Adult hippos can stay under water for up to six minutes. A young hippo can only stay submerged for about half a minute. In order to suckle under water, the baby must take a deep breath, close its nostrils and ears and then wrap its tongue tightly around the teat to suck. This instinctive behavior is the same when the baby suckles on land. Baby hippos start to eat grass at 3 weeks, but will continue to nurse until they are about one year old.
Hippos are usually found in groups of just over a dozen, presided over by a territorial bull. They have flexible social systems defined by food and water conditions and hierarchy. Periods of drought will force them to congregate in large numbers around a limited water supply. This overcrowding disrupts the system and under these conditions, there will be higher levels of aggression. Fights for dominance will be brutal with loud and frequent vocalization. Hippos can bear the scars of old, deep wounds sustained in such battles. A hippo establishes status and marks territory by spreading its excrement with its flat, paddle-like tail.
Hippos move surprisingly well, climbing adeptly up steep riverbanks to grazing areas. They spend the heat of the day in the water, leaving it to graze at night. Apparently creatures of habit, they enter and exit the water at the same spot. They will graze four to five hours, usually covering one or two miles. The amount of grass consumed is relatively modest for animals their size. A hippo’s appetite is in proportion to its sedentary life.
Despite the fact that ditches and low fences can easily deter them from encroaching on cultivated areas, hippopotamus are slaughtered by the hundreds each year. These "controlled management" schemes are put forth less for crop protection than for the meat they yield. The fat and ivory tusks of the hippo are also of value to humans, as is the hippo’s grazing land. The hippos’ range was once from the Nile delta to the Cape, but the mighty river horse is now mostly confined to protected areas.
Most of us will never see a hippopotamus. But as we know more about them, we may learn to value them and their place in the larger ecosystem we all share.
Captive hunting operations—also referred to as "shooting preserves," "canned hunts," or "game ranches"—are private trophy hunting facilities that offer their customers the opportunity to kill exotic and native animals trapped within enclosures. Some facilities have even allowed their clients to kill animals remotely via the Internet.
The animals killed in captive hunts may come from private breeders, animal dealers, circuses or even zoos. These animals are frequently hand-raised and bottle-fed, so they have lost their natural fear of people. In many facilities, the animals expect to be fed at regular times by familiar people—a setup that guarantees a kill for trophy hunters.
Endangered species are even available at captive hunts. Several species of threatened and endangered animals are regularly advertised at captive hunting ranches. For example, the International Union for the Conservations of Nature and Natural Resources lists the scimitar-horned oryx and Pere David's deer as extinct in the wild; the Dama gazelle and the addax as critically endangered; the Arabian oryx and markhor as endangered; the blackbuck and bongo as near threatened; and the Nubian ibex, aoudad, barasingha, mouflon, yak and European bison as vulnerable.
Although the Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects animals listed as endangered or threatened, captive hunt enthusiasts exploit loopholes in federal law that allow captive-bred wildlife to be killed if permitted by state law. This creates a market for endangered species’ trophies, and can encourage illegal poaching of the animals in their native habitat. Issuing permits to shoot endangered species on these ranches contradicts the basic purposes of the ESA, which is to conserve endangered and threatened wildlife – not kill them.
Semi-tame animals make easy targets, so captive hunt operators can offer their customers a guarantee of "no kill, no pay." The animals are guaranteed something as well—that there will be no escape.
Due to the high population densities on captive hunts, risk of disease transmission increases, posing a threat to animals inside and outside the fences. And it is doubtful that those involved in the captive hunting business provide acceptable veterinary care for their animals. Diseases such as tuberculosis and brucellosis—which can also infect farm animals and other wildlife—have been diagnosed in captive wildlife. Michigan battled an outbreak of tuberculosis among deer a few years ago due to baiting, which encourages animals to congregate in small areas. Chronic wasting disease, a fatal disease that infects deer, elk, and moose, is another serious concern. CWD has been reported in 19 states; in 11 of these states CWD was present in captive wildlife populations. In 2011, new cases of CWD have been reported in South Dakota, Illinois, West Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, Nebraska, and Kansas.
