Turning Down the Ocean: Human-created Noise

Aine Dillon

Many think of the ocean as a place with peaceful sounds. Some even use the sounds of waves to fall asleep. However, not everyone knows that the ocean, under the surface, is actually very loud. Today, the ocean is almost deafening for marine animals. Marine wildlife use their sense of sound as much as land animals. However, human-created noise is polluting the ocean. This noise threatens the survival of many marine animals that use their sense of sound to communicate, avoid predators and find prey. The International Fund for Animal Welfare lists ocean noise as one of the five biggest threats to marine wildlife.

Ocean noise can come from commercial shipping, oil, seismic surveys, cruise ships, naval sonar training, and construction. Over the last 40 years, the Pacific Ocean’s noise level has doubled. Historically, the blue whale could communicate across oceans. Today, the distance they can communicate has decreased by 90% due to Ocean noise.

The American Navy has used sonar to detect enemy submarines. Due to sonar, whales have swam hundreds of miles, rapidly changed their depth, or even breached to escape the sound. In 2003, the Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”) campaigned to ban sonar testing in areas rich in marine biodiversity. The NRDC appealed to the Supreme Court and cited Navy documents that estimated the testing would result in temporary deafness for at least 8,000 and kill 170,000 marine animals and cause permeant injury to 500 whales. In January 2005, 34 whales washed up shore dead along North Carolina close to the offshore Navy sonar training. Many suspected more whales died that did not wash up on shore.

Whales and dolphins make complex vocal communications using clicks, whistles, and squeaks. These communications are used during reproduction, feeding, avoiding predators, and navigation. Noise levels can decrease the distance communications can travel and severely impacts the survival of these animals. Noise can hinder marine wildlife’s ability to hear their group members, protect their young, or hunt for prey. Although these animals can tolerate some noises in the oceans, such as noise from rainfall, storms, or other animals’ communications, they cannot evolve fast enough to compensate for the exponential increases from human-created noise.

The first sign of the impact of ocean noise came after the September 11th attacks. After the attacks, the shipping traffic off the east coast of the United States halted. Scientists studying the North Atlantic right whales observed a sharp decline in stress-related hormones in the whales’ feces. It was the first evidence that ship noise alone contributed to chronic stress in the whales.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a sharp decline in many industries that use the oceans. One industry that almost halted completely was the cruise ship industry. Cruise ships can be especially harmful to marine wildlife because of their high speeds, and they travel to many remote and ecologically sensitive areas. Without cruise travel, the ocean noise decreased. This time also allowed scientists to research the impacts of ocean noise by comparing behavior before and after the cruise ships stopped sailing.

Simple changes can quiet the oceans. For example, the noise created by ships directly correlates to the ship’s speed. The faster the ship is traveling, the louder the ship is. Ship design can also create less noise. Further, utilizing shipment routes that avoid endangered species can decrease the likelihood of ocean noise pushing species into extinction. Additionally, slower ships burn less fuel and produce fewer greenhouse gasses, which decreases the environmental costs of ships. Slower ships also decrease the possibility of hitting whales by 50%.

Currently, no international laws regulate ocean noise. However, some cities or ports have taken action. For example, the Port of Vancouver reduced port fees for ships that decreased their noise pollution. Hellenic Trench, Greece has changed its permitted shipping routes to avoid risk to the endangered Mediterranean sperm whales.

To decrease the casualties due to sonar, many animal rights groups have suggested that the Navy decrease the number of testing during peacetime or gradually increase the testing to allow wildlife to flee affected areas. Further, these groups have suggested that the Navy move testing to areas with less rich biodiversity or avoid areas with endangered wildlife.

Consumers can also help. Consumers can try to buy more local goods that have a higher likelihood of coming from shipment on trucks rather than ships. Further, buying in-store instead of buying online can also help. Finally, supporting groups that advocate for laws that limit the amount of ocean noise allowed can also aid in protecting marine wildlife.

Child Custody Approach Used to Resolve Dispute over Ownership of Elephant in India

Megan Edwards

Animals inhabit a peculiar position in the world, particularly with respect to their relationship with people.  On one hand, people have responsibilities and obligations to animals—this is evident from the almost 120 countries worldwide that have some form of basic animal cruelty laws.  On the other hand, animals are considered peoples’ legal property, having a legal status similar to that of a chair.  This reality makes the handling of legal cases involving animals challenging, and oftentimes unsatisfactory. 

But for the Madras High Court in India, “[j]ust solutions to legal issues may sometimes lie outside the formal statutory framework.”  Before the court was a dispute over the ownership of an elephant called Lalitha.  Lalitha was originally purchased in 1988 and was subsequently sold to different people until her current owner, Sheik Mohammed, purchased her in 2000.  Mohammed filed a form with the government to transfer the status of Lalitha’s legal ownership to himself—but the issue was, the sales of Lalitha after her original purchasing in 1988 were illegal.  Mohammed’s requests for ownership transfer were pending until they were rejected in March of 2020. 

Despite the illegal sales, Mohammed petitioned the court to set aside the rejections and to direct the relevant government agency to grant him a certificate of ownership.  Because of the clear illegality of the sales, the court refused to set aside the rejection.  However, the court was not prepared to require Mohammed to surrender Lalitha to the Forest Department. 

The Madras Court relied on reasoning set forth by the Supreme Court in determining how to handle Lalitha’s placement. The Supreme Court of India declared that 5 internationally recognized freedoms for animals established by the guidelines of the World Organization of Animal Health be read into the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Acts.  These freedoms include: 1) freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; 2) freedom from fear and distress; 3) freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; 4) freedom from pain, injury and disease; and 5) freedom to express normal patterns of behavior.  Relying on these principles, the Madras High Court held that Lalitha is “entitled to express her normal patterns of behavior.”  Lalitha lived with her caretakers for over twenty years and established a close bond with them.  She would have been traumatized if she was forcibly removed from Mohammed’s care.  In a novel turn, the court elected to utilize child custody procedures to handle the custody of Lalitha.  The presiding judge conducted a surprise inspection and found Lalitha to be well cared for, well fed, in good health, and importantly, happy.  The court held that removing her from Mohammed’s care would be “sure to inflict a deep psychological wound” that would not be “in her best interests.”  Despite being denied the legal ownership of Lalitha, Mohammed was allowed to maintain custody.  The court valued what was best for Lalitha over adhering to the processes that deem her property. 

