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(Beth Clifton collage)

“Managing” wildlife to prevent nuisance prevents benefits,  as well

            SACRAMENTO,  California––Though many individual California Department of Fish & Wildlife personnel have distinguished themselves on the frontlines of the wildfires razing Paradise,  ravaging Malibu,  and menacing several other communities around the state,  ill-informed policy decisions made decades ago and never changed mean the 2018 fire season has not exactly been the department’s shining hour.

Map at left of mostly under-occupied California beaver habitat, by Eli Azarian, alongside map of areas of greatest wildfire risk.  (Beth Clifton collage)

Bad advice

The Camp Fire in Butte County,  the Woolsey Fire in Ventura County,  the earlier Carr Fire in Shasta and Trinity Counties,  the Mendocino Complex Fire,  and many of the other 7,575 wildfires that have cumulatively burned at least 1,667,855 acres of California in 2018 might have been prevented or at least lessened if the California Department of Fish & Wildlife had authorized a raft of beaver restoration projects proposed years earlier.

Much animal suffering might have been alleviated,  meanwhile,  had the California Department of Fish & Wildlife distributed better advice about what people could do to help wildlife fleeing through their property.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Wardens & families at risk

California Department of Fish & Wildlife officer Jake Olsen,  his parents, grandparents and uncle,  and his wife’s parents might not have lost five homes among them in Paradise,  turning for emergency aid to GoFundMe.

An unidentified California Department of Fish & Wildlife game warden might not been involved in a November 15,  2018 confrontation with a 48-year-old fugitive in what remains of Paradise,  after a high-speed chase,  which ended in a burst of police gunfire that killed the fugitive,  his pit bull,  and a Sutter County Sheriff’s Office K9 dog.

Underlying the problematic California Department of Fish & Wildlife policy choices are teachings of traditional wildlife management,  rooted in the notion that nominally “wild” animals are to be cultivated for human purposes,  such as hunting and fishing,  while being “managed” to avoid conflict with other human interests.

(Beth Clifton collage)

“Don’t leave water for wildlife”

Thus California Department of Fish & Wildlife spokesperson Peter Tira was quick to contradict a blizzard of recommendations amplified by social media that people near the fire zones should “put out buckets of water” for fleeing animals.

“This week’s tweets and posts recycle a campaign that hit social media during last winter’s fires,”  reported Steve Scauzillo of the Southern California News Group.  “Among those retweeting it this week were Matchbox Twenty [band] front man Rob Thomas,  who has 429,000 followers.”

Responded Tira,  “In a wildfire,  you should let the animals take care of themselves.  It is detrimental to put food and water out for them because then they become dependent on people.  And that never ends well for the animals.”

(Beth Clifton collage)

Some animals need help

Wrote Scauzillo,  “Animals who can flee quickly — such as birds,  deer,  bobcats, mountain lions and coyotes —  scatter at the first sign of flames.  They instinctively know how to survive and where to find a water source,  Tira said.  Snakes,  wood rats and other burrowing animals will dig a hole and allow the fire to sweep over them,  he said.”

All of which is more-or-less half true.  Some animals know how to survive;  some do not.  Some need a bit of help in relocating from former habitat where they can no longer live to more favorable habitat elsewhere.

(Beth Clifton collage)

How to safely share water with wildlife

Most harmfully omitted from Tira’s advice was that wildlife fleeing a fire,  like human firefighters,  rapidly become dehydrated.  Herbivorous animals who normally get much of their water intake from eating green plants and small carnivores who absorb moisture from their prey may need to find water elsewhere,  temporarily.

There are ways to share water with wild animals after a fire that will not habituate them to human intervention.  The watchwords are to provide the water randomly,  in places disassociated from a human presence,  and only temporarily,  while animals are passing through.  Leaving water in a bird bath,  a wheelbarrow behind a shed,  or in buckets beneath a fruit tree,  as if a rainstorm interrupted a chore,  will not bring animals up on porches,  especially if the water is not replenished after consumption.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Beaver never allowed to recover

The bigger California Department of Fish & Wildlife policy issue,  a probable factor in most California wildfires over the past 200 years,  is that the once plentiful beaver population was trapped out between 1785 and 1841,  and has never been allowed to recover to even a fraction of previous abundance.

The prolonged absence of beavers,  meanwhile,  has contributed to desertification in the dryer parts of California,  exacerbating the effects of global warming and drought in forested regions.

“Beavers aren’t actually creating more water,  but they are altering how it flows,  which creates benefits through the ecosystem,”  explained National Marine Fisheries Service Northwest Science Center beaver specialist Michael Pollock in 2015 to Alastair Bland of Water Deeply,  a project of the online periodical News Deeply.

Beaver. (Beth Clifton photo)

Recharging aquifers

Elaborated Bland,  “By gnawing down trees and building dams,  beavers create small reservoirs.  What follows,  scientists say,  is a series of trickle-down benefits.  Water that might otherwise have raced downstream to the sea,  tearing apart creek gullies and washing away fish,  instead gets holed up for months behind the jumbles of twigs and branches.  In this cool,  calm water, fish — like juvenile salmon — thrive.  Meanwhile, the water percolates slowly into the ground,  recharging near-surface aquifers and keeping soils hydrated through the dry season.

“Entire streamside meadows,” [Sonoma County beaver restoration advocate Brock] Dolman says,  may remain green all summer if beavers are at work nearby.  Downstream of a beaver pond,  some of the percolated water may eventually resurface,  helping keep small streams flowing and fish alive,”  and enabling shoreline trees such as willow and alder to soak up and store water.

Salmon fry.  (Beth Clifton photo)

Beaver help salmon,  too

Dolman,  co-founder of the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center,  told Bland that “This water-banking process could even,  in theory,  partially offset the worrying shrinkage of mountain snowpack,  historically California’s most important water source,”  the depletion of which has contributed to the severity of the Camp Fire,  the Carr Fire,  and the Mendocino Complex Fire,  in particular.

“Dolman and his colleague Kate Lundquist would like reintroduction of beavers from other regions to begin now,  as a measure for restoring salmon populations and building general drought resilience into the landscape,”  Bland wrote.

But beaver restoration did not begin in 2015,  or at any time that might have helped to prevent the catastrophic fires of 2018,  Bland explained,  because “Government biologists aren’t entirely sold on the virtues of beavers.”

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(Beth Clifton collage)

Record 2018 fire season isn’t over yet

            PARADISE,  MALIBU,  California––Some good news for animals,  habitat,  and ultimately humans may yet emerge from the firestorms simultaneously razing the Sierra Nevada foothills city of Paradise and parts of the far distant coastal city of Malibu––if the already record-setting 2018 California wildfire season gives an anticipated boost to beaver restoration efforts up and down the drought-stricken state.

ANIMALS 24-7 will explain much more about that tomorrow.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Paradise descends into inferno

Meanwhile,  the human death toll in Paradise rose to 56 on the evening of November 14,  2018,  with more than a hundred people still missing,  almost all of them senior citizens.