Although there must legally be fencing around captive hunts, animals often can and sometimes do escape from these facilities. Since 2007, there have been 48 instances of elk escaping from captive facilities in Iowa alone. In Wisconsin, captive facilities reported 437 escapes from 2004 to 2007. The interstate transport of animals for breeding purposes increases the possibility of spreading these diseases even further. Once present, CWD becomes increasingly difficult to control, and attempts to halt the disease can cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Through escaped animals, fence-line transmission, or environmental contamination, game farms and captive hunting ranches are putting our wild herds at grave risk.
Captive hunting is a lucrative and expanding industry. It is estimated that more than 1,000 captive mammal hunting operations are operating in at least two dozen states. Several factors feed into that expansion: The overbreeding of captive exotic animals, the desire by some hunters with plenty of cash for a quick and easy kill, and the incentive to bag exotic mammals provided by Safari Club International's "Introduced Trophy Game Animals of North America" trophy hunting achievement award.
Do all hunters support captive hunting? No. As hunter and noted author Ted Kerasote puts it, "'Canned hunting' is a misnomer. More accurately defined as 'shooting animals in small enclosures,' the activity has nothing to do with the motives that inform authentic hunting: procuring healthy, organic food; participating in the timeless cycles of birth, death, and nurturing; honoring the lives that support us; and reconnecting with wildness. No matter where one stands on hunting—vehemently opposed to it or seeing it as yet another way to live sustainably on earth—one ought to decry shooting animals behind fences."
"Fair chase"—a concept central to the philosophy of many in the hunting community—doesn't exist in captive hunts. The self-described ethical hunting community (including groups like Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, and the Izaak Walton League) is becoming increasingly vocal in its opposition to canned hunting.
As reviled as captive hunting is by non-hunters and hunters alike, no federal law bans the practice, and only about half of the states have policies that ban or restrict canned hunts. The regulations implementing the federal Animal Welfare Act do not apply to game preserves, hunting preserves, and captive hunts. Although the Endangered Species Act protects animals listed as endangered or threatened, the Fish and Wildlife Service does not prohibit private ownership of these animals and even allows captive hunting of endangered species.
Habitat loss and the extinction of species are devastating consequences of irresponsible human actions. The problem’s complexity and reach often leads people to feel unable to make a difference. However, every single action we take is crucial in bringing about change. Although individually our contribution may seem small, the sum of our efforts can really make a huge difference.
Protect Wildlife Habitat
The most pressing issue that threatens species is their progressive loss of habitat. Animal agriculture, deforestation, and development impact the environment in profound ways: erosion, soil compaction, desertification and changes in climate. When the land is manipulated in such a manner, wildlife habitat alteration or even elimination takes place. This is more pronounced when rare species are involved; these alterations may result in the rapid extinction of the species. Habitat protection ensures that whole animal communities are safe, which in turn leads to fewer interventions needed towards the conservation of endangered species. Reserves, parks, and similar protected areas are often the only safe havens that remain unaffected by habitat loss.
Consume Less, Recycle More
A great way to minimize our effect on the environment is to recycle and reuse as much as possible. Consuming less is an immensely effective means of protecting the planet. What’s more, by reducing our energy consumption we help conserve our natural resources, and we save money in the process!
Become Member Of A Conservation Organization
Numerous conservation organizations exist with a mission to protect endangered species and habitats. Each organization has a different mission – for some it’s to safeguard a certain habitat or species, for others to push for the legislation of good environmental practices. If you are particularly interested in a topic, chances are that you will find an organization that shares your interest. Becoming a member will let you back organized, constant efforts towards protecting wildlife and habitats. Moreover, there are often special programs available that offer the chance to do conservation field work, as many organizations depend on volunteer work.