In recent years, similar approaches to determining the custody of animals in divorce proceedings have arisen in the U.S.  Courts have begun to apply a “best interest” approach when it comes to pet custody.  Under this approach, to determine which party would gain custody of a pet, courts have considered factors such as how the individuals care for the pet, the bonds they have with the pet, who brought the pet to the veterinarian and paid the bills, and who does things with the pet such as taking it for walks.  Utilizing these factors, courts have attempted to determine the primary caregiver for the animal, relying on the idea that the person who primarily took care of the animal and had the majority of the caregiving responsibilities for the animal would have the animal’s best interests in mind.

Three states—Illinois, Alaska, and California—have taken steps to establish laws that require courts to consider the “well-being” of the animal when determining custody.  This “best-interest” standard recognizes that animals are sentient beings, not just mere, inanimate items of property.  Suggestions for more widespread use of this standard propose that courts consider facts such as the mental and emotional health of the animal, exercise for the animal, whether other animals or children will be in the household, and the affection and bond between the animal and its caregiver.  Like the Madras Court, these considerations are similar to those granted to children in custody proceeding.

Animals are not inanimate objects, and the law should not treat them as such.  A “best interests” approach to the determination of the custody of an animal, such as what was utilized in Lalitha’s case, is a step towards recognizing animals’ inherent value. 

Vegetarianism As A Tool For Environmental Health

Michael Schwartz

In most cases, when people tell their stories of how they become a vegetarian or a vegan, it comes from the idea of moral vegetarianism. The meaning behind the phrase moral vegetarianism can be interpreted with a plain meaning because its definition is exactly what the expression sounds like. The basis behind the concept is that it is wrong to eat meat and immoral to produce meat. However, the thought behind moral vegetarianism may run deeper than the conclusion of not wanting to eat the meat of beings that were once alive. Moral vegetarianism can now be extended because of the positive environmental effects that take place when a person transitions from being a meat eater into a vegetarian.

            The first affirmation of a green move in a transition of becoming a vegetarian is that it gives each person a tool in combating global warming. Global warming poses one of the most serious threats to the global environment in human history. Yet, by focusing entirely on carbon dioxide emissions, major environmental organizations have failed to account for published data showing that other gases are the main culprits behind the global warming we see today. See “EarthSave Report: A New Global Warming Strategy: How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes,” Noam Mohr, Aug. 2005: http://earthsave.org/globalwarming.htm (link is external) As a result, they are overlooking the fact that the single most important step an individual can take to reduce global warming [faster than any other means] is to adopt a vegetarian diet.In its 2006 report, the United Nations found that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. “Livestock a major threat to the environment,” United Nations FAO Newsroom, Nov. 29, 2006: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html (link is external). According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the FAO projects that global demand for livestock products will increase to 70 percent by 2050. Showing that this is a global hazard that will only be increasing in size.

            Not only is a switch to vegetarianism a help on a personal level in a battle against global warming, but it also may be a helpful solution in the growing problem of deforestation. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s land is already used for agriculture. But these aren’t fields of wheat, lettuce, and tomatoes. Most of that land is used to grow grains to feed livestock or support the livestock themselves. With a likely increase of food production by 70 percent by 2050, in order to feed everyone on the planet without cutting down more forests. That would mean crop yields would have to improve faster than they ever have historically. According to a World Resources Institute report, if Americans swap poultry or pork for one third of their beef consumption, their diet-related land use would go down by almost 15 percent.

            Lastly, turning to vegetarianism would reduce the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, and chemicals that harm animals through the pollution of our waterways. Across the United States, farmers inject and give hormones to animals to increase growth and productivity. A commonly used practice here, these hormones are known to cause several types of cancer and reproductive dysfunction in humans. While U.S. farmers claim that using hormones to promote growth is safe, the European Union has prohibited this practice since 1995. Furthermore, a vegetarian approach would eliminate the harms being done by fish farming. Because of the prevalent problem of parasites, some aquaculture operators are forced to use strong antibiotic drugs to keep the fish alive. Unfortunately, many fish still end up dying prematurely. Furthermore, these drugs enter the food chain through direct consumption of the farmed fish itself and through the highly concentrated feces deposits that contaminate water supplies. Reports indicate that Scottish salmon farms alone have breached pollution limits more than 400 times in the past 3 years. See Sunday Herald. ‘400 breaches of fish farm pollution limits in three years’. 1st October 2006. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_20061001/ai_n16760726 (link is external).

            With the increasing demand in livestock farming, land for livestock and resources used to help feed these livestock whose only groom is for slaughter, there are two directions being presented. We can either double down on our farming system and increase our environmental harms, or we can slowly transition into new, environmentally-friendly eating habits. This does not mean one will have to turn into a vegetarian overnight, it would be wholly unreasonable to ask for. However, with options of a plant-based lifestyle growing with companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat reaching fast food chains such as Burger King and Dunkin, the integration of vegetarianism has seemed to already begun. While it may help a moral compass by not eating a being that was once alive, the benefits of turning to vegetarianism is also one that benefits fellow humans on our planet and our ecosystem as a whole.

Keystone Species: The Key to a Healthy Environment

Madison Roberts

            What is an ecosystem? According to National Geographic, “An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms…. work together to form a bubble of life.” While every part of the ecosystem is important, certain species are more integral than others. Without these integral species the ecosystem they reside in would collapse. This species is called a Keystone Species.

            Keystone Species come in all shapes and sizes. They could be plants or animals, and they exist at varying levels in the food chain. However, it is important to note that while a species may be a keystone to one ecosystem, they could cause harm in another ecosystem.  

            The first thing to look at when analyzing a Keystone Species is their type. Generally, there are four recognized types of Keystone Species. These four types are explained by Ian Payton, Michael Fenner, and William Lee in their paper “Keystone Species: the concept and its relevance for conservation management in New Zealand.” They are organisms controlling potential dominants, resource providers, mutualists, and ecosystem engineers. The first type is usually a predator that controls the population level of a species under it. Wolves in relationship to rabbits is a good example of this. The second type is most commonly plants. An example is a fruit tree in the rainforest that provides nourishment for animals during a pinch point where not many other food sources are available. The third type, mutualism, involves the relationship between two animals and how it interacts with the ecosystem. It is easy to understand how two species working together can make both of those species a keystone to an environment by examining the relationship of Bear and salmon in the forests of Alaska. Finally, there are ecosystem engineers. These species literally change the ecosystem when going about their daily life. The best example for this is a beaver that cuts down trees in order to make its home.

