When worlds collide: Naja, the King of snakes


Having some friends that are great fan of reptilians and snakes I decided to dedicate some posts to these animals. They might be less cudly than the average animal they are among the most beautiful creatures God put on this world (yes the irony is not lost on me here)

For Americans the rattler is probably the most well known snake, for most of the other people this will be “the Cobra”  and many people will wrongly asume that “the cobra” is “a snake”. This of course is, just as with many other species,  not the case. The cobra is a family of snakes with several sub species, a few of them I will highlight.

Naja is a genus of venomous elapid snakes known as cobras. Several other genera include species commonly called cobras (for example the rinkhals, or ring-necked spitting cobra [Hemachatus haemachatus]), but of all the snakes known by that name, members of the genus Naja are the most widespread and the most widely recognized as cobras. Various species occur in regions throughout Africa, Southwest Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Until recently the genus Naja had 20 to 22 species, but it has undergone several taxonomic revisions in recent years, so sources vary greatly. There is however wide support for a 2009 revision that synonymised the genera Boulengerina and Paranaja with Naja. According to that revision the genus Naja now includes 28 species.

I guess we all heard about the “spitting Cobra”. Again we tend to think of it as one species but did you know the spitting cobra cosists of no less than 11 subspecies?

  1. Ashe’s spitting cobra (giant spitting cobra)
  2. Mali cobra (Katian spitting cobra)
  3. Mandalay spitting cobra (Burmese spitting cobra)
  4. Mozambique spitting cobra
  5. Zebra spitting cobra
  6. Black-necked spitting cobra
  7. Nubian spitting cobra
  8. Red spitting cobra
  9. Indochinese spitting cobra
  10. Javan spitting cobra
  11. Equatorial spitting cobra

Naja nigricincta and Naja nigricollis

 

Naja Nigricillis or Zebra Spitting Cobra

 

N. n. woodi

Naja nigricincta is a species of spitting cobra in the genus Naja; it is native to parts of southern Africa. This species had long been considered to be a subspecies of the black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis), but morphological and genetic differences have led to its recognition as a separate species.[2]

Two subspecies are currently recognized under Naja nigricincta. The nominate subspecies N. n. nigricincta, commonly known as the zebra spitting cobra or western barred spitting cobra, is given its name because of the dark crossbars that run the length of the snake’s body. The subspecies N. n. woodi, commonly known as the black spitting cobra, is solid black and is found only in the desert areas of southern Africa. Both subspecies are smaller than N. nigricollis; with average adult lengths of less than 1.5 metres (4.9 ft)

Naja naja (Indian or Spectacled Cobra)

The Indian cobra (Naja naja) also known as the Spectacled cobra, Asian cobra or Binocellate cobra is a species of the genus Naja found in the Indian subcontinent and a member of the “big four”, the four species which inflict the most snakebites on humans in India. This snake is revered in Indian mythology and culture, and is often seen with snake charmers. It is now protected in India under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

The Indian cobra is a moderately sized, heavy bodied species. This cobra species can easily be identified by its relatively large and quite impressive hood, which it expands when threatened. This species has a head, which is elliptical, depressed, and very slightly distinct from neck. The snout is short and rounded with large nostrils. The eyes are medium in size and the pupils are round.[12] The majority of adult specimens range from 1 to 1.5 metres (3.3 to 4.9 ft) in length. Some specimens, particularly those from Sri Lanka, may grow to lengths of 2.1 to 2.2 metres (6.9 to 7.2 ft), but this is relatively uncommon.

Naja Kaouthia or monocled cobra

The monocled cobra has an O-shaped, or monocellate hood pattern, unlike that of the Indian cobra. Coloration in the young is more constant. The dorsal surface may be yellow, brown, gray, or blackish, with or without ragged or clearly defined cross bands. It can be olivaceous or brownish to black above with or without a yellow or orange-colored, O-shaped mark on the hood. It has a black spot on the lower surface of the hood on either side, and one or two black cross-bars on the belly behind it. The rest of the belly is usually of the same color as the back, but paler. As age advances, it becomes paler, when the adult is brownish or olivaceous. The elongated nuchal ribs enable a cobra to expand the anterior of the neck into a “hood”. A pair of fixed anterior fangs is present. The largest fang recorded measured 6.78 mm (0.678 cm). Fangs are moderately adapted for spitting. Adult monocled cobras reach a length of 1.35 to 1.5 m (4.4 to 4.9 ft) with a tail length of 23 cm (9.1 in). Many larger specimens have been recorded, but they are rare. Adults can reach a maximum of 2.3 m (7.5 ft) in length.

So that is a little about cobras. There are more subspecies but that is for another time

It’s Official, the wolf has returned to the Netherlands


Although the news is already a bit older I have waited to report this to make sure that it isn’t a hoax, prank or urban myth. But luckily it isn’t so I am happy to report that the wolf has officially come back to the Netherlands. I so wished I was the one that made the following picture

The wolf has been spotted near Emmen in the Dutch province of Drenthe which is on the border with Germany. The wolf showed some a-typical behaviour since it didn’t really show “fear” for humans. This can be due to it being fed by individuals in Germany but it is not sure. .Prior to it’s appearance in Drenthe the (most likely)  same wolf had been spotted in Germany going in the direction of Holland.

Of course nature organisations in the Netherlands are overjoyed however on the internet there are a lot of (ignorant)  people claiming that we now are in need of “protecting our herbivores since there are already so much predators in the Netherlands (the fox is the biggest predator over here)..

A small bit of advice for the reading Dutchies. If you encounter a wolf you are welcome of course to jump with joy and make some great pictures but do not approach it. A cornered wolf can attack and it will be your own doing if you get hurt. However if YOU get hurt due to YOUR stupidity it is most likely that people and certain politicians will say “it attacked someone we need to shoot it” and your stupidity will then be the cause that we have to wait another 2 centuries to see the return of this awesome creature in our woods and fields.

a video (in Dutch) can be found at http://www.hartvannederland.nl/algemeen/2015/hij-nu-echt-terug-nederland-de-wolf/# with some live footage of the wolf. I wasn’t able to rip it so you have to watch it from the link provided. If a countrylock is in place I suggest you try https://www.tunnelbear.com/ where you can download a proxy application with a setting for the Netherlands. 500Mb data is free and an additional 1gig if you send out a tweet. install, set to Netherlands, browse to page, watch video, exit tunnelbear.