Twenty-two cadaver-sniffing dogs and more than 460 law enforcement personnel were sifting the ashes of at least 8,650 burned homes seeking human remains––and occasionally taking heart from discovering surviving animals hiding among the ruins or dazedly wandering at large.

Major news media reported many such stories as relief from documenting the deaths and destruction.

(Beth Clifton photo)

Saved by a fox

But there was also the story of Greg Woodcox,  narrated by Evan Sernoffsky of the San Francisco Chronicle.  A self-described “mountain person” who lived in his old Jeep Cherokee with two Chihuahuas,  Woodcox witnessed the deaths of five friends who waited too long as he urged them to evacuate.

“A fox,  he said,  scrambled across the road and showed him a path down a steep embankment into a stream,  where he stayed submerged for 45 minutes,  waiting out the relentless inferno,”  Sernoffsky wrote.

Then,  Sernoffsky said,  Woodcox “hiked up the fire-scarred hillside,”  to find his Jeep Cherokee “with the engine still running and his two Chihuahuas, Romey and Jules,  alive in the back seat.”

(Beth Clifton collage)

Poverty Ridge

Founded during the California Gold Rush era in the mid-19th century,  locally known as Poverty Ridge when transients camped there during the Great Depression,  Paradise during the 40 years preceding the firestorm had exploded from a human population of about 8,000 to circa 27,000,  largely by attracting retirees with relatively inexpensive housing and low taxes––at least for California.

Officially called the Camp Fire,  the blaze that destroyed Paradise was still only 35% contained after burning 135,000 acres.

(Susan Tellem photo)

Woolsey Fire hit two animal sanctuaries

At almost the opposite end of California,  the blaze that hit Malibu,  called the Woolsey Fire, was a little more than half contained after burning nearly 100,000 acres,  destroying at least 504 structures.  The Woolsey Fire had officially killed two people and was believed to have killed at least one more.

Information about animal rescue and relief efforts emerged first from the Woolsey Fire area,  partly because of the proximity of Malibu to Los Angeles,  a global media hub,  partly because Malibu was and still is home to countless Hollywood celebrities,  and partly because at least two well-known sanctuaries were in harm’s way.

Susan Tellem with rescued tortoises after the fire.

American Tortoise Rescue

American Tortoise Rescue,  founded in 1990 by Susan and Marshall Tellem from their home in Malibu,  was razed,  after surviving many other fires in the nearby hills and often helping other animal rescue organizations to recover.

“Home sweet home,”  Susan Tellem posted to Facebook on November 12,  2018,  above photographs of the Tellem house ablaze,  taken from an ad hoc large animal rescue center set up at Zuma Beach,  several blocks away,  and of what remained of American Tortoise Rescue after she and Marshall were able to return to look for the animals they had been unable to transport––though they took many––when obliged to flee.

Susan Tellem

“People asking for help”

“We need to get back in to feed all the animals left behind in western Malibu,”  Susan Tellem continued.  “People have been asking for help.  It’s sinful that we can’t do that as rescuers.

“Our sheep perished,”  Susan Tellem mourned,  “but surprisingly most turtles survived as did the roosters we rescued years back.  One of our sons is sheltering us and we are doing okay,”  she said.

“I am trying to get meds for the sick turtles right now,”  Susan Tellem added.  “The sanctuary took a major hit.  Flames tore through and melted everything except the turtle houses,  which were fireproof,  thank God.  The turtles who sheltered in place were more than 90% okay.  The chicken houses were melted too,  so they had retreated into the turtle houses,  but were pretty bedraggled.  Can you imagine what they all went through?  All the animal rescues and trailers were full.  Stressful.  Will build a concrete house for us this time around.”

Damage at the Rescue + Freedom Project sanctuary.  (Facebook photo)

Rescue + Freedom Project

Also hit was the Rescue + Freedom Project,  operating since 2010 from just outside Agoura Hills.

“We had to evacuate animals from our Rescue & Outreach Center at four a.m.,”  recounted director of advocacy Matt Rossell on November 12,  2018.  “We drove across a bridge that is now a smoldering ruin,  and straight through the fire as it raged on the hillsides above Highway 101.

“All the animals,  including rabbits,  chickens,  peacocks,  dogs,  cats and goats are safe,”  Rossell reported.  “Our onsite caregivers,  Kristen and Blues,  heroically kept sleepless vigil and safely loaded the animals. With help of staff and volunteers,  we got everyone out,  and they are now being cared for in an emergency safe house. Kristen probably lost her personal belongings. We don’t know the extent of other damage on the property but likely the new rabbit building is also lost.”

Stanley the Giraffe, reportedly photographed by unidentified firefighter.

Stanley the Giraffe

Perhaps the best known animal involved in the Woolsey Fire was Stanley the Giraffe,  mascot of Malibu Wine Safaris.

“A lot of people expressed concern after hearing Stanley the Giraffe was not evacuated,”  reported KABC-Malibu.  “As the blaze rushed toward the property,  the [Malibu Wine Safaris] owners made a decision to let their animals out into the pasture where there was no fuel to burn.

“We had to determine whether to shelter in place or risk loading into a trailer. And particularly with exotics when you have events like this,  it can get out of hand quickly and they can go into shock,  and in many cases you have risk of hurting them,”  Malibu Wine Safaris spokesperson Dakota Semler said.

Jennifer Conrad, DVM.
(Facebook photo)

Veterinarian Jennifer Conrad,  best known as founder of the anti-cat declawing organization The Paw Project,  examined Stanley the Giraffe after the fire,  explaining to KABC that “Stanley has been my patient since he was about four.”

Pronounced Conrad,  “He’s okay.”

Pumas survive

Higher in the Woolsey Fire zone,  “The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area posted that GPS data confirms 10 of the 13 known mountain lions [in the reserve] appear to be alive and moving,”  reported ABC-7 on November 13, 2018.

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(Beth Clifton collage)

Pissing match hits the Chronicle of Philanthropy

            ARLINGTON,  Virginia––Founded almost literally in a Washington D.C. alley to advocate on behalf for one of the most contentious of species,  Alley Cat Allies has for 28 years been embroiled in controversy on a daily basis,  but without––until mid-November 2018––itself becoming controversial over management issues.

(Beth Clifton photo)

That was no mean feat.

Formed specifically to promote neuter/return feral cat population control,  Alley Cat Allies from the first ran a challenging gantlet among interest groups and aggrieved individuals,  some of them significantly far from rational.

Foes from birders to “crazy cat ladies”

Among them were,  and are,  birders hostile to any presence of cats outdoors;  hunters campaigning to add cats at large to their hit lists,  especially in Wisconsin,  where former Governor Jim Doyle stopped such a proposal in 2005;  major conservation organizations hellbent on exterminating any “non-native” species;  and ailurophobic cat-shooters and poisoners.

(Beth Clifton collage)

(See Was shooting cat with arrow prelude to a “Texas no-kill massacre”? and $1.5 million DC Cat Count: useful, make-work, or compiling a hit list?)