For the purposes of this post, we will be focusing on the mutualist and the ecosystem engineer. Bears and salmon are two species crucial to the forests of the Alaska. They are without a doubt Keystone Species and help plants and animals to survive through their interactions together. The way that these two animals impact the ecosystem to such a degree is through their feces. Riparian plants that grow next to a stream with salmon get 18-26 percent of their foliar N from the salmon. Plants with higher foliar N contents are more nutritious and more palatable to the animals that eat them. When a bear consumes salmon, it is consuming the nutrients that the salmon provides. Unlike plants, bears cannot use the nutrients from the salmon that encourages foliar N contents in plants to rise. When the bear is done digesting the salmon for the nutrients that it can use, the bear leaves behind feces that has high foliar N content for plants to absorb into it.  How does this make both the bear and salmon Keystone Species? Without the mutualist interaction between the bear and the salmon that spreads foliar N across riparian forests, there would be significant changes in the ecosystem. It would cause the plants to provide less nutrient benefits to grazers like moose, and in turn cause the moose and other animals to need more food in order to fill that nutritional gap.

            The mutualistic interaction of bears and salmon is a good example of how a Keystone Species can benefit an ecosystem. However, there are also examples of how moving a Keystone Species to a different ecosystem can have disastrous effects. For that reason, the next species to discuss is a well-known ecosystem engineer, the beaver.

            Beavers are stocky brown animals with flat tails that build their nests and get food by chopping down trees and blocking rivers and streams. In North America, the population and actions of beavers are controlled by bears and wolves. This allows the beavers to serve a beneficial role and help enrich the North American ecosystems that they reside in. However, when the Argentinian military decided they should bring beavers to enrich Tierra Del Fuego the consequences turned disastrous. Because beavers have no natural predator in South America’s Patagonia they have been wreaking havoc on the ecosystem since being placed there. Beavers are now an invasive species in South America and their population is between 70,000 and 110,000 in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. The only way to get rid of the beavers is to hunt them, but beaver pelt and beaver meat are not often used and make it financially inefficient. In addition, researchers have found that the actions of the beavers support the welfare of two other invasive species: the muskrat and the mink. The muskrat resides near stagnant ponds which are created by the beaver dams, and the mink like to prey on the muskrat. Therefore, by bringing a species that is a keystone in one habitat to an ecosystem where it has no predators has resulted in disaster. Currently researchers believe that the ecosystem is in a process of meltdown due to the effects of the beaver.

            Why does this matter? Keystone Species are integral parts of the ecosystem. They can create benefits and cause disasters. However, there is still no clear way of identifying Keystone Species and even the types of species. Even the Keystone Species types listed above are in contention. What complicates matters more is that this lack of scientific certainty on Keystone Species has caused the legal system to disregard them. In the United States, we have laws that are created in effort to preserve species and ecosystems alike. The Endangered Species Protection Act and NEPA are two examples. However, our legal system fails to look at the dangers of not protecting species that are integral to the ecosystems they try to protect. What is the point in saying you may not cause the extinction of an Endangered Species, but at the same time allow the injury or destruction of the population of a species it relies on? By not doing more to protect Keystone Species because of the scientific gap left in their research, the legal system is virtually sitting by and waiting for an environmental disaster like that in Tierra Del Fuego. Instead of sitting by and waiting for the science, legal scholars and legislators should be doing their best to protect Keystone Species before science tells them it is too late.

Title: The Duality of Environmental Concerns and Animal Welfare

Marissa O’Connor

            While both environmental concerns and animal welfare concerns seem to encompass one another, groups respective of the two interests often clash due to competing values and different prioritization. Generally, groups concerned with animal welfare and ethics place the well-being and interests of sentient individuals at the center of their concerns. Conversely, groups primarily concerned with environmental conservation focus on the preservation of biodiversity, entire ecosystems, and nature itself.  Where the wellbeing of individual animals matters less and species, ecosystems, or nature as a whole are emphasized, ethical dilemmas and disagreements may arise. These dilemmas and disagreements are seen quite often when concerning wildlife management practices. Animal activists often claim that their values come second to environmentalist values, instead seen as an emotional response instead of rational since environmentalists opt for values concerning entire ecosystems, and therefore do not give the individual species concern that animal activists do. When in terms of wildlife management, animal activists would claim moral consideration for the species and environmentalists would speak for the entire ecosystem. Wildlife management practices that have the potential to create conflict are population control methods such as introducing predators in an ecosystem and hunting practices. Further, the allowance of recreational hunting practices and the management of invasive species also creates moral conflict.

            Environmentalists, such as Aldo Leopold, have claimed that hunting is an integral component of successful wilderness management. While it is against the interest of the deer to be hunted, it is in the interest of the ecosystem as a whole where overpopulation is occurring. The two competing interests would argue for opposite sides, but still share a common interest: neither want the other to suffer and die. In cases of recreational hunting, or hunting for sustenance, there is once again a moral dilemma. The hunting of whales is highly controversial, even if the species of whale being hunted is not vulnerable. An Inuit hunter once put the dilemma starkly: “The greatest peril in life lies in the fact that human food consists entirely of souls.” Whale hunting does may not damage the environment itself, as it can recover, but does that negate the harm done to the individual? As with Inuits who rely on whale meat as a large portion of their sustenance, deer hunters regularly utilize the entire carcass. Environmentalists would deem this “ethical hunting”, animal activists would claim there is no such thing.

            How wildlife management groups deal with invasive species also sees a great conflict between the two interests. For primary example is the Mute Swan, which is considered an invasive species to North America whose management practices have seen their fair share of disagreements. With a population explosion in the early 2000s, a management plan to curb the rising population of a species once protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In 2003, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to “minimize environmental damages attributed to Mute Swans”. This proposal was supported by all thirteen state wildlife agencies, as well as 43 bird conservation and wildlife management organizations. In opposition were ten animal rights organizations and the majority of comments that were submitted by individuals. The proposal included methods of population control such as the act of “egg shaking”, which disrupts the yolk so no embryo may develop. The controversial methods of population control of the Mute Swan bring into the question of when the intervention is necessary, and how do wildlife managers decide when it is?

