Turtles and tortoises are the favorite animals of many people. These attractive, often seemingly helpless creatures continue to beat incredible odds to survive in today's world of increasing trade (particularly for the pet industry) and shrinking habitat. Here are some suggestions on how you can help turtles and tortoises in your own neighborhood and around the world:
1. Help stop the Asian turtle crisis.
The majority of Asian turtle populations have been critically diminished by over-collection, particularly for delicacies in restaurants and live animal markets. Dealers are now targeting turtle populations elsewhere, such as in the United States and Europe, to meet the Asian demand. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified this as the "Asian turtle crisis," and it has spearheaded efforts to protect turtles from the trade.
2. Get turtles out of U.S. live animal markets.
Turtles are among the most popular offerings at live animal markets in the United States. They suffer terrible abuse in filthy, neglectful conditions, and they are slaughtered by being cut apart while conscious. The vast majority of market turtles are taken from the wild, contributing to declining U.S. turtle populations. Tell state wildlife agencies that you're concerned about the increasing collection of wild turtles and tortoises to supply animal markets in the United States and abroad. If wildlife is being sold for food in a live animal market in your state, contact your local and state legislators, asking that they ban the practice. You may also find it effective to contact state and local health departments (check the Centers for Disease Control web site for listings), which are responsible for sanitary conditions at live animal markets. Finally, contact state wildlife agencies about the dangers that non-native and diseased market animals may pose to local wildlife if released.
3. Don't pollute or litter.
Pollution makes its way into bodies of water and wild areas, poisoning turtles and tortoises and destroying their habitats. Always properly dispose of any hazardous materials such as paint or oil. Garbage, such as plastic bags, kills many pond turtles and sea turtles who either ingest it or become entangled in it. Reduce the amount of garbage you produce and dispose of it properly.
4. Protect turtle and tortoise habitat.
Become active in your local conservation commission or parks and recreation department, and work to preserve turtle habitat.
5. Stop turtle and tortoise exploitation.
Avoid activities such as turtle races. They involve taking turtles out of their natural habitats and exposing them to many dangers, not to mention an enormous amount of stress. Races can harm individual turtles as well as entire local wild populations.
6. Give them a brake.
If you see a turtle or tortoise crossing a road, gently pick him up and carry him across in the direction he was headed. (Be watchful for cars in the process.) If the turtle is a large one, or a snapping turtle, use a stick to nudge him gently across the road without getting too close.
7. Enjoy turtles and tortoises in the wild.
Never keep wild turtles or tortoises as pets or buy them from a pet store. The trade in reptiles as pets is responsible for tremendous animal suffering and serious damage to turtle and tortoise populations. Learn to enjoy these animals by observing them in their natural habitat, where they belong. If turtles or tortoises live in your yard, why not keep them happy by building a pond and by landscaping with plants that provide protection and food? Edible plants such as tropical hibiscus, dandelion, geraniums, and Chinese lantern can be quite appetizing. (Make sure that your plants are free of pesticide and herbicide residue.) Piles of leaves, vines, and downed trees make perfect hiding places.
8. Do not disturb.
Steer clear of the beach at night during the summer. Your presence will frighten nesting sea turtles back into the sea, preventing them from laying eggs and jeopardizing any eggs they have laid.
9. Turn out the lights.
Do not shine bright lights on the beach at night. Oppose coastal development such as condominiums, houses, resorts, and hotels; they tend to expose beaches to excessive artificial lighting, which discourages female turtles from approaching the beach to lay eggs. The light also draws hatchlings away from the ocean, disorients them, and exposes them to predation and deadly dehydration.
10. Report crimes.
Tell local authorities if you see any person harassing or poaching a sea turtle, her eggs, hatchlings, or nests -- or those of any other endangered turtles and tortoises. These activities are violations of U.S. state and federal laws.
11. See what you can do.
Several groups are involved in research, conservation and advocacy work to protect turtles and tortoises. Join one of these groups to stay informed.
12. Spread the word.
Educate others about the importance of protecting turtles and tortoises from commercial exploitation and abuse in your community and throughout the world. Be a voice for turtles.
A plant-based diet is the most dramatic lifestyle change you can make to help save the planet and its animals. It also provides a wealth of health benefits. People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. (Sauces or seasonings may add fat, calories, and/or cholesterol.)
Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.
Dietary fiber from vegetables helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancers.
Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
Eating foods such as vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
Tips To Help You Eat Vegetables
Buy fresh vegetables in season. They cost less and are likely to be at their peak flavor.
Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking.
Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pick up pre-washed bags of salad greens and add baby carrots or grape tomatoes for a salad in minutes. Buy packages of veggies such as baby carrots or celery sticks for quick snacks.
Use a microwave to quickly “zap” vegetables. White or sweet potatoes can be baked quickly this way.
Vary your veggie choices to keep meals interesting.
Try crunchy vegetables, raw or lightly steamed.
For The Best Nutritional Value
Select vegetables with more potassium often, such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.
Sauces or seasonings can add calories, saturated fat, and sodium to vegetables. Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare the calories and % Daily Value for saturated fat and sodium in plain and seasoned vegetables.
Prepare more foods from fresh ingredients to lower sodium intake. Most sodium in the food supply comes from packaged or processed foods.
Buy canned vegetables labeled "reduced sodium," "low sodium," or "no salt added." If you want to add a little salt it will likely be less than the amount in the regular canned product.
Plan meals around a vegetable main dish, such as a vegetable stir-fry or soup.
Try a main dish salad for lunch. Go light on the salad dressing.
Include a green salad with your dinner every night.
Shred carrots or zucchini into casseroles, quick breads, and muffins.
Include chopped vegetables in pasta sauce.
Order a vegan pizza with toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, and ask for extra veggies.
Use pureed, cooked vegetables such as potatoes to thicken soups and gravies. These add flavor, nutrients, and texture.
Grill vegetable kabobs. Try tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions.
Make Vegetables More Appealing
Many vegetables taste great with a dip or dressing. Try a low-fat, low-sugar salad dressing with raw broccoli, red and green peppers, celery sticks or cauliflower.
Add color to salads by adding baby carrots, shredded red cabbage, or spinach leaves. Include in-season vegetables for variety through the year.
Include beans or peas in flavorful mixed dishes and salads.
Decorate plates or serving dishes with vegetable slices.
Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetables in a see-through container in the refrigerator. Carrot and celery sticks are traditional, but consider red or green pepper strips, broccoli florets, or cucumber slices.
Vegetable Tips For Children
Set a good example for children by eating vegetables with meals and as snacks.
Let children decide on the dinner vegetables or what goes into salads.
Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up vegetables.
Allow children to pick a new vegetable to try while shopping.
Use cut-up vegetables as part of afternoon snacks.
Children often prefer foods served separately. So, rather than mixed vegetables try serving two vegetables separately.
Keep It Safe
Rinse vegetables before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub vegetables briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel after rinsing.
More than 205,000 new drugs are marketed worldwide every year, most after undergoing the most archaic and unreliable testing methods still in use: animal studies. The current system of drug testing places consumers in a dangerous predicament. According to the General Accounting Office, more than half of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 1976 and 1985 caused serious side effects that later caused the drugs to be either relabeled or removed from the market. Drugs approved for children were twice as likely to have serious post-approval risks as other medications.
Many physicians and researchers publicly speak out against these outdated studies. They point out that unreliable animal tests not only allow dangerous drugs to be marketed to the public, but may also prevent potentially useful ones from being made available. Penicillin would not be in use today if it had been tested on guinea pigs--common laboratory subjects--because penicillin kills guinea pigs. Likewise, aspirin kills cats, while morphine, a depressant to humans, is a stimulant to cats, goats, and horses.
Human reactions to drugs cannot be predicted by tests on animals because different species (and even individuals within the same species) react differently to drugs. Britain's health department estimates that only one in four toxic side effects that occur in animals actually occur in humans. Practolol, a drug for heart disorders that "passed" animal tests, causes blindness in humans and was pulled off the market. Arsenic, which is toxic and carcinogenic to humans, has not caused cancer in other species. Chlomiphene decreases fertility in animals but induces human ovulation. The anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone breaks down nine times faster in humans than in rhesus monkeys.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES), an animal-tested drug that prevents miscarriages, caused cancer and birth defects in humans before its use was restricted. Many arthritis drugs that passed animal tests, including Feldene, and Flosint, have been pulled from the market because they caused severe reactions or even death in human beings.
Experimenters involved in a 1993 test of a hepatitis drug that led to five deaths were exonerated by a panel from the Institute of Medicine, which directly conflicts with the findings of the FDA. During the trials of fiauluridine (FIAU), the FDA contended that the scientists and their sponsors had committed numerous violations of federal rules governing clinical trials, including not spotting and reporting adverse reactions quickly enough. Dr. Morton Swartz, chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee, and a professor at Harvard Medical School said, "[F]indings from previous animal . . . tests using different doses and lengths of time didn't expose this drug's life-threatening side effects."
Experimenters using animals are less apt to notice symptoms like emotional changes, dizziness, nausea, and other important but less obvious conditions. Animals are unable to tell experimenters how they feel, information that is necessary to help determine whether a drug can be tolerated by human patients.
The British journal Nature reports that 520 of 800 chemicals (65 percent) tested on rats and mice caused cancer in the animals but not in humans. The same report illustrated different results between rats and mice used to test the same substance. It costs about $2 million to test a single chemical on rats and mice. Billions more are spent regulating the use and disposal of chemicals "proved" to be dangerous in animal tests -- chemicals which may actually present little or no risk to humans.