MCM: SPOT Save & Protect Our Treasures


So since I am back at blogging I thought I start up the MCM again and again I am going the animal way. This time the Cause of the Month is SPOT.

Why a foundation for wild cats?

At the end of 2006/beginning of 2007 the number of wild cat species was set on 36. Many of them are endangered and of those a lot are threatened with extinction.

Some figures

  • Cheetah: less than 10,000.
  • Snow leopards: estimated 6,500.
  • Lion: estimated 32,000.
  • Fishing cat: less than 10,000.
  • Tiger: less than 3,500.

In the Netherlands there was no NGO specifically aiming at the protection of wild cats. This led to the start of Foundation SPOTS in 2004.

It is impossible to actually do something for all 36 species. Hence the focus of Foundation SPOTS currently lies in the protection of the cheetah, the lion and the leopard. But, through our Dutch website we are also giving a lot of education about all cat species and we name projects that are busy protecting those specific felids. In this way we hope to put the spots on all cats worldwide.

What are the objectives of Foundation SPOTS?

Many wild felids are threatened with extinction. Foundation SPOTS focuses on protecting these felids. SPOTS is active in the Netherlands and does not have own felid projects. She supports local partners in fe Africa and Iran. SPOTS operates in the Netherlands – major goals of SPOTS are educating, creating a network for several cat projects and raise funds for our supported projects in Africa and Iran. Read here which projects are supported by SPOTS.

Our vision
Many wild cat species live outside protected areas such as National Parks. They thus come into conflict with humans, who often kill predators pre-emptive. Although there are National Parks or Reserves where these animals are protected, SPOTS believes that predators should not only to be tolerated in National Parks but outside these protected areas as well. Otherwise, animals will be closed in and are no longer able to migrate, which makes them very vulnerable. This is reinforced by the fact that in a closed area it is difficult to keep a good population of genes, which is important for a healthy animal population. It makes the animals also vulnerable because there could be lack of food if there are too many animals in the same area. This means that National Parks and Reserves always need to be regulated by humans. If the fences are not maintained, there is an immediate problem with outbreaking animals on farmers land.

Corridors, linking parks and reserves, are important. But we also hope that nature outside these areas, can survive. Very much needed cause like said, many predators like cheetahs and leopards live outside protected areas and there will always be outbreaking animals.

Practical solutions, small organizations
This is easy said but the people outside these national parks, often experience the disadvantage of predators on their land. Therefore SPOTS believes we need to help local communities. Therefore we support organizations that are in direct contact with the local communities and who come up with practical solutions. It is one thing to want local people to accept predators on their land. But let’s be real: these people also suffer due to predators and think of them often as a nuisance, because they prey on their cattle which provide their income. So, the organizations supported by SPOTS help the population effectively. For example: our supported lion project builds corrals (see picture) for the farmers. This allows the cattle to be locked in in the evening, making them less likely to fall prey to lions roaming free. Our supported cheetah projects Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia (CCF) and Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) place special trained dogs (see picture 4) to chase predators like cheetahs away from cattle. This increases the acceptance limit of farmers to accept lions and cheetahs on their land. Education is also a key pillar for all of our supported projects. Education focuses on the farmers but also the youth. They are the future of tomorrow.

SPOTS is not supporting breeding programmes or shelters for wild animals. We do believe that we should protect the animals in the wild itself. And although some projects we support, do give shelter to (orphaned) animals, this is not our focus point. Again, we believe we should be aiming at wild populations. All money and awareness should be focused on this topic.

Responsible volunteering and tourism
Another major target for SPOTS in the Netherlands is educating people about “petting” tourism or volunteering. There are a lot of organizations in Southern Africa where you can pet a small animal as volunteer or tourist. Although we do believe that ambassador animals can be of value cause they can inspire people, we don’t believe in a breeding programme which enables a programme to always have young animals to pet with. This has nothing to do with nature conservation and in fact, it may in fact support the canned hunting industry.

We also do not believe in walking with lions – we believe the focus should be on lions in the wild and not in breeding lions letting them interact with people first to let them “go wild” again later on. We fully support the IUCN Cat Specialist Group who is also rejecting these kinds of excursions. For their article, click here. Foundation SPOTS therefore is very active in the Netherlands to warn people for these kind of excursions and volunteering places.

SPOT as you can see might be targetting the Dutch audiance but is speaking and working for the big cats in areas where you can find Lions, Cheetahs and Leopards and as you can imagine, they are not walking around in Holland. Therefor I think it deserves a place and your donations regardless of where you are based. Please go to their site and help them help the Lion, Cheetah and Leopard. you can find the Dutch site at http://www.stichtingspots.nl/ and for English you can click the English flag on the top right of the site.

Mavadelos Cause of the Month


Cause of the month

Cause of the Month logo

Spring is in the air on this side of the globe and this means a lot of young animals and plants are being born and sprouted. This is a good time to highlight a Canadian founded but Dutch based cause.

Greenpeace is known for its direct actionsand has been described as the most visible environmental organization in the world. Greenpeace has raised environmental issues to public knowledge, and influenced both the private and the public sector. Greenpeace has also been a source of controversy; its motives and methods have received criticism and the organization’s direct actions have sparked legal actions against Greenpeace activists, such as fines and suspended sentences for destroying a test plot of GMO wheat.

Greenpeace might be controversial but the work they do is absolutely needed, who else has the willpower, the organization and the amount of people to defend out globe and all it’s beauty that this group of people.

Writing down the history of Greenpeace would take up way to much space and frankly, if you hit the Greenpeace banner above you will goto the wiki page that has the complete history with references. I can promise you a long but interesting read.