Environmentalist values do not always take precedent over the values of animal activists, however. There is, what some animal welfare activists consider to be, a “moral panic” over free-ranging and feral cats. In terms of their extremely destructive behaviors to ecosystems, but special prioritization it sees as charismatic species and household pet, the opposing sides conflict on how to mitigate their impact. The ethical dilemma is quite profound, but feral cats need not see any hunting practices enacted on them, a grace that some animal welfare activists think should be extended to additional species.  Where animal rights activists see a win with household cats, environmentalists, and countless birds, lose.

A solution to these dilemmas could be found in a hybrid view that draws upon the establishment of an ethical framework in order to delegate prioritizations and actions. An example of a hybrid view is an approach developed by American philosopher Bryan Norton, who distinguishes animals in three different contexts: wild, domesticated, and mixed. In terms of wild animals, the ethical framework should be concerned with respect to the struggle of wildlife to perpetuate their species. This respect and accounting to the struggle sacrifices the interests of the individual for the whole. Opposite to the framework suggested for domesticated animals who should not be individually sacrificed for the good of the animal populations or species. Regardless of an ethical framework, wildlife still has every opportunity to lose.

U.S. District Court Upholds Constitutionality of San Francisco Fur Ban

Nicolette Merino

In March 2021, The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed The International Fur Trade Federation’s constitutional challenge to San Francisco’s ban on the sale of fur products without leave to file an amended complaint.

The City’s fur ban legislation is an example of the growing opposition towards animal fur products. San Francisco is among one of multiple cities in California that enacted fur sale bans, which ultimately led to the state of California becoming the first state in the nation to ban fur sales and manufacturing. The City’s fur ban was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in March 2018 and went into effect on January 1, 2019. The ordinance defines “fur” as “animal skin or part thereof with hair, fleece or fur fibers attached thereto” and prohibits the sale, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, and distribution for monetary or nonmonetary consideration a “fur” product. Violators of the ordinance face civil penalties, which are deposited in the Fish and Game Preservation fund. Despite the ordinance’s attempt to deter the production and sale of animal fur, it expressly excludes cowhide, animal skin “that is to be converted into leather,” as well as for deerskin, sheepskin, and goatskin from its definition of “fur.”

Nevertheless, fur ban legislation is significant in advancing animal welfare as it serves to protect the one hundred million animals that are needless killed each year for their fur. While fur bans are only implemented in a few states, preventing the production of even a small amount of fur products could save the lives of many animals. For example, a statistic from the Human Society reveals that over one hundred animals could be killed for one singular fur coat. Banning the production and sale of animal fur is particularly significant given that these animals are subjected to extremely inhumane practices and treatment. Of the one hundred million animals killed, eighty-five percent come from fur factory farms where they are typically housed in cramped, unsanitary cages for their entire lives before they are skinned alive without painkillers and while fully conscious. The remainder of animals are caught in the wild often through the use of leghold traps where they are left to suffer for long periods of time without food and water. The use of this outdated practice not only negatively impacts animals captured for their fur, but also non-targeted animals, that often fall victim to the traps.

While San Francisco’s fur ban represents a positive step in the advancement and recognition of animal welfare, the ordinance, like most animal welfare legislation, has faced constitutional scrutiny. In 2020, The International Fur Trade Federation filed suit against the city and county of San Francisco arguing that the ordinance violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by burdening interstate and foreign commerce in fur products. The International Fur Trade Federation represented fur dealers, trappers, designers and retailers in 40 countries. Further, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States intervened in the lawsuit in defense of the legislation’s constitutionality.

The March 2021 dismissal followed three previous attempts by the International Fur Trade Federation to amend its complaint. Despite the International Fur Trade Federation’s claim that the ban would result in a loss of forty-five million sales each year, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg’s most recent holding reinforced his earlier finding that the ban does not unconstitutionally burdens interstate or international commerce. The International Fur Trade Federation’s most recent complaint contained allegations that, pursuant to the text of the ordinance, the city did not have the power to enforce the fur ban against retailers located in San Francisco who also sell products to San Francisco consumers online. The International Fur Trade Federation requested a court ruling that the ordinance could not be applied to online sales for retailers including Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, which have physical locations in San Francisco but also sell products online. Judge Seeborg applied a broad interpretation to the ordinance’s ban on sales, concluding that the ban also included internet sales “where both the buyer and seller are located in San Francisco.” However, he indicated that enforcement would extend only to companies with physical locations in San Francisco.

Baiting Sharks: How Shark Fishing Devastates Dolphin Populations

Emily Lively

Globally, humans slaughter approximately one hundred thousand dolphins annually. Humans kill dolphins for a variety of reasons, including cultural purposes, human consumption, and to eliminate competition for fish. However, a far lesser-known use of dolphin meat accounts for the largest killing of dolphins worldwide.

Currently, seventeen countries slaughter dolphins for use as shark bait. In the 1990s, demand for shark fins drastically increased. Market value for shark fins exceeded that of dolphin meat. Rather than sell their dolphin meat for human consumption, fisheries opted to use it to obtain the more lucrative shark fins.

Fishermen in Peru alone kill approximately 15,000 to 20,000 dolphins each year for use as shark bait. Shark fishermen track pods of dolphins until they are within harpoon range. Once harpooned, the fishermen haul the dolphins onto their boat. Many times the dolphins are skinned alive. Other times, the fishermen beat them to death with clubs before chopping them into pieces.

In 2019, a fleet of four Taiwanese ships killed roughly 70 dolphins during a four-month shark fishing trip. This is from just four of an estimated 1,000 shark fishing vessels in Taiwan, providing another example of the substantial annual depletion rate of dolphin populations by shark fisheries.

Shark fisheries kill an estimated 63 to 273 million sharks each year. Sharks are primarily killed for their fins alone, which are a main ingredient in the popular Asian dish shark-fin soup. Shark finning is a gruesome practice. Fishermen cut off the shark’s fins while it’s still alive. Quote often, fishermen then toss the shark back into the ocean finless. Ultimately, the shark either bleed to death or suffocate from their inability to swim without their fins. “It’s like cutting off your limbs and leaving you to bleed to death,” Rebecca Regnery of Humane Society International described.

Shark-fin soup is considered a status symbol in many Asian countries. The soup itself, however, has no nutritional value. Shark fins actually contain high concentrations of methylmercury, which poses risks to human health. Methylmercury is a neurotoxin that can cause nervous system damage. Methylmercury can also impair neurological development in children.