Use Fewer Herbicides And Pesticides
Herbicides and pesticides are effective in beautifying your backyard, but they wreak havoc on wildlife on several levels. Some of these compounds degrade at an extremely slow rate, which means their levels build up in the soil and, consequently, pass into the food chain. Certain animal groups, like the amphibians, are especially prone to the toxic effects of these chemicals, suffering a greater impact.
Prevent Invasive Species From Spreading
Native wildlife populations all over the world have been severely affected by the invasion of non-native species, since the latter increase competition for food and habitat. Native species may even become their direct prey, risking extinction. You can minimize the impact of invasive species by populating your garden with native plants.
Don’t Drive Too Fast
For many native species, life takes place in densely populated areas, meaning they have to find their way through a labyrinth of human-made dangers. Roads, in particular, pose one of the greatest risks for wild animals that live in developed areas, because they split their habitat and pose a constant threat to animals that try to cross to the other side. So, if you are driving in such areas, reduce your speed and pay attention for such animals.
Install Decals On Windows To Prevent Bird Collisions
Collisions with windows is a serious risk for birds. Almost one billion birds lose their lives every year by colliding with windows. A simple way of decreasing that number is by installing decals on the windows of your office and home. Other things you can do to help is to relocate bird feeders to a more convenient spot, draw curtains and shades when it’s bright outside, install screens on the external side of your windows, or use tinted window glass.
Express Your Concerns And Become Actively Involved
By actively expressing your concerns regarding endangered species to local and national authorities, you raise the chances of someone actually doing something to remedy the situation.
Share Your Excitement For Nature And Wildlife
Motivate other people to read up on wildlife issues, respect wildlife, and be serious about the protection of species and habitats.
Last but not least, the single most effective way of helping wildlife is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption, pollution, and deforestation. Livestock has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the greatest cause of rainforest demise, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans.
All the garbage you throw away is destined to end up in a landfill. What’s more, most of the items constituting your garbage (metal, plastic, paper, and everything else) was probably created using environmentally harmful methods. When you produce less trash, you ease up your environmental impact. Consider doing the following:
Purchase reusable products, and avoid buying new ones. Take care of, and repair, the ones you currently own. Use glass containers instead of plastic. Stop using plastic bags and opt for reusable cloth. Don’t use disposable kitchenware; use reusable items. Store your food in reusable containers and avoid plastic wrap and aluminum foil as much as possible.
Repair your clothing instead of purchasing new. Equip your most frequently used devices with rechargeable batteries. Opt for used furniture – there is a large supply of it and it costs much less than new. Don’t buy products that are packaged in several layers, when they could have been packaged in one. Almost 33 percent of our waste consists of packaging material.
Choose recycled paper. Print and copy on both sides. Reuse your folders, envelopes and paper clips. Reduce your paper mail by relying more on emails and mobile texting.
Cook your own food. And if you are up for it, grow it yourself! In any case, try to make as many meals as you can from the most basic of ingredients – which you can also buy in bulk to save on packaging.
Try making your own personal care products. Homemade soaps and shampoos are much more environmentally friendly than commercial ones that are often full of toxic chemicals. There are literally no personal care products that you can’t make on your own, including toothpaste, lotion, conditioner and shampoo. Begin by replacing one product at a time. Most homemade products have a variety of uses (IE baking soda can be used as soap, shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, teeth whitener and toothpaste – as well as for cleaning.)
Reduce your reliance on chemical products. Synthetic chemicals in cleaning and personal care products end up in the water supply. Because the bulk of chemicals used today are toxic, they end up harming aquatic life and waterways significantly. What’s more, these substances harm people as well, so it’s only in your best interest to reduce their usage. Also, avoid herbicides and pesticides and opt for natural ways of combating pests and weeds.
Revert to homemade cleaning products. You can make all sorts of cleaners – in fact all of your cleaning products – with natural-only ingredients. Read up on how to make alternative cleaning products that exclude harmful chemicals. For instance, you can do your basic cleaning using a 50-50 solution of water and white vinegar, that works just as well as most conventional cleaners on the market. Virtually all your cleaning can be accomplished with baking soda, vinegar and water. You help protect the environment, your health, and save a lot of money.
