Archive for Animal Welfare
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has organised the world’s first symposium dedicated to how animal welfare is affected by entanglement in marine debris. Arranged between the 4th to the 6th of December this year in Miami, Florida, the symposium differs from other marine debris conferences as it looks specifically at the problem from an animal welfare perspective. Marine debris, particularly plastic pollution, causes numerous problems in the world’s oceans, several of which cause the death of aquatic species. The UN has estimated that around 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds die every year because of entanglement and ingestion of marine debris, although accurate figures are impossible to calculate. A commonly cited example of how this happens is with turtles mistaking floating plastic bags for jellyfish. The bag then either suffocates the turtle, or causes its stomach to produce excessive amounts of digestive gases so that the creature ends up floating to the sea’s surface, unable to dive for food thereby dying of starvation.
Yvonne, a cow that escaped from a Bavarian farm in May, has gained national celebrity after numerous attempts to recapture her failed. However, things are looking increasingly desperate for the cunning bovine (pictured) as officials have branded her a danger to traffic and have given hunters the right to shoot her. Attempts to lure Yvonne back into human hands have included bringing another cow Waltroud, Yvonne’s “best friend”, nearby. Then Yvonne’s calf was brought along. Both times Yvonne watched from a distance before running off. Animal rights campaigners have been using infrared to track the cow’s movements. For the most part, she “lies low” during the day and forages at night, much like a deer. Now, in a final attempt, campaigners have brought in the breeding bull Ernst to see whether sex appeal will tempt Yvonne from the Bavarian woods. Yvonne has been a popular topic in German media with one newspaper, Bild, offering €10,000 to anyone who can save the “heroine of the Summer”.
www.independent.co.uk 13th May 2011
The Independent newspapers campaign to ban the use of animals in circuses seems to have lost a bit of momentum due to worried politicians. The campaign has passed 15,000 signatories in the space of a week but a crucial Commons Question Time yesterday (Thursday 12th May) saw Mr Paice, the animal welfare minister, express his doubts about whether a ban would actually be legal. He cited the example of the Austrian government who had been taken to court over a similar ban. “Our government can hardly recommend something that might not be legal,” he said when tackled on the issue by Labour frontbencher Gavin Shuker MP. Mr Paice’s words brought angry criticism from animal right’s groups with David Bowles, director of communications at the RSPCA, saying, “The RSPCA is furious that the Government appear to have done a complete U-turn on the issue of whether wild animals are to be banned in circuses. The UK hiding behind a challenge to the Austrian government ban is a complete red herring as the European commission have said they are happy with bans on use of wild animals in member states.” The Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are also behind the ban.
www.telegraph.co.uk 18th November 2010
Plans to build a ‘super-dairy’ of 8,000 cows in rural Lincolnshire have been scaled down due to widespread protests. Concerns over environmental issues and animal cruelty have led Nocton Dairies to reduce the number of cows proposed for its intensive farming unit to 3,770, which will still make the complex the largest dairy in western Europe. The cows will be milked 24 hours a day by robots needing very little human maintenance. This should produce around 200,000 pints of milk a day. Milk imports into the UK are the highest they have ever been and two dairy farmers go out of business every day as cow grazing is slowly replaced by more industrial methods of farming. Mr Wiles and Mr Barnes, the business partners involved with the construction of the super dairy, believe that such intensive battery farming in the UK is inevitable. “If we do not build larger dairy units, we will have to import more milk,” Mr. Wiles said. Despite the fact that both men have received fines in the past for breaching environmental laws, they insist that waste from the farm will be recycled for energy or as fertiliser in nearby fields. Environmentalists are yet to be convinced with many fearing that standards of animal welfare will slip as more super-dairies are built. In related news, Morrisons have become the first supermarket to insist on video cameras in abattoirs where they source their meat.
www.independent.co.uk 13th November 2010
In a series of secretive moves the coalition government has scrapped or delayed a host of animal rights laws that were introduced by the Labour government. The affected laws, some only weeks away from being passed, include a ban on mutilating chickens’ beaks so that they could not peck each other in enclosed environments such as battery farms. The RSPCA described the practice as “an insult to hens’ welfare.” Another law would have banned game birds from being kept in cages. An additional move has seen the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) drop a series of charges against abattoir operators for animal cruelty. Footage, caught by the environmentalist group Animal Aid, showed abattoir workers kicking cattle, pigs and sheep but DEFRA said that such evidence would not hold up in court as it was obtained by trespassing. Tim Smith, head of the Food Standards Agency, which enforces slaughterhouse standards, described the images as: “the cruelty on show is the worst I have seen.” DEFRA has also postponed a ban on using wild animals in circuses. There are currently some 40 tigers, elephants, zebras, and other animals forced to do tricks for circuses in the UK. The ban was first put forward by Labour minister Jim Fitzpatrick after a poll showed 95% of the public supported the idea. All these moves were instigated by the Agricultural minister James Paice, who owns a farm in Cambridgeshire. He is also behind the government’s overturning of Labour’s opposition to a badger cull.
To watch Animal Aid’s film please click here. Some viewers may find the footage upsetting.
www.independent.co.uk 4th November 2010
The RSPCA have released a report stating that two of the world’s biggest poultry exporters, Brazil and Thailand, have better animal welfare standards than farms in the UK. Three of the main comparisons were between the amount of space each chicken was allowed (13 chickens per square metre in Thailand compared to 20 in the UK), how long chickens were allowed to grow (42 days in Thailand, 35 in the UK), and how much rest a chicken is allowed a day (Thailand: 6 hours, UK: 4). Dr. Marc Cooper of the RSPCA said that, rather than presuming that standards are better in the UK, generally the reverse is true. This may be seen as good news by supermarkets who have increasingly imported foreign poultry to cut costs. In 1996, only £36 million worth was imported compared to the £510 million in 2009. £292 million of this amount came from Thailand. However, Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, simply retorted: “I don’t think Marc Cooper is right”. The RSPCA report coincided with video footage released by the Vegetarian Organisation Viva! showing a ‘conveyor belt of death’ for male chicks not wanted by the egg production industry. Every year between 30 and 40 million are killed in gas chambers and meat-mincers.