The Return of a Majestic Giant

Travis Brown

The moose (Alces Alces Americana) population is beginning to rebound in New York State.  Moose constitute the largest member of the deer family and with once dwindling population levels, New York is now enjoying a healthy resurgence of a once scant creature.  Standing as tall as six and a half feet, measured from the shoulder to the ground (leaving their neck and head much, much higher), moose were once the target of aggressive hunting practices in the Northeastern states of the US.  Population numbers did not start to recover until 1935 when Maine prohibited the hunting of moose.  From 1950 to 1990, moose populations in Maine nearly tripled from 7,000 to 20,000.  This marked increase was noticed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in 2010.  Continue reading

The Real Cruella de Vils: The Little-Known Back Story of the Animal Welfare Act of 1966

Ally Bernstein

What would you do if one day, after letting your beloved Husky, Niko, play outside for two hours, you went to get him from the backyard but he wasn’t there? First, you would probably search the neighborhood, followed by checking the local pounds and posting signs in hopes that all of these efforts would bring your lost Niko home. Thinking to yourself “how bizarre”, after letting Niko play outside in your fenced in backyard for 6 years, “why now would he decide to run away?” As you go down the list of possibilities; “did he chase a squirrel, did I leave the gate open, did he jump the fence”, what happened to Niko?

Two days go by and you see a “LOST DOG” sign near the local post office, but its not for Niko, its for Bishop, another Husky in the neighborhood. “Well that’s weird,” you think to yourself about the coincidence that two Huskies would go missing from the same neighborhood within the same week. What about the next few days when your friend at the grocery store tells you that her sister’s Husky, Layla, went missing the night before after being let out for her nightly exercise. Is this still a coincidence? Continue reading

Republic of Marshall Islands Opens World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary

Gillian Lyons

We all know that sharks hold a certain fascination in the American mind.  I myself cannot drag myself away from the television during the Discovery Channel’s shark week.  What you may not know is that according to the IUCN, up to 30 percent of pelagic shark species (those that live in the “open ocean”) are considered threatened, due at least in part to a large commercial “sharking” industry, an industry which conservation organizations estimate kills 73 million sharks per year.

In an effort to battle the large, lucrative, “sharking” industry, the Republic of the Marshall Islands has recently announced that it was to be home to the largest shark sanctuary in the world.  In the 768,547 square mile sanctuary, commercial hunting for sharks is banned, as is the sale of shark products.  A violation of these bans can result in fines ranging from 25,000-200,000 dollars. Continue reading

Who’s Your Softer Side

Sarah Saville

Baltimore’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission just launched a new campaign targeted towards juveniles.  The “Show Your Softer Side” Campaign features a series of photographs of famous athletes and their pets with the tagline “Only a Punk Would Hurt a Cat or Dog.”  It targets juveniles because youths often commit the worst abuses in an effort to show their “toughness.” More information on the Commission can be found here.

Although the Campaign has generally been well received, not everyone is happy about it.  Within hours of the launch, editorial critiques like this one, began popping up.  These critiques claim that it is a waste to spend resources on preventing animal abuse when there are still violent crimes committed against people.  Such critique misses the bigger picture.  Animal abuse is statistically a precursor to abuse against people.  Punishing and preventing these abuses prevents crimes against people.  And even without regards to preventing crimes against people, preventing animal cruelty is important in its own right.  Cats, dogs, and other animals are sentient beings capable of suffering.  We adopt them into our families and breed and train them to be dependent on us.  They deserve are respect and our protection.  And we have the ethical responsibility to give them as much.

“Smart collars”: Taking the wild out of wildlife–and putting it on Facebook?

Idaho National Lab photo

Kathleen Stachowski
Other Nations

Spend enough time in Yellowstone and you’ll see an ever-increasing number of radio or GPS-collared animals. Elk, bison, wolves, and the occasional coyote are species easy to spot sporting the bulky neck gear. Research must be big business.

I once watched as wolves skirmished at Blacktail Pond. One in the group wore a collar, and this same animal sat down–repeatedly–to scratch like a fleabag at her itchy neck. Even after her pack mates bedded down for a siesta, the unrelenting torment kept her from resting; she’d jump up again and again to have another go at it. Continue reading

Monkey Business

Sarah Saville

What’s the difference between an ape and a monkey? In high school I would have answered: a tail. In college I would have answered: somewhere between 3%–6% genetic differences. In law school I will answer: the amount of legal protections available to the animals.

Zoologically, great apes include bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. As defined by proposed legislation, great apes include the gibbons of Family Hylobatidae, also known as the lesser apes. The European Union ended research on captive great apes last year. Today, there are currently several proposed measures to extend protections to captive apes in the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services is currently reviewing whether or not to list all chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Wild chimpanzees are currently listed as endangered, but captive chimpanzees are only listed as threatened. The current “split listing” permits the use of chimpanzees in research and to be kept as pets. In April, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett introduced the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2011. If passed, the Act will retire all federally owned apes used in research and for breeding.   Continue reading