Also complicating life for Alley Cat Allies have been “crazy cat ladies” and animal hoarders resistant to anyone interfering with their practice of feeding cats at large,  whether or not those cats are sterilized and vaccinated.

(Merritt Clifton collage)

Animal care & control mostly won over

Mostly won over at this point,  except for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,  have been animal control agencies and mainstream humane societies espousing the traditional view that feral cats are better off euthanized than living as outdoors as wildlife.

(Beth Clifton photo)

This perspective overlooks that most “domestic” cats,  and dogs too,  for that matter,  have always been urban wildlife,  from ancient Egyptian times until the post-World War II invention of clay kitty litter encouraged most pet keepers to bring their cats indoors.

Amicable split

Fast-growing movements usually expand through organizational splits,  each of which brings more people and resources into the bigger cause.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Alley Cat Allies cofounders Becky Robinson and Louise Holton took largely separate directions after 1997,  when Holton formed Alley Cat Rescue,  though she remained involved with Alley Cat Allies too until 2000.

(See TNR protects African wildcats from “genetic pollution” & ferals from cruelty.)

That split occasioned some discussion,  but not screaming or finger-pointing.  It does not even seem to have been mentioned in mass media.

Alley Cat Allies staff and volunteers came and went,  as did partnerships with other organizations to carry out specific neuter/return and public education projects here and there,  without anything internal to Alley Cat Allies itself appearing to occasion so much as an arched back,  puffed fur,  and a hiss and spit.

Marc Gunther.
(Twitter photo)

Marc Gunther

Then,  on November 7,  2018 came a pair of exposés by Marc Gunther,  67,  an award-winning career journalist who writes often for the Chronicle of Philanthropy,  a pricy periodical serving mostly nonprofit executives and fundraisers,  and also publishes his own blog,  “Nonprofit Chronicles:  Journalism about foundations,  nonprofits,  and their impact.”

One version of the Gunther exposés appeared in the Chronicle of Philanthropy;  the other,  more succinct,  in a “Nonprofit Chronicles” installment entitled “Alley Cat Allies and the Charity “Watchdogs” that aren’t.”

There,  Gunther cited Alley Cat Allies as an example to illustrate the shortcomings of Charity Navigator and Guidestar.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Robotic watchdogs

Purporting to do nonprofit accountability monitoring,  Charity Navigator and Guidestar in truth do little more than electronically scan IRS Form 990 filings,  and assign “stars” based on whether charities meet rigid sets of criteria often having more to do with appearances than with actual fiscal integrity.

The Charity Navigator and Guidestar criteria,  in the opinion of ANIMALS 24-7,  and those of the much older Wise Giving Alliance,  tend to reward the organizations that are most adept at gaming the system,  not those that are actually the most transparent and doing the best work.

Animal Charity Evaluators,  also mentioned by Gunther,  is in our assessment many degrees worse,  apparently existing only to direct donors toward a small constellation of organizations associated with the ACES founders,  directors,  and key personnel.  This has been most extensively investigated and exposed by Showing Animals Respect & Kindness.

(Beth Clifton collage)

(See https://www.animals24-7.org/2017/08/09/new-shark-charitycops-site-exposes-animal-charity-evaluators/.)

“A mess?”

Alleged Gunther,  “Alley Cat Allies is,  to be blunt,  a mess.  Even so,  it has been given the best possible scores by both Charity Navigator and GuideStar,”  Gunther acknowledged.

“Alley Cat Allies is not a mom-and-pop charity;  it brought in nearly $10 million last year,” Gunther continued.

Becky Robinson’s house.

Alley Cat Allies actually raised just over $10 million in fiscal year 2017,  according to IRS Form 990.    This was up from $4.1 million in 2007,  and about $2 million a year in 2002.

Alley Cat Allies “used charitable donations to acquire two residential property in Arlington, Virginia,”  Gunther claimed,  “including the home next door to the home of its executive director,  Becky Robinson.”

The house next door.

Income producer

ANIMALS 24-7 easily verified that the transaction involving the house next door to Robinson’s had occurred,  in 2015,  but also found that it had proved to be a very good investment for the organization,  diversifying the Alley Cat Allies assets in exactly the manner that financial advisors tend to suggest nonprofits should do as they grow,  appreciating rapidly in value and paying rent of $2,750..

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(Beth Clifton collage)

Feminist Ferals by Arian D. Wallach Produced by Tommy Lin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpx-ZHHWN5s&t=2s

This video explores how conservation remains tethered to chauvinistic ideologies.  It explores how archaic beliefs about animals,  wildlife,  and nature,  has erased one of the Earth’s most significant rewilding events in recent history.

Arian D. Wallach, Ph.D.

Feminism would radically reshape conservation and our view of nature.  It would value all creatures,  whether considered native or not.

If conservation was feminist, we would recognize wild donkeys as the magnificent wild animals that they are.
And when we do,  we would also discover that the Earth is in some respects wilder today than it has been for thousands of years.

(Images from Feminist Ferals)

A feminist conservation calls us to treat wildlife as subjects,  with respect for their unique subjectivity,  dignity,  interests, and agency.  It would be, in essence, a Compassionate Conservation.

(Written, directed & presented by Arian Wallach,  Ph.D.,  for  FeraLab, at the Centre for Compassionate Conservation, University of Technology,  Sydney Australia,  Feminist Ferals is the keynote address for the upcoming online conference Feral, co-hosted by Massey University & Wageningen University at http://perc.ac.nz/wordpress/feral/.)

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

For further introduction to the “Compassionate Conservation” work of Arian Wallach,  please see this ANIMALS 24-7 review/profile:

(Beth Clifton collage)

Contends “compassionate conservation” is most effective protection of biodiversity

            SYDNEY,  Australia––The conservation establishments of both Australia and Israel might like to designate Arian D. Wallach an “invasive species” and slate her for extirpation.

Indeed,  Wallach’s arguments could eventually put the entire global industry of exterminating “invasive species” out of business.

Like any successful adaptive species,  however,  Wallach appears to be seeding her iconoclastic perspectives successfully in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals throughout the English-speaking world,  authoring or co-authoring published papers in recent years at the rate of about one per six weeks.

Arian D. Wallach

Having previously studied and taught at both the University of Adelaide,  Australia,  and the University of Haifa,  Israel,  Wallach now chairs the Centre for Compassionate Conservation in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.

What is “compassionate” conservation?

The very term “compassionate conservation,”  popularized by Marc Bekoff,  professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary ecology at the University of Colorado in Boulder,  is in itself a challenge to conservationists steeped in the hunting-focused traditions of gamekeeping and predator control.

But emphasizing the “compassionate” in “compassionate conservation” tends to miss many of the most important points that Wallach,  Bekoff,  and other “compassionate conservationists” make.

Painting by Wenzel Peter (1745-1829)

For starters,  their approach to conserving biodiversity is much more practical and attainable in the real world than is “conservation” as conventionally practiced.