When there are no reliable alternatives to a harmful item, try to use the minimum amount needed. By doing so, you help the planet and also help your wallet.
Whales are hunted for their meat and other body parts. The oil from their bodies has been used to make lipstick, shoe polish and margarine. The practice of hunting whales began in the 9th century when Spain undertook the first organized hunt. By the 20th century, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, France, Germany, Norway, Japan and the United States had begun to kill large numbers of whales.
Certain species of whales were hunted so much that their numbers began to decline. There were fewer whales than there had been before. In 1946 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was formed to address the issues of whaling and this growing threat to whales. The IWC created three categories of whaling: Commercial, Scientific and Aboriginal Subsistence.
In commercial whaling, whales are killed for their meat and their parts. In scientific whaling, whales are killed so that their bodies can be studied and cataloged. Aboriginal subsistence is the whaling carried out by native cultures, such as the Native Americans in the United States. These groups of people are given certain rights to hunt whales based upon their cultural history and dependence upon whale meat.
Due to the danger of extinction facing many whale species, the IWC voted to suspend all commercial whale hunting beginning in 1986. Despite this international agreement to stop killing whales for their parts, several countries continued to kill whales and sell their meat and parts, including Norway, Iceland and Japan.
A loophole in the ban on commercial whaling allowed for the killing of large and medium whales for "scientific purposes." The ban also doesn't cover smaller whales like pilot whales, dolphins and porpoises. Iceland and Norway take whales within their own waters, otherwise known as exclusive economic zones. Japan conducts whaling in international waters, including in a whale sanctuary in the ocean off the Antarctic coast, despite the ban.
Whales are most often killed using a primitive weapon called a harpoon. The harpoon has a grenade attached that explodes when the harpoon enters the body of the whale. It can take a very long time for some whales to die which causes additional suffering and fear in these gentle animals. There is no humane way to kill a whale.
Despite international pressure and the best efforts of grassroots movements to ‘save the whales’ around the world, whaling continues to be a danger facing whales and their future here on earth.
Animals and plants are being driven to extinction at unprecedented rates by animal agriculture. Animal farming has affected the environment and wildlife in detrimental ways. Our demand for meat has led to the loss of large numbers of animals, caused massive water and land pollution, and has been a major contributor to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.
With world population coming close to 10 billion by 2050, it is predicted that meat production, which has already tripled in the last 30 years, will double by 2050. Livestock farming has already taken up about 25% of the Earth’s land area, with 70% of farmlands used for rearing animals. Each passing minute lands about the size of seven football fields are cleared for the use of livestock production.
Every day an alarming number of plants and animals are lost to extinction. Researchers agree we are undergoing massive life extinction, the first mass extinction as a result of human explosive growth and voracious eating habits. Meat production has now become the biggest threat to animal life, as well as the ecosystem.
The animals used to meet our dietary demands account for 20% of the entire animal population. In the United States alone, animals raised for food are at about 10 billion; equivalent to 32 animals per person every year. On a per capita basis, Americans are the largest consumer of meat. A single individual consumes 203 pounds every year. And the unsustainable American diet is spreading globally.
If all Americans cut out meat from their meals for just one night, the emissions saved would equal the emissions that 40 million cars give off in a year. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 30%, the greenhouse gas reduction would be equivalent to driving a car over 2,700 miles, and 340,667 gallons of water would be saved each year – per person.
Throughout the world, animal species like deer, elk and pronghorn are killed in huge numbers just to make room for providing more grazing land for cattle. Environmentally critical animals like beavers and prairie dogs are also killed in huge numbers because livestock managers consider them disruptive.
Public lands and funds are being hijacked. Over 175 endangered species are being threatened by livestock farming on American public lands alone, where livestock grazing is promoted and protected. 270 million acres of United States lands have been set aside for raising livestock on federal property. 80% of arable lands in the U.S. are already used for rearing of animals and farming. This is almost equivalent to the total land mass of the lower 48 states.