Current project involve Indonesia, the Amazon and the Congo Basin

You can read more about Greenpeace on their own websites. I link the international site and from there you can choose a localized version using the little world map displayed next to Greenpeace International on the top left of the page

A secret form of Animal Abuse: Greed (once again a long read)


Hi all

As you know I have my MCM project which last month kicked off with some articles about Wolf Haven International, A great organization that stands up for these great animals. This month I was planning to choose one of the bigger animal welfare organizations when I got warned about some of the most famous ones. I am talking about the ASPCA and the HSUS

Above commercial is for the ASPCA, if you look at the video (and many other commercials for the ASPCA and the HSUS) what is your impression. My impression, and correct me if I am wrong, is that if I am donating money to them it (or at least a major part of it) is used to fund and maintain shelters, rescue animals and give safety and food to abandoned animals right?

If only

Following article found on this site sums it up nicely

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

The President and CEO of the ASPCA is Matthew Bershadker. Prior to June 2013, Ed Sayre held the position of power within the ASPCA, but after a seemingly endless stream of scandals, Sayre was removed. Those who were hopefully that Sayre’s removal would lead to a moral and upright man being put in charge were disappointed to see Bershadker come on the scene. As men running one of the largest Animal Cruelty Groups (ACG) in the nation, and an ACG run by donations, to boot, you’d think they would be modest men working for the greater good. Unfortunately, it is the almighty dollar that the former and current President/CEO are working towards. Sayre’s annual income from the ASPCA’s bulging coffers was reported over $550,000 annually while Bershadker has, thus far, pulled in what will become more than $566,000 a year. The average annual salary for local ASPCA heads has been reported to the IRS at approximately $70,000 while directors pull in upwards of $100,000 each year and so-called consulting animal behaviorist net $65,000. That said, there are independent branches of the SPCA without ties to the New York ACG, such as the Wake County SPCA in North Carolina, where the shelter managers work for next-to-nothing or nothing. They are the exception rather than the rule and are, ironically, the very people who should be receiving some portion of the ASPCA President’s bloated salary. Of course, the ASPCA at large sees Bershadker as immensely successful, citing increased donations and expansion as markers of their great wisdom in bringing him onto their team. In the eyes of the ASPCA upper echelon, success is created not by saving the sad-eyed, broken-down creatures featured in their ads but by raking in money. But just where does that money come from, and where does it go?

One of the ASPCA’s and HSUS’s favored expenditures is advertising. And although it is logical that one must spend money to make money, perhaps they get a bit carried away. In 2009, ASPCA Senior Vice-President Todd Hendricks said the ASPCA spent twenty cents for every one dollar of donations. In 2013, the number has changed to approximately twenty-seven cents per dollar. Now, it is worth noting that when Hendricks talks about that ratio of cost to donations, he is discussing the cost of advertisements such as the hugely successful Sarah McLachlan television commercials. Money is also spent on fancy pay-per-plate dinners, among other upper-class fundraisers, and those funds are not included in this figure. In 2009, the ASPCA spent more than 19 million dollars on advertising, a number which has only increased in recent years.

A weighty issue for critics of the ASPCA is their handling of advertising on a national level. The ASPCA is one of the largest and most profitable ACG charities in the country, but it is located in New York. There are an estimated 3,500 animal shelters in the United States, some of which are SPCAs and some of which the public believes are HSUS-affiliated. The perception that your local SPCA shelter is linked to the ASPCA and therefore will receive some portion of the donations you make to the phone number shown during commercials like Sarah McLachlan’s ad is false. The New York-based ASPCA was founded as its own entity in 1866 while your local SPCA’s have various dates of establishment. There is no actual link between the two, meaning the ASPCA is not an umbrella corporation for the smaller, locally run SPCAs. When you call the phone number at the bottom of the screen during an ASPCA commercial, your money goes to the New York-based ASPCA, not to your local SPCA. If you want to support your local SPCA shelter, you have to call them directly. Of course, the ASPCA makes a point to say they give a portion of donations to local shelters. But the reality is that in 2012, the ASPCA gave just 0.045% of its multi-million dollar donations to local shelters. That’s less than one-half of one percent, broken down in even tinier portions in order to be spread all over the country. Remember those 3,500 shelters in the U.S.? A surprisingly large number of those are SPCAs. Imagine the funding they receive from a tiny fraction of what was, in the first place, a tiny fraction.

 

Just what percentage of the ASPCA’s massive donations actually goes to the animals is up for some debate. Although tax information is publically available, finding out what the accurate percentages are is a whole different story. At the high end, some claim as much as just below 50% of donations goes to the animals. At the low end, there is a growing group of critics claiming the ASPCA uses only $11.00 of every $100.00 donated on the animals. In order to get an idea of the most likely situation for yourself, consider these verifiable statistics regarding how many animals the ASPCA “saved” in 2012. The ASPCA themselves claims they saved 4,000 dogs last year. Their IRS statement for 2012 shows $226 million dollars in gross receipts. Let’s be generous and say the ASPCA gives half its donations to the animals. That would mean each dog was given $28,250 of care and supplies. When you consider most shelters feed their dogs cheap grocery-store dog foods like Pedigree and Atta Boy, which runs about $20 for a forty-pound bag and will feed a large dog for a month or more, you cannot help but wonder where the money has gone (and, of course, dog food is a common donation item at all shelters, so it is often free to feed the dogs in residence). It certainly does not cost tens of thousands of dollars per year per dog to keep their run clean and their water bowl full. If your dog had $28,250 just for them each year, how would you spend it? Even the most elaborate surgeries – many of which a shelters cannot provide – would not take as much out of those funds as you might think. Now let’s consider the numbers at the lower level. Ten percent of donations going to the animals equates to approximately $5,650 per dog. Even that is a large number considering most dogs receive inexpensive kibble, tap water and vaccines (vaccines adopting parents are often asked to pay for). Dogs who are not already neutered or spayed will, of course, be altered, but many dogs have already been fixed before ending up at the ASPCA. And when you consider the way surgical and other veterinary costs are marked up – iso anesthetic is often marked up as much as ten or fifteen times its actual cost when billed to a client – you might wonder if the ASPCA is paying exorbitant amounts on medical needs. However, many shelter veterinarians either volunteer their time or receive practically nothing for their services. And medical supplies, including medications and IV bags, are often donated. Interestingly, on their public IRS forms, 90 million dollars is written off as “other”. So why has no one noticed that there is trouble in ASPCA land? Actually, they have.