Unfavorable animal test results do not prevent a drug from being marketed for human use. So much evidence has accumulated about differences in the effects chemicals have on animals and humans, that government and industry officials often do not act on findings from animal studies. The acne drug Accutane was marketed despite the fact that it caused birth defects in rats. A small warning label was placed on the prescription. In this case, the animal tests did reflect human reactions, and now hundreds of children have been born with birth defects caused by Accutane.
Drug companies are in business to make money. That is done by marketing large numbers of drugs, many of which are copies of drugs already on the shelves. A report by Health Action International found that "out of 546 products on the market for coughs and colds in five areas of the world, 456 are irrational combinations. Three-quarters of the 356 analgesics on the market should not be recommended for use because they are dangerous, ineffective, irrational, or needlessly expensive." Of the millions of drugs on the market, only 200 are considered essential by the World Health Organization. According to the FDA, 84% of the new drugs produced by the 25 biggest drug companies had little or no potential for improving patient care. Only 3% were considered significant advances.
As long as the pharmaceutical industry cranks out thousands of new drugs every year, the public must push for the implementation of reliable, non-animal testing methods to ensure the safety of these drugs. Sophisticated non-animal testing methods exist. According to Dallas Pratt, M.D., "[M]any systems using either animal or human cell or organ cultures, as well as plant materials and microorganisms, have been created with emphasis on those which are rapid, inexpensive, and can discriminate between those chemicals whose properties represent a high toxicity risk and those which are relatively innocuous." Highly complex mathematical and computer models can be used to further define the specific problems a product may cause in human use.
Despite the inaccuracies of animal tests, and the many cases of dangerous drugs having to be withdrawn from the market after passing animal tests with flying colors, the FDA continues to require animal studies before a drug can be marketed in the United States.
Today we have the knowledge to prevent much illness and human suffering, often by avoiding the hormone and chemical-laden meat and dairy-based diet common in the United States, by regulating against pollutants and dangerous pesticides, and by avoiding tobacco and other known carcinogens. As John A. McDougall, M.D., points out, "The present modes of treatment fail to result in a cure or even significant improvement in most cases because they fail to deal with the cause. The harmful components of [a meat-based] diet and lifestyle ... promote disease and thus the disease progresses unchecked. Present modes of therapy are intended to cover up symptoms and signs rather than relieve the cause of disease."
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.
Sea turtles, air-breathing reptiles with streamlined bodies and large flippers, are well adapted to life in the marine environment. They inhabit tropical and subtropical ocean waters throughout the world.
Of the 7 species of sea turtles, 6 are found in U.S. waters: green, hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley. The 7th species, the flatback sea turtle, is found only in Australia.
Although sea turtles live most of their lives in the ocean, adult females must return to beaches on land to lay their eggs. They often migrate long distances between foraging grounds and nesting beaches.
All marine turtles occurring in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are under the joint jurisdiction of NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Green turtles and olive ridley turtles have breeding populations that were listed separately under the ESA, and therefore, have more than one ESA status.
In 1977, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly administer the Endangered Species Act with respect to marine turtles. NOAA Fisheries has the lead responsibility for the conservation and recovery of sea turtles in the marine environment and USFWS has the lead for the conservation and recovery of sea turtles on nesting beaches.
Major threats to sea turtles in the U.S. include, but are not limited to: destruction and alteration of nesting and foraging habitats; incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries; entanglement in marine debris; and vessel strikes. To reduce the incidental capture of sea turtles in commercial fisheries, NOAA Fisheries has enacted regulations to restrict certain U.S. commercial fishing gears (gillnets, longlines, pound nets, and trawls) that have known, significant bycatch of sea turtles. To effectively address all threats to marine turtles, NOAA Fisheries and the USFWS have developed recovery plans to direct research and management efforts for each sea turtle species.
The tourist trade is the main reason why turtle numbers are in decline. Tourism poses the greatest threat to turtles for a number of reasons. Turtles migrate huge distances but during certain times of the year they congregate in shallow waters to breed. Females go ashore to lay clutches of up to 150 eggs. Two months later, tiny hatchlings emerge from the sand and make their way to the sea. But many of the tropical and sub-tropical beaches that turtles have used for millions of years are now inhabited by tourists.
Many females will not lay their eggs if there is too much noise or lighting from local resorts. Also, nests can be damaged by sunbathers and newly hatched turtles can become disoriented by beachfront developments and may never reach the sea. In the Mediterranean, the nesting period of the loggerhead and green turtle coincide almost exactly with the peak tourist season (May to August).
Speedboats can be deadly, especially during the mating season when turtles spend long periods of time close to the surface. Turtles are still killed for their shells, which are made into souvenirs such as combs and ashtrays.
The conservation and recovery of sea turtles requires multi-lateral cooperation and agreements to ensure the survival of these highly migratory animals. NOAA Fisheries has a broad national and international program for the conservation and recovery of marine turtles. The Office of Protected Resources works closely with 2 international environmental agreements that deal exclusively with sea turtle conservation.
Chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas. Chimpanzees and humans share 99 percent of their genetic composition. Chimpanzees are highly intelligent, probably more so than human-based tests are able to measure. They make and use tools, cooperate with and learn from each other, and can learn various forms of expression and communication, including American Sign Language and computer symbols. Chimpanzees also have good memories.
HABITATS BEING DESTROYED
Fewer than 250,000 chimpanzees still exist in western and central Africa. Chimpanzees now occupy only a fraction of their former territory. Chimpanzee habitats, already small and isolated, are being further destroyed by increased commercial and agricultural development. In Africa, both species of chimpanzees--pan paniscus and pan troglodytes--are considered endangered. The U.S. Department of the Interior also lists them as endangered.
There are approximately 2,000 captive chimpanzees in the United States. About 300 are in zoos, and the remaining 1,700 were bred for medical research. Many are the offspring of chimpanzees captured in the wild before 1973, when the United States agreed to abide by an international treaty prohibiting the capture and importation of wild chimpanzees.
An estimated 106,000 chimpanzees live in a range of wooded habitats in the wild. They live in 21 African countries and are most concentrated in rainforest areas. They live in social groups, with numbers ranging from just a few to over 60.
Chimpanzee meat is no longer exclusively the food of the forest peoples, but is now commercially available in urban areas too. Bushmeat, including chimpanzee flesh, is also eaten by people in logging camps. The Jane Goodall Institute has very real concerns about the bushmeat trade. They say: "The large-scale commercial bushmeat trade could eradicate all great apes within 10 to 15 years."
CITES prohibits chimpanzees caught in the wild being used in circuses, but in countries where CITES has not been ratified or where it cannot be enforced, chimpanzees may be taken from the wild as infants, which often means the killing of the adults in their group.
Chimpanzees have been used in brain and skull research and in social deprivation studies. Chimpanzees are now popular subjects for AIDS research, although their immune system does not succumb to the virus. Chimpanzees are also used in painful cancer, hepatitis, and psychological tests, as well as for research into artificial insemination and birth control methods, blood diseases, organ transplants and experimental surgery. Their use in military experiments is suspected, but such information is kept secret and is hard to verify. Because they are in short supply, captive chimps are often subjected to multiple experiments, each of which can last an average of two to four years.
Chimpanzees are highly active and very socially oriented. When kept isolated in laboratories with no regular physical contact with either humans or other chimps, they quickly become psychotic.
Because adult chimpanzees are strong and often unmanageable, and because infected chimpanzees cannot be placed in zoos or existing sanctuaries, many chimpanzees are killed before the age of 10. (The normal lifespan of a chimpanzee is 40 to 50 years.) Others, perhaps not as lucky, are kept in tiny cages for decades.
Any increased use of chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories must rely on captive breeding. However, chimpanzees who are taken from their mothers before the age of four or five years seldom develop the social skills necessary for normal breeding. Female chimpanzees do not begin breeding until they are about 12 years old, and thereafter do not breed at all during each baby's four-to six-year infancy. Artificial insemination has increased breeding only slightly. Chimpanzees infected with AIDS, hepatitis or other diseases usually cannot be used for breeding. Unwanted chimpanzees from zoos and circuses are sometimes sold to laboratories.
Chimpanzees are still captured in the wild by poachers who shoot chimpanzee mothers and then take their infants. Many of the captured baby chimpanzees die before they reach a laboratory. Because the adults protect the infants, several adults are sometimes killed to obtain one baby.
CHIMPANZEE MANAGEMENT PLAN
During the late 1980s, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) developed its so-called "National Chimpanzee Management Plan." This plan is, in reality, was just a funding mechanism for five breeding colonies to maintain a steady supply of chimpanzees for vivisectors. Under a series of grants, the plan established breeding colonies of chimps at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta, the University of Texas in Bastrop, the Primate Foundation of Arizona in Tempe, the University of Southwestern Louisiana in New Iberia, and New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Alamogordo.
The Chimpanzee Management Plan (CMP) also established chimpanzee-related research bases at Yerkes and the University of Texas, as well as at Texas A&M in College Station and at the University of Pittsburgh. The International Species Inventory System monitors the status of all the captive chimps.
