If you care about bears, please take a few minutes!

Your comments are desperately needed if there is to be an active recovery of our native endangered Grizzly Bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem.

Without your comments, all the hard work by so many conservation organizations and so many Federal agencies will unsuccessfully end.  This is tragic for such a magnificent species that is the symbol of pristine wilderness that once was and the loss for future generations.

The opposition comes from the well-funded, well-organized cattle industry that continually opposes any legislation to protect cougar, bear, and wolves in the State of Washington.  They are the greatest contributing factor to the destruction of the grizzly bear in the United States.  In just 200 years we have managed to eliminate 99 percent of their original range, reduce their number from 50,000 to 100,000 to less than 1,200.

We have the opportunity that no other west coast state has to return the grizzly to where they once thrived, where they belong, far and free from human encroachment.

The grizzly bear has a very low reproductive rate and therefore has a slow population growth.  They live most of their lives in remote areas, feeding mostly on vegetation and any dead animals they may find.  By nature, they are shy, easily retreat and cattle depredation is extremely low as well as human/bear conflicts in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Grizzly bears have been an important part of the North Cascades Ecosystem for thousands of years.  They play a vital role for the health of the environment and other wildlife species, figure prominently in regional Native American and First Nations’ cultures, and contribute to the richness of our natural heritage in the Pacific Northwest.

With nearly 10,000 square miles stretching from I-90 north to the Canadian border and anchored by North Cascades National Park, the designated North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Area is one of the largest blocks of wild federal land remaining in the lower 48 states.  Research indicates this wilderness landscape has quality habitat capable of supporting a self-sustaining grizzly bear population  Given the low number of existing grizzly bears, their very slow reproductive rate and other constraints, the North Cascades grizzly bear population is considered the most at-risk grizzly bear population in the United States today.  With so few grizzly bears left in the North Cascades, biologists believe they may soon disappear entirely from the area is recovery actions aren’t taken.

We have included a number of talking points and a website for further information, Conservation Northwest.

Simply pick one or two talking points and visit https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm/cfm?documentID=64266 to submit a comment or mail it to:

Superintendents Office

Grizzly Bear Restoration

North Cascades NPS Complex

810 State Route 20

Sedro Woolley, WA 98284

The current public comments end March 26, 2015.

Do it now!  Just a few sentences are all it takes.

Consider the following talking points to Include in your Comments:

  • I strongly support the recovery of the north Cascades grizzly bear and comment the NPS, USFWS and WDFW for moving forward with the restoration of this important native species.
  • The recovery coordinating agencies should take into full consideration the ecological, biological, cultural, spiritual and economic importance of grizzly bears to the Pacific Northwest.
  • As the only Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone on the west coast (or outside the greater Rocky Mountains) restoring a healthy North Cascades grizzly bear population is important to the resilience of the species in general, particularly in light of climate change.
  • Quality habitat still exists for grizzly bears in the North Cascades Ecosystem.  Thus, we have an ethical and legal obligation to restore a healthy grizzly bear population to the North Cascades.
  • There is strong public support for grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades that transcends geographic and demographic lines.  Washingtonians support healthy wild ecosystems with all the native species present when habitat and ecological conditions allow.
  • I want to see the best available science used to identify and implement active strategies to restore a viable population of grizzly bears in the North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone.  Therefore, the EIS must include alternatives to add a modest number of grizzly bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem under the guidance of local communities a strategy that has been used successfully in Montana’s Cabinet-“Yaak Ecosytem.
  • Grizzly bears are culturally and spiritually significant to First Nations throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia
  • Grizzly bears are considered an “umbrella” species, and they play an important role for healthy ecosystems.
  • Grizzly bears have been part of the Pacific Northwest landscape for thousands of years.  We have an ethical and legal obligation to restore this native species.

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All hands on deck alert! Your voice needed now to stop USDA farm animal experiments

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for a myriad of animal agriculture oversight duties, but they often fail to protect animals or the safety of our food supply.

On Monday, the New York Times exposed some of the cruelest, most gruesome animal abuse on US soil including death by rape and starvation (as reported in the Huffington Post), only for readers to find out that the abuse was TAXPAYER funded and initiated by the USDA.

Farm Sanctuary, a leader in animal welfare protection summarized this abuse saying:

The facts and eyewitness accounts uncovered by the Times are gut-wrenching.   In just one particularly gruesome experiment recounted from the Times story, a teenage cow had her “head locked in a cagelike device to keep her immobile.” She was raped by as many as six bulls for hours, until her back legs were broken and her body was “torn apart,” and she died.

This situation is so dire and horrific, that all animal advocates — from cats and dogs lovers to vegans — must speak out right now!  Here’s what to do. Please do all these items (they don’t take long):

  • Make a call to USDA’s Secretary Vilsack’s office during business hours and explain how outraged you are. Tell them to close the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center immediately. The direct line to reach his office is 202-720-3631.  They may also give you an email address to email them, but insist that you can leave a message for the Secretary.
  • Email your congressperson TODAY.   You can contact your representatives by visiting the Farm Sanctuary action tool.  Ask your representatives to “Close the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center”
  • Read The Humane Society of the United States blog on this issue about the US agro-industrial complex and why this abuse happened. Use the HSUS action alert tool in addition to the Farm Sanctuary action too.
  • Ask all your family and friends to take these actions as well —  because we can only expect an immediate stop to this abuse if we all speak up. 