 

The ASPCA has been part of a RICO case for quite some time. RICO stands for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations”. As of 1970, the RICO act made it possible for organizations like the ASPCA to be charged with crimes they either assisted in or ordered others to carry out for them. The case was kept out of the mainstream media spotlight with a great deal of finesse, which is most likely where some of the ASPCA’s money went for years. In 2000, the ASPCA, along with Tom Rider, a man claiming to be a former Ringling Bros. employee, filed a complaint against Ringling Bros. The gist of the case was that Tom Rider had witnessed Ringling Bros. employees abusing animals – specifically, elephants – and that his exposure to said abuse resulted in his own emotional trauma. In 2012, yes, twelve years after the original complaint was filed, the courts finally figured out that the ASPCA was paying Tom Rider to be the plaintiff in the case. This discovery resulted in RICO charges being filed against the ASPCA – and they lost. Tom Rider, the courts decided, never witnessed any such abuse. The ASPCA was simply paying him to say he did.

 

Interestingly, the ASPCA is not the only ACG involved. Also involved is a group that is said to have overstepped the boundaries of right and wrong on numerous occasions – HSUS.

 

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

During the Academy Awards in February 2012, an ad campaign was launched against HSUS. The ad painted HSUS as a money-hungry organization with little to no interest in actually helping animals. The main point of the brief commercial was a claim that less than one-half of one percent of its budget – coming out to less than one penny for each dollar spent – is spent on shelters. (It’s worth noting HSUS donated $2.25 million to a political campaign that was anti-meat in one year alone, which is far more than quadruple the $450,000 they doled out to the thousands of shelters in the country in that same year.) The tiny shelter contributions caused an uproar in the pet-loving community and, of course, within HSUS itself. However, when the media approached Human Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle and gave him a chance to defend the constantly expanding ACG, he couldn’t. Turns out, it’s true. Much like the ASPCA, HSUS is not actually affiliated with your local shelters. Just because they have parts of their name in common with the massive organization does not mean the humane shelter down the street has any ties whatsoever to HSUS. Pacelle righteously informed the media that HSUS never said they would give money to shelters, making the ad’s accusations what he referred to as a “false frame” of HSUS’s financial numbers. After all, according to Pacelle, they spent “tens of millions” annually on sterilization, an issue they take seriously. Therefore, in Pacelle’s logic, HSUS’s paltry handouts to various shelters shouldn’t matter. But ask yourself, when you are moved by the images of filthy, wounded and otherwise pitiful puppies and kittens in an HSUS advertisement and pull out your wallet, are you hoping your hard-earned cash goes to spays and neuters, or food, actual shelter and emergent medical care? That’s not to say it isn’t important to stop just any cat or dog from reproducing at random but rather it is a matter of perspective (also, the horrifying statistics on the reproduction of the U.S. animal population pushed by shelters have been proven to be hugely inflated). And, again, remember that having a pet fixed is not actually a pricey venture. Low-cost sterilization clinics associated with local shelters typically charge around $55 per procedure. Ten million dollars alone would buy hundreds of thousands of spays and neuters if they were paying patient rates at a low-cost clinic. Imagine what tens of millions could do. The markup of services for the general public is understandable and seen for services rendered across the board, but supplies are considerably cheaper for your average shelter as are services in general. So how many spays and neuters would tens of millions buy at cost?

And how much money does HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle bring home? Unlike Bershadker, who brings in more than half a million dollars annually, Pacelle has been making more than $270,000 a year for some time now. While this may seem a paltry number beside Bershadker’s annual take, it’s still quite impressive. After all, only those in the doctor-lawyer-wall street banker class make over $100,000 in the real world, let alone over a quarter million. anesthesiologist, who hold people’s very lives in their hands, can make $250,000 and more, and so can UPS pilots. Not your average pilot, though, many of them don’t even make half that. Pacelle’s qualifications? Degrees in history and environmental studies. Pretty good considering most history teachers only manage to scrape by on about $40,000 a year. But maybe he has a heart for animals and throws himself into his work wholeheartedly. Maybe he’s a diehard animal lover. You’d have to be, right, to work for THE Humane Society?

 

“I don’t love animals or think they’re cute.” – Wayne Pacelle

“I don’t love animals or think they’re cute.” Yes, Wayne Pacelle said that. His supporters say any journalist using that phrase as a stand-alone quote is misrepresenting his beliefs, so here is the entire quote: “I don’t love animals or think they’re cute. I respect them.” In the quote he goes on to say that he would be in the forests around Yale Thanksgiving morning fighting against Yale and the DEP’s annual deer hunt. He spent years as a member of the extraordinarily radical anti-hunting group Fund for Animals, even working his way into a director position. In fact, before he was even out of college, he had been arrested for his extreme behavior harassing hunters. Pacelle equates hunting as on par with cock fights and dog fighting, which is a brutal stereotype for a pastime where most who participate take care to utilize every part of the animal. Yes, some people are wasteful, but even those who waste the skin still eat the meat. You don’t find many hunters wandering into the woods to shoot a deer, watch it fall, say “well, that was fun” and go home empty-handed. So why is the head of HSUS so concerned with sport hunting? Because that’s what the Humane Society of the United States does.

 

Polls and common sense show that more than 71% of Americans believe HSUS’s focus is dog and cat shelters. When you picture HSUS, do you picture a bunch of PETA-like animal-rights activists, or do you picture a group working to rescue, feed and house helpless cats and dogs? Probably the latter, which makes you like just about every other American. However, public records and decades of business practices show that HSUS’s goals actually revolve around animal rights, to an extreme. In fact, many farmers are now speaking out against HSUS because the Humane Society has taken it upon itself to try to force GMO labeling, at any cost. This is neither the time nor word-count place to get into the pros and cons of GMO labeling, so let’s simply ask why a group that advertises itself as an ACG (remember, that’s Animal Cruelty Group, as in they try to stop it) is wading into the GMO labeling fight? And that’s not all they’re involved in. Unsurprising considering who runs things at HSUS.