The killing of dolphins and sharks by shark fisheries is reaching unsustainable levels. Both species are critical to maintaining a healthy ocean and, by extension, the health of the planet as a whole. Dolphins and sharks are apex predators. As their populations decline, fish populations surge. Rising fish populations send ripples down the food chain and lead to the depletion of phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are vital to maintaining the oxygen that humans breathe. Phytoplankton absorb four times the amount of carbon dioxide as the Amazon Rainforest. Additionally, phytoplankton generate fifty percent of the Earth’s oxygen. With the threat of climate change constantly looming, conserving healthy dolphin and shark populations is more important than ever.

Since dolphins are highly migratory species, the conservation of dolphin populations is highly dependent upon international law. Currently, there are no international laws centered around the protection of dolphin species. The International Whaling Commission (“IWC”) is the primary international organization tasked with protecting cetaceans (i.e. whales, dolphins, and porpoises). The IWC, however, only issues binding resolutions regarding the ten “great whale species.” The IWC’s Sub-Committee on Small Cetaceans urged the IWC to amend the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (“ICRW”) to include small cetaceans (i.e. dolphins and porpoises) in 1976. Intense pressure from pro-whaling nations, however, kept small cetacean legislation from receiving the required three-fourths majority. As such, dolphins remain unprotected under international law.

Given the important role dolphins play in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems, the implementation of international legal protections for dolphin species is critical. Relying on countries to enact laws at the national level is not enough. For example, Peru banned dolphin hunts in 1996. Additionally, Peru outlawed dolphin harpoons in 2018. Lack of enforcement, however, allows an upward of 20,000 dolphins to be slaughtered each year. “Yes it is prohibited . . . . Of course, everybody knows about it. But to catch us, the authorities need to come here, search for us, and find use with the dolphins. The likelihood for this to happen is zero.” International laws would put greater pressure on countries to beef up their enforcement procedures, such as monitoring incoming catch at ports.

Shark fisheries kill tens of thousands of dolphins annually, resulting in completely unsustainable population declines. Enactment of legal protections is needed to ensure dolphins roam the oceans for decades to come. For, “[a] world without dolphins . . . isn’t much of a world at all.”

Fur Farming: An Unnecessary and Cruel Industry

Danielle Maffei

Around one hundred million animals are killed annually in the fur trading industry, and they are slaughtered in horribly cruel ways. Animals such as beavers, chinchillas, foxes, minks, rabbits, raccoons and even dogs and cats are purposely bred and slaughtered for their fur in this trading system, and they are confined in small cages, stacked on top of one another, for their entire lives. Being trapped in these small cages not only subdues their natural behaviors, but also may result in mental distress, where they pace and circle frantically, self-mutilation of biting at their skin, tails and feet and even cannibalism, and fighting with others in their cage.

Furthermore, the manner in how they are slaughtered is inhumane and cruel. The animals are gassed, electrocuted, beaten or have their necks broken or their throats cut. Sometimes these animals wake up and are skinned while still alive and in many facilities, workers do not care to confirm that animals were unconscious before severing their heads, breaking their necks or skinning them. Fur farmers are more concerned about preserving the quality of the fur and doing so in the cheapest way possible, so they use slaughter methods that preserve the fur but cause extreme suffering to these animals.

Additionally, animals are trapped and killed in the wild for their fur. Traps also inflict a significant amount of suffering to these animals, whether they are the intended target or not (pets and endangered species are not prone to these traps). These animals are typically trapped for days when caught, unable to move, seek shelter, food or water, and oftentimes, may inflict more injury to themselves to try and escape. Such traps may include steel-jaw traps, which clamp down on an animal and most times cut to the trapped animal’s bone, Conibear traps, which crush their necks with 90 pounds of pressure per square inch, or water-set traps, which leaves animals like beavers struggling for more than nine minutes before drowning them. When the trappers arrive, they will often stomp or beat these animals to death.

Throughout the world, there has been an acknowledgment that there must be change in order to prevent needless and profound suffering in the fur industry to these animals. Over 15 European countries have recognized that these methods to kill animals in fur trading are cruel and inhumane, and have presented legislation to ban or phase out fur farming. Fur farming has been banned in Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands (fox farm and chinchilla farms are banned and mink farms will be phased out by 2024), Northern Ireland, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

Further, there has been progress in the United States. In 2018, both San Francisco and Los Angeles banned fur farms. San Francisco was the first major American city to ban fur sales while Los Angeles was the largest city in the United States, and in the world, to ban fur farms. Following the four cities in its state that prohibited fur sales, California became the first state in the United States to ban fur sales, starting in 2023. Shortly after, a city in Massachusetts became the first city outside of California to ban fur. New York state, also recognizing the suffering animals must endure in fur farms, banned electrocution of fur animals. Bills to ban fur sales have also been presented in five states, including Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii and New York.

Even fashion retailers, such as Nordstrom, Macy’s and Bloomingdales have recognized the needless cruelty of fur farms, and have confirmed they will stop selling products made with animal fur and exotic animal skin. Other top fashion designers, such as Versace, Ralph Lauren and Chanel, have dropped fur from their collections. With these huge retailers and designers banning the sale of fur and exotic animal skin in their stores, they are making a statement to many other fashion businesses and the fashion industry in general that torturing and brutally killing animals for something as needless as fashion is unacceptable.

It is evident that using fur in the industry is inherently cruel, completely unnecessary, avoidable and immoral and for mere human vanity. Fortunately, countries and cities around the world are beginning to understand that fur farming and sales are preventable, and have begun to take action that is needed to stop the inhumane suffering and killings of these innocent animals.

The Link Between Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty

Gabrielle Scibetta

            With families forced to stay home as the pandemic shut down the nation last March, pet sales and adoptions reached new heights. One month into the stay-at-home order, pet sales increased 34% than the year prior (Shelter Animals Count: The National Database). While many have used this unprecedented time to welcome animals into their home, others have resorted to violence – suggesting home may not be the safest place for everyone. Instances of animal cruelty have worsened since the start of the pandemic (News10: Uptick in Animal Cruelty ).  Accordingly, with more people home, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine confirms increased domestic violence, up 18% in San Antonio, 22% in Portland, Ore.; and 10% in New York City. ( TIME: Domestic Violence COVID-19).

 For nearly two decades, researchers have remained committed to exploring the link between cruelty to animals and abuse of humans (Animal Legal Defense Fund). A spokesperson with the Finger Lakes SPCA revealed that “domestic abuse cases and animal cruelty cases are on the uptick…for people already in an abusive situation, that anger and angst come out and it has manifested into abuse of the animals.” (News10: Uptick in Animal Cruelty ). “The Link,” as it has been termed, demonstrates that those who neglect a family pet – through lack of empathy, mental illness or substance abuse, or by failing to provide the requisite care – display an increased likelihood of neglecting the basic needs of other household dependents. (Humane Society).

