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Cambridge Bans Retail Sales of Commercially Bred Pets

By Zachary Toliver

The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, just became a hot spot Monday night for celebration as officials passed a sweeping ban on the sale of non-rescued animals.

The ordinance, passed by the Cambridge City Council, prohibits the commercial sale of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians in pet stores. Fish are not included in the ordinance but could be added at a later date.

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11 Protein-Packed Vegan Foods

Maybe you've heard the term "complete protein." It derives from the idea that there are 20 different amino acids that can form a protein, and the human body can't produce nine of them on its own. In order to be considered "complete," a protein must contain all nine of these essential amino acids in equal amounts.

The thing is, we don't need the complete amino-acid profile in every meal. We need only a sufficient amount of each amino acid daily. Dietitians confirm that plant-based foods contain a wide variety of profiles, and vegans are pretty much guaranteed to get their daily dose without even trying.

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Baby Orca Born in Captivity Dies at SeaWorld

Kyara, a killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio just three months ago, died Monday at the park, as reported in this video from Newsy. Kyara is the last orca to be born in captivity under the SeaWorld breeding program, which shut down in 2016.

In a statement, SeaWorld said the cause of death was "likely pneumonia" and that "Kyara had faced some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week."

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Watch This 10-Year-Old Explain How Going Vegan Can Save the Planet

Two years ago, Long Beach resident Genesis Butler took home the title of PETA Kids' Cutest Vegan Kid—and last month, the 10-year-old became one of the youngest people ever to give a TEDx Talk. In her humor-filled presentation, she reveals why going vegan is the easiest way to help the environment.

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Germany Bans Meat at Official Functions to 'Set a Good Example for Climate Protection'

Eating less meat is essential to curbing climate change, which is why Germany's Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks is only serving vegetarian food at official functions.

"We want to set a good example for climate protection, because vegetarian food is more climate-friendly than meat and fish," the ministry said in a statement published in The Telegraph. The ban was reportedly enacted at the end of January.

The German newspaper Bild also reported that the food served at official events should be organic, seasonal, local and only travel from short distances. Fair trade products are also preferable.

Indeed, as one of the greenest countries on the planet, the German environment ministry wants its plates to lead by example.

Slashing meat consumption saves the lives of animals, lowers our carbon footprint and leads to better health. A study from the Oxford Martin School found that diets of limited meat consumption can cut emissions by a third while saving 5 million lives, vegetarian diets could reduce emissions by 63 percent and save 7 million lives, and vegan diets could reduce emissions by 70 percent and save 8 million lives.

But what about seafood? Well, the world's appetite for fish and shrimp is also stressing out supplies. A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report found that nearly 90 percent of global fish stocks are either fully fished or overfished. Global fish consumption per capita has reached record-high levels due to aquaculture and firm demand, with the average person now eating roughly 44 pounds of fish per year compared to only 22 pounds in the 1960s, the report found.

For a meat-loving nation known for its sausages, schnitzel and cold cuts, the message was not welcomed by all.

Rival German politicians have accused Hendricks, a member of the Social Democratic Party, of forcing vegetarianism on people and leveraging the meat ban as political ammo. The Social Democrats are challenging the Christian Democrats, Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, in this year's tight race for German Chancellor.

"I'm not having this Veggie Day through the back door," said Christian Schmidt, minister of food and agriculture and Christian Democrat. "I believe in diversity and freedom of choice, not nanny-statism and ideology. Instead of paternalism and ideology. Meat and fish are also part of a balanced diet."

Others have also accused Hendricks of hypocrisy in that the meat ban only applies to official functions. Ministry officials would still be able to consume meat or fish in the staff canteen.

"You have to eat what's on the table according to the will of the ministry. No meat, no fish, and the cover of 'climate protection,'" Gitta Conneman, a senior MP and Christian Democrat, told Bild. "They won't save the climate by branding people who eat meat, and they know this. The ban only applies to a handful of guests, not to 1,200 employees. This is pure ideology, a 'people's education' for the diet."

But the ministry said it wants to be a "role model" and justified their provision to fight the negative "effects of the consumption of meat."