The Garden of Eden

Traditional conservation tends to be deeply rooted,  if largely unawares,  in the religious notion that there once as a perfect Garden of Eden,  ordained by God but destroyed by mankind.  Traditional conservation therefore seeks to protect biodiversity by deciding what species “belong” in any given place,  as positioned by God or a “nature” exclusive of human activity.

Any species whose presence might challenge the ordained “natives” are thereafter persecuted as “invasive,”  even if the habitat has changed so much that the “invasive” species are better suited than the “natives” to surviving there.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Wallach goes entirely the opposite way.

“Introductions have increased megafauna richness”

With Erick Lundgren of Arizona State University,  Wallach in August 2017 produced a study published in the journal Ecography which,  as a media release summarized,  “shows that introductions have significantly increased megafauna richness,  numerically replacing many of the Pleistocene megafauna that were lost around 50,000 years ago.

“Of the world’s 76 existing megafauna species,”  Lundgren and Wallach wrote,  defining “megafauna” as terrestrial species weighing more than 200 pounds,   “22 have introduced populations, of which almost 50% are either threatened or extinct in their historic native ranges.”

Sambar [male & female].  (Wikipedia photos)

“Critical buffers against extinction”

Said Wallach,  “This study challenges fundamental ideas surrounding ‘invasive species’ and shows that the redistribution of species is ‘rewilding’ the world.  The global decline of megafauna is driven by habitat loss,  changes in land-use,  and overhunting.  Despite this, some megafauna have found refuge in new habitats through introductions.

“These populations are likely critical buffers against extinction,”  Wallach offered.           Lundgren and Wallach argued that Australia––and the world––benefit from the contributions of feral water buffalo,  sambar,  brumbies (wild horses),  “and the world’s only population of wild dromedary camel,  extinct in their native range” for 3,000 to 5,000 years.

“As large herbivores,”  explained Lundgren,  “these introduced species can consume plant matter indigestible to smaller herbivores,  which may reduce fire frequency,  accelerate nutrient cycling, and shape plant communities.”

Brumbies, Finke River, Australia.
(Michael J. Barritt/Flickr photo)

Wallach,  Lundgren,  and additional co-authors struck again in the April 27,  2018 edition of Conservation Biology.

Invisible megafauna

“A significant proportion of Earth’s wildlife has been erased,  not from the world,  but from our collective depiction of nature,”  Wallach et al protested.  “Even the most noticeable animals,  terrestrial herbivorous megafauna,  have been made nominally invisible. Wildlife outside native ranges are conspicuously missing from conservation data sets,  distribution maps,  population estimates,  and conservation statuses.”

Nonetheless,  Wallach et al wrote,  “Introduced megafauna are a wonder of the Anthropocene,”  meaning the time during which humans have been the dominant species on Planet Earth,  “hidden in plain sight.

“Many regions have an immortalized moment ‘when the first white man stepped off the boat,’  heralding the beginning of Western civilization and the end of nature,”  Wallach et al observed.  “Organisms caught in humanity’s globalization currents were branded products of man,  not of nature.  Conservation databases depict Australia as empty of megafauna,  despite being home to eight species,  because they became established after James Cook landed at Botany Bay in 1770.

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(Beth Clifton collage)

Michigan attorney general Nessel & California governor Newsom kept their pit bull history behind closed doors

            LANSING,  SACRAMENTO––Pit bull attacks,  as ANIMALS 24-7 pointed out on November 6,  2018,  were the “divisive” issue that was omitted from the Election Day 2018 political discussion,  but not because pit bull advocates had not hoped to reinforce opposition to breed-specific legislation to protect public safety.

(See Pit bull attacks: the “divisive” issue that is NOT on 2018 ballots)

(Beth Clifton collage)

Hermaphroditic (& invisible) pit bull named Cody

Endorsed by the Humane Society Legislative Fund,  gay rights attorney Dana Nessel,  a Democrat,  was elected Michigan attorney general with just 48.8% of the vote.

Nessel in February 2016 won a brief burst of “puff piece” publicity,  after adopting a hermaphroditic pit bull named Cody from Detroit Dog Rescue,  and was expected to campaign with Cody in tow.

Instead,  repeated searches of NewsLibrary.com and Google suggest that Cody may not have made a public appearance in 32 months.

Dana Nessel adopted hermaphroditic pit bull from Detroit Dog Rescue.
(Beth Clifton collage)

Pledged to create prosecutorial task force

“Nessel will become just the second attorney general to create a dedicated task force to assist prosecutors in cracking down on animal cruelty,”  exulted the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

But the Humane Society Legislative Fund,  an arm of the ardently pro-pit bull Humane Society of the U.S.,  also appears to have never mentioned Cody during the 2018 campaign.

Whatever the back story,  Nessel and the Humane Society Legislative Fund apparently decided pushing awareness of Cody would not be a vote-winning strategy in Michigan,  a state which has had 22 pit bull fatalities since 1986,  18 of them just since 2004.

Gavin Newsom

Acted,  then flip-flopped

California governor-elect Gavin Newsom meanwhile sidestepped addressing dog attacks in general,  pit bulls in specific,  after coming under social media attack from pit bull advocates in May 2018 over his response to the June 5,  2005 fatal mauling of 12-year-old Nicholas Faibish in an apartment across the street from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  The park had recently been the scene of several other pit bull attacks in which pets were killed,  a police horse was injured,  and people including an eight-year-old girl and a police officer were injured.

Newsom,  then mayor of San Francisco,  within days appointed a committee to recommend legislative responses to the attacks,  one of which originated with a pit bull who was being walked by a San Francisco SPCA volunteer.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Option to mandate pit bull s/n resulted

The committee recommended a bill eventually passed by the California state legislature which in original draft form would have required that pit bulls be spayed/neutered out of existence.

Indeed,  this is the only surefire way to eradicate the combination of physical and behavioral traits bred into pit bulls during more than 500 years of effort by dogfighters to produce dogs who attack without provocation or warning,  bite and shake their victims without releasing,  and do so with bone-crushing strength,  ignoring both pain and commands to release.

As diluted by the legislature and eventually signed into law by then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,  a Republican who was quick to veto any law he considered unnecessary or likely to be ineffective,  the law only enabled California cities to mandate sterilizing pit bulls.  San Francisco soon did.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Schwarzenegger took the heat;  Newsom took a powder

The ordinance reduced San Francisco shelter intakes of pit bulls by two-thirds in two years,  and brought San Francisco the lowest volume of pit bull killing in shelters of any major U.S. city.  Newsom,  however,  did not position himself to claim credit for the accomplishment.

On the contrary,  as the only California gubernatorial candidate to issue a platform statement on animal issues,  Newsom said he “knows that dog breed-specific laws are ineffective at enhancing public safety and jeopardize the welfare of dogs identified as belonging to specific breeds”––which directly contradicts his own experience and the experience of every jurisdiction to make a serious effort to enforce authentic breed-specific legislation.

(Beth Clifton photo)

Opposes drift nets & trophy hunting

The rest of Newsom’s platform statement on animal issues including pledging to “ensure that all of the California communities have the resources they need to meet the state’s goal that no healthy or treatable dog or cat is euthanized in an animal shelter.”