The New York Times posted letters expressing the outrage of the public on this issues, include a letter for The Humane Society of the United State’s CEO, Wayne Pacelle saying:

The grotesque and inhumane experiments performed on pigs, sheep and other farm animals at an obscure and secluded Agriculture Department research facility in Nebraska demonstrate the unholy collusion between government and industry in driving production on factory farms and in the process treating animals like machines and throwaway objects.  Apparently, it’s not enough to confine farm animals for their entire lives in windowless buildings and in cages and crates on factory farms. We are also engineering them to grow at absurdly fast rates and to produce inordinately large litters, which often cause misery and death for the animals.

In addition to speaking out, you need to boycott the the meat, dairy and egg industry. Think of the chickens, cows, pigs and sheep who have suffered at the hands of the USDA and the meat industry.  Those animals deserve your boycott of the agro-industry that hurt them.

If you do eat animal products ensure that 100% of the meat and eggs you buy are from suppliers that attempt to provide the highest animal welfare standards (as confirmed by animal welfare advocates).  Note that there is NO SUCH THING as more humane dairy — so avoid dairy at all costs.  The dairy industry is inherently abusive to cows.

Thank you for speaking up for animals at this critical junction in US history!


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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Seattle Arts & Lectures Presents “Thinking Animals”

Guinea pigs at factory-style breeding farm in Peru

Guinea pigs at factory-style breeding farm in Peru

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle and the Queen Anne & Magnolia News

December 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

This January, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) is hosting a series of talks on animal issues near to our hearts and minds. “Thinking Animals: Species, Power and the Politics of Care in the World” is a series of five lectures that explore the interdependencies of humans and animals. Nationally recognized leaders will discuss various aspects of human-animal relationships — from the thought-provoking behavior of cats in French history to guinea pigs in Peruvian politics. These lectures are for anyone who loves animals and thinks critically about their roles in society.

Prof. John Marzluff (UW)

Prof. John Marzluff (UW)

Relating to animals

University of Washington (UW) professor John Marzluff has done extensive research on birds in our city. On Jan. 9, in his lecture “Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers and Other Wildlife,” Marzluff will illuminate how birds continue to evolve in response to changes to our cities.

Marzluff explains that cities were once just single ecosystems but now consist of many different types of ecosystems, such as ponds, fields and high-rises. This allows for a more diverse bird population than we see in rural areas, and Marzluff will explain how we can foster this unique interdependency.

“This talk will be like a field guide to your yard,” Marzluff explains.

On Jan. 30, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, will speak on the juxtapositions of animal issues within the context of our economy, as we struggle to reconcile our natural concern for animals with widespread economic exploitation of animals.

In his talk “Animal Protection in the 21st Century: Finding Clarity in Our Tangled, Contradictory Relationship with Animals,” Pacelle will discuss how we need to reject institutionalized cruelty to truly address issues of violence in society.

“The exploitation of animals is retarding progress for us and creating all sorts of collateral damage in society,” Pacelle describes. “I’ll be talking about how technology and innovation can provide a pathway forward for society on a range of animal issues.”

Kathryn Gillespse

Kathryn Gillespie

SAL’s Feb. 13 lecture is not to be missed for anyone who thinks critically about the sources of their food and our relationship to farmed animals. Beacon Hill resident and UW part-time geography lecturer Kathryn Gillespie has meticulously researched the lives of dairy cows in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide.

In her talk “The Cow with Ear Tag No. 1389: Species, Place and Power in U.S. Animal Agriculture,” Gillespie follows individual cows through potent moments in their lives — from the dairy farm to the auction house, where all spent (terminally over-milked) dairy cows and separated calves end up for sale to slaughterhouses. Through her research at 4H shows, dairy farms, auction houses and dairy-industry trade shows, Gillespie reveals the inherent violence that dairy cows and calves experience and how it differs dramatically from the public perception of the dairy industry.

In her Feb. 27 lecture “Thinking with Cats,” UW French and Italian studies professor Louisa Mackenzie will explore the role of cats in the intellectual lives of prominent French historical figures as a means to understanding the human-animal divide (i.e. what makes us human and “them” animals).

Mackenzie explains, “There is something of a minor tradition in European philosophy of cats provoking moments of deep existential questioning about the limits of what we know.”

She will discuss how cats seem to know things that humans may not know or know in the same way. Mackenzie adds that it is good “to be reminded that human ways of ordering the world are not the only ways.”