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Pamela Anderson Gives Melania Trump a Faux-Fur Coat

By Kate Tuggle

Honorary People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Director Pamela Anderson has sent Melania Trump a one-of-a-kind thank-you gift for the first lady's fur-free look at the presidential inauguration: a faux "eco-fur" coat that Anderson custom-designed for her with Russian faux-fur manufacturer Only Me.

"Amid all the mania at the inauguration, you looked stunning in an outfit by Ralph Lauren—one of many fur-free designers," Anderson wrote in a letter to Trump. "I am so happy that you chose not to wear fur! As first lady, you will help set style trends and by remaining compassionate with your choices, you will warm the hearts of many."

Anderson's animal rights activism in Russia dates back to 2009, when she first wrote then–Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to thank him for banning the slaughter of baby harp seals. In 2011, she worked with PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to wear"—to persuade Russia, which had previously imported 90 percent of her native Canada's baby-seal pelts, to ban these importations.

She is now working with Only Me to develop fake bearskin hats to replace the busbies worn by The Queen's Guard in England, as one Canadian black bear is killed for each hat. The company will send two prototypes to London from Moscow next week.

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Is There Such a Thing as Humane Wool?

By Brian Barth

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the animal rights organization, has a reputation for employing the oldest marketing trick in the book: selling their message with sex.

The latest example? Their campaign to raise awareness of animal abuse in the wool industry, which features a poster of Alicia Silverstone walking naked into a meadow, her head turned over her shoulder, looking back at you with seductive, pleading eyes. The caption reads, "I'd rather go naked than wear wool."

Pamela Anderson, the singer Pink and a handful of other celebrities have also bared all for the cause.

The PETA creed is that "animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse in any other way." In other words, keeping livestock for purposes of human consumption, whether in a factory-farming setting or a small organic farm, is ethically reprehensible. PETA is well known for popularizing veganism and exposing animal rights abuses around the world. But livestock farmers, unsurprisingly, have long despised their shock and awe tactics, which have a tendency to paint all farmers as evil animal abusers.

PETA's current sheep campaign—typically broadcast with the tagline, "there is no such thing as humane wool"—was launched in 2014 after the organization released footage of sheep being cut, manhandled and mangled at wool-shearing operations in the U.S. and Australia. The effort got major press coverage around the world and led to the prosecution of several of the Australian shearers who were depicted in the footage on animal abuse charges. Now that Alicia Silverstone has put her skin in the game (pun intended), PETA's wool campaign is back in the media once again.

Wool producers, along with a number of large agriculture organizations, have fought back. In Australia, the Victoria Farming Federation filed a formal complaint when a locally popular vegan musician was featured in PETA ads holding a bloodied lamb carcass with the caption, "here's the rest of your wool coat." It turned out the carcass was made of Styrofoam. PETA admitted to using a prop, but maintains that it was a realistic illustration of the horrors of shearing.

Animal abuse is far too common an occurrence with pets kept by demented individuals everywhere. And as PETA's undercover sheep investigation clearly shows, along with many others that have preceded it, some abusive individuals (unfortunately) make their living handling livestock on farms throughout the world. The question is, is abuse the norm? Are examples of abuse at a few sheep ranches enough to indict an entire industry?

We thought it would be worth asking a wool producer who claims to raise their sheep in a sustainable, humane manner how their practices differ from what PETA ascribes to all wool producers. Becky Weed, owner of Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company in southwestern Montana, was a little reluctant to take the call from Modern Farmer, as she's been caught in the crosshairs of the animal cruelty debate before and has better things to do than argue with activists about whether or not raising sheep is inherently evil.

"I am wary of PETA," said Weed, right off the bat. "I don't think it's a particularly rational organization … I think animal welfare is important, but I don't believe that raising sheep is by definition cruel."

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Colorado to Kill 45 Mountain Lions and 75 Black Bears so Hunters Have Mule Deer to Hunt

Despite opposition from conservation and wildlife groups, Colorado announced plans to kill mountain lions and black bears so that more mule deer will be available for hunters.

Adult mule deer buck.Yellowstone National Park/NPS

The state is currently home to just more than 400,000 mule deer. The target population set by Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) is 525,000 to 575,000.