 

John Goodwin, one of the men hired by Wayne Pacelle, was brought into HSUS in 1997 and is, today, their director of animal cruelty/animal fighting policy. What would people say if they knew Goodwin made the FBI’s terror watch list decades ago thanks to his involvement with an exceedingly violent group called the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)? When questioned by the media about a fire set by ALF members that caused million-dollar damage, Goodwin was quoted as saying he is “ecstatic” about the event. Goodwin also had his hand in the Michael Vick case, which brings us to the next issue: how does HSUS spend the money it collects for specific events? Let’s take a look at Michael Vick and Hurricane Katrina.

“Your gift will be put to use right away to care for these dogs.” HSUS ad regarding the Michael Vick case

Following the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal’s hard-to-miss splash into mainstream media, HSUS decided to get involved. Dog fighting is a horrific atrocity, and no matter how big or small their names are, those involved should always be punished not only to the full extent of the law but far beyond it. Unfortunately, for the most part animal cruelty laws are depressingly lax across the entire country. When agents raided Vick’s property, almost fifty dogs were healthy enough to be taken away. Of those, only one was so irredeemably aggressive that rescuers had no choice but to euthanize him after countless failed attempts to save him. Twenty-two of the more problematic dogs went to Best Friends Animal Society whose headquarters are in Utah, but who also have a branch in Los Angeles. Best Friends worked tirelessly to teach the lifelong fighting dogs what it means to simply be a pet rather than a cold-blooded killer. The real killer was Vick, who murdered eight dogs in and around April of 2007 – that we know of, a number which is, in reality, probably much higher. Considering Vick is known to have been fighting dogs for nearly a decade, the April 2007 killings are most likely just the tip of the iceberg. Dogs were killed by hanging from trees on the property, having their heads held underwater in a five-gallon bucket and, in at least one case, a dog had his head repeatedly bashed into the ground until he died. Dogs in Vick’s “care” could count on being electrocuted, shot, burned and beaten, among other methods of torture. It is clear that the forty-nine living dogs seized by agents needed extra-special care, and in advertisements hastily created and broadcast, HSUS promised to do just that. In the ads, HSUS asked for money specifically to help the dozens of dogs still living who were abused by Vick. The print ad read: “…make a special gift to help the Humane Society of the United States care for the dogs seized in the Michael Vick case… your gift will be put to use right away to care for these dogs.” And since the dogs were in the public spotlight and clearly needed help, the donations immediately began to pour in, as usual. However, this one rare time, HSUS was called on its crap. The New York Times reported accurately that not only was HSUS not providing any care whatsoever to the Vick dogs but that Wayne Pacelle went on the record saying the dogs should be immediately euthanized. After being caught with their hand in the doggy cookie jar, HSUS was forced to halt all Michael Vicks-related donation requests.

 

Another troubling donation campaign occurred at the time of the infamous Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans, famous for Mardi Grass and the French Quarter (and a scary high crime rate), sits below sea level. The poorly engineered levees that were stopping the city from being completely immersed under water finally gave up during Hurricane Katrina. FEMA’s sluggish response to the disaster, despite then-President Bush’s declaring New Orleans an emergency quickly and also signing the initial 10.5 billion dollar relief package without delay, received national attention. FEMA even sidetracked rescuers coming from out of the state into Atlanta, Georgia, for two solid days of training on subject matter like sexual harassment. Pets of the displaced residents were hardly considered in the disastrously bungled relief response. In their usual style, HSUS immediately began campaigning to raise funds for the dogs and cats of New Orleans. If there’s one thing they’re talented at, it’s raising money, and indeed HSUS raised over 34 million dollars for the pets of New Orleans residents. How did they spend the money? Actually, only $7 million of that $34 million was spent on New Orleans. The remaining $27 million remains unaccounted for to this day. There were quite a few rescue groups and animal shelters involved in the post-Katrina efforts whose volunteers worked tirelessly and with hardly any funding whatsoever. Thousands of pets were saved, no thanks to HSUS. The fact that those pets were saved with hardly any financial support makes it all the more impressive. The countless Americans who wanted to help the then-homeless cats and dogs funneled their money to HSUS, thinking it would be spent on New Orleans, just as the ads said it would be. But it wasn’t.

The reality of the matter is that HSUS does not own any shelters, making the advertisements depicting trembling dogs and cats misleading – at best. The few reserves they own are mostly for wildlife. Their focus is and always has been on political policies relating to issues such as hunting (they want to make it illegal), eating meat (yes, they also want to make it illegal) and farm animals (apparently they should be extinct because, Pacelle says, they are the result of “human selective breeding”). And while animal rights is, on its surface, a worthwhile cause, HSUS tends to support the extremist side. Just like the ASPCA. For example, they have made it clear their belief is that animals should run free and those of us who keep cats and dogs as pets are abusing them. When a special breed of cattle was created for the consumer market, HSUS was there saying on the record they were fine with the extinction of domestic cattle. They grudgingly deal with a very few pet-related issues which seems to be more for appearance’s sake and makes up only a fraction of a single percentage point of their spending. And even that is misrepresented. If you see their number of dogs and cats they supposedly helped to spay and neuter, bear in mind the number is rather inflated. Their annual report showing tens of thousands of altered pets is more than a little hyper-inflated. They come up with that number by counting pets altered by more than 400 shelters and countless spay/neuter organizations. HSUS didn’t actually have those tens of thousands of pets fixed. Their tie is tenuous at best and typically means they, at some point, included that shelter in their annual one-half of one percentage point shelter contributions. Many shelters make local headlines when they reach their breaking point after tiring of people thinking HSUS is a shelter-focused entity when their own shelter received either nothing or simply a thousand dollars from the group. HSUS is the richest and most powerful ACG in the world, and not many people realize where their donation dollars go. Out of the approximately $100 million in donations they receive every year through campaigns like those for Michael Vick’s dogs and Hurricane Katrina-affected pets, $20 million goes to salaries. They defend Pacelle’s bloated salary with the ludicrous comparison that, after all, it’s only one-quarter the size of the National Rifle Association (NRA) President’s. Comparing HSUS to the NRA is not apples and oranges, it’s apples and ammo. There is simply no comparison. Remember, HSUS is a 501(c)(3) (the NRA is not), meaning it is considered a charitable organization. They gather funding from unsuspecting animal lovers by presenting themselves as the rescuers of helpless cats and dogs, but the reality is they are far more focused on how dairy cattle and pigs used for meat are housed than they are on whether or not Fido has a loving home. They’ve gone on the record repeatedly saying they have “no problem with the extinction of domestic animals.” And when Michael Vick decided to make his comeback as a dog owner, HSUS was right there to help with Pacelle telling the media Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” That was also one of the rare times the ASPCA did the right thing, because they flat-out refused to deal with Vick, let alone endorse him or help him obtain a pet. So what is the result of all this misleading advertising for financial gain? Some sources claim the ASPCA may be losing its 501(c)(3) status.