Newom said he “is troubled that California is the only state allowing mile-long drift gillnets that entangle iconic ocean marine life,”  and that he “opposes trophy hunting of bears,  bobcats,  and endangered species,  the recreational and largely unregulated killing of coyotes and foxes,  and the use of super-toxic rodenticides that kill non-target wildlife.”

Newsom also said he “knows our state’s fish,  wildlife, and habitats are facing critical threats from climate change,  expanded human development,  and lack of stable state funding,”  and that he “is committed to addressing these threats head-on,”  though he gave no details about how.

(Beth Clifton photo)

Does he or doesn’t he understand DNA?

“Concern for the welfare of animals is in Gavin’s DNA,”  the Newsom statement continued,  even as Newsom denied the influence of DNA on dog breed characteristics.  “His father Bill Newsom served as president of the Mountain Lion Foundation,  which spearheaded the campaign that ended sport hunting of mountain lions.”

Newsom reminded voters that he had supported California legislation including “the phase-out of toxic lead hunting ammunition,  the ban on using dogs to harass bears and bobcats, the end of cruel bullhooks used with elephants in entertainment,  the prohibition of trade in shark fins, elephant tusks, and rhinoceros horns,  and ending the extreme confinement of egg-laying hens, veal calves and breeding pigs,”  meaning Proposition 2 in 2008,  which failed to achieve those goals,  and Proposition 2012,  passed on November 6,  2018 with similar promises but also with similar loopholes.

(Illinois Department of Finance image).

“Green governors”

Newsom was one of “10 new green governors elected” on November 6,  2018,  in the assessment of the League of Conservation Voters.  None were actually Green Party candidates.

Of perhaps greater note,  two of the state governors with the worst records on animal and habitat issues left office.

Maine governor elect Janet Mills,  a Democrat who was previously the state attorney general,  succeeds Republican climate denier and hunting enthusiast Paul LePage,  who was forced out by term limits.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Three-term Wisconsin governor and climate change skeptic Scott Walker,  once mentioned as a possible U.S. presidential contender,   was narrowly defeated by Democrat Tony Evers,  “who campaigned against Walker’s poor environmental record,”  noted John R. Platt,  editor of the “Extinction Countdown” column for the Center for Biodiversity news web site The Revelator.

42 new pro-environment Representatives

The League of Conservation voters welcomed “42 new pro-environment representatives elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Most can be expected to defend the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act from continuing attempts by the Donald Trump administration and the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate to dilute the legislation and weaken enforcement.

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(Beth Clifton collage)

Two fatal dog attacks on the last weekend of 2018 campaign maintain pace toward matching 2017 record

            WINDSOR TOWNSHIP,  Pennsylvania––Details of the 34th and 35th known fatal dog attacks to occur in the U.S. in 2018 remained scarce as Election Day 2018 dawned.

The two fatalities matched the toll as of the same date in 2017,  when the year ended with a record 57 Americans killed by dogs,  40 of them killed by pit bulls and pit mixes.

(See 57 dog attack deaths & 645 disfigurements in 2017, led by pit bulls.)

(Beth Clifton collage)

But nothing about dog attacks was on 2018 ballots

But nothing pertaining to dog attacks was on the 2018 ballot anywhere.

Amid the noisy cultural conflicts characterizing the national clash between Congressional and gubernatorial Republican allies of U.S. president Donald Trump and their Democratic challengers,  any discussion of preventing dog attacks,  especially pit bull attacks,  was conspicuously muted.

No candidate,  even for state and local offices,  appeared to say anything at all about protecting Americans from dangerous dogs.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Identities of toddler victim & dog withheld

The identities of the 19-month-old female victim of the 35th fatal dog attack,  and of the dog who killed her in suburban Windsor Township,  Pennsylvania,  were withheld for more than a day,  York County coroner Pam Gay told media,  because all immediate family members had not yet been notified of the attack.

The victim would be identified,  Gay said,  following an autopsy set for Election Day morning.  The attack occurred at about 10:15 p.m. on the night of November 4,  2018.

York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon said “The dog was euthanized after the attack.  He said he had been told what breed the dog is,  but had yet to confirm it,”  wrote York Daily Record police reporter Ted Czech.

“The chief added that there was one parent home at the time of the attack,”  Czech continued,  “and that when police and medical personnel arrived,  the dog and child were separated.”

Pete McTee’s Clubhouse cast

Children’s TV show connection?

The fatal dog attack on the toddler apparently occurred,  ANIMALS 24-7 learned,  close to a site which was owned by a member of the cast of the long-running children’s television series Pete McTee’s Clubhouse.

The site may also have been shown in some of the 404 episodes of Pete McTee’s Clubhouse,  aired by WPMT-TV in York,  Pennsylvania between September 1990 and mid-2014.

            Pete McTee’s Clubhouse featured guest appearances by a cat-chasing basset hound.

But ANIMALS 24-7 was not able to determine from the immediately available information whether any person or animal involved with Pete McTee’s Clubhouse still owns the property,  or had any involvement in the dog attack fatality.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Pit bull’s third attack on owner killed her

The death of the 19-month-old girl came to light only four hours after David Nichols of LEX-18 television in Lexington,  Kentucky disclosed the November 2,  2018 pit bull mauling death of April Collins,  45,  of Winchester,  Clark County,  Tennessee.

“Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue Jr. said Collins was found by her husband Thursday evening when he got home around 6:30 p.m.,”  filled in Winchester Sun reporter Fred Petke.

“Perdue said Collins reported being bitten by the dog on September 29,  2018,”  Petke wrote,  “and was treated at Clark Regional Medical Center for facial wounds. The dog bit her again on October 31 [Halloween],  Perdue said, but that incident was not reported.”

(Beth Clifton collage)

Husband also injured

Collins’ husband was also injured in the Halloween attack.

The fatal attack “left Collins with multiple injuries to her arm, shoulder,  face and neck,”  Petke continued. “Perdue said she had older wounds on her legs.  Perdue said the Collinses got the dog in  July 2017 when it was about nine weeks old.

“There was a second pit bull in the home,  he said,  but it was not involved in the attack.  At this point, the dog’s fate has not been determined.”

ANIMALS 24-7 is also seeking further particulars about Collins’ death,  including the name of her husband and where the family obtained the pit bull who killed her.  The search is complicated because there are more than 400 people named April Collins in the U.S.,  many of them with associations with Kentucky and/or pit bulls and/or somewhat resembling the one published photograph known to depict the victim.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Why were dog attacks not on the 2018 ballot?

Considerably easier to identify are the reasons why dog attacks,  and in particular,  pit bull attacks,  are not a November 2018 election issue.

Many other matters pertaining to crime and public safety are election issues,  with Republicans and Democrats having drawn clear partisan lines,  but legislative responses to dog attacks,  like most other animal issues,  cut diagonally across partisan lines.