Guinea pigs at an intensified farm in Peru (photo courtesy of Maria Elana Garcia)

Guinea pigs at an intensified farm in Peru (photo courtesy of Maria Elana Garcia)

From food to celebrities

On March 6, Wallingford residents and UW professors María Elena García and José Antonio Lucero will explore the shifting role of animals in Peru, with a focus on guinea pigs and a high-profile Rottweiler.

Once mainly an indigenous food animal in Peru, guinea pigs have increasingly been used in elite food-tourist products and as symbols of Peruvian unity. García’s research questions how Peruvian society has changed this indigenous food by incorporating it into modern cuisine, thereby creating a greater demand for the meat. This has resulted in intensified guinea pig farming and genetic manipulation to make the meat more available, much the same way chickens are factory farmed in the United States.

García also considers the consequences of this move for indigenous peoples.

Lucero will speak on the curious case of a Rottweiler who killed an alleged burglar and then became a celebrity as upper-class Peruvians championed the dog for protecting property from the threat of criminals from indigenous society. The case reveals much about insecurity and race in the political imagination of Peru.

García and her UW colleagues collaborate to consider these and other issues of animals in society through the UW Critical Animal Studies Working group. The group has organized this lecture series with SAL.

García explains, “Animals represent a paradox for us humans: Animals are everywhere, yet they are often almost invisible. When we slow down to ask some questions about the place of animals in the world, we gain a greater understanding, not only of the animals that share our world but also about ourselves.”

For more information and tickets for SAL’s “Thinking Animals” lecture series, visit www.lectures.org.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: UW to broaden animal testing

The human-body simulator (like the one at University of Washington) being used for training. (Photo courtesy of Laerdal Medical)

The human-body simulator (like the one at University of Washington) being used for training. (Photo courtesy of Laerdal Medical)

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in the Queen Anne & Magnolia News and City Living Seattle

November 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

The University of Washington (UW) is an integral part of our Seattle community as the professional home of researchers and medical doctors. Since we support them with donations and federal funds, their actions reflect upon our community, particularly with regard to the use of animals.

Unfortunately, recent issues have highlighted incongruities between UW’s stated goals to use animals responsibly and decisions made by certain medical instructors and the UW Regents.

In October, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine organized a physician-led protest to bring awareness to UW’s paramedic training program, which uses 31 pigs each year to teach paramedics, paramedic students and Airlift flight nurses how to manage obstructed airways in trauma patients. The pigs are anesthetized, used for training and then euthanized.

This is an unnecessary use of animals, and the UW has a human-body simulator, known as the SimMan 3G, which is already used to teach medical students, graduate physicians and trauma physicians this procedure (and many other procedures) without the use of animals.

Dr. John Pippin, the Physicians Committee director of academic affairs, explains that of the 11 surveyed paramedic training programs in the Pacific Northwest, 10 use human simulators instead of live animals, with UW being the holdout.

Additionally, using pigs constitutes a sub-standard educational method. Students trained with human simulators benefit from learning this skill on a replicated human rather than pig anatomy, and a human simulator can be used repetitively to optimize training, so students are not limited to practicing a few times on pigs.

“It’s the decision of the instructor,” UW Medicine spokesperson Tina Mankowski stated, but Pippin explained that the decision is simply wrong and paramedic students are missing out on human-relevant training.

(To encourage UW’s transition to human-centered, animal-friendly training, visit the Physicians Committee website at www.pcrm.org.)

Broadening animal research

An entrenched approach to animal use appears to be affecting other UW decisions, as well. In 2013, the UW Board of Regents approved a new Animal Research and Care Facility (ARCF) to centralize animal labs on campus. According to David Anderson, executive director of Health Science Administration, UW intends to grow its primate-research capacity with the new ARCF.

Our community was left out of decisions about the ARCF and its impact on animals, according to Amanda Schemkes, director of the group Don’t Expand UW Primate Testing.

Schemkes has sued the UW, claiming failure to comply with Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act. The act states that public commissions and boards (such as the UW Regents) “exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business” and that actions and deliberations be conducted openly.

Yet, documents obtained by Schemkes show that the UW Regents allegedly discussed and agreed to support the ARCF at a dinner meeting before the public meeting. Don’t Expand UW Primate Testing’s lawsuit seeks the Regents’ decision to build the ARCF to be voided and to allow time for the community and the Regents to educate themselves about the realities of primate testing.

Animals in research labs suffer considerably as a result of being used as a tool rather than treated as a soul. Many endure lethal exposure to toxic chemicals or have mechanical devices implanted in eyes and brains. Some primates live in small, solitary cages most of their lives.

In the last decade, UW has received multiple USDA citations and fines for failure to care for animals and for performing unauthorized surgeries.

‘Slowing medical progress’

There is a growing voice in the medical community that animal testing is inherently flawed and slows medical progress by placing a hyper-focus on animal use, instead of developing human-relevant alternatives such as cell cultures for toxicity testing and organ-on-a-chip technology for systems-level biology tests.

Also, animal experiments are shown to be unreliable, according to John J. Pippins’ 2013 “Animals Research in Medical Sciences,” since up to 96 percent of drugs successfully tested in animals fail in human clinical trials, while dangerous drugs sometimes gain FDA approval. Furthermore, some chronic diseases have no cures or effective treatments despite decades of animal experiments.