            A 7-year study led by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell deemed pet abuse one of the four indicators of intimate partner violence. (Animal Welfare Institute). Moreover, 85% of women that enter domestic violence shelters report their partner has abused or killed the family pet. (Humane Society). While the initial signs of animal abuse begin as early as childhood, many adults overlook the warnings as an “exploratory age of development.” As such, the problem endures because prompt recognition of the signs is essential to stopping the cycle of violence and preventing harm in the future (National Link Coalition).

(Chart: “Animal abuse is part of an inter-generational cycle of violence” National Link Coalition )

            Since animals cannot speak and are generally confined to the home, it’s more difficult to identify abuse of animals than humans. Some telling signs of animal cruelty include explanations of accidents that don’t fit with the injuries, lack of concern for the animal’s injury, and appearing malnourished. (Animal Law Info). Furthermore, Research has attempted to identify why animal abuse and family violence are linked. Most often, “abusers kill, hurt or threaten animals to exert power over the human victims and to show them what could happen to them” Other reasons include isolation of the victim and children, enforcing submission, perpetuating fear, prevention of leaving, coercing to return, or punishment. (National Link Coalition).

Organizations like the National Link Coalition are dedicated to raising awareness of the link by “encouraging legislators, community agencies, and caring people to take action” to stop the violence (National Link Coalition). Likewise, the Animal Legal Defense Fund advocates for laws that protect animals and punish animal abusers, explaining “both because animals themselves need protection, and because of the link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans, violence against animals must be taken seriously under the law.” (Animal Legal Defense Fund). By providing the public with educational resources on the link, others can recognize the signs and help stop the cycle of violence.

Over the years, remarkable legal advancements have been made, with all 50 states establishing felony punishments for animal cruelty. On December 20, 2018, the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act was signed into law which “establishes a grant program for entities that provide shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence survivors to enable them to better meet the housing needs of survivors with pets.” By offering a financial incentive to shelters that meet the requirements, countless domestic violence survivors and their pet companions can find safety and get the help and services that they need. (Pet and Women Safety Act ). Now, more than 900 women’s shelters have implemented “Safe Havens” programs that provide shelter to pets of domestic violence victims to keep them out of harm’s way. (Safe Havens Mapping Project).

Correspondingly, 10 states have taken a step in the right direction by enacting statutes that recognize forms of animal abuse as domestic violence.  (National Link Coalition). States will continue to progress as District attorneys’ offices are launching specialized units focused on crimes against animals. There are currently 13 units around the United States, with New York at the forefront introducing units in five counties: Albany, Erie, Nassau, Queens, and Staten Island. (Law Enforcement Agencies Ramp Up Efforts to Address Animal Cruelty ).Understanding the link between animal cruelty and domestic violence has allowed federal and state action to recognize the dangers that victims face and implement action to end the violence.  When people and pets can seek safety from their abusers, thousands of lives are saved.

Is Cruelty Free makeup really Cruelty Free?

Madelin Pereira

Is Cruelty-Free makeup really Cruelty-Free?

Makeup is a billion-dollar business. However, some consumers want to make sure that the products that they use are not tested on animals. Worldwide, there are four organizations that give out licenses to brands so that the consumer market can be guaranteed that the products they are using are made without animal testing. Where this can be confusing, is that each organization has standards and criteria that another doesn’t.

For Example, PETA the world-renowned animal rights organization has a list of companies that are not testing their animals. Essentially companies fill out a questionnaire and then submit a legally binding statement of assurance from the CEO stating that their ingredient suppliers do not test on animals at any part of the manufacturing process. They require detailed paperwork to reach compliance. Further there is a recertification process for companies which allows PETA to remove them if they do not fit within their standards.

In comparison, Cruelty-Free International – is a U.K.-based organization that certifies brands producing cosmetics, personal care, household, and cleaning products. This organization makes sure that these brands do all that they can to remove animal testing from their supply chains. You can tell whether a brand or product fulfills their requirements when you see the leaping bunny on the packaging with the world’s Cruelty-Free International below. Originally created to remove the confusion for people who wanted to shop for cruelty-free products. It is important to note that the Leaping Bunny logo represents that there is no animal testing and not that the products are devoid of animal product or byproduct.

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The organization focuses on the product during the manufacturing stage because this is where animal testing would happen. A monitor is implemented to make sure that the brand has not been a party to experiment of animals during the manufacturing of the product, and that there has not been any testing at any time during the manufacturing. This includes the raw materials and the ingredients. Moreover, an audit is done within the first year of its certification and then done on a continual basis every three years.

So, what happens if a company’s product says ‘not tested on animal but doesn’t have this logo in it?

One of the issues, that arises that although companies may claim that their finished cosmetic product is devoid of animal testing, the company may use raw materials or may have contract laboratories that perform the animal testing. Meaning that although the final product has not been tested on animals, the ingredients in the manufacturing process had been tested on animals. If the Cruelty Free International finds this, then they do not allow them to be Leaping Bunny certified. However, what Cruelty Free International does allow is that brand sell to people in China. While one might think that selling in product is not an issue, the main problem comes from their own laws in what they find acceptable for the civilians in their own country.

            In order for products to be sold in China that were manufactured outside of China, there are laws that require the companies to test on animals. That being said, although products being manufactured within China aren’t subject to the requirements for animal testing this means animal testing might be preferred. However, this requirement is not required if the item is sold over the internet in China. This restriction is for items that are physically sold in stores. So, it important to see who is selling physical product in stores to see whether they are actually cruelty free and made without testing on animals.

            In sum, if someone is actively seeking to make sure that the products they are using are devoid of all animal testing it is important to look at who is giving the certification, what is part of their standards and criteria, and then to seek out products with this labeling. And lastly whether they are sold in China and in what manner. While this can be burdensome, this is required to have the peace of mind that the product that’s we are using have not been tested on animals.

            There are an abundance of different avenues one can take to protect animals, one way to do this is by not supporting brands that continue to test on animals.

For a list of cruelty free brands with the Cruelty Free International seal of approval, see here.

Keep Wild Horses Wild

Ruth Toporoff

What was Intended?