Over half of the grains grown in the country are used for feeding livestock, while more than 50% of water is used for livestock production. Government agencies, such as Wildlife Services, kill millions of animals each year to provide more grazing land for cows and animals raised on ranches.
“Predator control” programs, which are meant to provide protection to the livestock industry, have only succeeded in driving predator species into extinction. The livestock industry has become an obstacle to efforts of recovering endangered species. As the demand for meat continues to rise, livestock managers are increasing their production. Predators that are left with no other choice but to prey on livestock are killed.
Meat production has contributed immensely to raising the temperatures of the planet, which has in turn led to drought and food shortage. Research has shown that meat production has contributed up to 51% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. In the United States for instance, meat production has been responsible for 20% of the total methane produced by the country.
Livestock is responsible for 500 million tons of manure produced every year. These pollutants find their way into water bodies. Farm pollutants contaminate underground water, wetlands, rivers, lakes and oceans. A massive amount of antibiotics and pesticides used in the production of meat also pollutes the planet.
Cattle grazing wreaks havoc to vegetation and destroys the soil. Excessive grazing has destroyed many forests, caused erosion and stream sedimentation, and destroyed countless habitats.
Livestock grazing is one of the biggest threats to endangered species, affecting 14% of endangered animals and 33% of plants. Livestock grazing has wiped out large numbers of wildlife. Wildlife occupying public lands are the most threatened. Despite the huge amount of money it costs to graze livestock, governments still continue to sponsor it. Activities like vegetation destruction ruins the habitat and disrupts the natural balance of the ecosystem. In the end, endangered species are displaced because their homes have been taken away from them.
If you care about helping wildlife and protecting the planet, the most effective action you can take is to reduce or eliminate the amount of meat you consume. A plant based diet will go a long way in sustaining the ecosystem.
Each year, orcas leap through the air for a handful of fish, and dolphins are ridden by human performers as if they were water skis. Employees at marine parks like to tell audiences that the animals wouldn't perform if they weren't happy. You can even see how content the dolphins are--just look at the permanent smiles on their faces, right? But what most visitors to marine parks don't realize is that hidden behind the dolphin's "smile" is an industry built on suffering.
FAMILIES TORN APART
Killer whales, or orcas, are members of the dolphin family. They are also the largest animals held in captivity. In the wild, orcas stay with their mothers for life. Family groups, or "pods," consist of a mother, her adult sons and daughters, and the offspring of her daughters. Each member of the pod communicates in a "dialect" specific to that pod. Dolphins swim together in family pods of three to 10 individuals or tribes of hundreds. Imagine, then, the trauma inflicted on these social animals when they are ripped from their families and put in the strange, artificial world of a marine park.
Capturing even one wild orca or dolphin disrupts the entire pod. To obtain a female dolphin of breeding age, for example, boats are used to chase the pod to shallow waters. The dolphins are surrounded with nets that are gradually closed and lifted into the boats. Unwanted dolphins are thrown back. Some die from the shock of their experience. Others slowly succumb to pneumonia caused by water entering their lungs through their blowholes. Pregnant females may spontaneously abort babies.
Orcas and dolphins who survive this ordeal become frantic upon seeing their captured companions and may even try to save them. When Namu, a wild orca captured off the coast of Canada, was towed to the Seattle Public Aquarium in a steel cage, a group of wild orcas followed for miles.
ADAPTING TO AN ALIEN WORLD
In the wild, orcas and dolphins may swim up to 100 miles a day. But captured dolphins are confined to tanks as small as 24 feet by 24 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Wild orcas and dolphins can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes at a time, and they typically spend only 10 to 20 percent of their time at the water's surface. But because the tanks in marine parks are so shallow, captive orcas and dolphins spend more than half of their time at the surface. Experts believe this may account for the collapsed dorsal fins seen on the majority of captive orcas.
Dolphins navigate by echolocation. They bounce sonar waves off other objects to determine shape, density, distance, and location. In tanks, the reverberations from their own sonar bouncing off walls drives some dolphins insane. Jean-Michel Cousteau believes that for captive dolphins, "their world becomes a maze of meaningless reverberations."
