The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
In Dec. 2010, President Obama signed a law that made it a federal crime to create and distribute animal torture videos. That law, however, did not ban the underlying act of animal torture itself.
That's why Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) re-introduced the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or (PACT) Act that prohibits "intentional acts of crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise subjecting animals to serious bodily harm," according to a press release, and makes it easier to prosecute those involved in the horrific acts.
Update, Sept 4: The bottom of this article has been updated with the Missouri Department of Agriculture's new guidelines and a statement from Beyond Meat.
The mandate, which came into effect on Tuesday, prohibits companies from "misrepresenting" products as meat if they are not from "harvested livestock or poultry." The measure was approved by the legislature in May and signed by former-Gov. Eric Greitens on June 1. Violators could be fined $1,000 and face imprisonment for a year, according to USA TODAY.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Victory for Whistleblowers in North Carolina: Court Reinstates Constitutional Challenge to 'Anti-Sunshine' Law
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled Tuesday that a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina's anti-sunshine law can go forward, reversing the decision of the federal district court. The law was designed to deter whistleblowers and undercover investigators from publicizing information about corporate misconduct, and a coalition including animal welfare, press freedom, food safety, and government watchdog groups is challenging the law's constitutionality.
By Stephen Wells
For more than six years, the Animal Legal Defense Fund fought tirelessly to save a tiger named Tony from a cage in the parking lot of a Louisiana truck stop. Sadly, we received news last week that Tony had died of kidney failure after spending 16 years confined to his cage, living and dying as a roadside attraction. Tony's plight is a microcosm of the problems with our legal system, a system that treats sentient beings as property and affords disproportionate political influence to their captors and abusers.
Tony was born into captivity, sentenced from birth to a life of exploitation, a gimmick used by his owner Michael Sandlin to sell gasoline at the Tiger Truck Stop. It doesn't take a degree in veterinary medicine to know that a truck stop is no place for a tiger. But veterinarians and animal behaviorists weighed in emphatically on Tony's behalf. Dr. Jennifer Conrad, a doctor of veterinary medicine with decades of experience with captive large cats, personally visited Tony and concluded that he was "exploited to the detriment of his welfare."
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation's preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for shooting a male bald eagle near Gaston, Oregon in late June. Total reward, including the Audubon Society of Portland's $1,500 reward offer for a conviction, now totals $6,500.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a complaint last week on behalf of a Wyoming resident in an attempt to stop an upcoming coyote-killing contest. The "Wyoming Best of the Best" involves teams of hunters vying to kill as many coyotes as possible from sunup to sundown.
Non-hunting participants place bets on the teams they think will kill the most coyotes. The complaint alleges the event constitutes a nuisance in the form of illegal gambling, since participants wager money and the outcome is based predominantly on chance. Illegal gambling is a violation of the state nuisance statute, designed to prevent activities that put the moral integrity and safety of the community at risk.
The Rock Springs event is scheduled for this coming weekend, Feb. 3 – 4. The rules encourage people of all ages and experience to enter, including children.
Wyoming Best of the Best involves betting opportunities for most coyotes killed, biggest coyote killed, littlest coyote killed, a rifle raffle and a Calcutta—a form of betting pool where participants pick winners and the pool of funds is distributed according to a prearranged scale of percentages, to those who selected winners. Hunting participants wager $50 per person for the chance to win cash prizes and advance to the state championship for killing the most coyotes. Teams may also wager an extra $20 per team to enter the "Big Dog/Little Dog" contests, for the chance to win extra cash prizes for killing the biggest and/or littlest coyote.
The killing contest is not regulated by any government agency, hunting licenses are not required in Wyoming to kill coyotes and there is no limit on the number of coyotes a hunter may slaughter. The plaintiff worries the influx of hunters, whose goal is to win cash prizes for the indiscriminate and uncontrolled killing of coyotes, will negatively impact Sweetwater County's wildlife.
The contest also causes a serious disruption in the ecosystem leading to an unbalanced and unhealthy natural system. When coyote populations are disrupted by lethal means, younger pups have no adults to help them acquire food. This in turn causes many pups to prey on sheep and livestock. The disruption can also affect smaller predator populations by destabilizing entire ecosystems.