While this may all seem rather depressing, there are plenty of charities out there that not only need but deserve your help. Sticking with local shelters tends to be wisest, although you should keep in mind that most are kill shelters. That means they euthanize pets that either surpass a set number of days in residence or have little to no chance of adoption (think elderly and infirm). There are no-kill shelters out there, and it is well worth finding one in your area. Rather than sending a check or debit payment to the ASPCA or HSUS this Christmas, why not send your donation to your local no-kill shelter? They need the money far more and will put it to much better use. Do you eat meat? Do you have a beloved dog or cat in your home that you no doubt spoil and love enormously? Are you a farmer, or do you support your local farmers? Do you like to hunt, no doubt making very good use of the resulting meat? Then you are exactly the kind of person HSUS is fighting against. It appears the fraction of a percentage point both the ASPCA and HSUS actually spend on pet rescues is done simply so they can say they’ve done it. No one thinks to check but instead simply trusts the public face presented by both groups. In this season of giving, make sure your gift of donor dollars goes to a deserving charity. Don’t be fooled by the ACG equivalent of the Grinch stealing any hope of Christmas from helpless dogs and cats. After all, would you rather your money goes to actually rescue an abandoned pet or do you want to pay an extreme activist’s salary? Abraham Lincoln said “I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” One could easily restate the words of one of our country’s most famous Presidents as “I care not much for a man’s charity whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” What group do you know that puts real time and energy into bettering dogs and cats? Seek them out, and make them the recipients of your donations, both for Christmas and year-round

Now before you start saying that I used a “biased” site you might wanna check out the sources as well, these are all public record and will be listed below. I have decided that I will not take any of these organizations for my MCM project and have instead chosen to have a Charity that deals with kids for April, what it is I will reveal today/tomorrow (depending on your location). I do not say that if you wish to do so you should NOT donate to this group of charities but it is my personal believe that donating directly to your local shelter (and if possible a no kill shelter) has the most impact and will generate the best revenue for these animals per dollar/euro/pound/yen/whateveryauseforcoins

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2013, from Charity Navigator: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.comments&orgid=3286#UqQPEycucfx

ASPCA. (n.d.). Annual Report. Retrieved December 2013, from ASPCA: http://www.aspca.org/about-us/annual-report

Battista, F. (2013, March 8). The Michael Vick Dogs. Retrieved December 2013, from Best Friends:http://blogs.bestfriends.org/index.php/2013/03/08/the-michael-vick-dogs/

Browder, C. (2011, November 21). Donating to Humane Society, ASPCA? Your money may not go to NC.Retrieved December 2013, from WRAL.com:http://www.wral.com/news/local/wral_investigates/story/10410881/

Christian, S. (2011, May 19). Placer SPCA says tv ads do harm. Retrieved December 2013, from The Press Tribune: http://www.thepresstribune.com/article/placer-spca-says-tv-ads-do-harm

Cooper, D. A. (2012, November 2). Will the HSUS Make a Killing Off Hurricane Sandy? Retrieved December 2013, from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-anthony-cooper/will-the-hsus-make-…

Defense, P. (n.d.). HSUS-ASPCA et al sued RICO. Retrieved December 2013, from Pet Defense:http://petdefense.wordpress.com/hsus-sued-racketeering-ball-dont-lie/

Donations to ASPCA – what are they used for? (2006, July). Retrieved December 2013, from Cat Forum:http://www.catforum.com/forum/36-cat-chat/99718-donations-aspca-what-the…

Fitzpatrick, D. (2012, June 15). Little of charity’s money going to help animals. Retrieved December 2013, from CNN US: http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/14/us/animal-charity-investigation/index.html

Freedom, C. (2008, October). 7 things you don’t know about HSUS. Retrieved December 2013, from Consumer Freedom:http://www.consumerfreedom.com/downloads/reference/docs/200810_CCF_7Thin…

Fund, A. L. (2011, January). Animal Fighting Case Study: Michael Vick. Retrieved December 2013, from ALDF.org.

Glass Door. (2013, November 25). ASPCA Salaries. Retrieved December 2013, from Glass Door:http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/ASPCA-Salaries-E16463.htm

Grossi, N. (2010, February 28). In Non-Support of the Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved December 2013, from Zimbio.com:http://www.zimbio.com/Wayne+Pacelle/articles/tvPkvycDfU7/Non+Support+Hum…

GuideStar. (n.d.). American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Retrieved December 2013, from GuideStar: http://www.guidestar.org/PartnerReport.aspx?partner=justgivews&ein=13-16…

GuideStar. (n.d.). Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved December 2013, from GuideStar:http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/53-0225390/humane-society-united-…

HumaneWatch.org. (2013, December 4). Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train. Retrieved December 2013, from HumaneWatch.org: http://www.humanewatch.org/unpacking-the-hsus-gravy-train-2013-edition/

Matt. (2009, November 11). ASPCA New York: using your donations to murder animals. Retrieved December 2013, from Pets Alive: http://petsalive.com/blog/2009/11/13/aspca-new-york-using-your-donations…

Navigator, C. (n.d.). Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved December 2013, from Charity Navigator: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3848#…