Yet, in 2014, UW received $423 million in taxpayer funds through the National Institutes of Health, much of which supports animal testing. A diversion away from research on animals could mean a loss of these funds, and “the animal research portfolio accounts for over 35 percent of research activity,” according to UW documents.

Although Anderson assures that all animal testing is reviewed for necessity, the UW’s plans to increase primate testing — rather than to set institutional goals to intentionally reduce animal testing overall — is not an ethical use of taxpayer funds. So, while there may be little monetary motivation to reduce animal testing, there is certainly a moral and scientific prerogative, since increasing primate testing inherently diverts funds from human-relevant research methods and subverts the rights of animals to be free from cruelty and mutilation.

The goal of using and seeking alternatives to animal use is not to block progress but to advance scientific discovery and training that will directly apply to human physiology. Furthermore, human progress is not just evaluated by our advancements in medical science but is also measured by our intentional evolution of the ethical treatment of animals.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane (livinghumane.com), a news site about humane-conscious lifestyles.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Helping animals internationally

Children looking at Help Animals India sign (Courtesy of Help Animals India)

Children looking at Help Animals India sign (Courtesy of Help Animals India)

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

October 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

In comparison to much of the world, Seattle’s safety net for companion animals is world-class. Rescue and adoption groups work tirelessly to find homes for thousands of pets every year and animal-rights groups fight for the less-protected farm animals and captive wildlife. But worldwide, the picture is not always as ideal, and several organizations in Seattle are finding ways to help animals internationally.

Animal shelters

Eileen Weintraub, the founding director of Help Animals India, works on a volunteer basis. This Seattle-based, nonprofit animal-rescue, rehabilitation and educational organization provides critical services for India’s animals by funding and advising Indian animal welfare groups.

Help Animals India helps develop and fund a network of animal organizations, like the Visakha Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (VSPCA) and JBF (Just Be Friendly), to provide services, from saving orphaned baby monkeys to serving vegan meals to the poorest people to disaster relief from floods and cyclones. Veterinary experts working with Help Animals India have taught shelters to implement puppy quarantines for the first time and have trained staff to spay/neuter. Help Animals India also coordinates volunteers and veterinarians-in-training to work at Indian animal shelters.

The concept of animal shelters is not new in India because of the culture of Ahimsa (against killing) in the predominantly Hindu culture. Unfortunately, this often translates as benign neglect of animals, and the means to protect dogs, cats, elephants, cows, monkeys and more is extremely limited. By donating to Indian animal-rescue groups, American funds may go 10 times further because of the strength of our currency in India, Weintraub said.

People who travel to India for yoga training or tourism often want to rescue the suffering street animals they see, but they don’t know where to start.

“It’s our job to educate and inspire,” Weintraub said.

Help Animals India makes it possible to help animals a half a world away; learn more at www.helpanimalsindia.org.

Foreign adoptions

Chelsea, an Iranian dog (Courtesy of PAWS)

Chelsea, an Iranian dog (Courtesy of PAWS)

Seattle’s helping hands can touch many places around the world, and PAWS is caring for a few Iranian dogs right here at home. Kay Joubert, PAWS’ director of Companion Animal Services, explained that while they always aim to help local dogs first, they also work with the Vafa Animal Shelter in Iran to bring dogs to the Seattle area.

A volunteer for the Vafa Animal Shelter arranges for Iranian dogs to accompany a volunteer human traveler between Tehran and Seattle. Upon arrival, PAWS places the animal in a temporary quarantine, as required by the USDA, and then the animal is adopted by a family in the Seattle area.

PAWS has taken seven dogs through Vafa, who places animals in forever homes throughout North America. You can support Vafa through its website at www.vafashelter.com

Chelsea, an Anatolian shepherd-cross, made it to Seattle, thanks to Vafa and PAWS, and she is now awaiting adoption. Joubert explained that dogs as companions is much less common in Iran. As a result, rescue dogs need to learn about walking on a leash and living in a house, although they tend to be well socialized with other dogs because they lived in groups in Iran.

PAWS is expecting two more Iranian arrivals in October.

Saving marine animals

While rescue is an important part of animal welfare, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS, www.seashephard.org) has traditionally worked on prevention of harm to marine life. SSCS started in the Pacific Northwest in 1977 to take on some of the world’s most egregious abuses of marine life. Among other issues, SSCS addresses crimes such as whaling, baby seal hunts and dolphin hunting by sailing to places such as Japan, the South Seas and the Canadian North to take direct action against pirates and government fleets who are killing of wildlife.

SSCS is known worldwide for successes such as recently stopping the needless slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, showing once again why “sea shepherd” is such an appropriate name.

Since its inception, SSCS has grown into a worldwide network of marine animal protection groups and has recently organized On-Shore Volunteer (OSV) efforts for individuals who apply to become part of the Sea Shepherd crew. Suzanne West is the Seattle chapter coordinator for SSCS, and she currently manages about 20 OSVs in the Seattle area. These volunteers raise awareness of SSCS’s work and fundraise to support direct action for animals worldwide.