In 2013, under intense pressure from organizations and the public, the National Institutes of Health announced it would retain, but not breed, a colony of up to 50 chimpanzees for potential use. The remainder of the chimps would be designated for retirement into the Federal Sanctuary System.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Write to your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators and tell them that you do not want your tax dollars spent on animal experimentation. Write to The Honorable __________, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510; The Honorable __________, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Do not patronize zoos and other forms of animal entertainment.
Forest are great storehouses of natural life. Nearly half of our forest are now gone. We must act now to save the earth's forest. You can help by reducing, reusing, recycling & refusing to purchase paper and wood products that that are not ecologically responsible.
Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees, 4100 kilowatts of electricity, 7000 gallons of water and 90 cubic feet of landfill space.
1. Volunteer for tree-planting projects.
2. Buy firewood from "downed wood" sources
3. Purchase wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
4. Shop for FSC-certified products on the web at www.CertifiedProducts.org
5. Use only FSC-Certified products
6. Use recycled wood for remodeling and repairs
7. Avoid chlorine bleached paper
8. Buy recycled paper products and avoid products with excessive paper packaging
9. Use both sides of paper and save scraps for notes
We can all take notice of our environment. We can learn how our planet works. We can learn how to live on it without making a mess of it. We can help to keep it magnificent for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, and other living things besides us.
You can help by growing your own vegetables and fruits. You can help by planting a tree. Your new plants and trees will help to remove the greenhouse gas CO2 from the air. If you grow some of your own food, you will also help to prevent more CO2 from entering the air from the fossil-fuel-burning trucks, planes, and ships that transport your food to you from far away.
How can I reduce my "carbon footprint"?
Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air because of your own energy needs. You need transportation, electricity, food, clothing, and other goods. Your choices can make a difference.
Swap old incandescent light bulbs for the new compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). They use only 25% as much electricity to give the same light. They last ten times longer.
Turn off lights, TVs, computers, when you do not need them.
Unplug! Any electronic gadget you can turn on with a remote (TV, DVD player, Nintendo, Xbox) uses power even when it is "off." Appliances with a digital clock (like a coffee maker) or a power adapter (like a laptop computer) also suck power like a sneaky vampire. Plug these kinds of things into a surge protector or power strip that has an on/off switch. Then you can shut off all the power without unplugging each gadget. There are even power strips that glow to show you how much power is going through them, and power strips you can control from your computer or iPhone.
Turn up the thermostat on the air conditioning when it's hot. Use fans if you're still hot. They use much less power.
Turn down the thermostat on the heating when it's cold. Sweaters, blankets, and socks are good for you and better for the planet.
Walk or ride your bike instead of taking a car everywhere, or carpool. Even a 2-mile car trip puts 2 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. Bikes are a great form of green transportation. Sometimes, in the big city with lots of traffic, they are even faster than cars.
Stay out of the drive thru! When you go to a fast-food place, ask your driver to park the car and let you walk inside, rather than sitting in a line of cars with the engine running and polluting.
How can I reduce my trash pile?
Use reusable grocery bags.
Recycle everything you can. If your city does not pick up recycled materials, find out who you can talk to about starting this service. You should be recycling paper, aluminum cans, cardboard, food cans, plastic, glass, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, phone books, and anything else made of paper.
Shop thrift stores.
"BYOM" (Bring Your Own Mug.)
Use less paper whenever possible. Save the trees.
Drink tap water—filtered—instead of bottled water. Carry your drinking water in a reusable bottle. Plastic water bottles are an environmental disaster.
Use fewer containers. Buy the product that uses less packaging material. Even if you recycle packaging materials, it takes energy to create them in the first place and energy to remake them into something else.
Do I need to save water too?
People and animals in many parts of the world do not have clean, safe water to drink. As many more regions are hit by drought, this problem will become even more serious. The sooner we start conserving water, the better off we all will be. Be aware of how much water you use.
Imagine you live in a recreational vehicle (RV), and your water tank holds only 50 gallons. Every time you turn on the water, the noisy electric water pump has to turn on too, sucking up your RV's battery power. Would you keep the water running while you brush your teeth? Would you spend 15 minutes in the shower using up all the water in the tank and depleting the battery? Would you plant a thirsty lawn in front of your RV if you were parked in the desert?
How can I make a real difference?
Go vegan. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire 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.
The best way to persuade others to adopt humane and responsible lifestyles is to set a good example. Think realistically about how you're going to fit environmental and animal activism into your life. You may have a full-time job and may have to juggle time with family and friends. Can you re-plan your schedule or transfer some duties to a coworker, spouse, or someone else to allow yourself time to focus on animal and environmental activities? Maybe you can incorporate some animal and environmental work into the church, office, family or political activities you're already involved in. You do not want to overextend yourself in a blaze of glory, only to burn out in six months. Think carefully about how you're going to schedule activism into your daily routine so that it will become a part of your life and not an intrusion.
PICK YOUR PASSION
Figure out what earth and animal issue(s) you are most passionate about. Passion often comes from a sudden realization that changes your life forever. Once the realization hits you, it is what will stoke the embers of your earth and animal activism, even at the lowest points when you sometimes feel like giving up. Once you are aware of something in the world that you believe needs changed, that awareness will motivate you constantly and cause you to see the need everywhere, bringing a sense of responsibility with it.
As you read and learn more about animal and environmental issues, start choosing the ones that mean the most to you. The issues are so widespread you cannot possibly address all of them. You can focus on projects that will help the greatest number of animals, such as those involving animals used in laboratories or saving the animals of the rainforests, or that will help change the fundamental attitudes of large numbers of people. Or you can focus on specific issues or animal cruelty cases.
You do not need to "know it all" to start getting active, but before you can educate others effectively you need to know some basic facts. Visit your local library and bookstores for books and videos on the issues that interest you, and research your issues online. Become familiar with the people and facilities in your area. You'll want to be able to make ethical recommendations to people who may come to you with questions in the future. As you compile facts, resources, and other materials, keep your information organized. File important or useful information according to the issues they concern. Keep the names and addresses of good veterinarians, shelters, low-cost spay/neuter programs and wildlife rescue services for easy reference.
Research existing efforts. Your chosen cause likely already has action taking place at the local, regional, national or international level. Find out what activism is already taking place, and where you fit in. See if you can liaise with existing efforts and consider how you will join in or bolster existing efforts independently. Ask yourself these questions: Do you want to volunteer with or join the board of an existing group? Do you want to find a paid job with an earth or animal activist organization? If you're working at the local level, does a national organization have resources you can use? Where you find no existing efforts, avoid seeing this as a mammoth task of insurmountable proportions. Instead, break it down into small pieces. Aim to get other like-minded people on board. This is easier now than ever before with modern communication tools such as the internet.
Also educate yourself about activism. One of the most inspiring and helpful means for getting more deeply involved in activism is to read broadly in the field of activism. In particular, seek out books written by prominent activists who share wisdom derived from personal experience. Then, read widely within the cause itself, to both understand the issues clearly and to learn about the tactics, ideas, experiences, wins and losses and other useful information from those who have already been active in this cause.
The point of environmental and animal activism is to educate, raise awareness and make people passionate about an issue. Though you can do some of this on your own, especially through the internet, the news media is an invaluable tool when used well. Get in touch with folks who know how to craft press releases, write an editorial and contact the press.
Know the legislative, administrative and judicial processes of your country and/or region. Research your city, county and state environmental and animal laws. Knowing how to effect change to laws and how to make the most of the legislative system is important for every activist.
DETERMINE WHAT YOU CAN DO
Figure out what you can do for your chosen cause. Whether your cause is animal rights, the environment, wildlife issues, the local community garden, or the global economic system, it's important to have specific ideas about how you can contribute. Figure out which skills and resources you can devote to the cause, and how much time you want to dedicate.
While it is great to think big, it's also important to think small and gradual. Incremental change can be as important, and often more enduring, than massive change that happens quickly and disrupts people in a major way. Think through all the possibilities for slowly unleashing change through your school, workplace, community, town, region, country or the world. Decide whether you're a radical activist or a reformer activist. The radical activist is someone who needs to continue pushing for fundamental change and will use such means as protests, boycotts, alternative summits, etc., and generally tends to be wary of those people who sit in the institutions they want changed. A reformist is happy to work with those in the institutions they'd like to see changed, using tools of democracy to work within the existing structure to force social or political progress.
CHOOSE YOUR COURSE OF ACTION
Choose your method of activism. While activism can take hundreds of forms, approach this as being about utilizing your own talents and resources as best you can. You are in the best position to decide how you can achieve your goals as an earth and animal activist, along with the time frame, and whether or not you go it alone.
Do you want to work solo? Being an individual activist is easier now than ever, as you can use forums, videos, photos, websites, blogs, social networking and even advertising to get your message across. On the downside, being the only person working on the issue can be lonely, and it's a lot of work. Sometimes it may cause you to question whether you're on the right track or whether it's worth pursuing.
Do you want to work with others? You could join an existing group or start your own and request collaborators. One of the advantages of being part of a group is the extended power, resources, networks and passion involved. You may also want to collaborate loosely without putting together a permanent structure, for example by inviting collaborators to post on a group blog or a biannual zine.
Would you like to contribute to your cause through writing, teaching, speaking, planning events or art? Or perhaps you're great with website building, blogging or podcasts? Assess your talents realistically, along with the time and resources you have available.