There are more than 30,000 wild horses roaming freely on Government owned and managed land in the USA. The BLM manages more than 245 Million acres of US public land across 10 western states, 26.9 million acres are used for the protection of wild horses.

In 1971, Nixon signed a law called The “Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (.pdf).”(Public Law 92-195). The law unanimously passed by Congress declares wild horses and burros to be “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” It stipulates that the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service have the responsibility to manage and “Protect wild free-roaming horses and burros from capture, branding, harassment, or death. Further, the law stated that wild horses and burros were to be considered an integral part of the natural system of the public lands. The BLM was tasked with the management and enforcement of this law. This meant that BLM would be responsible for the thoughtful and humane management of the horses and burros. Additionally, they would have to prevent the overpopulation and overgrazing of the land.

What is actually happening?

Instead of protection, the BLM has grossly mismanaged their authority by implementing cruel and costly practices that are based on many factors that do not include what is in the best interests of the wild herds they are mandated to protect.

Famously inhumane, is the cruel practice called helicopter roundups with “Helicopter Cowboys”, or low flying helicopters that brutally stampede, capture, and remove wild horses and burros by the thousands. The helicopters chase them sometimes over 20 miles while the horses run at full speed, breaking legs, and falling. Some mothers die and get separated from their foals. Once caught and captured, the horses get packed into pens. Wild horses are not used to being so close together leading them to be stressed, frightened, and longing for the millions of acres that they once lived on. The horses who survive this traumatic experience are stockpiled in government holding pens where they will spend the rest of their lives. It they are not adopted or auctioned off then they are sent through the slaughter pipeline to Canada or Mexico where they become meat or pet food.

The largest helicopter cowboy, Cattoor Livestock Roundup, captured over 200,000 wild horses and burros for the BLM. From 2008-2018, the Cattoors have made $20,462,928 through 159 contracts with the BLM. In addition to the cost of capture, there are costs associated with holding and feeding. Estimates indicate that the overall cost to taxpayers for the federal grazing program could be as much as $500 million annually.

The BLM is highly influenced by the commercial livestock industry. While the BLM claims there are 88,000 wild horses on our western public lands, recent Congressional reports state that there are between 700,000 to 1 million domestic cattle that are permitted to graze. Taxpayer-funded livestock grazing is authorized on over 155 million acres of public land where wild horses are completely absent. Wild horses and burros are authorized to roam just 27 million acres of public land.

By the 1990s, the abuses under the BLM’s adoption program were well known. Undercover articles documented how the BLM had falsified records so officials could sell horses to slaughter by the truckload, circumventing the four-horse-per-person limit. There is little evidence that BLM Management priorities were ever developed to protect wild horses and burros as Congress intended. On the contrary, the defining calculations used to establish population limits and the need for roundups are based on a deep-routed prioritization of ranching and other commercial interests on public lands.

Is there a Solution ?

There are solutions. Proven fertility programs exist that also promote healthy ecosystems by protecting predators and strengthening habitats.  

There’s a birth control vaccine called Porcine Zona Pellucida – PZP, it is a perfect solution to this entire issue. Fertility control programs, using the PZP vaccine provide a safe, humane, cost-efficient and effective alternative to the current wild horse management approach of roundup. It’s used in wildlife populations all the time. The horses get darted once a year and then they would not get pregnant.  Despite this, the agency continues to fail to use it on a scale that will make a difference, and has actually reduced the use of PZP since 2011, choosing instead to spend their money on helicopter roundups. PZP costs $30 a year per horse. 

Currently the BLM spends less than 1 percent of its budget on humane fertility control, while spending at least 72 percent to roundup, remove and stockpile horses. Every year, kill buyers funnel more than a hundred thousand wild horses  into the horse-meat trade for slaughter outside of the US.

PZP is used today to successfully manage 20 wild horse populations in the U.S. and has achieved zero population growth in many of them.

Organizations like the American Wild Horse Campaign that have been fighting for years to save America’s wild horses. They and other boots-on-the-ground wild horse advocacy groups have successfully collaborated on fertility control efforts for years, bringing these programs to several areas across the West. They have implemented the world’s largest fertility control program right here in the U.S. on Nevada’s historic Virginia Range. Their volunteer-based, collaborative program is proof that this fertility control model is effective for humanely managing large wild horse populations in expansive habitat areas.

The government owned land is our land – Mine and yours – to treasure and preserve for generations to come. We control its fate, its existence. When polled, over 80 % of the American public all over the USA, say they want to keep wild horses and burros living free on this land. While there are challenges, for years the BLM have made horrific choices in their  management. Instead of putting provisions in place to protect these horses, they have caused increasing harm and trauma to the herds. These horses were supposed to be protected. Instead they are treated in ways that are inhumane, unsustainable, and makes no financial sense whatsoever. The BLM has forsaken their duty to protect the nation’s treasured and magnificent animals.

It’s Time to Take Animals out of our Cosmetics

Kristin Jones

            Despite numerous advances in technology and the availability of alternatives, animals are still suffering and dying to test shampoo, mascara, and other cosmetic products. Animals such as rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, and rats are subject to invasive tests such as rubbing chemicals onto their skin without pain relief and forcing them to swallow large amounts of chemicals to determine the dose that causes death. Not only is testing cosmetics on animals cruel, but it is also unnecessary as there are already thousands of ingredients that have a history of safe use and do not require additional testing that companies can use. Modern technology has also created other methods such as human cell-based tests and sophisticated computer models to replace outdated animal testing. Nearly 50 non-animal testing methods are already available, and they are often faster, less expensive, and more reliable. Not to mention, non-animal tests can more closely mimic how humans respond to cosmetic ingredients and products since animals often react differently than humans when exposed to the same chemicals. In addition, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), does not even require the use of animal testing to demonstrate that the cosmetics are safer, nor does the Act subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval.

