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Cheers and Jeers

May 16, 2014 | Cheers and Jeers

Cheers to Dutchess County, N.Y., residents who are working with a Rhinecliff-based attorney to push the state legislature to pass a bill that would place a moratorium on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to eradicate mute swans.

The DEC claims the species is an invasive one and poses a potential threat to important ecosystems. In December, it announced a plan to eliminate free-ranging mute swans from the state by 2025.

The DEC says mute swans can exhibit aggressive behavior toward people, displace native wildlife species, degrade water quality, threaten aviation and destroy submerged aquatic vegetation.

But the birds' supporters, like Friends of Animals, say the state is overestimating the dangers.

The flimsy attempt to blame 2,200 mute swans for causing significant environmental damage throughout all of New York State is laughable and lacks scientific evidence. On the contrary, human activity involved in contemporary agricultural methods is a much greater hazard to waterways. 

While the diet of mute swans consists of SAV, studies have shown that runoff from fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste contribute significantly to the loss of SAV in other areas, like the Chesapeake Bay. Since mute swans constitute only about one half of one percent of the approximately 400,000 waterfowl in New York  counted by the DEC, and the nearly half a million waterfowl also consume aquatic vegetation, killing a relatively small population of mute swans will not contribute significantly to SAV recovery.

The moratorium bill is working its way through both houses of the state legislature. The Rhinecliff attorney is hopeful it will come to a vote before the current legislative session ends in June.

The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Tony Avella, a Queens Democrat, and in the Assembly by Steven Cymbrowitz, a Brooklyn Democrat.

FoA is urging its NY members to contact their assembly members and senators and urge them to make bills S6589 and A8790A a priority for a floor vote in their conference sessions and for them to vote yes to pass it into law to protect NY’s mute swan.




Jeers to Animal Planet’s Monster Week episode called Man Eating Super Wolves, which sensationalizes wolf attacks on humans, betrays these endangered animals and does nothing to educate the public on peacefully co-existing with wildlife or informing  people what to do if they do encounter a wild predator.

The show included footage about the death of engineering student Kenton Carnegie, who was killed by a pack of wolves in northern Saskatchewan in Canada in 2005, the first ever documented case of a fatal wolf attack in the wild in North America. However it does not tell the whole story—that witnesses told a jury at the coroner’s inquest that wild animals had been feeding at an unregulated garbage dump in the area and that concerns were expressed that wolves there had lost their natural fear of humans. The jury then made several recommendations to be passed on to the provincial government, including the need to establish safety standards at garbage dumps where predatory animals such as wolves and bears are found and to better educate workers and the public about wildlife.

Animal Planet should know better than to air such an irresponsible show especially since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's announced last June that its plans to strip away endangered species protection for gray wolves. Friends of Animals has been dealing with anti-wolf propaganda spouted by hunter lobbyist groups and other governmental agencies and its profoundly negative effect on the welfare and lives of these animals for years, but we expect more from Animal Planet.

Apparently, its viewers do too. We found this comment on social media, and we couldn’t agree more. What a shame. A channel that used to be about education and instilling a respect for nature has dropped to the lows of ridiculous hatred and fear mongering. Wolves, as with every other predator, are vital to an ecosystem and very rarely pose a threat to people. People should be more afraid of their neighbors than they should be of wolves, for people are far more needlessly violent. There is one thing I can thank Animal Planet for and that is giving me a reason to turn the TV off and find something else to do because this is pure crap.”



Cheers to rock icon Debbie Harry, the singer-songwriter best known for being the leader of the punk rock band Blondie, for lending her voice to the campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City after a driver was charged for allegedly abusing a horse called Blondie.

Harry has written a letter to 51 City Council members in the Big Apple to add her name to a growing list of notable figures demanding an end to the popular tourist attraction.

In her letter, she backs up her calls for a ban by highlighting the case of a carriage driver who was charged with animal cruelty last year for allegedly neglecting a horse with the same name as her iconic band.

In the note, obtained by New York Post gossip column Page Six, she writes, "A police officer noticed that Blondie was struggling to pull his carriage. When he questioned the driver, he learned that Blondie had been suffering from a serious leg injury for four days, but had been forced to work long shifts in hectic traffic."