Be willing to put in the work without immediate rewards. In many cases earth and animal activists work for years on a project without seeing the major change they want to bring about. Laws, social norms and other factors can make it very difficult to enact immediate change. It is wise to understand the possibility that during your lifetime you could be paving the way for eventual change, but you may not see it actually occur. Understanding this can help alleviate a sense of frustration, doom and resentment about your cause.
BEGIN TO SPEAK OUT
Speak up about your opinions. Environmental and animal activism starts with the everyday conversations you have with friends, your family and new people you meet. When you're passionate about something, it's hard to stop talking about it, so express yourself freely and engage people in serious conversations about your cause. Aim to educate people and help them get involved.
Be bold. Don't hesitate to walk up to the girl reading an animal magazine in the coffee shop–she might be looking for the group you're starting. But don't force your opinions on people who are averse to hearing them. After you've made your point, people might need time to digest what they've learned. Don't expect everyone to hop on board with your cause right away. Plant a seed and hope it grows.
GROW YOUR CAUSE
Once you've learned the ropes of being an earth and animal activist, you might want to start your own group and become an organizer. Doing outreach on your own is a great way to help the earth and animals, but forming a local group can increase your effectiveness and your clout. The media, the government, and the public will often give more serious consideration to the views of a group.
You will need to gather committed people together and create a solid plan of action. Decide from the beginning what your goal is: Do you want to stage a variety of actions to achieve a particular achievable goal, and then disband when it's achieved? Do you want to form a permanent group that works on different projects surrounding a particular topic? Or do you only want to work together for a single action, for example to coordinate a protest or fundraising effort?
Call your first meeting and discuss tactics. At this meeting, you should decide who will be responsible for which tasks, what your group’s goals are, and how often you want to meet. Be open to new ideas, and encourage people to express themselves.
Put your goals in writing and sketch out a basic plan that highlights what you need, what you want to achieve and some of the big steps that will be necessary to achieve your goals. Consider creating a website or social media page to keep track of your group's goals and members. If you want the group to stay together for a long time, you'll need a good name. Register your name with your local, state and federal governments to establish a unique identity.
Hold regular meetings to enable you to track your goals and coordinate everyone's efforts towards the common project. Set meeting dates well in advance and publicize them widely. Make sure you have a location reserved in advance, whether it's a physical place or a virtual meeting technology like conference calls or a chat room. Possible meeting locations include classrooms, the public library, someone's house, the park, municipal/community building, teen center, community center, coffee shop/cafe, church hall, etc.
If many people are involved in your group or have signed on as temporary volunteers, it may be helpful to form subcommittees. These can be useful for large groups that are doing multiple projects or staging multiple actions with the same goal. Here are some examples of subcommittees that you might need:
Public Relations: This subcommittee does all of the canvassing, handles advertising, books tables, creates banners and posters, and serves as a press contact to drum up media attention.
Outreach: This subcommittee liaises with other organizations, local businesses and anyone that might be able to support your cause through advertising, funding, in-kind donations of space or food, etc.
Logistics: This subcommittee takes care of all practical matters such as scheduling, booking performers, finding needed equipment and services, getting necessary permits, arranging for parking, taking care of food, etc.
Financial: This subcommittee keeps track of the budget and makes sure everything runs smoothly where money is concerned. Tasks include creating a budget, paying performers and service providers, setting any event prices, arranging for donations and identifying pre-event fundraising needs.
Learn how to message effectively. One thing that distresses time-poor, financially-tight, and already overworked people is being told that what they are doing is wrong. This kind of messaging is bound to make people bite the messenger and turn away from the message. As such, while maintaining your passion, also maintain a sense of courtesy, respect and a basic understanding of motivational psychology. In a nutshell, nobody likes being told that how they're living is wrong and surely you don't either. Instead, focus on enlightening people about societal and individual practices that have outlived their usefulness and provide alternatives that are realistic and obtainable. Have an affirmative vision, one that shows what you are for, not just what you're against. Remember that fear is at the heart of much resistance. Fear of job loss and lifestyle downgrading are two particular fears that drive much resistance to activist messaging. If you're not offering alternatives that are viable, doable and respecting of the people who may be impacted, don't be surprised if they resent your call for change.
Create a whole vision rather than a piecemeal one. How do you envisage a future in which the changes you are advocating for have happened? Paint that vision for everyone and let them imagine themselves in it. Make plans for the future. A good activist thinks into the future, imagining life after the goals have been met. What happens next? Will the change you bring about need constant maintenance? Or will it be self-sustainable? Thinking about this in advance may well change your tactics if you're concerned that just creating change isn't enough.
Learn how to raise money. Though you can do activism on your own dime, there are few kinds of activism that don't require money. Artists need supplies, bloggers need hosting plans, lone protesters need signs. Some forms of activism might even attract grant money, if you know how to write a proposal. Consider using merchandise for additional fundraising. You can sell t-shirts, host a bake sale, or sell related books on the issue you're addressing.
Strong organization from the top down (or the bottom up) will ensure that everything runs smoothly. Don't forget to document your steps, adjust your plans as time goes by and communicate frequently.
When working with others, consider the needs of the group. Be willing to compromise on the details, if not on your core values.
SPREAD YOUR MESSAGE
Leafleting is one of the best ways to educate people about earth and animal issues. It’s not only easy but also effective! Put the right information in the right hands and minds are changed. Create a flyer containing essential information about your cause, the name of your organization, the time and date you meet and anything else you want people to know. Hang the flyers around school, the neighborhood, community bulletin boards, inside coffee shops or cafes. In addition to flyers, you can pass out buttons, postcards, bumper stickers or other materials to help spread the word about what you're doing. These items are available from established organizations, or you can create your own. As you pass out your materials, be willing to answer people's questions and get into discussions about your cause.
Tabling—or setting up a table with resources about earth and animal issues—is an effective way to engage the public and provide information about environmental and animal issues. See if you can rent a table or setup a table for free in a school, university or somewhere local like outside of the supermarket or in the park. Have a sign-up list, information about your organization and colorful posters to attract people. Having free stuff to hand out, like stickers or bumper stickers, attracts people to your table. Be ready to educate people who stop and want to learn more about environmental and animal issues. By educating yourself on the issues before you go, you’ll be ensuring that answering questions will be a snap. Use the literature on your table to supplement your answers. The issues facing the earth and animals are deep and complex, so don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to a tough question. Simply get the person’s contact information and offer to have someone get back to him or her.
Sponsor a speaker in your community. Get in touch with someone of note who is working for the same cause. An author, a professor, the head of a nonprofit or an activist musician are all good choices. Make plans to host the speaker at a local community event space, then publicize the event using flyers, advertising and social media. A local school or university, a bookstore, a concert venue or a community center are all good places to host a speaker. Be sure to have literature to hand out at the event, and provide a sign-up sheet to get people's email addresses so you can let them know about the next event you organize.
Holding a demonstration is a fun, effective and easy way to alert people to earth and animal issues. It’s one of the easiest ways to reach a lot of people, and if your event is covered by the media, you have the potential to reach thousands more. Decide what form of demonstration to hold. Choose where it will take place. Get people interested and signed up. Get permission from the relevant people, whether that is local councils or a particular body like a university. Get the necessary permits if required. Talk to the media to get the word out to get people to come to the demonstration. Appoint a group of volunteers that will help manage the event. Make posters, flyers, visual aids or pamphlets to help spread your message and communicate your concerns to others. On the demonstration day, make sure everyone remains calm and demonstrates peacefully and respectfully. Hold your signs so they can be read easily (and you aren’t hiding your faces) and ask people to refrain from talking on the phone or texting. Have the majority of the people holding signs and waving at cars but have a select group handing out leaflets to people who are passing by. Remember to smile and be polite. You’ll change more people’s minds by being respectful and having engaged conversations, as opposed to yelling at them or intimidating them. If the police do arrive, calmly tell them that you already have your permit (or that you were told you didn’t need one). After the demo, remember to collect all your materials so that there isn’t any litter and get everyone’s contact information for future events.
Work with the media to spread your message. Make a database of key media outlets in your area. Start locally, then expand the list to regional and even national media. Include newspapers, television programs, websites and radio stations. Introduce yourself to local reporters and give them a copy of all your publications and a free ticket to any events you organize. Pitch story ideas as they come up pertaining to a relevant and timely issue with a human interest angle in mind. Make time for reporters and be accessible. Don't be afraid to give out your cell phone number. If a reporter cannot reach you with one phone call, he most likely will move on to an alternative source for his story. Be accurate, trustworthy and prepared. When a reporter asks a question, she wants an immediate answer. If there's no way you can answer immediately, ask the reporter when her deadline is. Be sure to get back to her as soon as possible. Send press kits or releases to a specific contact at a news organization. Press kits and releases are not as effective as making a call to a reporter, but they are a good way to send background information on your agency. Include your business card so reporters can keep your contact information on file. Thank reporters when you are satisfied with the stories they write. Reporters rarely receive praise.
NOT EVERYONE WILL AGREE WITH YOUR CAUSE
Expect to encounter dissent. Change worries most people and can cause them to react in ways that are not always considerate or constructive. It's not uncommon for an activist promoting a cause to deal with varying levels of negativity. The important thing is to brace yourself and stay strong in the face of people who disagree with you.
If you experience dissent from people within the cause, it is good to self-question and examine their reasons more closely. See if they actually have a point and seek to re-examine your approach in the light of their dissent. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to change your approach, but it does mean that keeping an open mind will ultimately make your cause stronger.