“We are looking for people who have a passion for the ocean,” said West, who explains that the best way to get involved is to visit the group’s website and read about the commitment required to be an OSV.

A connection

With the unrest in the world today, it is natural to be concerned about the people and animals in harm’s way. In the United States, our freedom, safety and stable government gives us the opportunity and the power to make a difference to help people and animals worldwide. It also gives us the chance to connect with people internationally who devote their time and their love to care for the world’s most vulnerable yet precious animals.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Demonstrating for animals

Chelsea Knutson and  Claire Humphrey (right) (Photo by Doug Armstrong)

Chelsea Knutson and Claire Humphrey (right) at the dolphin slaughter protests in Seattle (Photo by Doug Armstrong)

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle and the Queen Anne & Magnolia News

September 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

The day after Watoto the elephant died at the Woodland Park Zoo in August, advocates gathered for a vigil outside the zoo to demonstrate their support to send the two remaining elephants to a sanctuary. Although the zoo has maintained that the elephants were healthy, Watoto’s collapse seemed to confirm advocates’ arguments that zoo life is inherently unhealthy for elephants.

I attended Watoto’s vigil and the demonstration outside the zoo. As I stood alongside 60 Seattle residents peacefully voicing their conscience, a man in a passing vehicle shouted, “Get a job!” as if to denigrate us for expressing concern.

That driver’s anger was directed at a protester who replied, “I’m a retired zoo-industry employee of 35 years.” She was standing alongside teachers, lawyers, parents, engineers, artists, business and nonprofit professionals and reporters who were all gainfully employed. People from all parts of society can and will stand up for animals.

This September, demonstrators gathered outside the Japanese embassy as part of a worldwide, annual protest against the dolphin slaughter and capture in Taji, Japan.

“Sixteen thousand people took part in 117 protests last year,” accounted Seattle resident Franziska Edwards, speaking of the simultaneous protests held around the world. The events are held at marine parks to discourage attendance and at Japanese consulates to hold the Japanese government accountable, Edwards explained.

Queen Anne resident Claire Humphrey also attended, though she had never protested for animals before. After Humphrey saw the documentary “The Cove” and learned more about the threats to dolphins and ocean mammals, she has decided to get more involved.

“Attending the demonstration was a step in the right direction,” Humphrey said.

Joining the charge

Fall is a perfect time to get involved and let your voice be heard for animals. Protests, demonstrations and marches are taking place throughout the region.

Every year, a circus comes to town to display elephants and other captive wild animals by forcing them to perform tricks for amusement. Local residents Jim Becker and Doug Armstrong, volunteers with the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN), are helping people understand the consequences of attending the circus.

“A day at the circus for your family constitutes a lifetime of misery for the animals,” Armstrong said. New Metro Transit bus ads will remind people of this message and to not attend the circus.


Metro bus ads (Photo courtesy of NARN)

“Like most people, I grew up going to the circus,” Armstrong said. “I don’t think anyone goes with the intention to cause harm to animals. I think people don’t realize what happens behind the scenes. Elephants go through a tremendous amount of suffering — everything from being separated from their mothers to being beaten and whipped and chained up for most of their lives, just so people can spend a couple hours eating popcorn and laughing at some silly elephant tricks.”

Becker and Armstrong are coordinating demonstrations at each of the performances of Ringling Brothers Circus in Kent and Everett this September. You can help educate the public and let your voice be heard against animal cruelty by attending a demonstration. Visit www.narn.org/circus/ for dates and times, and check out the Pacific Northwest Against Circus Cruelty Facebook page.

While elephants suffer in circuses and zoos, they are also at risk in the wild. Oct. 4 is the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, and concerned citizens will gather in Seattle’s International Children’s Park (700 S. Lane St.).

Co-organizer Nicki Aloisio explained that an elephant is poached every 15 seconds for the ivory in her tusk, and every nine hours a rhinoceros is killed for her horn. Animal advocates expect that by 2025 wild elephants and rhinoceros could be wiped out.

Event co-organizer Alyne Fortgang, co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, said that the poaching crisis is at a tipping point: “Bringing awareness to this tragedy is critical. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is committed to the welfare of elephants; not just those suffering and dying young in zoos but also those dying young in the wild.”

(For more information, visit the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos on Facebook.)

A catalyst for change

Alyne Fortgang (left) and Kimberly Mills (Photo by Jenn Forbes)

Alyne Fortgang (left) and Kimberly Mills (Photo by Jenn Forbes)

The brave individuals who attend demonstrations, rallies, marches and protests are just as busy as you and me. They have full-time jobs and many are raising children, but they know they must show up for an hour or so and speak out if they expect an end to animal injustices.

While a small number of protest on-lookers deal with these uncomfortable messages by showing anger, demonstrators often find that their efforts are rewarded by hearing passers-by say, “I just didn’t know, but now I know and I can make better choices for animals.”