NPT. (2011, August 1). Animal groups barking at ASPCA. Retrieved December 2013, from The NonProfit Times: http://www.thenonprofittimes.com/news-articles/animal-groups-barking-at-…

Progress, T. (2005, September 6). Katrina Timeline. Retrieved December 2013, from Think Progress:http://thinkprogress.org/report/katrina-timeline/

ProtecttheHarvest.com. (2013). HSUS Exposed. Retrieved December 2013, from ProtecttheHarvest.com:http://protecttheharvest.com/hsus-exposed/

Rasch, A. (2009). Where do HSUS contributions really go? Retrieved December 2013, from Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: http://trochronicles.blogspot.com/2009/05/where-do-hsus-donations-really…

Robillard, K. (2012, October 3). 10 Facts About the Katrina Response. Retrieved December 2013, from Politico: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/81957.html

SAOVA. (n.d.). Spay and Neuter the HSUS. Retrieved December 2013, from Sportsmen and Animal Owners Voting Alliance: http://www.saova.org/spayneuterhsus.html

Serwer, A. (2012, February 28). The PR Man Behind the Oscar Night Anti-Humane Society Oscar Slam.Retrieved December 2013, from MotherJones.com: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/rick-berman-funded-oscar-night-s…

Society, H. (n.d.). Annual Reports and Financial Information. Retrieved December 2013, from Humane Society: http://www.humanesociety.org/about/overview/annual_reports_financial_sta…

Society, H. (2012, February 27). The HSUS responds to CCF. Retrieved December 2013, from HumaneSociety.org: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/opposition/facts/response_ccf_ad.html

SPCA, N. (2013, Septemebr). personal communication. New Jersey, United States.

StopHumaneWatch.org. (n.d.). Myth: Wayne Pacelle Said… Retrieved December 2013, from StopHumaneWatch.org: http://stophumanewatch.org/blog/myths/myth-quote

Syufy, P. (2010, January 4). ASPCA Response to Sarah Mclachlan Ad Criticism. Retrieved December 2013, from About.com: http://cats.about.com/b/2010/01/04/aspca-response-to-sarah-mclachlan-com…

Watch, H. (2011, January 15). Meet the 2.6 million dollar man. Retrieved December 2013, from Humane Watch: http://www.humanewatch.org/meet_the_2-6_million_dollar_man/

Watch, H. (2012, January 12). What does the pet sheltering community really think about HSUS?Retrieved December 2013, from Humane Watch:http://www.humanewatch.org/what_does_the_pet_sheltering_community_really…

Wikipedia. (2013, November 29). American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Retrieved December 2013, from Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Society_for_the_Prevention_of_Crue…

Winograd, N. (2013, May 3). NathanJWinograd.com. Retrieved December 2013, from NathanJWinograd.com: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=12845

 

 

Shades of gray: can Wolves and Humans live together


Gray wolves once ranged across North America. But by the 1930s, they were nearly extinct — trapped, poisoned and hunted by ranchers, farmers, and government agents. With protection under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the wolf population rebounded. But wolves lost federal protection in 2011.

 

Now, with hunting permitted in many Western states, the future of this once endangered species may again be in question. Can we live with wolves? Earth Focus travels to Montana and Wyoming to find out.

So one of the reasons that people are afraid of wolves is because the fear for attacks on livestock and/or Humans. How well founded is this fear? let’s take a look at the facts, shall we?

I guess many Americans will be familiar with Politifact and the Oregon section had the following on fatal wolf attacks on Humans in the Rocky Mountain states

In a recent article in The Oregonian, Michelle Dennehy, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, spoke some about those risks.

“Wolves have attacked and killed people in Canada and Alaska,” Dennehy told The Oregonian. “It is extremely rare and has never happened in the Rocky Mountain states, but we advise people to keep your distance from wolves and any wild animals.”

Oregon is home to an estimated 24 wolves, a small population. But a 2010 reportby the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service puts the number of wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain population (which includes Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon) at more than 1,650.

This got us wondering whether it could be true that there have been no documented cases of run-ins with wolves in that fairly large area. Plus, we’re always looking for a change of pace.

We started where we always start: the source. Dennehy pointed us to a 2002 report from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research called “The fear of wolves: A review of wolf attacks on humans.”

Because “the vast majority” of global wolf research happens in North America, the report says, wolf attacks in Canada and the U.S. have been extremely well documented. That documentation — and the fact that attacks are so rare — allowed the authors to detail every attack in the past century.

All told, the study’s authors found 18 wolf attacks in North America — 12 in Canada and six in the U.S. Of the attacks in the U.S., four occurred in Alaska (as did an unspecified number of small incidents along a road where truckers had taken to feeding the wolves) and two in Minnesota, in which the victims weren’t injured. Two of the attacks in Alaska left the victim dead of rabies. Both of those happened in the 1940s.

Dennehy also sent us a news clip from a paper up in Saskatchewan that detailed the 2005deathof a young Ontario student who was on a walk near a Saskatchewan mining camp when he was attacked and killed. A sad story to be sure, but one that happened a ways away from the Rocky Mountains.

We try to be thorough, so we also placed a call to the International Wolf Center, an organization that tries to advance the survival of wolves through education.

We spoke to Jess Edberg, who is based in Ely, Minnesota. Minnesota has the most robust wolf population outside of Alaska.

“Overall, in North America and around the world, a wolf attack on humans is very rare,” Edberg said. “In the lower 48, we haven’t had any attacks on humans.”
She added that many of the attacks that do occur often involve sick animals or animals who had been fed or allowed to become accustomed to humans.

Edberg did point out the Alaska Department of Fish and Game had recently concluded that a woman found dead in 2010 on the Alaska Peninsula was killed by wolves.

Finally, she sent us looking for two studies on wolves. One report, which shared an author with the first Norwegian report, looked at Scandinavia and found that over the past 300 years, 94 people have been killed by wolves. All of those cases, the report found, were before 1882 and most were children under the age of 12.

The second, more pertinent report, done in 2002, by Mark E McNay for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game looked at wolf attacks in Alaska and Canada and found that “despite (a) large and widely distributed wolf population, no human deaths have been attributed to wild, healthy wolves since at least 1900, and biting incidents or bluff charges are rare enough to warrant publication in scientific journals.”

