Pack Topics: Egg bill amendment rejected; cougars making a comeback

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The US Senate rejected this week a contentious Farm Bill amendment that would have doubled the space in cages for egg-laying hens on factory farms.

The Humane Farming Association (HFA) and another animal-welfare organizations have been speaking out against the amendment, suggesting it would have overturned California’s Prop. 2, while ensuring hens remained caged – as opposed to turning to truly cage-free hens. The HFA was calling it the “Rotten Egg Bill.”

MarketWatch.com also reports the United Egg Producers (UEP) organization is involved in a scandal and along with several egg companies “” has been sued repeatedly for alleged illegal price fixing, paying $25 million to settle allegations that they illegally manipulated the price and supply of eggs under the guise of instituting standards for animal welfare. “”

Priscilla Feral, the president of Friends of Animals, is quoted in the article as saying, “There is no such thing as an ‘enriched’ battery cage.”

I stated before that this might have been a step in the direction, but in light of the scandal information and the possibility that it might very well throw up a roadblock to truly cage-free hens, I’ll have to say it is best that the amendment was defeated. We cannot allow the momentum to slow down for more humane regulations on factory farming.

I hope this next section leads to a more positive outcome for an animal species:

I received a press release this week with the following headline – “Cougars Are Re-Populating Their Historical Range, New Study Confirms”

The release in its entirety –

“” “”
New Evidence Shows How American Big Cats are Reversing 100 Years of Decline

American mountain lions, or cougars, are re-emerging in areas of the United States, reversing 100 years of decline. The evidence, published in The Journal of Wildlife Management, raises new conservation questions, such as how humans can live alongside the returning predators.

“The cougar population declined dramatically from 1900, due to both hunting, and a lack of prey, leaving the remaining population isolated to the American west,” said Michelle LaRue from the University of Minnesota. “Here we present the hard evidence that the western population has spread, with cougar populations re-establishing across the Midwest.”

Three main cougar populations exist in the Midwest centered around The Black Hills in South Dakota, however, cougars are venturing far outside of this range. One male cougar from the Black Hills was found to have traveled 2,900 kilometers through Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York, before ending up in Connecticut.

“While the distance the Connecticut cougar traveled was rare, we found that cougars are roaming long distances and are moving back into portions of their historical range across the Midwest ”, said LaRue. “Our study took in over 3,200,000 Km² of territory, confirming the presence of Cougars from Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska, to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.”

Working alongside scientists from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and The Cougar Network, LaRue and Principal Investigator Dr. Clay Nielsen analyzed cougar sightings which have been reported since the 1990’s to characterize confirmed sightings over time, assess habitat suitability and confirm where cougar populations are being re-established.

Aside from confirmed sightings, the team’s evidence included carcasses, tracks, photos, video, DNA evidence and cases of attacks on livestock across 14 states and provinces of North America. Only sightings which were verified by wildlife professionals were included, while sightings of animals known to be released from captivity were excluded to ensure only natural repopulation was analyzed.

The results reveal 178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest with the number of confirmations steadily increasing between 1990 and 2008. Approximately 62% of confirmed sightings took place within 20km of habitat that would be considered suitable for cougar populations.

When cougar carcasses were recovered 76% were found to be male. As the Connecticut example shows, males are capable of traveling long distances and this finding suggests males are leading a stepping-stone dispersal of the cougar population.

“This evidence helps to confirm that cougars are re-colonizing their historical range and reveals that sightings have increased over the past two decades,” concluded LaRue. “The question now is how the public will respond after living without large carnivores for a century. We believe public awareness campaigns and conservation strategies are required across these states, such as the Mountain Lion response plans already in place in Nebraska and Missouri.”

This research was conducted in partnership with Southern Illinois University Carbondale (http://www.wildlife.siuc.edu ) and The Cougar Network: http://www.cougarnet.org/

This study is published in The Journal of Wildlife Management.

“” “”

With a bit of intelligent educational practices, we can indeed welcome the return of cougars.

Disney film “Chimpanzee” to benefit Jane Goodall Institute

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The must-see film of the year will be “Chimpanzee” – a nature documentary from Disneynature. Mother Nature Network reports a portion of first week’s (April 20-26, 2012) box office sales will be donated to the Jane Goodall Institute and will help preserve vital habitat for chimps.

The opening corresponds with Earth Day 2012 and donation will be made through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. This is such an important mission, to preserve habitat for Chimps – our nearest relative in the animal kingdom.

Chimpanzees are endangered and what a horrible tragedy it would be to allow greed to wipe these or another species off the face of the Earth.
The film follows the happenings in the live of one little chimp named Oscar.

Off Topic (kinda): Montana Supreme Court earns a Pack of Justice Award

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The Montana Supreme Court has upheld a long-time ban on corporate spending in state and local political campaigns – putting this court directly across the legal boxing ring from the US Supreme Court and its horrible Citizens United ruling.