In the United States, we depend on demonstrations to move our society away from the status quo. Our history of progress from civil rights and LBGT equality to environmental conservation and animal rights depends on demonstrations to bring hidden issues into the light of day. While this transition is rarely comfortable, it is absolutely necessary and is often the primary catalyst for change to help humans, animals and the environment.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com. To comment on this story, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Peace for Geese

Canada goose in Seattle Park (Photo by D. Weinstein)

Canada goose in Seattle Park (Photo by D. Weinstein)

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

August 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Our relationship with Canada geese in the Puget Sound region has a convoluted history. The resident population of geese was originally transplanted here as goslings by the government in the late 1960s as hunting stock. With the mild climate, the fledglings formed a non-migratory population that now lives in the Puget Sound region year-round.

Unfortunately, geese living and defecating in waterfront parks is an annoyance for some. So around 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) began conducting region-wide geese roundups by suffocating the birds with carbon dioxide or shooting them on Lake Washington.

Videos and eyewitness sightings of the roundups motivated local residents to demand an end to geese killing, and in 2004, the Seattle Parks and Recreation announced it would no longer use lethal control. However, Wildlife Services did not stop killing geese on behalf of King and Pierce county municipalities, according to reports obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Each year, local cities sign onto an Interlocal Agency Agreement to collectively pay for USDA-WS services. This year’s agreement included Bellevue, Kent, Kirkland, Mountlake Terrace, Renton, Tukwila, Woodinville, the Port of Seattle, Seattle Parks, Tacoma MetroParks and the University of Washington (UW). Most participants pay $2,230 per year to have USDA-WS conduct surveys, addle eggs (to prevent development) and kill geese. USDA-WS Washington state director Roger Woodruff explains that the fees collected for these services, around $25,000 per year, covers all costs for these services.

The UW, Seattle and Bellevue, among others, report that they do not request lethal control, but all the agreement signatories pay for lethal control regardless of whether it is done within their jurisdiction. In 2013, 1,159 geese were killed in King County.

Non-lethal control

Geese in Seattle parks (Photo by D. Weinstein)

Geese in Seattle parks (Photo by D. Weinstein)

According to Woodruff, the geese population in our region soared in the late 1990s, when the agency ramped up lethal control. He says that egg addling is only minimally successful because much of Seattle’s shoreline is privately owned where USDA-WS cannot reach the eggs, and that culling prevents bird strikes at local airports.

However, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Bird Strikes database, in 1998 and 1999 (at the height of the geese population), there were two strikes involving Canada geese each year at the local airports. By 2004 and 2005, after years of killing geese, the average number of Canada goose strikes was still two per year. Even today, while many cities shun lethal control, only one Canada goose bird strike occurred in 2013. These strikes caused only minor or no damage to the aircraft and no human injury.

Animal advocates maintain that lethal control is cruel and unnecessary and should not be funded by taxpayers. When gassed, geese are corralled into metal boxes, where they struggle and gasp for oxygen. Eyewitnesses report the geese break their necks and wings in a desperate struggle for their lives.

Advocates encourage the use of a wide range of non-lethal alternatives, including expanded egg addling, modifications to park landscaping and harassment of geese with trained dogs and other deterrents. Certain cities do use some of these methods.

Feces-cleanup equipment, such as Naturesweep, can be purchased for park cleanup. For population control, OvoControl (a birth control-laced bird feed) and male goose vasectomies could be used.

Unfortunately, Interlocal Agreement signatories have shown little innovative spirit to implement new solutions. Bellevue, Seattle and UW report never having tried OvoControl, citing concerns about delivering the right dose or feeding non-target species, such as rats.

However, scientists at the USDA National Wildlife Research Center collaborated to develop and test OvoControl. Studies on Oregon geese populations have shown the product is successful at population control and is cost-effective.

The drug is administered during breeding season and would mitigate the problem of not being able to addle eggs on private property. With some ingenuity, a geese-specific feeder could be used to ensure the OvoControl does not reach non-target species.

Similarly, a Bronx Zoo study showed that vasectomies in resident goose populations reduce egg viability from 90 to 12 percent. Perhaps this kind of permanent solution for resident geese could be sustainable for decades.

Petitions circulating

Goose in Seattle park (photo by D. Weinstein)

Goose in Seattle park (photo by D. Weinstein)

For 15 years, geese management in King County has been a revolving door of human-goose conflicts. When agencies pay only $2,230 per year, it is not surprising that USDA-WS services are not sustainable and geese conflicts continue to occur. UW reports having to continually clean up geese feces at significant cost, but it continues to rely on USDA-WS.

A local group, Peace for Geese, is asking cities to stop killing geese and focus only on humane alternatives. As a matter of humane justice, taxpayer funds should be used for non-lethal, region-wide, sustainable, innovative solutions to geese population management. A petition is available asking cities to make this shift, and Peace for Geese is asking you to sign.

Hopefully, Puget Sound citizens will demand that our cities stop killing urban wildlife and implement long-term, humane measures for our resident geese.