Dissent from outside the cause is to be expected. You're challenging the status quo. You will go through many experiences, including having people question your knowledge/authority/facts/respect and even your sanity on occasion. Keep calm and keep a level head. Some of the dissent will be obvious stalling, spin and covering-up tactics. Other times it will be more subtle, malicious and harmful. Know when to respond and when to keep quiet, and know when to bring your lawyer in. If you feel threatened in any way, get local authorities involved.
Don't work yourself to exhaustion. Earth and animal activists commonly experience burnout, especially when loads of passionate work don't translate into tangible change. When you're tired, worn out, and at your wit's end, that's when activism can turn negative. Take good care of yourself to prevent this from happening, since you won't be as powerful if you're feeling exhausted and bitter. Get plenty of rest. Take breaks from your activism and refresh your thoughts about where it's headed. If you find yourself feeling bitter about other people's lack of passion, take this as a warning sign to pull back and reassess your direction and purpose. Expect down times. Sometimes it will feel as if things are stagnating. Anything to do with progress meets such plateaus; knowing to expect them and learning how to ride them out is important. Break through the stagnant times by making new associations and recombining your existing approaches with new ones.
Be creative! Animal and environmental activism doesn't have to involve large events. Bloggers can be activists through their writing, teachers can be activists by encouraging students to challenge their beliefs, artists can leave guerrilla activist art around town, computer-savvy folks can arrange an e-zine, etc.
Your goal is to become a resource on earth and animal issues for the media. You can start by letting them know that you exist and by cultivating contacts. You don’t have to be an expert on every issue, but you should be open to learning about issues when they come up in the news. You want your local media to think of you when anything involving the environment or animals is in the news and to know that they can come to you for a timely comment or information.
If your group is just starting out, you’ll need to develop some identifying literature. Even if you intend to use literature from larger groups, you need to have at least one brochure, fact sheet or flyer that identifies your organization and describes its purpose and goals. You will also need some letterhead stationery. These materials are invaluable when working with reporters, who are always interested in the local angle.
CREATE A MEDIA LIST
Create a media list and organize it into the following categories: Wire services; Local print media; Local radio; Local TV. Record the name and title of each contact person (you may have more than one contact person for each organization), the name of his or her publication or station, and his or her address, telephone number, and e-mail address. For print media, get the names of the news editor (also called the city editor, news director, or assignment editor), the features editor, and the person responsible for the community calendar or bulletin board.
Organize media information according to whether the publication is daily, weekly, monthly or web-based. Find out the publications’ deadlines and make a list of your local TV news programs’ broadcast times. This will help you plan your demonstrations and actions so that they will best fit into the TV stations’ schedules and will prevent you from calling stations about an upcoming event while they are busy preparing to go on the air.
Try to keep profiles of your media contacts, with comments on whether they are sympathetic or hostile to certain issues and whether they have covered earth and animal-related issues in the past. It’s also a good idea to date your notes so that you’ll know when you contacted them last, what you contacted them about, and how they reacted.
Once you’ve created your media list, send a brief letter to each contact explaining the purpose of your group and offering information on issues. Include your group’s identifying fact sheet or brochure. This alone is probably not enough to get the media to contact you (usually you have to become known in the community), but it is a start.
WRITING A NEWS RELEASE
News releases—short announcements about newsworthy events—are sent to newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations to interest them in doing stories. Because news directors receive hundreds of releases every day, yours must look professional and present the facts quickly, or it will never be read.
Keep it short; one page is best. Write a concise, catchy headline that summarizes the story. It should be written in the style of a newspaper headline, using active verbs. Use the “inverted pyramid” style to write the release. Put the most important facts in the first paragraph and supporting information in descending order so that the least important information is last. The first paragraph should answer the “five W’s”: who, what, where, when, and why. Underline the text that gives the location, time and date of the event. The final paragraph should describe your group and reinforce your message with a quotation from your spokesperson.
Never editorialize. Use quotations to express opinions. Quotations should be attributed to a specific individual, such as the appointed spokesperson for your upcoming event, not just your group.
Proofread the release carefully for grammar and spelling. Ask someone else to read it and to give an objective opinion. If you have the time, set it aside and look it over again the next morning. Eliminate redundancy, use short words and phrases, and simplify complex ideas. Make it dramatic and attention-getting, but be prepared to substantiate everything that you say. Double-check the facts. It is virtually impossible to correct a release once it has gone out. But if you do make a mistake—especially in the time or location of an event—call those who received the release as soon as possible.
The time you give the media should be the ideal time for them to see your event. If your event starts at 11 am, you may wish to tell the media that it’s a little later so that they don’t arrive to see activists who are still figuring out where to stand or are simply chatting.
Use white, regular-weight, letter-sized (8.5-by-11-inch) paper. Include your group’s name, address, and website (if you have one) in your letterhead. Type “NEWS RELEASE” at the top of the first page. Always refer to releases as “news releases,” not “press releases.” The same goes for “news conference” versus “press conference.” Type the date in the upper-lefthand corner. Type “For Immediate Release” above the date. Be sure to give the contact’s full name. Be certain that the contact is always available at the phone number listed on the release, and include both daytime and evening numbers if necessary.
Center the headline, type it in all capital letters, and place it about 2 inches from the heading above it to provide space for editors’ notes. Directly below the headline, type the subhead. The subhead, which should be centered and underlined, gives a bit more detail about the event but, like the headline, is still short and catchy. Begin the body of the release below the subhead and about a third of the way down the page. Leave wide margins for reporters’ and editors’ notes.
Don’t use zeroes for times (“11 am,” not “11:00″) or letters after numbered dates (“August 22,” not “August 22nd”). Never continue on the back of a page. Instead, end the first page with a complete paragraph and type the word “more” centered at the bottom. At the end of the release, center and type “-30-,” “###,” or “Ends.”
A media kit is a packet of information given to reporters who come to your demonstration, event or news conference. It helps to get your message across and makes you look professional. A media kit can include a news release, a facts heet, photographs, background information on or a history of the issue, copies of relevant documents and background on your organization. Package the kit in a two-pocket folder (found in any office supply store) and put a label on the cover with your group’s name and the words “Media Kit.” If you have a photograph, you can put it on the cover, but it is not essential.
SERVICING A NEWS RELEASE
Before deciding how and when to deliver your release, establish what you want to accomplish. Do you want something printed or broadcast before the event, or do you want the media to attend and cover the event? Generally, it’s better to get coverage of events such as film showings, meetings, and fundraisers before they occur. In such cases, you should send releases at least three weeks in advance to the “community calendar” or “bulletin board” sections of your local paper. If, on the other hand, you’re organizing a picket or demonstration, you’ll want news coverage of the event itself. In this case, fax and/or e-mail your news release one day before the event.
Regardless of what type of event you’re planning, keep in mind that reporters need an interesting angle. When you make a media call or send out a news release, be sure that it is for something newsworthy. Remember, the media don’t like to feel “used” to promote a cause. Reporters want what they’re writing to be legitimate news, not propaganda. If your information or event isn’t newsworthy, don’t contact the media because you’ll only anger them and waste their time.
Use interesting visuals in your demonstrations. Tie your demonstration in with current events, such as an upcoming holiday or a popular current news story. Focus on local aspects. In addition to sending a news release, call the news desk to inform them. Do not read your entire news release to them; just inform them of the event, date, location and times.
When you send a news release to more than one person in an organization, let each person know who else is receiving it. Nothing infuriates an editor more than working on a story and then finding out that someone else at the paper is doing the same story for another section.
After the demonstration, assign volunteers to gather the coverage. At least two people should record television coverage and check the newspapers for stories and photos. These clips can be sent out with your next news release to show that what you’re doing is newsworthy.
If a newspaper covers your event but the news wires (Associated Press, Reuters) don’t, call the wires to let them know that they can pick up the story from the paper. If your event is of national interest, call the national television news desks in New York to let them know that they can pick up footage from the local affiliate.
Reporters work against deadlines. If you call editors or reporters when they are rushing to meet a deadline, you won’t get your story in the news, and you may alienate them as well. The best time to call contacts at a morning paper is between 9:30 and 10 am. As it gets later, the staff will be more pressed for time. Call contacts at an evening paper in the late afternoon when the paper has just gone out.
It is best to call radio or TV reporters as early in the day as possible—between 8 and 9 am—if you’re trying to get on an evening broadcast. Don’t call after 1 or 2 pm for a 5 pm story; the staff is rushing to edit the news that they already have. As a general rule, talk to the media as far before deadlines as possible, then follow up on the day of the event.
Develop and maintain professional relationships with the media in your community by being courteous and responsible. Return calls promptly—remember those deadlines! Be enthusiastic, cooperative, friendly, and truthful. If you make a mistake, admit it promptly. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I can find out.” Then do so.
WORKING WITH WIRE SERVICES
Wire services are news-gathering agencies that sell stories to newspapers and radio stations around the country. They should be your first points of contact for delivering a news release or making media calls. If you can interest the wire services, your story will be sent to all the subscribing media in your area or even across the nation. The biggest wire services are the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters. Many of the nation’s largest papers—The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times—also have news services, which means that if you interest them in your story, it may be sent nationwide as well.
Getting a story “on the wire” is a valuable accomplishment. It is worth the great deal of effort that goes into developing good relations with wire service reporters. Many TV, radio and print assignment editors answer calls asking for coverage by saying, “We’ll see what comes in over the wire.”