            Animal testing does not and should not need to continue. In fact, many companies, states, and countries have proven that a world without cosmetic animal testing is possible. Large makeup brands such as Tarte, CoverGirl, and Anastasia Beverly Hills do not test on animals, nor do their suppliers. These cruelty-free companies’ success is proof that cosmetic companies can be safe and successful without causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Some states have also taken it upon themselves to ban the sale of most cosmetics tested on animals. California, Nevada, and Illinois were the first states to take the leap, with all three of their bills going into effect on January 1, 2020. California banned the sale of most cosmetics tested on animals when Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act into law. The ban covers both final products and component ingredients developed using animal testing, but only if they were sold in California or tested on animals after the bill went into effect. Nevada was the second state to ban animal testing for cosmetics. Senator Melanie Schieble authorized Senate Bill 197 to prohibit the sale of cosmetic products for which animal testing was performed. However, the bill does provide exemptions for products requiring federal, state, or foreign requirements of animal testing. The third and most recent state to ban cosmetic testing on animals is Illinois which banned the testing through Senate Bill 241 signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker. However, unlike California and Nevada, Illinois’ new law provides additional incentives for cosmetics companies to invest in non-animal alternatives to help them stay competitive in a changing global market while sparing animals from painful tests.

            Other states have shown an initiative towards banning cosmetic testing on animals as well. For example, New Jersey is considering passing the New Jersey Humane Cosmetics Act, which would prohibit the sale of cosmetic products that have been tested on animals. New Jersey has previously enacted a law to limit product-testing on animals where alternative non-animal tests are available, but the New Jersey Humane Cosmetics Act would take this law one step further. Additional states considering a similar ban include Hawaii, Maryland, New York, and Virginia.

            In order to avoid the inconsistency that results from states choosing whether or not to ban cosmetic animal testing, the United States should sincerely consider enacting the Humane Cosmetics Act. The Act would make it unlawful to use animals for cosmetics testing in the United States and will phase out the sale of cosmetics if the final product or any component was subject to new animal testing. Two-thirds of American voters support such an act as they believe it should not be legally allowed to test cosmetics safety on animals in the United States. In addition, Representative Don Beyer is leading the push to enact the Humane Cosmetics Act in the House of Representatives. Senators Martha McSally and Cory Booker are sponsoring the Senate version. The bill is also endorsed by the Personal Care Products Council, the leading national trade association representing cosmetic and personal care products companies. The bill has been reintroduced in the United States with support from the cosmetic industry in 2019, but there has been minimal progress since then.

            In order to protect animals from the unnecessary suffering that results from cosmetic testing, the United States should take action and pass the Humane Cosmetics Act. Although the thought of such a significant change in the cosmetics industry may seem daunting, more than 30 countries, such as the member states of the EU, India, Israel, Norway, and Switzerland, have already prohibited cosmetic testing on animals. In addition, Turkey, South Korea, and Taiwan have passed laws limiting cosmetic animal testing. The success of the ban on cosmetic animal testing in numerous states and countries around the world proves that it is possible. Thus, the United States should take action to ensure that they return to the forefront of cosmetic safety testing and prevent the suffering of any more animals at the hands of the cosmetics industry.

Veganism is Really Friendly to all Animals?

Jennifer Timmons

If I had a dollar for every time that I’m told that I’m not a real animal lover because I eat meat and drink dairy, I would be able to pay for all my law textbooks. In reality, the world has very few options for people who wish to do no harm to any animals through their food habits. Veganism is not one of those options, or at least not a perfect option. Let’s look at all the meat and dairy substitutes and break down how they hurt animals. The most popular substitutes are almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, processed foods (the ones supposedly completely made up of chemicals like those chocolate cookies with white cream sandwiched between them), and impossible meat.

Almond milk is considered one of the standard dairy substitutes. Most of the almonds that go into almond milk are gown in California, a water-strapped region plagued by droughts and fires.  Water is taken from rivers and the delta and moved around the state to irrigate central valley farms. It’s not hard to see the conflict between farmers growing almonds and aquatic ecosystems. One of the most famous instances of farmers and wildlife conflicts is the Natural Resource Counsel’s case involving the listing of Delta Smelt to the endangered species list. On top of the loss of water, a report by the University of San Francisco quoted Forbes saying, “23,000 acres of natural lands have been converted to almond farms. 16,000 of those acres were land previously classified as wetlands. Additionally, some agricultural land has been converted from lower-water crops to almonds.” https://sustainability.ucsf.edu/1.713 Unless you don’t count fish and wetland birds as animals, the harm caused by almond production in California to wildlife is very real.

Soy and oat milk share similar issues as almonds. The conversion of wetlands to farm production (especially for soy) is extensive. Soy is a land consumer and a vast swath of the Amazon has been cleared to grow soybean. https://news.mongabay.com/2019/04/brazil-soy-trade-linked-to-widespread-deforestation-carbon-emissions/ Another problem with both is the amount of pesticide used in these massive monoculture productions. For oats, Well and Good magazine quoted “the US Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program reports to have found seven different pesticide residues in them [oats]” “In addition, these pesticides in oats are impacting the health and well-being of honeybee[s] ***.” https://www.wellandgood.com/is-oat-milk-healthy/#:~:text=2.,and%20they’re%20not%20pretty. Soybeans are considered “Round-Up Ready” which means they can withstand large amounts of herbicides. Soy and oat pesticides make their way into the water system killing fish, amphibians, and creating dead zones.

Coconut milk and processed foods share the same disasters for animals. First, almost all processed foods and many non-food products contain palm oil. Palm oil makes the food last longer, tastes better, and can keep a semi solid state at room temperature. It’s cheap and easy for food processors to work. Both coconuts and palm oil have been criticized for deforestation of the rainforest. Orangutangs, pigmy elephants, and many other iconic rainforest species of Indonesia, India, and the Philippines are killed to keep them from destroying crops and move them off land that will be turned into palm plantations. Coconuts and palm oil are some of the most hotly contested and visible killers of animals and can be found in almost every consumer product. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/28/what-plant-milk-should-i-drink-almond-killing-bees-aoe , https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/which-everyday-products-contain-palm-oil

              Impossible meat is the trendy alternative to meat products. Well, surprise it’s mostly made from soybeans and oils like coconut oil. https://faq.impossiblefoods.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018937494-What-are-the-ingredients-  As stated above soy is problematic for fish, bees, and wetland wildlife, while coconut is a hazard to rainforest wildlife. The trendy meat is highly processed and created with lab formed “heme”, an essential molecule found in every living plant and animal and makes the impossible meat taste like meat.

To sum it all up, choosing what you eat is a personal choice and no matter which choice is chosen, it will have some sort of negative effect on animals. When money is involved, the voiceless are often victimized and wildlife is the primary target. They don’t pay taxes, can’t vote, and don’t show up to city hall with a grudge. Being vegan does not automatically mean that no animals will be harmed by consumptive habits. It is much more complicated than simply saying a person is not going to eat meat and only consume substitutes instead.