In this episode, find out the latest victory against dog meat in South Korea, and why the battle is still far from over. Also discover…
…why Colorado is killing bears and mountain lions as an “experiment” on deer populations
…how the last member of Yellowstone’s famous Druid Peak wolf pack met his end
…what the European Union just did to protect deep sea fish in the North Atlantic
…why a department store in Finland is facing political backlash for dropping fur products
…how fur farming in Japan came to a permanent end
…why Egypt has agreed to kill donkeys and export their hides to China
…why wildlife rangers in the Congo and around the world are being murdered by poachers
…and how a province in Pakistan defied rich and powerful hunters to protect an endangered bird!
Research by Kim Rogers Bartlett
Presentation & editing by Wolf Gordon Clifton
Theme music: “Praetor,” courtesy Ross Bugden: <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQKGLOK2FqmVgVwYferltKQ/>
Hello! I’m Wolf, like the animal, reporting for Animal People World News.
COLORADO KILLS PUMAS AND BEARS FOR EXPERIMENT
In the U.S. state of Colorado, up to twenty-five black bears and fifteen pumas, or mountain lions, will be killed in the next year, as an experiment aimed at increasing the number of mule deer. Colorado’s deer population has fallen to four hundred and fifty thousand, more than a hundred thousand fewer than wildlife officials deem optimal. Last week, state wildlife commissioners voted unanimously to test whether killing off deer’s natural predators would increase the species’ numbers, despite opposition from activists, members of the general public, and scientists. In a letter to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, biologists from Colorado State University wrote,
“We find it surprising that CPW’s own research clearly indicates that the most likely limiting factors for mule deer are food limitation, habitat loss and human-induced disturbance – not predators. … predator control is a costly and ineffective management tool to increase mule deer populations.”
Despite evidence that oil and gas development has had a major impact on deer populations, state wildlife officials did not oppose plans earlier this year to allow construction of fifteen thousand new oil and gas wells within mule deer habitat. CPW receives ninety percent of its funding from hunting and fishing licenses. Hunters already kill more than a thousand bears, and close to five hundred pumas every year across Colorado.
LAST YELLOWSTONE ‘DRUID’ WOLF KILLED BY HUNTER
Big Brown, the last member of Yellowstone National Park’s famous Druid Peak wolf pack, has been killed by a hunter in Montana. The Druid Peak pack originated in British Columbia, Canada, but was captured and introduced to Yellowstone in the mid 1990s, in an effort to repopulate the species after it was wiped out by government-sponsored hunting. The pack grew to nearly forty members, one of the largest wolf packs ever recorded, and became famous among visitors to Yellowstone. Big Brown, officially known as Wolf 778M, was born to the Druid pack in 2007, but left to start a new pack, becoming its alpha male in 2009. The other Druid wolves perished over the next several years, ravaged by disease, rival packs, and other natural causes. When Big Brown’s mate died in 2013, he left his new pack and wandered north of the park’s borders into Montana, where he was shot to death last month. Montana has held a legal wolf hunt every year since 2011, when wolves were stripped of endangered species protection throughout the northern United States. More than two hundred individuals were killed in Montana last year.
E.U. BANS DEEP SEA FISHING IN NORTH ATLANTIC
The European Union voted last week to ban fishing below a depth of eight hundred meters in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean. The ban is intended to protect vulnerable seabed ecosystems from bottom trawling, in which vast nets are dragged along the ocean floor entrapping everything in their path. The new law also includes protections for ecosystems between four hundred and eight hundred meters, setting maximum catches for certain vulnerable species and requiring any vessel that exceeds these to stop fishing and change locations immediately.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ 2016 world fisheries report, ninety percent of all fish stocks worldwide are now either fully or over-fished. Recent scientific discoveries have challenged assumptions that fish are less sentient than other vertebrates. Tuskfish and cod can use tools. Groupers, trout, wrasse, and moray eels cooperatively hunt, using body language to communicate. One species, the manta ray, can even recognize itself in a mirror, a measure commonly used by scientists to test for self-awareness in animals.
FINNISH STORE FACES BACKLASH FOR DROPPING FUR
In Finland, the department store Sokos recently announced that they would no longer sell fur products. In a statement issued on December eighth, Sokos explained that,
“It is important to us that our range has animal products and raw materials that meet the highest standards of animal rights and we take care of animals’ welfare.”
Politicians from Finland’s Centre Party reacted angrily to the change, claiming that it would hurt domestic fur farmers and cause companies to outsource fur production to other countries with lower animal welfare standards. They urged that people boycott Sokos unless the store resume selling fur products. Sokos responded by dropping any mention of animal rights or welfare from their original announcement, editing it to say,
“[We have] no policy on domestic fur production… the decision about our selection was made solely on the basis of customer demand and the independent retail considerations.”
Sokos added that if demand for fur picked up again, they might resume selling it. But this is unlikely, they said, as the market for fur has been declining in Finland for years.
LAST FUR FARM CLOSES IN JAPAN
In Japan, domestic fur production recently ended with a whimper rather than a bang, as the country’s last fur farm went out of business. It has been illegal to open new fur farms in Japan since 2006, when the Invasive Alien Species Act banned commercial breeding of mink, raccoon, and coypu, or river rats. Mink farms built prior to 2006 were allowed to continue operations, but as Japanese demand for fur has fallen over the years, all but a single farm in Niigata Prefecture have gone out of business. The Otsuka mink farm had received multiple warnings from the government concerning poor animal welfare standards and escaped mink in the surrounding area. Unable to afford the upgrades necessary to meet legal requirements, the farm instead ceased operations, bringing all fur farming in Japan to a permanent end. Imports of fur from other countries remain legal, but have dropped by some eighty percent over the past ten years.