To find out which wire service bureaus are in your area, look in the telephone book or call your local newspaper office. Any reporter can tell you where the nearest bureau is. If the newspaper is a member of the AP, it also submits stories to the AP.
Send the bureau manager a letter describing your organization, and supply the names, addresses and telephone numbers of your best contact people. Offer to supply information or the local angle on earth and animal issues.
The daybook is a listing of scheduled events for the day. Each evening and morning, AP and United Press International (UPI) send the daybook to their members. Assignment editors use this list to decide how to assign reporters and camera crews. Always send two news releases to the wire services—one for the daybook and one for the assignment editor. Call both the daybook editor and the assignment editor to follow up. To get listed in the daybook, send your news release about a week before the event. If that’s not possible, you may still be able to get listed by calling the information in to the daybook editor.
You might also be able to get a photograph of your event on the wire. If you’ve just had a demonstration, e-mail your pictures along with your news release.
Call your closest radio bureaus. Be prepared to do an interview on the spot if they are interested. They’ll tape it for later use.
WRITING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
You can get great exposure for earth and animal issues by writing letters to the editors of newspapers or magazines. Make it a point to read local papers and magazines for articles that provide fuel for letters to the editor.
A spokesperson, not necessarily the group leader, should be appointed for each event. Members of your group need to be prepared to answer media questions with a brief sentence and then direct further questions to the spokesperson, who will be prepared with media kits and all the facts. This helps prevent the media from interviewing an inarticulate or unprepared person. Your group must decide ahead of time what the spokesperson should and should not say. The spokesperson should be well dressed. Though you must appoint a spokesperson, everyone at the event should be familiar with the topic because reporters will often want a second comment from others involved.
Never speak “off the record”; everything is on the record. Also, watch out for jokes, which can create misunderstandings. Don’t get bullied into a simple “yes” or “no” answer to a complex question. Give the facts that are necessary to address the issue.
Study the professionals on national interview shows. Develop a few good phrases and examples that will catch a reporter’s ear, and rehearse them. No one becomes an expert overnight. The key is to practice, practice, practice!
State important points clearly and briefly. It’s helpful if you understand what media professionals consider newsworthy. The following are primary characteristics of newsworthy stories:
Timeliness: The media are interested in what’s happening today, not yesterday.
Proximity: The closer the event is to the media’s target audience, the more likely it will be considered news.
Prominence: You may get more media attention by getting well-known people involved.
Conflict: The media love covering opposing factions.
Novelty: If you’re doing something for the first time, the media are more likely to respond; they get tired of the same old thing.
Importance: The more people who will be affected or interested, the more likely you are to receive media coverage of an event.
Your information or event does not have to meet all these criteria, but it should meet most of them.
RADIO & TV TALK SHOW INTERVIEWS
You can reach thousands of people through talk shows. Call in to make comments when earth and animal related subjects are discussed and during “open phone” segments. It’s even better if someone from your group can be a talk show guest.
If your group is expecting a visit from someone with a particular area of expertise, try to get the person on a talk show. Or try to get yourself on one. Contact television and radio stations several weeks in advance. Send a letter to the show’s director describing your credentials or those of your speaker as well as possible discussion topics and reasons why they would interest the audience. As with a news release, be sure to provide your telephone number. Prepare a list of people whom your speaker would feel comfortable debating in case the show wants to present both sides.
Once you are booked on a show, listen to it or watch it so that you’ll know what style and format to expect. To prepare, do the following:
Study the issue.
Practice being interviewed. Tape yourself with a recorder or video camera.
Anticipate difficult questions and plan your answers.
Memorize good quotations, anecdotes and facts.
Have a friend ask you hard questions in a hostile, aggressive way so that you can be prepared for a difficult interview.
Decide on the five main points that you want to make during the show. Memorize a fact or an example for each one.
Try to make your five points, even if the interviewer doesn’t ask the “right” questions. Don’t feel limited by the questions. You can answer them and still talk about your points. Practice saying, “The real question here is …” or, “That relates to a larger issue, which is ….”
If you’re doing a TV show, be careful about how you dress. Wear plain, solid colors rather than patterns, but avoid solid black, white and red. Green and blue film especially well. Smile, and don’t fidget or touch your face or hair.
Try to make your point in eight seconds or less. TV news shows look for “sound bites”—statements that can be plugged into a 60-second story. If you take 45 or 60 seconds to make your point, your spot won’t be aired, so use short sentences.
Speak slowly and carefully (but not too slowly!), and think before answering the question.
Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want edited out and aired separately. The reporter may interview you for five minutes but air only eight seconds of it. Don’t worry about repeating yourself: It just increases the chances that what you want to be heard actually will be.
If the reporter is hostile, don’t get flustered, raise your voice or get shrill. Stay calm and concentrate on making your five points. Remember, the reporter is not your real audience.
Talk directly to the interviewer, not to the audience or camera. If you steal side glances at the camera, you’ll look nervous or shifty.
Holding a news conference is a good way to fall flat on your face … unless you have a really important story. Hold a news conference only when the following criteria are met:
The media can get more from it than they could from photographs and news releases.
You have important or newsworthy people available to present your story.
Experts will be available to answer questions.
The story involves something that has to be seen to be understood.
The media are inundating you with telephone calls, and rumors must be dispelled.
Use the following format when holding a news conference:
Hold the news conference in a location that is convenient for media professionals, such as in a downtown hotel, and provide light refreshments. The best time to have a news conference is 10 or 11 am.
Start promptly with a concise statement from your spokesperson.
Have media kits ready and explain the material to the media.
Call on the expert to read a short statement.
End the news conference on time. It should not last more than 30 or 40 minutes. Reporters will ask further questions if they wish to do so.
If possible, issue invitations one to two weeks ahead of time by sending a “media alert.” Explain the details of the news conference and what will be addressed. If you are holding the news conference right away, alert the media by telephone. Call the wire services to get it on the daybook.
Be careful to allow only media professionals, not members of the general public, to enter the room. Assign someone to check media IDs at the door. Courteously refuse entry to all others. Hand media kits and news releases out as soon as reporters arrive. If a major statement is being made, you may want to issue the news release after the statement. After the news conference, follow up with media inquiries as quickly as possible. Make every effort to accommodate requests for personal interviews. Deliver news releases and media kits to media professionals who were invited but did not attend. Tell radio stations that your spokesperson is available for telephone interviews.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program spends millions of taxpayer dollars to inhumanely kill as many as 100,000 wild predators annually. More accurately described by its former name, Animal Damage Control, Wildlife Services spends millions of dollars each year to kill thousands of wild animals (like coyotes, foxes, and badgers) in the name of protecting crops, livestock, private property, and "natural resources" such as birds who are endangered or favored by hunters.
The methods used to kill these animals include shooting from helicopters and airplanes, trapping, poisoning and denning (poisoning pups in their dens). Trapping and poisoning injure or kill "non-target" animals such as deer, birds, and companion animals—even endangered species. All this, despite the development of non-lethal methods to protect livestock and crops, and evidence that killing predators doesn't even solve the problem.
Coyotes and other predators provide easy scapegoats for the many difficulties faced by ranchers, and an easy target for Wildlife Services. But overall, predators account for a small percentage of livestock losses. The vast majority of livestock loss is caused by disease, severe weather and difficulty during calving or lambing. While coyotes and foxes are blamed for bird population declines, in most cases, habitat loss and/or fragmentation is the real culprit. Once this has taken place, these populations are more vulnerable to predation by other wild animals.
Though lethal predator control may seem a simple solution, reducing predator populations only occasionally increases bird population increases, and then only for a short time. Such increases require continued and widespread lethal predator control, continuing the cycle of cruelty without ever tackling the actual problem.
Changing livestock husbandry practices and adopting non-lethal strategies can go a long way toward reducing or eliminating predator-caused livestock losses over the long term.
Husbandry practices include:
bringing sheep into a barn during lambing (when they are especially vulnerable)
corralling livestock at night
removing livestock carcasses before they attract coyotes, bears, or other predators.
Non-lethal means of reducing livestock depredations include:
aversive conditioning of attacking predators.
Finally, improving and preserving habitat, as well as installing fencing that excludes predators, are long-term, inexpensive solutions that will serve both people and wildlife.
Leopards are beautiful cats generally found in the dense, damp, forested areas of India and Southeast Asia. Once common in all parts of Africa apart from the Sahara, they have now disappeared from most parts of northern Africa (apart from a few areas of the Atlas Mountains) and are scarce in the extreme west of the continent. The leopard is under extreme threat, especially in the Middle East and southwest Asia. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List because it is declining in large parts of its range due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and hunting for trade and pest control. It is regionally extinct in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, Libya and Tunisia.
The European fashion for leopard skins may have diminished since the 1970s, but leopards are still killed for their skins. These crimes are often overlooked.
While it is illegal to take leopards from the wild to put in zoos, captive-bred leopards (and other animals) retain their wild instincts. They are shy creatures, used to remaining hidden and avoiding open spaces. Zoos want people to see the animals and so, in captivity, leopards are often prevented from engaging in their natural behaviors.
For just $3400, you can track and kill a leopard on a Big Game Hunting Trip. These trips are geared toward tourists. You list the animals you want to kill and the tour guides will take you to where you are likely to be able to kill them.