"Killing contests are simply blood sports," said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. "They are completely inconsistent with appropriate conservation goals or effective wildlife management. Coyotes are essential members of healthy ecosystems, not targets to be killed for 'fun.'"
A new video appears to show wild buffalo corralled behind razor wire and 8-foot deep trenches near the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) construction site in Standing Rock, North Dakota. The video, posted on Facebook by Indigenous Rising Media on Nov. 11 with more than 1.2 million views, accuses DAPL builders of fencing off the animals in order to finish construction of the controversial pipeline.
"As of today, Dakota Access pipeline has fenced our sacred wild buffalo and they are building a razor wire wall to protect the last stretch of construction," the Facebook post's accompanying text states.
Reports claim that the buffalo are being held without access to food or water.
However, in the video's comments section, some have questioned whether the herd is actually part of a bison ranch and that the pipeline company might have nothing to do with it.
Still, there have been random sightings of wild buffalo/bison stampedes during the ongoing Standing Rock protests. (Note: although they are different animals, Americans use "bison" and "buffalo" interchangeably).
Watch here as the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies cheer over the arrival of the unexpected visitors:
According to the fact-checking site Snopes, "Bison are not necessarily a rare sight at the reservation. The Standing Rock Sioux have long-range plans to increase the size of their buffalo herd to 1,000. To handle a herd of that size, the tribe would need 20,000 acres of rangeland."
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has since launched an investigation into the matter.
"It has been reported that wild buffalo are being corralled and held behind razor wire fencing without food or water near the Dakota Access Pipeline—and that there have been threats of killing the buffalo by the construction company," the ALDF wrote on their Facebook page. "The Animal Legal Defense Fund is confirming reports, collecting additional information and investigating the legality of the treatment of these buffalo."
The $3.8 billion pipeline project is now entering the final stretch. As EcoWatch reported, more than 80 percent of has already been constructed. The final phase is an easement to build a tunnel beneath the federally protected Missouri river, but it first needs approval from the Obama administration.
Energy Transfer Partners's Kelcy Warren, the CEO of the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, which is building the DAPL, told CBS News last week he is confident the pipeline will finish despite the ongoing protests.
"We will get this easement and we will complete our project," he said.
Warren has been emboldened after Donald Trump's election win, as the president-elect holds stocks that are directly funding the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to Trump's financial disclosure forms, The Guardian reported that he has invested between $500,000 and $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners.
A chain-smoking chimpanzee has become the hot attraction at the newly renovated Central Zoo in Pyongyang, North Korea outraging animal rights activists who say it's a form of animal cruelty.
The 19-year-old chimpanzee named Azalea became an Internet sensation Wednesday after the Associated Press posted photos of her smoking in her exhibit, a practice taught to her by zoo trainers to draw crowds. She can even light them herself, either with a lighter or an already lit cigarette.
"How cruel to willfully addict a chimpanzee to tobacco for human amusement," Ingrid Newkirk, president of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told The Huffington Post. "Gradually, zoos are learning that spectacles such as chimpanzee tea parties, elephant rides and photo ops with tiger cubs are inappropriate and exploitative. The big question now is why are we keeping wild animals behind bars at all."
While Azalea reportedly lights up a pack of cigarettes a day, zoo officials told the Associated Press that Azalea isn't actually inhaling the harmful smoke, but some aren't buying it.
"I doubt it, in the same way that I would doubt a human who smokes a lot but says he never inhales," primatologist Frans B.M. de Waal told the Huffington Post. "Like Bill Clinton."
The new zoo features traditional zoo attractions as well as unusual ones featuring animals that perform tricks—such as "a monkey that slam dunks basketballs, dogs trained to appear as though they can do addition on subtraction on an abacus, and doves that fly around and land on a woman skating on an indoor stage," according to the Associated Press.
"This exemplifies the problem with any captive wildlife displayed for profit," Carter Dillard, director of litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, told The Telegraph. "They are made to do unnatural and freakish things to attract gawkers. The good news is that the civilized world is moving away from this, like the gradual elimination of orcas from places like SeaWorld."
Unfortunately in this case, the Associated Press reports the zoo is attracting thousands of visitors a day that seem to find extreme delight in Azalea's smoking habit.