To learn more, visit the Peace for Geese Project on Facebook and sign the petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/puget-sound-area-officials-stop-killing-canada-geese#sthash.MhG0yhSe.dpuf

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is the editor of “Living Humane,” a news site on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com. To comment on this column, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.

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COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret, Nov. 5th at SIFF Film Center

cowpsiracy-smallcropA movie presentation of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret will be shown at the SIFF Film Center on Wednesday, November 5th, but you need to get your tickets in advance to keep the showing on the schedule.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.

See the Tugg website for more information and to buy tickets.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Taking Action for Animals

 The Washington delegation attending Humane Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., in June included Michael and Sandy Smith (from far left) of Kirkland, Seattle residents Steve Ann Chambers, Hilary Hager and Jennifer Hillman; Geoff Urton, of Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle columnist Christie Lagally; and HSUS Washington State director Dan Paul. Photo courtesy of Sandy Smith

The Washington delegation attending Humane Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., in June included Michael and Sandy Smith (from far left) of Kirkland, Seattle residents Steve Ann Chambers, Hilary Hager and Jennifer Hillman; Geoff Urton, of Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle columnist Christie Lagally; and HSUS Washington State director Dan Paul. Photo courtesy of Sandy Smith

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in the Queen Anne & Magnolia News and City Living Seattle

July 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Last month, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference. Hosted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), this conference brings together community leaders, professionals and locally oriented volunteers from around the country who are working to help animals in every regard.

Most people I meet care deeply for animals because of a relationship with their own pets or through a broader empathy for all animals. And when animals are suffering, most of us suffer in our hearts (sometimes unknowingly) because of our natural love for animals and our aversion to cruelty. Hence, TAFA is meant to inform, inspire and empower us to be better advocates for animals.

As a young adult, no issue disturbed me more than animal testing, and I had been indoctrinated to believe that it is necessary for the good of humankind. When I eventually learned about the treatment of animals in laboratories, I learned that much of the testing is actually unnecessary and fails to benefit humans.

At TAFA, I met folks from the White Coat Waste Project (www.whitecoatwaste.com), a nonprofit organization that exposes government funding of unnecessary animal testing (including testing on beagles, household cats and monkeys.)

The project reports that our government wastes $12 billion per year on animal studies, such as forcing monkeys to smoke cigarettes or feeding them high-fat, sugary foods to create obesity. Yet, the dangers of smoking and obesity are well known and are more appropriately studied in humans who exhibit these behaviors.

Luckily, we can make conscious choices not to support animal testing. Start by switching to cruelty-free household products and cosmetics. Visit www.leapingbunny.org to find a list of companies that do not test their products on animals.

Animal cruelty at farms

It was an eye-opening moment at TAFA to learn that the vast majority of animal cruelty around the world occurs in industrialized factory farms where most of our meat and eggs are produced.

In factory farms, mother pigs are confined to gestation crates that are no larger than their bodies, laying hens are confined to battery cages with no more room than a piece of notebook paper, and baby calves, who are taken from their mothers in the dairy industry, are confined to tiny crates shortly after their birth and later killed for veal. Although billions (not millions) of animals in factory farms suffer cruelty, everyone in our community can make a huge difference to help animals by reducing our meat consumption.

Consider trying Meatless Mondays, a global movement originally started in World War I to ration supplies that continues today to help people consciously reduce their consumption of meat. Amazingly, if all Americans participated in Meatless Monday, it would save 1.4 billion animals per year from factory farms. Visit www.meatlessmonday.com for recipes and ideas for sharing Meatless Mondays in our community.

Animal activism

Another goal of TAFA was to amplify our efforts to protect animals from cruelty by talking with our senators and representatives in Washington state and in Washington, D.C.

Following TAFA, I participated in Humane Lobby Day at our nation’s capital. Along with a delegation from Washington state, I attended meetings with legislative staff of Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Rep. Jim McDermott. Our delegation encouraged the senators to co-sponsor a bill to keep horse slaughterhouses from operating in the United States and to prevent the sale and transport of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 541/H.R. 1094) is already cosponsored by McDermott.

We also encouraged support of the Captive Primate Safety Act (S. 1463/H.R. 2856), which prevents monkeys, apes and nonhuman primates from being transported for exotic-pet sales. Sadly, primates in the exotic-pet industry are held captive for breeding, and their babies are taken from them and sold as pets. These wild animals pose considerable danger to humans as they grow into adults and can harbor transmittable diseases.

Finally, our delegation asked for co-sponsorship of the Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 4148). Passing this bill would end the use of animals for testing cosmetics. If passed, the United States could join major world powers like the European Union and India, which have already banned the use of animals for cosmetics testing. This bill is currently only in the U.S. House of Representatives, so you can contact our senators to request they introduce this bill in the Senate.

The power to act daily

All of us inadvertently encounter animal cruelty in our everyday lives with just a trip to the supermarket or even paying our taxes, which funds animal testing. Although awareness of such issues is uncomfortable at first, we can take comfort that we have the power to really change the world for animals by the actions we take daily.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” which means we can be more proud to be Americans each day we make progress for animals.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com.