Legislative responses to most animal issues,  however,  tend to build around a public consensus.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Bipartisan support

Hardly anyone favors cruelty to animals,  for instance,  when it is recognized as such.  Legislation addressing animal issues tends to be introduced when the majority of voters in the reasonable center agree that a particular practice is cruel and needs to be stopped or changed.  Therefore animal advocacy campaigns have,  throughout the history of humane legislation,  focused upon educating the public about cruel practices.

Practically every major item of humane legislation,  especially at the federal level,  has been introduced with strong bipartisan support.  By the time significant humane legislation reaches the floor of either the House of Representatives or the Senate,  even the industries that are to be regulated tend to be in agreement that regulation is needed,  if not necessarily to the extent proposed.

Almost no one but the self-marginalized most extreme of the extreme tries to persuade legislators to do nothing.

Major humane organizations take the wrong side

Most animal issues,  however,  are pushed to public awareness by strong national humane organizations,  with multi-million-dollar-per-year fundraising ability and long histories of building name recognition and public trust:  for example,  the Humane Society of the U.S.,  the American SPCA,  the Best Friends Animal /Society,  Maddie’s Fund,  and even the venerable but enfeebled American Humane Association.

(See Best Friends, the ASPCA, & HSUS: rethink pit bulls!)

            These are,  unfortunately for dog attack victims,  the very organizations which are most invested in trying to rehome the 41% of the U.S. pit bull population currently flooding animal shelters,  shelterless rescues,  and sanctuaries.  Focal to their argument is denying the reality that pit bulls and pit mixes,  together just 5.3% of the U.S. dog population,  have accounted for 58% of the 755 fatal dog attacks occurring since 1982,  and 76% of the 5,572 dog attack disfigurements.

(See 2018 dog breed survey: at least 41% of U.S. pit bull population are seeking homes.)

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(Beth Clifton collage)

Animal advocates & agribusiness split over California Proposition 12;  Republicans split over Florida Proposition 13

            SACRAMENTO, California;  ORLANDO, Florida––The axiom that animal politics cut diagonally across partisan divides could scarcely be better illustrated than by the alignments for and against the two major ballot initiatives on animal issues going before voters on November 6,  2018.

Both California Proposition 12,  concerning farmed animal welfare,  and Florida Amendment 13,  which would ban betting on greyhound racing in Florida,  are heavily backed by the Humane Society of the U.S. and several other national animal advocacy organizations.

But both also have politically significant opposition.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Both measures are expected to pass––maybe

Most media observers appear to expect both California Proposition 12 and Florida Amendment 13 to pass.

However,  support for California Proposition 12 has not been tested by major independent polling agencies,  meaning surprises are possible.

Voter surveys by St. Pete Polls and Suffolk University suggest that Florida Amendment 13 may fall just short of the 60% margin it needs,  as a proposed state constitutional amendment,  to take effect.

Heavy hitters on either side

California Proposition 12 is endorsed not only by the Humane Society of the U.S.,  the major sponsor of the ballot initiative,  but also by the American SPCA,  Farm Sanctuary,  Direct Action Everywhere,  Compassion In World Farming,  and the Animal Legal Defense Fund,   as well as by the Sierra Club,  the California Democratic Party,  United Farm Workers,  and the Center for Food Safety.

That would appear to be a powerful lineup.

Yet aligned against Proposition 12 are another constellation of animal advocacy organizations,  including the Humane Farming Association,  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,  Friends of Animals,  In Defense of Animals,  and Showing Animals Respect & Kindness.

(Beth Clifton collage)

“The Rotten Egg Bill”

The pro-animal organizations opposed to Proposition 12 deride it as “the Rotten Egg Bill,”  in essence a “feel-good” measure that would actually change little or nothing if passed––or at least not change anything soon––while misleading voters and consumers to believe something substantive had been done.

Debates over Proposition 12 between Humane Society of the U.S. spokesperson Josh Balk and Humane Farming Association founder Brad Miller have been aired by KPFA/Pacifica Radio of Berkeley,  California at https://kpfa.org/player/?audio=297223;  the San Francisco public broadcasting station KQED,  at https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101867842/election-2018-prop-12-the-farm-animal-confinement-initiative;  and the Pasadena public broadcasting television station KPCC at https://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2018/10/17/63803/airtalk-debates-2018-ballot-initiatives-prop-12-fa/.

(Humane Farming Association image)

Agribusiness endorsements

Agribusiness endorsements of California Proposition 12 are likewise split in both directions.

Opposing Proposition 12 are the National Pork Producers Council and the Association of California Egg Farmers.

Supporting Proposition 12 is Central Valley Eggs,  which calls itself “the largest cage-free egg producer in California,”  but which the Humane Farming Association and Showing Animals Respect & Kindness point toward as an example of how Proposition 12 would reduce the standards for egg-laying hens to meaninglessness.

(Humane Farming Association image)

United Egg Producers

United Egg Producers,  whose standards Proposition 12 would establish in California law,  has refused to either endorse Proposition 12 or oppose it.

United Egg Producers from mid-2011 to 2014 partnered with the Humane Society of the U.S. in promoting federal legislation to establish the UEP standards nationwide––after HSUS withdrew support of ballot initiatives in Ohio,  Oregon,  and Washington which would have introduced stricter standards,  if approved by voters.

The Humane Farming Association has often used this photo in criticizing former HSUS president Wayne Pacelle’s deals with United Egg Producers.

Pacelle & Shapiro

Some of the division of animal advocacy opinion over California Proposition 12 results from lingering activist bitterness over the Humane Society of the U.S. having double-crossed activists who expected to win stronger legislation,  by cutting deals with agribusiness via United Egg Producers.

The deals were orchestrated by former HSUS president Wayne Pacelle and former farmed animal campaigns manager Paul Shapiro,  both ousted in early 2018 amid allegations of sexually harassing subordinates.  Pacelle,  however,  has resurfaced campaigning in support of California Proposition 12.

Some of the animal advocacy opposition to California Proposition 12 may be philosophical and ideological in origin.  In Defense of Animals,  and Friends of Animals,  for instance,  would have difficulty endorsing any legislation which might tend to prolong the existence of animal agriculture.

(Humane Farming Association photo)

Rolls back parts of Proposition 2

The Humane Farming Association and PETA emphasize,  however,  that while California Proposition 12 is promoted as reinforcing California Proposition 2,  a ballot initiative approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2008,  it actually rolls back some of the key provisions of Proposition 2.

These provisions were never enforced in part because of loopholes that HFA pointed out before the petitions to place Proposition 2 on the ballot were circulated.

Tracy Reiman  (Twitter photo)

“Misleads kind consumers”

Wrote PETA executive Tracy Reiman in an October 12,  2018 commentary for the Sacramento Bee,  “PETA has always supported changes that reduce suffering for farmed animals,”  but “the standards pushed by Proposition 12 are a step backwards at a time when there is impetus for real change.  This initiative ensures hens will continue to suffer far into the future. It will allow tens of thousands of hens to be crammed into giant warehouses with only one square foot of space per bird,  the same amount that the farming industry already requires for ‘cage-free’ labeling.