The bones of the leopard are used in traditional Asian medicine and are sometimes prescribed as a substitute for tiger bones in the treatment of rheumatic diseases and aching joints and muscles. Ironically, the success in controlling the trade in tiger parts may actually have led to greater risk for other cats.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not support any form of animal entertainment.
Do not purchase animal products.
Write to your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators and tell them that you do not want your tax dollars spent on game hunting. Write to The Honorable __________, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510; The Honorable __________, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Write to the conservation organizations that you want to support and ask them about their policies regarding game hunting and animal entertainment. Spend your well-intentioned donation wisely.
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.
Every year, millions of animals suffer and die in painful tests to determine the "safety" of cosmetics and household products. Substances ranging from eye shadow and soap to furniture polish and oven cleaner are tested on rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, dogs, and other animals, despite the fact that test results do not help prevent or treat human illness or injury.
In eye irritancy tests, a liquid, flake, granule, or powdered substance is dropped into the eyes of a group of albino rabbits. The animals are often immobilized in stocks from which only their heads protrude. They usually receive no anesthesia during the tests. After placing the substance in the rabbits' eyes, laboratory technicians record the damage to the eye tissue at specific intervals over an average period of 72 hours, with tests sometimes lasting 7 to 18 days. Reactions to the substances include swollen eyelids, inflamed irises, ulceration, bleeding, massive deterioration, and blindness. During the tests, the rabbits' eyelids are held open with clips. Many animals break their necks as they struggle to escape. The results of eye irritancy tests are questionable, as they vary from laboratory to laboratory-and even from rabbit to rabbit.
Acute toxicity tests, commonly called lethal dose or poisoning tests, determine the amount of a substance that will kill a percentage, even up to 100 percent, of a group of test animals. In these tests, a substance is forced by tube into the animals' stomachs or through holes cut into their throats. It may also be injected under the skin, into a vein, or into the lining of the abdomen; mixed into lab chow; inhaled through a gas mask; or introduced into the eyes, rectum, or vagina. Experimenters observe the animals' reactions, which can include convulsions, labored breathing, diarrhea, constipation, emaciation, skin eruptions, abnormal posture, and bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The widely used lethal dose 50 (LD50) test was developed in 1927. The LD50 testing period continues until at least 50 percent of the animals die, usually in two to four weeks. Like eye irritancy tests, lethal dose tests are unreliable at best. Says Microbiological Associates' Rodger D. Curren, researchers looking for non-animal alternatives must prove that these in vitro models perform "at least as well as animal tests. But as we conduct these validation exercises, it's become more apparent that the animal tests themselves are highly variable." The European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods' Dr. Michael Ball puts it more strongly: "The scientific basis" for animal safety tests is "weak."
No law requires animal testing for cosmetics and household products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires only that each ingredient in a cosmetics product be "adequately substantiated for safety" prior to marketing or that the product carry a warning label indicating that its safety has not been determined. The FDA does not have the authority to require any particular product test. Likewise, household products, which are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency that administers the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), do not have to be tested on animals. A summary of the CPSC's animal-testing policy, printed in the Federal Register, states, "[I]t is important to keep in mind that neither the FHSA nor the Commission's regulations require any firm to perform animal tests. The statute and its implementing regulations only require that a product be labeled to reflect the hazards associated with that product."
Testing methods, therefore, are determined by manufacturers. The very unreliability of animal tests may make them appealing to some companies, since these tests allow manufacturers to put virtually any product on the market. Companies can also use the fact that their products were tested to help defend themselves against consumer lawsuits. Others believe that testing on animals helps them compete in the marketplace. Consumers demand products with exciting new ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acids, and animal tests are often considered the easiest and cheapest way to "prove" that new ingredients are "safe."
Such arguments carry little weight with the more than 500 manufacturers of cosmetics and household products that have shunned animal tests. These companies take advantage of the many alternatives available today, including cell cultures, tissue cultures, corneas from eye banks, and sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies can also formulate products using ingredients already determined to be safe by the FDA. Most cruelty-free companies use a combination of methods to ensure safety, such as maintaining extensive databases of ingredient and formula information and employing in vitro tests and human clinical studies.
Caring consumers also play a vital role in eliminating cruel test methods. Spurred by public outrage, the European Union (EU) banned cosmetics tests on animals. In the United States, a survey by the American Medical Association found that 75 percent of Americans are against using animals to test cosmetics. Hundreds of companies have responded by switching to animal-friendly test methods. To help consumers identify products that are truly cruelty-free, a coalition of national animal protection groups has developed the Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals, which clarifies the non-animal-testing terminology and procedures used by manufacturers and makes available a cruelty-free logo for companies that are in compliance with the standard. Shoppers can support this initiative by purchasing products that comply with the corporate standard and boycotting those that don't and by asking local stores to carry cruelty-free items.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Everyone seeking to stop animal tests should urge government regulatory agencies and trade associations to accept non-animal test methods immediately. Never buy cosmetics and household products tested on animals.
Residents living in towns and cities can play a major role in ensuring insect pollinators survive and thrive around them.
With global bee and butterfly populations in decline, the nature of cities is shifting so that they often contain more diverse and abundant populations of native bees than nearby rural landscapes. However, urban conservation programs are largely lagging behind, in that they continue to invest in education and outreach rather than programs designed to achieve high-priority species conservation.
New research into urban ecology is changing how we view the biological value and ecological importance of cities globally. But in order to ensure this has a recognizable effect on issues such as global food security and ecosystem service provision, policies now need to be better aligned with this newly unfolding image of urban landscapes.
Urban gardens are increasingly being recognized for their potential to maintain or even enhance biodiversity. And by growing a variety of plants from around the world, gardeners can play an important role in ensuring that a range of food sources is available for many different pollinators. This international collaboration demonstrates those theories can also be applied globally, to the potential benefits of people and communities across the world.
Urban habitats have traditionally been rather neglected by ecologists and conservationists who are interested in pollinators. However, recent research globally has demonstrated that towns and cities can support large, diverse communities of bees and other insects that play an important role in pollinating urban food crops, particularly in gardens and allotments. It's important that we raise the profile of these insects to influence planning policies, ensuring that building and infrastructure development, as well as conservation strategies, takes this into account.
The diversity of people living in cities creates a diversity of aesthetic landscaping preferences, which in turn leads to a diversity of flowering plants which supports diverse populations of bees. And because native bees can live their entire lives in relatively small spaces when food sources are present, insect pollinators put high-priority and high-impact urban conservation within reach, and small actions can yield large benefits for pollinator conservation.
Recent research is also showing that improving the wild pollinator populations in urban areas improves species diversity and abundance in nearby agricultural lands. So intensifying conservation efforts for urban insect pollinators constitutes an opportunity for meaningful urban conservation, moving beyond traditional education and recreation programming towards a series of cascading benefits throughout rural and urban landscapes.
Because the world’s food security depends upon bees and other pollinators, attending to populations of urban pollinators is important. The global pollinator crisis is one environmental problem that an individual urban resident can do something about. There is no need to get a bee hive which can increase competition for resources with native bees. Simply plant more diverse flowers of different sizes, let valuable 'weeds' grow an extra week or two before mowing them from your lawn, leave some bare unmulched ground for solitary ground nesters, learn to appreciate the aesthetic of yards of others who plant for bees, and then watch the urban pollinators flourish.
Rattlesnake roundups take place from January through July in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Georgia. Roundups started as a misguided attempt to rid areas of rattlesnakes, but they have evolved into commercial events that promote animal cruelty and environmentally damaging behavior. Thousands of rattlesnakes are captured and slaughtered, or mistreated in competitive events that violate the basic principles of wildlife management and humane treatment of animals.
No other wild animal in the United States is as extensively exploited and traded without regulation or oversight as the rattlesnake. Several species could become extinct just as we are beginning to understand their ecological importance. Rattlesnakes are important to their ecosystems. They prey on rodents, keeping the populations naturally in check so that the rodents do not cause crop damage or spread disease. Rattlesnakes are also important prey for raptors and other animals. Four species commonly found in roundups are the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the western diamondback rattlesnake, the timber rattlesnake, and the western or prairie rattlesnake.
The timber rattlesnake is listed as endangered or threatened in several states, but no federal or international laws currently protect this species. The western diamondback rattlesnake, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and the western or prairie rattlesnake are not protected anywhere in their ranges, nor are they protected by any federal or international laws. We must act now to save remaining rattlesnake populations and gather the knowledge necessary for developing long-term conservation strategies.
Most rattlesnakes in roundups are driven out of their dens with gasoline, then stored without water or food in unhygienic conditions, and crammed tightly into containers for transport to and display at roundup events. Many snakes arrive at these events starved, dehydrated, or crushed to death. Those who survive may be used in public demonstrations and daredevil acts. The rattlesnakes are eventually decapitated, a cruel and inefficient method of slaughter for reptiles.
Rattlesnake collection methods are highly destructive to the habitats of rattlesnakes and other burrow dwellers such as gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, box turtles, coachwhip snakes, pine snakes, southern toads, and gopher frogs, along with burrowing owls, raccoons, opossums, and at least 32 species of invertebrates. The most popular collection method is to spray gasoline or other toxic chemicals into rattlesnake dens and resting places, which can render a burrow uninhabitable for years. Once introduced into the soil, gasoline could contaminate groundwater—the primary water source for many rural communities—thus poisoning wildlife, livestock and humans.