Friends of Animals has led the movement to ban the heartless carriage horse industry—we made it an issue that demanded attention. Friends of Animals helped draft New York Senator Tony Avella’s ban legislation and we made sure that it included a crucial provision for each horse to be placed in a sanctuary once.

NYC residents should contact their City Council members ASAP and tell them you support a ban on this cruel and outdated industry. You can find your City Council member right here.


Did you know that wildlife crime is the largest direct threat to the future of many of the world’s most threatened species? It is second only to habitat destruction in overall threats against species survival.

Having said that, Friends of Animals has a cheers to a small team of U.S. Marines who are the newest recruits in Chad’s efforts to stop a horrible string of poaching that has decimated the country’s elephant population in recent years. A contingent of 15 troops from a special Marines task force will spend about a month in the central African nation, teaching approximately 100 of Chad’s park rangers military tactics that will help them combat heavily armed poachers in an effort to protect elephants. Chad’s elephant population dropped from more than 4,000 elephants in 2005 to just 450 in 2010 and, as a result, the government has prioritized protection efforts.

This marks a first-time partnership conducted under Department of State foreign assistance authorities with the Chadian rangers, whose primary mission is anti-poaching. Those involved will also have collateral duties of border security and countering illicit trafficking within the sovereign territory of the Republic of Chad to help bring greater stability to the region.

According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, in 1979 there were an estimated 1.3 million African elephants. By 1989 only 600,000 remained. In 2010, the total had dropped to an estimated 470,000 according to IUCN’s African Elephant Specialist Group. Today, fewer than 400,000 remain; some authorities estimate the number to be considerably lower. The loss of nearly a million elephants in a decade was due primarily to illegal killing for ivory in the context of an international trade. 

An estimate in 2009 derived from an analysis of ivory seizures put the number of elephants killed annually to supply the ivory trade at 38,000. If such a rate were to continue, elephants could be gone from most of their former range in a decade.

In addition to the ivory trade, another threat to elephants is the capture and sale of the animals for elephant-back safaris, zoos and circuses. South Africa, once the source of many wild-caught elephants (including the majority of the African elephants in U.S. and European zoos) has outlawed such capture. Yet other countries, including Burma, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Tanzania are still engaged in this practice. 

You can help to put an end to the capture of wild elephants by not supporting circuses or zoos and instead supporting sanctuaries that provide homes for the animals once they’ve been discarded, just as Primarily Primates, run by Friends of Animals, does for primates.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn., is the nation's largest natural-habitat refuge developed specifically to meet the needs of endangered elephants. It is a non-profit organization, licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture designed specifically for old, sick or needy elephants who have been discarded by zoos and circuses. Utilizing more than 2,700 acres, it provides three separate and protected, natural-habitat environments for Asian and African elephants.

In an upcoming issue of Action Line we will have a book review of Carol Bradley’s Last Chain on Billie, which will be released in July. It tells the story of one of the elephants at Elephant Sanctuary and how she escaped a miserable life under the Big Top.



New York residents in particular should not neglect to contact their Assemblyperson, State Senator, and Gov. Cuomo to urge them to support A 8824, which would ban commerce in ivory anywhere in New York State, regardless of whether the ivory was obtained before or after the 1989 CITES ban. So-called "antique" ivory is frequently sold without a lack of proper documentation to ensure that it was obtained before the 1989 ban, and as such, the tusks of recently murdered elephants may be sold at antique dealers and curio shops right under our noses. The only way to put a stop to this is to ban the sale of elephant ivory altogether, and New York State has recently taken baby steps in that direction. New Yorkers, please contact your legislators ASAP and urge them to support A 8824, ending the ivory trade in New York once and for all.

That is not the only thing Animal Planet has done wrong. Go to the Mother Jones website and you'll find an article on an animal cruelty investigation behind the scenes at the Animal Planet program "Call of the Wildman." The channel's focus in general has shifted away from promoting a deeper understanding of nature to the antiquated, simplistic "man-vs.-beast" schtick, with animals frequently on the losing end.

In regards to the show about the wolves... it is so sad that media sensationalizes on things without giving the whole story. we see this so many times.
thanks for sharing this information - it puts a new light on the productions Animal Planet shows.

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