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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Keeping cats safe and ‘enclosed’

Serena the cat in her veranda enclosure

Serena the cat in her veranda enclosure

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

June 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

When I adopted my cat Buca from a city shelter, I signed a contract in good faith to keep her indoors. After all, the shelter had saved her life, and I promised to protect her.

After several years as an indoor-only cat, Buca decided she wanted time outside, and she made her wishes known in potent ways. However, cats pose considerable risks to themselves and other animals when allowed to roam freely, so I decided to provide Buca with an enclosed area where she could enjoy the outdoors without the risks.

Cat enclosures are highly recommended by local shelters. Otherwise, free-roaming cats can be hit by cars; attacked by wild animals, dogs or other cats; eat poisonous plants; inadvertently get caught in a neighbor’s garage; catch fleas, ear mites or ring worm; or be kidnapped and go missing without any explanation.

Hillman's cat enclosure

Hillman’s cat enclosure

Furthermore, free-roaming cats impact the environment by killing songbirds or native small mammals and defecating in neighborhood gardens.
Providing cats with outdoor access in enclosures ensures we are good cat owners and good neighbors, explains Jennifer Hillman, Western Region director for The Humane Society of the United States.

“It means being responsible for wildlife, responsible for community space and responsible for the safety of our cats,” said Hillman, whose five happy cats enjoy a spacious cat enclosure built along the side of her North Seattle home.

Hillman built the enclosure when she moved to the neighborhood a decade ago and decided to bring her once free-roaming cats indoors. As a new neighbor, she did not want her cats digging in neighborhood vegetable patches, and she had some traumatic experiences with her cats catching wild birds.

Hillman's cats enjoying the enclosure

Hillman’s cats enjoying the enclosure

Access to the outside

Hillman said her cats seemed to easily acclimate to using an enclosure, possibly because she built it just before the rainy season and the cats were not inclined to go out anyway. She explains that the secret is to provide enrichment in the enclosure, such as stumps to scratch on, platforms to jump around on and trees to climb. Hillman’s enclosure even has cat tunnels between upper and lower sections.

Cat enclosures can easily be built with a little help on the design. Ingrid Gordon of West Seattle seeks to share how feasible cat enclosures are to build onto any home. On her Facebook page for Creative Cat Enclosures, Gordon posts videos of her cat enclosures, and she gives ideas and advice on how to plan and build your own.

Additionally, Gordon and her friend Stephanie Hillman have volunteered their time to help fellow residents build enclosures for the safety of local cats. They also built Stephanie’s cat enclosure in Ballard.

“My enclosure is definitely one for limited space or barely a yard. It gives the cats access to the outdoors through my bedroom window,” describes Stephanie Hillman. “It’s small, but functional, and I have a chair out there so I can sit outside with them.”

Gordan explains her enclosure provides her peace of mind, knowing her cats will be safe while she is away. Meanwhile, her cats get time outside watching bugs and birds whenever they wish.


Serena in the catio

Serena in the catio

Seattle resident Cynthia Chomos had the same concerns for her cat, Serena, a female orange tabby with a tranquil presence. When Chomos adopted Serena just more than a year ago, she saw the need to protect her with a cat enclosure — but one that Chomos and Serena could share.

Chomos is a certified Feng Shui consultant and color designer, which made her uniquely qualified to design outdoor spaces for cats and people to enjoy together. As a new addition to her consulting services, Chomos runs a small business designing and building custom cat enclosures called “catios”; hence, the name of her business, Catio Spaces (www.catiospaces.com).

Chomos works to design the enclosure to visually complement the home’s exterior, and she can specifically design and decorate the catio to meet the resident cats’ needs and likes.

At her Ballard home, Chomos has two cat enclosures: a “window-box veranda” outside her office, and a large, ”garden sanctuary” catio in her backyard that she and Serena share. Both spaces incorporate the design principles of Feng Shui to make the spaces restful yet stimulating. And since catio structures are a modification to the house itself, Chomos is a licensed and bonded contractor qualified to complete the work with her team of carpenters.

Hillman's upper enclosure

Hillman’s upper enclosure

There are many good reasons to keep cats indoors, and the options for creating an enclosure are nearly as diverse as cats themselves. A simple add-on wire structure with plenty of enclosed space, a sturdy window box or a built-in structure such as a catio can all be successful by providing the cat with plenty of enrichment, with grass, a fountain, tunnels or walkways or a sunny place to safely watch the birds.

Your own peace of mind and the joys of keeping cats healthy are worth the investment of time, creative energy and money to create a cat enclosure.

For more about keeping happy, indoor cats, visit www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/cat_happy_indoors.html.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com.

– See more at: http://citylivingseattle.com/Content/News/Urban-Dwellings/Article/AMONG-THE-ANIMALS—Keeping-cats-safe-and–enclosed-/22/169/90071#sthash.VvhDI2oP.dpuf

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