Roundups pose other threats to human health, too. Contrary to claims of organizers, roundups increase the number of snake-bite incidents in the host communities. This is due to collection activities and competitive events that bring humans with little or no experience into direct contact with rattlesnakes. The bites that result must be treated with antivenin, thereby depleting the local supply of antivenin available to treat bites that are genuinely accidental and unavoidable.
Another hazard is the snake meat sold at roundups for human consumption. Rattlesnakes at roundups are typically killed under unhygienic conditions, and their meat, often improperly prepared, may be contaminated with Salmonella or other bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the handling of live snakes can also spread Salmonella. The CDC recommends that people most at risk—including children under five and people with weakened immune systems—avoid all contact with snakes and any items they’ve touched, including clothing. For others, the CDC advises that contact with reptiles in public settings should be limited to designated animal contact areas where there are adequate hand-washing facilities and no food or drink is allowed. It instructs all individuals to wash their hands thoroughly after touching a snake, though it warns that hand washing alone may not be enough to prevent the spread of the bacteria. Unfortunately, at most rattlesnake roundups, proper hand washing facilities are sparse, even though the snakes are sometimes handled by small children.
Organizers often attempt to legitimize roundups by claiming that they provide a supply of venom for antivenin, but their venom collection methods may not meet the strict guidelines for antivenin production required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Rather than add to the nation's supply of antivenin, roundups deplete it by encouraging behavior that leads to snake bites.
Many rattlesnake handlers and roundup organizers attempt to influence public perceptions about snakes with negative misinformation such as false bite statistics. Rattlesnake handlers typically promote their acts as "safety talks" or other sorts of public education. What the public actually sees, however, are demonstrations of extremely unsafe practices, which audience members may try later on their own. Permanent disfigurement or even death could result.
Roundups are a liability to the communities and corporations that sponsor them, as well as to the nonprofit organizations that benefit from them. Hosting communities, sponsoring corporations, and charities that accept proceeds from roundups unwittingly lend these cruel and ecologically unsound events undue credibility. Communities place themselves at financial risk because they may have to cover the cost of medical care for uninsured visitors who may be bitten; they may also face lawsuits or increased criminal activity as unintended outcomes of hosting roundups.
Conservation of endangered species may sound like a job for politicians and scientists. A problem of such proportions seems impossible to be tackled by the average person. But you can make a significant impact by adopting some simple habits; and if we all do the same, we have the power to protect endangered animals all over the world. Here are 10 ways you can make a difference for endangered species:
Reduce And Reuse
Reuse items in your household when you can, and buy products that produce less packaging waste. By purchasing second-hand furniture, clothes, electronics, and toys, you help reduce the energy consumption required to make new ones and produce less waste as well. Choose reusable bottles for beverages whenever you can. Use a reusable bag for your groceries, and carry your own container to the restaurant for the leftovers.
Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals In Your Household
Toxic chemicals used in laundry, housecleaning, dish washing and personal care products end up in underground waters, poisoning aquatic life and any animals that feed on them. Choose non-toxic products, or make your own.
Dispose Of Waste Properly
Recycle plastics, paper, metal cans and glass. When you take out your trash, see that the bag is sealed safely so you don’t litter by accident. Dangerous compounds such as car fluids, paint, bleach, batteries, pesticides, and other chemical substances should be disposed of properly at a specialized facility.
Prevent Soil Erosion
Take all necessary measures to prevent soil erosion and protect water resources close by used by wild animals. When you clear out vegetation, you must take all necessary precautions that any loose sediment is kept away from natural waterways, as it would consume all oxygen from the water and disrupt the habitat of the stream bed.
Maintain A Healthy Backyard Habitat
Populate your yard with native plants and ask the extension agent of your local community to help you fight off any invasive plant species. Replace toxic pesticides and herbicides with safer options. Sterilize bird feeders and baths often to stop diseases from spreading. Prevent wild animals from raiding pet bowls and trash cans by bringing pet food indoors overnight and securing your garbage in safely closed bins.
Support An Organization That Fights To Save Endangered Species
If you care a lot about saving a particular endangered habitat or species, seek out an organization who is on a mission that accommodates your concerns. Volunteer, donate or materialize your support by adopting your favorite endangered species.
Advocate For Conservation
Start studying about how you can assist in pressuring government officials on issue policies and decisions regarding endangered species. Stay informed on how to effectively engage in civilian advocacy by signing up to relevant newsletters.
Become a member of the League of Conservation Voters, a national non-profit that works toward turning environmental values into the nation’s priorities by promoting the adoption of fair environmental policies and electing candidates with eco-friendly views who will take ownership of, and implement, these policies.
Lead By Example
As you gain more insight about how to protect endangered wildlife, you will become more capable of conveying that knowledge to other people. It is more efficient to share your own relevant efforts and experiences with your friends and family, than simply flooding them with dos and don’ts. To lead by example is the most effective way to show people how to start changing their lives.
Reduce Or Remove Meat, Dairy And Eggs From Your Diet
The one action with the most pronounced impact on the preservation of the environment is to become a vegan. 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 principle cause of rainforest demise, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans. Enormous amounts of food, water, energy, and land are required to raise animals for food, on top of the immense animal suffering it causes. By opting to consume exclusively plant-based food, you aid in the rescue of our planet, while easing animal suffering at the same time.
There are many ways you can help to conserve important animals across the globe. Here are a few examples of things you can do to help support international conservation efforts:
Volunteer! Many conservation organizations depend on volunteers in your country and abroad. Do a web search to find an organization near you.
If you can't volunteer, donate. Wildlife conservation organizations require funding to carry out their critical missions of saving animals.
Wild animals do not make good “pets”, and it is illegal to buy endangered species. Wild animal belong in the wild. Rescue a companion animal from a shelter.
Learn more about threatened and endangered species and tell your friends! Lesser known species do not receive as much support as other more well-known species.
Read your labels! Palm oil plantations and animal agribusinesses are contributing to massive habitat loss around the world. Valuable forests and other ecosystems are being cleared at alarming rates. If palm oil is in your product, read the label to check if it was sustainably grown.
Be a conscious shopper when abroad. When you travel, it is important to think about what you are buying. When purchasing souvenirs or gifts for family and friends, think about where that item might have come from. Does it contain wildlife products? One of the main ways to limit the wildlife trade is to stop the demand for wildlife products. If you don’t know, don’t buy!
Be an eco-tourist and travel green. Eco-tourists are able to experience species in their natural habitat while supporting local livelihoods and conservation efforts. Sustainable and humane travel practices allow visitors to experience nature while limiting human impacts on wildlife.
Don't patronize zoos, circuses, aquariums and other forms of animal entertainment. Imprisoning wild animals for profit and human entertainment is cruel and unethical.
Buy local products and support the local economy. Support local communities’ livelihoods by purchasing unique, handcrafted goods that do not contain animal products.
If you see suspicious products, speak up. If abroad and you think you see wildlife or products derived from wildlife traded or sold illegally, let the local police or your hotel management know. If possible, warn fellow travelers in the same area.
Don't buy wildlife products, whether they are legal or illegal.
Reduce or eliminate all animal product purchases. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, habitat loss and greenhouse gases – which are the leading causes of species extinction. Make the connection.
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.
In the last decades, the disease Lyme borreliosis that is spread by ticks has been increasing – but this increase cannot be explained by the increasing deer populations. Results from research projects show that the percentage of ticks with Borrelia is decreasing in areas with a high deer population (deer, red deer and moose). However, the total number of ticks is higher.
Evidence points to a warmer climate contributing to tick-borne diseases. The change in the use of the landscape, resulting in more encroachment, is also a contributing factor.
Since 1991 Norway has registered all incidents with borreliosis in a so-called MSIS-statistics for reportable diseases. At the same time data on the wild deer population over all of Norway has been recorded. As a result, Norway has a unique set of data material for comparing the relation between the disease progression over time.
What the data shows is that borreliosis has increased more than the density of deer would suggest. The incidence of borreliosis has increased in the southern part of Norway in a period of time where both the deer population and the moose population have decreased. We cannot blame the deer for getting more of these blood-sucking parasites.
The cycle of the Borrelia bacterium in nature is both complex and is influenced by many different drivers, where the hosts of the ticks in an early life stage can influence the cycle. There is also little doubt that a warmer climate is a contributing factor for the tick-borne diseases. The change in the use of the landscape, resulting in more encroachment, has also been an advantage for the ticks.
Ticks have a life cycle that is threefold; larva, nymph, and adult ticks. They need a blood meal in each of the life stages, but they may have different hosts at different stages. In the first stage it is rodents and birds that become victims of these parasites. In the second stage they usually suck blood from slightly larger animals. It is in the last stage that the tick is an adult and needs blood for reproduction. Then the host is usually a large animal like deer. Deer are therefore frequently referred to as reproductive hosts, and were thought to be important for the population dynamics of the ticks.
Ticks are born pure. That is why the hosts in the first life stage of the tick determine whether it will be a carrier of infection or not. Ticks can therefore only be infected in the second and third stage. In the third stage, they are quite large, and we often feel them crawling on the skin. Therefore nymphs are more often inflicting infection, because we do not notice their bite.
Deer contribute to keeping the ticks clean since they are not carriers of the Borrelia-bacteria. Therefore ticks that have used deer as a host do not contain Borrelia that can infect us.
Shooting deer and moose will not eradicate ticks. The population density will not limit the amount of ticks strongly. It is time to stop blaming the deer.
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.