AWI Quarterly » 2013 Spring

“Operation Something Bruin,” a four-year, multi-agency sting operation involving state officials from Georgia and North Carolina, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and National Park Service, has resulted in the arrest of 80 people charged with some 980 wildlife violations in connection with bear poaching in the region.
Painted dogs (Lycaon pictus), also called African wild dogs, once numbered around 500,000 across 39 countries on the continent. Today, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a little over 1 percent of that population hangs on, and the painted dog ranks among Africa’s most endangered species.
Few Americans know that almost every day of every year, somewhere in the United States coyotes are being slaughtered as part of a contest or bounty—where money or prizes are awarded for killing the largest, the most, or even pregnant coyotes.
The 16th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was poised to be historic. Not only was 2013 the 40th anniversary of CITES, but never before had so many commercially valuable and highly exploited species been proposed for listing in the CITES appendices—which determine what trade protections will be afforded to the species by CITES parties.
An early highlight of the 16th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties was the presentation of AWI’s Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards, honoring those who have demonstrated remarkable effort to protect wildlife.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told reporters in March that “Congress should come up with a better solution for handling unwanted horses than slaughtering the animals for meat for human consumption.” Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, noted that in his home state horses work with inmates in prisons, and that this helps prisoners acquire job skills for when they rejoin society.
Industrial agriculture is continuing the tactic of introducing anti-whistleblower legislation to prevent the investigation and exposure of cruel conditions endured by farm animals on factory farms. These bills, referred to as “ag-gag” bills, had already passed in five states prior to the 2013 legislation session. This year, nine more states introduced legislation to criminalize the methods used by animal, environmental and food safety advocates— such as the taking of photographs and videotape—to expose the realities of factory farming.
Even as some state legislatures seek to cover up abuse via ag-gag bills, a few are in pursuit of higher ground: last year, Rhode Island joined a growing list of states that prohibit intensive confinement crates for calves raised for veal and gestating sows. Rhode Island also became the fourth state to ban routine tail docking of cattle.
The Illinois legislature has taken steps to protect animal welfare and public safety by advancing HB 83, a bill that would restrict the tethering of dogs throughout Illinois. Tethered dogs spend their lives tied up outdoors with rope, chain or other restraint; they are often denied socialization, adequate shelter, and veterinary care.
The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2013 was introduced on March 12 in both houses of Congress. Sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the Senate and by Reps. Pat Meehan (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in the House, this bipartisan legislation would stop the inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption by prohibiting both domestic slaughter and the transport of horses across U.S. borders to foreign slaughterhouses.
U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (“PAMTA,” or H.R. 1150) into the House of Representatives. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) intends to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.
AWI was deeply saddened to learn that Dr. Earnest Johnson, a dedicated veterinary inspector with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), passed away earlier this year. Dr. Johnson embraced his obligation to ensure enforcement of both the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, and his job took him to countless horse shows of Tennessee Walkers and other gaited breeds, where he sought to prevent illegal soring of the equines.
Circuses, animal acts, carnivals, petting zoos, and other animal exhibitors are now required to file itineraries with USDA at least 48 hours in advance if they will be keeping any of their animals off-site for one or more nights. Such itineraries must include precise details concerning the locations of and persons responsible for each animal.
In response to a string of recent natural disasters, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published a rule in December making it mandatory that all dealers, exhibitors, intermediate handlers, carriers, research facilities, and other entities regulated by the agency under the Animal Welfare Act have an emergency or contingency plan—the better to save the lives of employees and animals in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
In this discussion, it would be easy to lose sight of pikas, wildebeest, Arctic shorebirds, green sea turtles, and a vast number of other wildlife species. Wild animals just take care of themselves, right? Always have, and always will. Except, the rapidity of climatic changes is a new phenomenon, and these changes may have devastating impacts on biodiversity. These issues are laid out in a new scholarly book titled Wildlife Conservation in a Changing Climate, edited by Jedediah Brody, Eric Post, and Daniel Doak.