“Proposition 12,”  Reiman charged,  also “misleads kind consumers into thinking that it’s ‘humane’ to purchase eggs.  PETA investigations have revealed time and again that what people think ‘cage-free’  means is vastly different from reality.

The American Humane Association cut a deal with J.S. West to dilute implementation of California Proposition 2.

American Humane Association undercut Proposition 2

In 2008,  recounted Lynne Curry of the online food magazine Civil Eats,  the Humane Society of the U.S. “and its supporters,  the voting public—and even opponents,  including the Association of California Egg Farmers—interpreted Proposition 2 as an outright ban on battery cages for laying hens.  Slated to go into effect on January 1, 2015,  it also affected crate sizes for breeding pigs and veal calves.”

However,  Curry explained,  “commercial egg producers,  including J.S. West & Co.,  challenged Proposition 2’s vague language in court.  In the absence of specifics—including the term ‘cage-free’—the California egg industry created its own standard known as ‘enriched colony housing systems.’”

After the “colony housing” advanced by J.S. West & Co. was endorsed by the American Humane Association,  the Humane Society of the U.S. backed away from pursuing legal action to enforce the “cage-free” standard that voters mostly thought they had enacted.  HSUS instead endorsed the United Egg Producers..

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(Beth Clifton collage)

Accused of “sowing corruption on earth”

            TEHRAN,  Iran––Because fair trials in Iran are historically scarcer than the highly endangered Asiatic cheetah,  who survives only in remote habitat in the eastern part of the country,  the global conservation,  scientific,  and human rights communities are anxious as a cat on a hot tin roof about “espionage” indictments brought against four cheetah researchers on October 24,  2017.

The indictments could bring the four the death penalty.

The eight accused, four of whom face death.

IUCN wild cat & bear experts

The four are believed to be three men and one woman.

The men are Taher Ghadirian, a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature cat specialist and bear specialist groups;  Houman Jowkar,  also a member of the IUCN cat specialist group;  and Morad Tahbaz,  an Iranian/American director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

The woman is Niloufar Bayani,  who joined the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation in June 2017.   Bayani was previously a project advisor under the disaster risk reduction portfolio of the United Nations Environment Program,  according to the UNEP web site.

Kavous Seyed Emami  (Family photo)

Founder of wildlife charity dead in prison

The four were arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,  according to Human Rights Watch,  on January 24 and 25 [2018].

Arrested with them and still in prison were four other Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation members identified as an Iranian/American woman,  Sepideh Kashani,  and three men,  Amirhossein Khaleghi,  Sam Rajabi,  and Kavous Seyed-Emami,  who was the Iranian/Canadian founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

Iranian authorities notified Sayed-Emami’s wife Maryam Mombeini on February 8,  2018 that he had “committed suicide” in prison,  allegedly by “strangulation.”

No further details of the purported suicide have been released.

Kavous Seyed Emami  (Family photo)

Sunglasses & a “fishing rod”

Instead,  attorney Payam Derafshan told Mahtab Vahidi Rad of Radio Farda,  the Iranian branch of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty external broadcast service,  the Revolutionary Guard on February 13,  2018 broadcast a video that “shows Seyed-Emami and his family walking in the countryside, wearing sunglasses.  Immediately after that, the logo of the CIA appears,  to suggest that Seyed-Emami has been involved in espionage.”
The video also presents a fishing rod as a “highly complicated gadget for secret communications with spying stations abroad,”  Derafshan said.

The “fishing rod” might actually have been Sayed-Emami’s cane (shown in the photo above.)

As the sunglasses and “fishing rod” proved unpersuasive,  Tehran member of parliament Mahmoud Sadeghi tweeted on June 25,  2018,  “Numerous intelligence agents,  carrying several large boxes,  stormed Seyed-Emami’s house, ” and maintained that they had a warrant to use the residence as the location for shooting a film, titled “The Downfall.”

Sons Ramin & Mehran Seyed-Emami, with father Kavous Seyed-Emami and mother Maryam Mombeini.  (Family photos)

Widow not allowed to leave Iran

Within days,  in early July 2018,  Seyed-Emami’s sons Ramin and Mehran Seyed-Emami,  who live in Canada,  sued Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting in Tehran for slander.  The Revolutionary Guard is believed likely to keep the case from advancing.

Their mother,  Mombeini,  meanwhile was not allowed to leave Iran with them on March 7,  2018,  and has not been allowed join them since.

“The Islamic Republic’s prosecuter-general office is responsible for barring people from leaving the country,”  Derafshan told Radio Farda.

Chrystia Freeland  (Facebook)

As of May 25,  2018,  Derafshan added,  “Mombeini’s name is not on the list of people officially barred from leaving the country. Who exactly barred her from leaving Iran is still a mystery.”

Canada says “Release her or no deals”

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau took office with a 2015 pledge to restore diplomatic relations with Iran,  suspended since 2012 and restricted since the June 2003 rape and murder of Iranian/Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi while in police custody in Tehran.

Canada has,  however,  made negotiations with Iran conditional on the release of Mombeini,  a position reaffirmed by foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland on November 1,  2018.

(Beth Clifton collage)

More voices for animals & habitat busted

In the interim the Iranian Revolutionary Guard expanded the initial round of arrests of Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation personnel into a general crackdown on animal and habitat researchers and activists.

Abdoreza Kouhpayeh,  who identifies herself on her Instagram account as an “environmentalist cyclist and mountaineer wildlife photographer,”  was arrested on February 25,  2018,  apparently in connection with the case.

During the same time frame at least fifteen other Iranian habitat protection activists were arrested and imprisoned by the Revolutionary Guard,  seven of them also reportedly on charges of allegedly spying for the U.S. and Israel.

(Beth Clifton photo)

Iranian official jailed, released, joins United Nations

Also detained,  from February to April 2018,  was Kaveh Madani,  then the deputy head of the Iranian Environmental Protection Organization.  Madani,  on release,  left Iran to become vice president of the United Nations Environmental Assembly.

“His detention dealt a blow to the administration of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani,  which last year plucked him from his position at Imperial College London for the government job,”  assessed Jonathan Watts and Saeed Kamali Dehghan of The Guardian.

Watts and Dehghan speculated that the Revolutionary Guard might have targeted the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation “because many of its members are bi-national figures who were educated in the west and have connections with international conservation groups.

Hossein Shariatmadari

“Why is the cheetah becoming such an issue?”

“Under a column headlined ‘Iranian Cheetah or Spy?’”  Watts and Dehghan mentioned, “the editor of [the hardline conservative newspaper Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari,  who was appointed to his job by supreme leader Ali Khamenei,  asked:  ‘Why is the cheetah becoming such an important issue?  Why are too many foreigners entering Iran for this?  What are the real identities of US/European experts coming to Iran?  And why are they so keen to search the deserts all day and night?’”

Iranian senior military adviser Hassan Firouzabadi,  Watts and Dehghan recalled,  “In one previous case claimed the country’s nuclear program had been monitored using lizards that ‘could attract atomic waves.’”