Tanks are kept clean with chlorine, copper sulfate, and other harsh chemicals that irritate dolphins' eyes, causing many to swim with their eyes closed. Former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, who trained dolphins for the television show "Flipper," believes excessive chlorine has caused some dolphins to go blind. The United States Department of Agriculture closed Florida's Ocean World after determining that over-chlorinated water was causing dolphins' skin to peel off.
Newly captured dolphins and orcas are also forced to learn tricks. Former trainers say that withholding food and isolating animals who refuse to perform are two common training methods. According to Ric O'Barry, "positive reward" training is a euphemism for food deprivation. Marine parks may withhold up to 60 percent of food before shows so that the animals will be "sharp" for performances. Former dolphin trainer Doug Cartlidge maintains that highly social dolphins are punished by being isolated from other animals: "You put them in a pen and ignore them. It's like psychological torture." It's little wonder, then, that captive orcas and dolphins are, as O'Barry says, "so stressed-out you wouldn't believe it." The stress is so great that some commit suicide. Jacques Cousteau and his son, Jean-Michel, vowed never to capture marine mammals again after witnessing one captured dolphin kill himself by deliberately crashing into the side of his tank again and again.
If life for captive orcas and dolphins is as tranquil as marine parks would have us believe, the animals should live longer than their wild counterparts. After all, captive marine mammals are not subject to predators and ocean pollution. But captivity is a death sentence for orcas and dolphins.
In the wild, dolphins can live to be 25 to 50 years old. Male orcas live between 50 and 60 years, females between 80 and 90 years. But orcas at Sea World and other marine parks rarely survive more than 10 years in captivity. More than half of all dolphins die within the first two years of captivity; the remaining dolphins live an average of only six years. One Canadian research team found that captivity shortens an orca's life by as much as 43 years, and a dolphin's life by up to 15 years.
Sea World, which owns most of the captive orcas and dolphins in the United States, has one of the worst histories of caring for its animals. After Sea World purchased and closed Marineland, a Southern California competitor, it shipped the Marineland animals to various Sea World facilities. Within a year, 12 of them--5 dolphins, 5 sea lions, and 2 seals--were dead. The following year, Orky, a Marineland orca said to be the "world's most famous killer whale," also died. Because of such high mortality rates and because captive breeding programs have been highly unsuccessful, marine parks continue to capture orcas and dolphins from the wild.
Captive animals are not the only victims of these "circuses of the sea." Sea World patrons were stunned when two orcas repeatedly dragged trainer Jonathan Smith to the bottom of their tank, in an apparent attempt to drown him. Trainer Keltie Lee Byrne was killed by three Sea Land orcas after she fell into the water with them.
Marine parks have shown no more interest in conserving marine mammals' natural habitats than they have in educating audiences. In fact, the industry has actively lobbied to keep small cetaceans, such as orcas and dolphins, outside the jurisdiction of the International Whaling Commission (even though this would help protect these animals in the wild) because they don't want to risk not being able to capture additional animals in the future.
TURNING THE TIDE
Increasingly, people around the world are recognizing that dolphins, orcas, and other cetaceans do not belong in captivity. Canada no longer allows beluga whales to be captured and exported. In Brazil, it is illegal to use marine mammals for entertainment. In England, consumer boycotts have forced all the marine parks to close. Israel has prohibited the importation of dolphins for use in marine parks, South Carolina has banned all exhibits of whales and dolphins, and other states are currently working on legislation to prohibit the capture or restrict the display of marine mammals.
Richard Donner, coproducer of the film "Free Willy," has joined a growing number of people in calling for an end to the marine mammal trade. Says Donner, "Removal of these majestic mammals from the wild for commercial purposes is obscene....These horrendous captures absolutely must become a thing of the past."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Boycott all forms of animal entertainment.
Contact your local, state and federal officials and encourage them to ban marine mammal parks.