I don’t know anything about this state Supreme Court, other than this news. But for this decision they more than deserve a Pack of Justice Award.

The Citizens United ruling by the US court was one of the worst of all time. Those great words in the preamble to the Constitution read – “We the people” – not “We the corporations.”

We’re already seeing the horrible results in the Republican presidenti­al race. The Republican candidates without Super PACs to back them are playing against a stacked deck.
How does all this relate to animals? – BIG MONEY donations can certainly impact the environment and wildlife, if polluting corporations are able have an even greater hand in buying new legislation or in basically bribing elected officials to weaken or drop environmental regulations or drop protections for wildlife or wildlife habitat.
Hurray for the Montana Supreme Court.

Sunday Commentary: Things we should all agree on

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The return of Sunday Commentary – I’m bringing back this regular feature. Today the topic is common ground, or what should be common ground for all.

The subject came to mind after reading a New York Times article about a pipeline company’s attempts to use the power of eminent domain to take land for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline would transport oil from the tar sands of Canada all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s a dirty proposition, in more ways than one. But the idea that a private company can use eminent domain to take property is incredibly dirty. Of course, recent federal court rulings support this twisted use of the power. But companies like TransCanada or US companies should never be allowed to use eminent domain to take land – for a for-profit venture.

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PM Pack-Line Headlines: Topics – puppy mills, tame deer shooting in NC, wildlife habitat

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ONE – Alleged puppy mill operator charged in Kentucky

A woman in Kentucky faces 46 counts of animal cruelty after officials seized 118 dogs from her mobile home. Officials with the Rowan County animal shelter note “the dogs were found in filthy and dangerous living conditions” according to an article posted on WTVQ.com.

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Interesting comment on TV this morning

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I happened to walk past the TV today as one of the morning news shows was playing a segment on a legal subject. I’m not sure about the specific topic of discussion, other than it was a legal matter. (I didn’t have time to stop and watch the entire segment.)

But one phrase caught my attention and when I reached my desk, I jotted it down so I wouldn’t forget it. “Ethically intelligent” was the phrase the person being interviewed used. He was suggesting that some action might be legal, but not ethically intelligent.

What a great phrase. In too many ways, the world and our own country has degraded – morally and ethically. I’m talking specifically here about GREED. As I’ve noted on a number of occasions, GREED is one of the worst ills we’re facing right now.

Why do I write about GREED (in all caps) on an animal-welfare blog? Because along with the obvious negative impacts on humans, GREED is the key player in wildlife habitat destruction, the horrors of puppy mills, dog fighting, the on-going devastation to the Earth’s rainforests, the number of animals on the endangered species list, global climate change and more.

Take the Rhino for example. Some people are willing to wipe these great animals off the face of the Earth to profit on the material in their horns. Others are more than willing to send sharks into extinction to produce shark fin soup. And what if they killed the last shark and the last rhino tomorrow? –  These greed-soaked and greed-stained individuals would only consider it a loss in short-term profit.

Greed is not ethically intelligent. Killing off species of animals is not ethically intelligent. Torturing animals for any reason is not ethically intelligent. Destroying vital wildlife habitat is not ethically intelligent. These things are not intelligent in any way – ethically, morally or otherwise.

Bachmann completely wrong about the EPA

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I really don’t like stepping into politics here on the Pack Mentality Blog. But if anyone from any area of the political spectrum makes statements that directly step into the realm of animal welfare or environmental protection – I’m certainly not going to ignore it.

I’ve slammed Ken Salazar for targeting wolves – and other boneheaded anti-environmental or anti-animal moves by the Obama administration. Today, it’s presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann, who thinks the doors to the Environmental Protection Agency should be locked down.

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Video: “The Dirty Truth” about Canada’s tar sands

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On a scale of importance of 1 to 10, this video is a 10.

Once again, we see an example of corporations infiltrating a government and basically pulling the strings that guide elected officials. We see it happening in the United States and it is happening in Canada as well – in this case of tar sands and in the Canadian government’s support – full support – of the brutal beating death of thousands of seal pups each year.

As Ross Perot might put it, that sucking sound from the Canadian tar sands is rising profit for oil companies, in conjunction with the death of wildlife and the degradation of the Boreal Forest of Alberta.

And that is only part of this horror story.

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Protest planned near the White House on the topic of tar sands pipeline

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Protesters are planning large demonstrations outside the White House, to draw attention to the proposed tar sand pipeline. The 1,600-mile pipeline would transport oil from the tar sands of Alberta down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Guardian out of the UK reports – “” Greenhouse gas emissions of tar sands crude are 40% higher than conventional oil, and the open-pit mining has devastated Alberta’s boreal forest. “”

Scheduled to begin today, the protests are being called the “biggest green civil disobedience campaign in a generation.”

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