Hassan Firouzabadi

Missile sites

But the most thorough explanation of the arrests to date,  posted on April 16,  2018 by the opposition news web site Kalame,  translated by the Center for Human Rights in Iran,  is that “The environmental activists are not spies,  but in fact resisted the Revolutionary Guard’s excessive demands to encroach on environmentally protected regions for the installation of missile sites.

“Although these regions were registered with the United Nations as protected areas,”  Kalame said,  “the Revolutionary Guard thought it could build military sites there without any problem.  Thus it went ahead with installing missile silos and equipment.  The move met opposition from environmental groups,”  who “made clear that the Revolutionary Guard was endangering their activities to collect information and take photos of animals and plants for the United Nations.”

The Revolutionary Guard,  Kalame said,  “asked these groups to instead submit old photos in their annual reports to the United Nations.  The conflict went on for years and..

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(Beth Clifton collage)

1964-1966 flood rescue data suggests there were never as many jaguars in Suriname as World Animal Protection claims have been poached

PARAMARIBO,  Suriname––Claims recently amplified on social media about the alleged extent of jaguar poaching in Suriname appear to have inflated at most a handful of rare,  scattered incidents occurring over many years into a purported “crisis” for which there is little tangible evidence.

The purported motive for the poaching––supplying jaguar parts to China––seems to have been invented wholly from racially charged supposition.

(Big Cat Rescue photo)

Numbers pulled from math model

But the numbers attributed to poaching were apparently inflated mostly because there were probably never as many jaguars in Suriname as the hyperbolic claimants supposed,  basing their guesstimates on a math model published by the Public Library of Science online journal PLOS One in March 2018.

That,  with or without poaching,  means jaguars may be closer to extirpation from Suriname,  and perhaps to regional extinction,  than even exaggerated guesswork has hinted.

At the same time,  jaguars have persisted in Suriname for nearly 60 years since the first documentation emerged that they had become vanishingly scarce.

(Beth Clifton collage)

No @#$%

The March 2018 study published by PLOS One was based not on actual jaguar sightings in Suriname,  or discoveries of tracks,  scat,  and other remains,  but rather on the estimated carrying capacity of the habitat,  projected from findings elsewhere.

The PLOS One projection of the number of jaguars in Suriname ended up 168 times higher than could be projected from the actual findings of Operation Gwamba,  which in 1964-1966 rescued more than 10,000 animals from 870 miles of dense rainforest following the completion of the Afobaka Dam on the Upper Suriname River.

John Walsh rescues an anteater, from Time is Short And The Water Rises.

John Walsh

As fast-rising water rapidly marooned most of the animals in the Afobaka basin on small islands and in treetops,  Operation Gwamba project leader John Walsh and team took the opportunity to do one of the most comprehensive wildlife inventories on record.

Since few of the terrestrial animals in the soon-to-be-underwater habitat could escape to dry land without help,  Walsh et al at minimum collected a highly representative sampling of the species that had been living there.

Photo published by World Animal Protection shows a muddy dead jaguar.

Many reports, but just one source

Familiar with the Operation Gwamba data, ANIMALS 24-7 was already skeptical of the PLOS One projection when articles by Citizen Truth correspondent Alex Muiruri,  of Kenya,  Jane Dalton of The Independent,  based in the United Kingdom,  and Sky News,  also of the U.K.,  in late October 2018 went viral on social media.

All three of these articles,  and soon many others amplified by other sources,  cited a September 2018 report by World Animal Protection investigations advisor Nicholas Bruschi.

Photo from World Animal Protection shows dead jaguar in canoe who may soon become muddy during unloading.

Four photographs

The Bruschi report included four photographs said to have been taken in February 2018 by unidentified people at unspecified locations,  not necessarily even in Suriname,  showing what may be only two dead jaguars.

The photos depict a female jaguar hanging from a pole,  possibly the same female jaguar lashed to a pole but lying on the ground,  a male jaguar apparently in a canoe,  and perhaps the same male jaguar on a four-wheeler with a woman posing for the camera,  flashing a “V-for-victory” sign.

The Bruschi contentions include that jaguar poaching in Suriname is much under-reported,  as is most poaching,  and indeed most crime.  But experienced criminologists use time-tested methods for estimating under-reporting that do not appear to have been used by World Animal Protection.

Dead jaguar lashed to pole, from World Animal Protection report.

No before-&-after data

Jaguar poaching in Suriname is said to be increasing as the Chinese presence in the nation increases.

This claim is unsubstantiated because there is no before-and-after poaching data,  and no before-and-after jaguar population data either,  unless one takes both the Operation Gwamba and PLOS One projection wholly at face value.  In that case,  one could conclude that there are now 168 times as many jaguars in Suriname as there were more than three decades before 21st century Chinese immigration began.

Dead jaguar lashed to pole, shown from opposite side, also from World Animal Protection report.

The Bruschi report alleges that poachers bait jaguars in Suriname by staking out dogs or goats,  a technique commonly used in Asia by tiger and leopard hunters,  and was also used by renowned Wildlife Conservation Society scientist George Schaller,  in researching his 1978 book Snow Leopard,  co-authored by Peter Matthiessen.

(See Snow Leopard: Stories from the Roof of the World.)

Emotive triggers

Describing this technique accordingly adds no authenticity to the report;  just an emotive trigger for animal advocacy donors.

Trapped jaguars are said to be shot multiple times,  another emotive trigger,  and a detail which,  if true,  suggests that the alleged poachers are not skilled in handling either their weapons or their targets.  These are not traits of experienced participants in an established traffic.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Finally,  the remains of poached jaguars are allegedly boiled into a paste and smuggled to China as a substitute for traditional medicinal products made from tigers.  Teeth and claws are purportedly sold separately as personal ornaments.

Legalized tiger farming

If any of this is true,  the supposed Chinese market for smuggled products from poached jaguars had probably already disappeared by the end of October 2018,  through the emergence of cheaper and fully legal competition from within China.

Explained John R. Platt,  editor of the Center for Biodiversity blog Extinction Countdown,  “In a move that shocked and horrified many conservationists,  China this week opened up two legal markets for rhino horns and tiger body parts.  Under China’s new rules,  which overturn a 25-year-old ban,  farm-raised tiger and rhino ‘products’ can be approved for use in medical research or by accredited doctors in hospitals, despite the fact that the body parts have no known medicinal value.”

(Big Cat Rescue photo)

Having reportedly as many as 6,000 tigers on 200 “tiger farms” already in operation,  many of them doubling as quasi-zoos,  China would appear to have plenty of tiger parts to more than meet the relatively limited demand.

“Second Opinion Doctor”

Much of the Bruschi report appears to echo an anonymous article posted,  apparently in 2009,  at a web site entitled Second Opinion Doctor.

Asked the author,  “How is the jaguar population in Suriname really doing? No one seems to know. There isn’t even one environmental conservation organization that can provide adequate information about the jaguar.”

The Second Opinion Doctor author cited seven specific locations in Suriname where jaguars had reportedly been seen in recent years,  or poached,  despite legislation nominally protecting jaguars.

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