Of course, that report was published before the two deaths we mentioned above.

History and perception of wolf attacks worldwide

Europe

Map showing the number of wolf attacks in France by département from 1400 to 1918.

Map of Eurasia showing the distribution of wolf attacks, with blue indicating areas where both rabid and predatory attacks occurred, purple for purely predatory attacks and green for purely rabid ones.

Chart showing the hypothetical stages leading up to wolf attacks on humans in 15th-19th century Italy. While these factors are now largely absent in modern-day Europe, they are still present in rural India, where many attacks took place during the late 20th century.

In France, historical records compiled by rural historian Jean-Marc Moriceau indicate that during the period 1362–1918, nearly 7,600 people were killed by wolves, of whom 4,600 were killed by non-rabid wolves. Numerous attacks occurred in Germany during the 17th century after the thirty years war, though the majority probably involved rabid wolves. Although Italy has no records of wolf attacks after WWII and the eradication of rabies in the 1960s, historians examining church and administrative records from northern Italy’s central Po Valley region (which includes a part of modern daySwitzerland) found 440 cases of wolves attacking people between the 15th and 19th centuries. The 19th century records show that between 1801-1825, there were 112 attacks, 77 of which resulted in death. Of these cases, only five were attributed to rabid animals. In Latvia, records of rabid wolf attacks go back two centuries. At least 72 people were bitten between 1992-2000. Similarly, in Lithuania, attacks by rabid wolves have continued to the present day, with 22 people having been bitten between 1989-2001. Around 82 people were bitten by rabid wolves in Estonia during the 18th to 19th centuries, with a further 136 people being killed in the same period by non-rabid wolves, though it is likely that the animals involved in the latter cases were a combination of wolf-dog hybrids and escaped captive wolves.

Russia and the Soviet Union

As with North American scientists later on (see below), several Russian zoologists after the October Revolution cast doubt on the veracity of records involving wolf-caused deaths. Prominent among them was zoologist Petr Aleksandrovich Manteifel, who initially regarded all cases as either fiction or the work of rabid animals. His writings were widely accepted among Russian zoological circles, though he subsequently changed his stance when he was tasked with heading a special commission after WWII investigating wolf attacks throughout the Soviet Union, which had increased during the war years. A report was presented in November 1947 describing numerous attacks, including ones perpetrated by apparently healthy animals, and gave recommendations on how to better defend against them. The Soviet authorities prevented the document from reaching both the public and those who would otherwise be assigned to deal with the problem. All mention of wolf attacks was subsequently censored.

Asian Hakurou by WildSpiritWolf

Asia

In Iran, 98 attacks were recorded in 1981] and 329 people were given treatment for rabid wolf bites in 1996. Records of wolf attacks in India began to be kept during the British colonial administration in the 19th century. In 1875, more people were killed by wolves than tigers, with the worst affected areas being the North West Provinces and Bihar. In the former area, 721 people were killed by wolves in 1876, while in Bihar, the majority of the 185 recorded deaths at the time occurred mostly in the Patna and Bghalpur Divisions. In the United Provinces, 624 people were killed by wolves in 1878, with 14 being killed during the same period in Bengal. In Hazaribagh, Bihar, 115 children were killed between 1910-1915, with 122 killed and 100 injured in the same area between 1980-1986. Between April 1989 to March 1995, wolves killed 92 people in southern Bihar, accounting for 23% of 390 large mammal attacks on humans in the area at that time. Police records collected from Korean mining communities during Japanese ruleindicate that wolves attacked 48 people in 1928, more than those claimed by boars, bears, leopards and tigers combined.

North America

There were no written records of wolf attacks on humans prior to the European colonization of the Americas, though the oral history of some Native American tribes confirms that wolves occasionally did kill humans. Tribes living in woodlands feared wolves more than their tundra-dwelling counterparts, as they could encounter wolves suddenly and at close quarters.Skepticism among North American scientists over the alleged ferocity of wolves began when Canadian biologist Doug Clark investigated historical wolf attacks in Europe and, based on his own experiences with the relatively timid wolves of the Canadian wilderness, concluded that all historical attacks were perpetrated by rabid animals, and that healthy wolves posed no threat to humans. Although his findings were later criticized for failing to distinguish between rabid and predatory attacks, and the fact that the historical literature contained instances of people surviving the attacks at a time when there was no rabies vaccine, his conclusions were nonetheless adopted by other North American biologists. This view subsequently gained popularity among laypeople with the publication of Farley Mowat‘s semi-fictional 1963 book Never Cry Wolf, with the language barrier hindering the collection of further data on wolf attacks elsewhere. Although some North American biologists were aware of wolf attacks in Eurasia, they dismissed them as irrelevant to North American wolves.

By the 1970s, the fear of wolves was largely counteracted by the emergence of a pro-wolf lobby aiming to change public attitudes towards wolves, with the phrase “there has never been a documented case of a healthy wild wolf attacking a human in North America” (or variations thereof) becoming the mantra of people trying to create a more positive image of the wolf. Although several non fatal attacks had been reported since 1985, it wasn’t until April 26, 2000 when a 6-year-old boy survived an attack by a wolf in Icy Bay, Alaska that the assumption that healthy wild wolves were harmless became seriously challenged. The event was considered so unusual that it was reported in newspapers throughout the entire United States. Following the Icy Bay incident, biologist Mark E. McNay compiled a record in 2002 of wolf-human encounters in Canada and Alaska from 1915-2001. Of the 80 described encounters, 39 involved aggressive behavior from apparently healthy wolves and 12 from animals confirmed to be rabid.The first fatal attack in the 21st century occurred in 2005, when a man was killed in SaskatchewanCanada by wolves that had been habituated to humans, while in 2010, a woman was killed whilst jogging near Chignik Lake in Alaska.

basically….. there is no reason to fear a wolf attack however when in wolf country always be cautious. We all need to protest against this delisting and start protecting the wolf. One way of doing this is by supporting Wolf Haven International (and if you want more wolfhaven you might visit this blog done by one of their caretakers )

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Wolf Haven International