DOG SLAUGHTER TO END AT KOREA’S MORAN MARKET
Dogs will no longer be slaughtered in South Korea’s infamous Moran Market, according to a new agreement between the city of Seongnam and the market’s twenty-two dog meat vendors. The vendors will remove all slaughter facilities and dog cages by early May, transitioning to new businesses with financial assistance from the government. Until now, Moran has been the largest dog meat market in South Korea, selling some eighty thousand dogs, or one third of the country’s total supply, each year. Said mayor Lee Jae-Myung, quoting Mahatma Gandhi,
“Seongnam City will take the initiative to transform South Korea’s image since ‘the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’”
Yet despite this major victory, the battle to end cruelty at Moran and throughout South Korea remains far from over. For one, the agreement does not cover other species sold and killed at the market. Says Kim Bartlett, president of Animal People, who photographed the abuse and slaughter of dogs and other animals in Moran Market in 2000,
“I am glad if they will no longer slaughter dogs in Moran Market. But what about the other animals: cats, rabbits, ducks, chickens, reptiles, fish, and amphibians? The cats suffered even worse than the dogs. They had vats of boiling water which they dropped the cats into with tongs. The rabbits they killed by disemboweling. There were reptiles lying out in the hot sun, and the ducks and chickens were treated typically, but still horrifically.”
Since the agreement only prohibits the slaughter of dogs at Moran, it also does not prevent selling dog meat sourced from elsewhere at the market. Technically, dog meat is already illegal throughout South Korea, since dogs are not legally classified as livestock. However, the government has to date never enforced a ban, and cannot impose welfare regulations except by legalizing the dog meat industry.
Mayor Lee Jae-Myung, who pushed to end dog slaughter at Moran, is currently running to become President of South Korea in the 2017 elections. Seongnam City is reportedly seeking a permanent solution to the problem of dog meat, and will host a public conference on the issue next month.
Rumor has it that Korean dog meat consumers may soon find a new supply in Egypt. The Middle Eastern news outlet Al Arabiya reports that Egypt is considering requests from South Korea to export stray dogs for slaughter. However, Egypt’s Korean Embassy and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency were both unfamiliar with such a deal, telling The Korea Times that if Al Arabiya’s report is true, it probably involves unofficial discussions between private businesses, without government backing.
EGYPT TO EXPORT DONKEY HIDES TO CHINA
Egypt will soon begin exporting animal products elsewhere in Asia, having reached a deal with China to supply donkey hides. According to the Egyptian Leather Export Council, the donkeys will be slaughtered within Egypt, and their meat used to feed zoo and circus animals. This contradicts earlier reports that the donkeys would be exported live, as per an edict from the Islamic university Al-Azhar forbidding their slaughter by Muslims.
China has increasingly sought to supply donkey products from various countries in Africa. Gelatin made from donkey skin is used in traditional medicine, and donkey meat is a delicacy in some regions of China. However, China’s own donkey population has fallen as rural communities replace working animals with machines, requiring imports from abroad to meet the demand.
Egypt now joins Kenya and South Africa in embracing donkey slaughter for the Chinese export market. Burkina Faso and Niger, on the other hand, have banned export of donkeys and their products abroad.
WILDLIFE RANGERS KILLED IN LINE OF DUTY
Wildlife ranger Patrick Muhayirwa was murdered by poachers last week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park. The park is home to mountain gorillas, elephants, and other species critically endangered by poaching. Muhayirwa, who had only recently joined the park’s ranger service, was killed in an ambush by members of the Mai Mai militia group, which profits off wildlife poaching. He is the latest of more than one hundred and fifty rangers to be killed in Virunga National Park in the last decade, and one of more than a hundred murdered every year worldwide. According to a recent study by the World Wildlife Fund, nearly seventy percent of rangers have been attacked by poachers, but only forty percent have access to proper equipment and amenities to protect themselves. According to Peter Newland, co-founder of the group For Rangers,
“Donors outside of Africa want to see sexy, high-tech solutions like drones and ground sensors, not to hear about the need for warm clothing, boots and better food for rangers. … Large non-governmental groups spend huge amounts, yet there are rangers calling me for socks.”
PAKISTAN PROVINCE BANS ILLEGAL BUSTARD HUNTS
Finally, Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has taken a stand to prohibit hunting of the rare Houbara bustard. The bird is classified as Vulnerable to extinction on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Pakistani citizens have been banned from hunting Houbara bustards since 1972. Nonetheless, Pakistan has continued to issue hunting licenses to wealthy officials from allied countries in the region, permitting up to one hundred bustard kills per hunter. Politicians have long defended the practice as important to maintaining good economic relations with allies. Yet after denying hunting permits to a group of princes from Qatar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently announced that bustard hunts would no longer be allowed for anyone. In banning Houbara bustards from being killed for sport, the province sent a powerful message that it values protection of wildlife above special treatment for the rich and powerful.
This report covers just a few of the countless issues facing animals worldwide. More information can be found on the Animal People Forum, our online magazine and social networking site for people who care about animals. Sign up at animal people forum dot org, and don’t forget to like and subscribe for future episodes of Animal People World News. Together we can help create a kinder world for all living creatures! Thank you.