In the 1800s, both white-tailed and mule deer were hunted with abandon until they became so scarce that most people just stopped hunting them. Federal and state conservation legislation beginning around 1900 allowed deer to recover.

Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, however, as energy development grew in Western Colorado, mule deer populations began to decline. The White River herd, which once numbered 100,000 animals, is now down to 32,000. Populations in the state's central and northern mountains, and those on the eastern Plains, are stable.

Anyone who has visited a national park or hiked the forests and shrub lands of the West has likely encountered mule deer. Mule deer range west of the Missouri River and are smaller than white-tailed deer, which are more common in the East.

They can be seen in most of Colorado, in the Yosemite Valley, along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and in the foothills of Los Angeles. Mule deer are often unafraid of humans in areas such as these where hunting is prohibited and interactions are common.

Mountain lions—also known as cougars—take a particular liking to mule deer. Wolves, coyotes and bears also prey on the species. But natural predation is not seen as the leading cause of mule deer declines in Colorado.

A mountain lion on the hunt.Dan Zukowski

Both the pro-hunting Mule Deer Foundation and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) cite loss of habitat as a primary cause.

"We believe that habitat degradation from energy, and residential development, which has been confirmed by CPW biologists for years, should be the primary focus of scientifically-based wildlife management," said Brian Kurzel, regional executive director for the NWF.

Colorado's plan calls for the killing of up to 15 mountain lions and 25 black bears each year for the next three years using cage traps, culvert traps, foot snares and hunting dogs. The $4.5 million wildlife management plan would then be followed by a six-year study to see how the deer population responds.

There is concern that the CPW's decision is driven by money and a desire to favor hunting, which generates $693 million in annual economic benefits in northwest Colorado alone. Last year, 34,000 mule deer were taken legally by hunters. The CPW gets 90 percent of its revenue from hunting and fishing licenses.

But not even hunters are buying into the plan.

Brett Ochs, a Colorado resident who describes himself as "someone who has been hunting in Colorado for more than three decades," wrote in the Boulder Daily Camera, "Killing predators to arbitrarily see if it will boost mule deer populations is unsustainable and not sound wildlife management." He argued that CPW should use revenues from hunting fees to improve habitat and migration corridors.

"Other states have tried to boost deer populations by removing predators from the landscape, but time and time again these studies have failed to increase deer populations," said Andrea Santarsiere, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Mountain lions are a game animal in Colorado. Even though CPW says it has no idea of the population of the species in the state, it allowed the killing of 467 big cats during the 2014-2015 hunting season. Many argue that killing a few more is not the answer.

"Deer in Colorado suffer from lack of habitat and habitat degradation, largely due to expansive oil and gas drilling and invasive plant species. Without adequate nutrition, deer will not thrive no matter how many predators CPW removes," Santarsiere added.

Mule deer herds in northwestern Colorado were once so prolific that the area was known as the "mule deer factory." But that's the area where drilling has dramatically increased in recent years. The NWF report reveals that 8,965 new wells were dug between 2005 and 2012.

Crude oil production in Colorado grew 64 percent from 2007 to 2011, while natural gas production rose 27 percent during the same period. In 2012, Colorado was the sixth leading producer of natural gas and the ninth leading producer of oil in the U.S. More than 90 percent of new wells use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

In a comprehensive NWF report on mule deer in Colorado, the organization refers to a similar issue in a neighboring state.

"Research has shown that two mule deer herds in western Wyoming, parts of which have been heavily drilled the last decade or so, have shrunk by at least 30 percent," the report says. "Research­ers don't pin all the decline on energy development, but note that deer avoid well sites."

Last month, the Obama Administration canceled 25 oil and gas leases in western Colorado and added restrictions on others. Even though all were inactive leases, the executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, David Ludlam, considered the cancellation of the leases to be a "last-ditch shot across the bow" from President Obama.

Colorado State University wildlife biologists reminded CPW commissioners in a letter dated Dec. 10 that road construction and oil and gas development had damaged large areas of deer habitat, and argued against the plan to cull cougars and bears.

"The scientific consensus is clear and compelling—predator control is a costly and ineffective management tool to increase mule deer populations," they wrote.

For more information on the history of mule deer, watch here:

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