Death Penalty Rats Try to Hide in Shadows

Opponents of capital punishment in the United States have had some success in pressuring the companies that make the drugs used in lethal injections.

Just this week, Oklahoma had to delay two executions because of a shortage of pentobarbital, which it uses in executions. The manufacturer of pentobarbital, Netherlands-based Lundbeck, banned the sale of the drug for use in executions after a public outcry in that country.

In response, some states that still allow capital punishment are considering laws that would prevent disclosure of the drugs used in lethal injections and the names of suppliers who provide those drugs. The Alabama House, for example, approved a bill that would amend the state’s capital punishment statue to include the following,

The name, address, qualifications, and other identifying information of any person or entity that manufactures, compounds, prescribes, dispenses, supplies, or administers the drugs or supplies utilized in an execution shall be confidential, shall not be subject to disclosure, and shall not be admissible as evidence or discoverable in any action of any kind in any court or before any tribunal, board, agency, or person. The same confidentiality and protections shall also apply to any person who participates in an execution or performs any ancillary function related to an execution and shall include information contained in any departmental records, including electronic records, that would identify the person.

Gotta keep that death machine moving any way they can.

PETA Asks Alabama … Umm, Make that Alaska … To Ban Salmon Fishing

In February, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Alabama Governor Frank Murkowski a letter asking that Murkowski put a stop to salmon fishing in that state. There was just one tiny little problem — Murkowski’s the governor of Alaska.

But that didn’t stop PETA’s Karin Robertson from addressing Murkowski as the “Governor of Alabama” in its letter asking the governor to, “. . . declare King Salmon, the state fish, off limits to fishing.”

Regardless of the confusion over states, Murkowski wasn’t having any of it. His press secretary, Becky Hultberg, told the Anchorage Daily News that the governor would like to see an increase in the king salmon catch,

We’d like to see more king salmon on the dinner plates of people on the East Coast. This clearly shows how out of touch this organization [PETA] is with the people of Alaska.

Bruce Friedrich told the Anchorage Daily News that this was simply a publicity stunt (what a shocker),

We hope that everybody will find it to be provocative and think about why we would ask the governor to take this step. The reality is that fish are interesting individuals and feel pain every bit as much as dogs and cats.

So this is murder, right?

And yet PETA doesn’t want to let us shoot these killers to defend the poor salmon.

Friedrich adds that instead of salmon, people should, “Try walnuts and spinach.” Sure Bruce, just as soon as you talk that bear into a “cruelty-free” diet.


PETA seeks statewide king fishing ban. Peter Porco and Doug O’Harra, Anchorage Daily News, February 19, 2005.

PETA tries to outlaw catching, eating of salmon. Yvonne Ramsay, KTUU.Com, February 18, 2005.

Alabama Moves Toward Loosening Hunting Regulations

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources sparked controversy this week with proposed changes to hunting regulations designed to increase hunting participate in Alabama.

According to the Associated Press, hunting is a $3 billion industry in Alabama, but sales of hunting licenses have apparently fallen in the state over the past few years. According to the Associated Press, last year the state sold 432,000 hunting licenses out of a state population of approximately 4.3 million.

In May of this year, the Conservation Advisory Board approved a number of changes in hunting regulations including,

  • Allowing decoys during the spring turkey season
  • Approving the general use of crossbows, which had previously been limited to disabled hunters
  • Allowing sights on muzzleloaders, and assigning 5 additional muzzleloading hunting days taht had previously been reserved for traditional bow hunting

A number of news stories by the Associated Press claimed there was opposition from hunters to the changes, though the news stories didn’t actually quote any hunters or hunter groups expressing said opposition.

According to the Associated Press,

But that didn’t blunt the broader criticism that loosening the regulations would give hunters an unfair advantage over their prey. And some traditional bow hunters are still angry about the approval of crossbows – which they claim really are firearms – and about losing part of their season to muzzleloaders.

As I’ve written before, the fairness issue just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless the technology is to the point where using it might actually lead to taking too many animals, but as one hunter said in the Associated Press story, there’s plenty of deer and turkeys in Alabama to go around.


Alabama Hunting Regulations Spark Debate. Jay Reeves, Associated Press, August 23, 2004.

Alabama State Senator Introduces Deer Baiting Bill

Alabama state Sen. Myron Penn recently introduced a bill in that state’s legislature that would make it legal for hunters to bait deer.

Penn said the change is needed to keep Alabama hunters from going to other states to hunt,

In this part of the state, hunting is king where cotton used to be. So many government officials are spending all of their time today trying to bring new industries to their towns, but I think the first thing we have to do is make the most of what we’ve already got. We have great hunting opportunities here, and we can’t make the most of them with so many people traveling out of state to hunt in places where baiting is already legal.

According to the Ledger-Enquirer, 26 states currently allow baiting of deer, including Alabama neighbor Georgia.

Groups opposed to baiting, such as the Alabama Wildlife Foundation, argue that baiting increases the risk of spreading diseases such as chronic wasting disease. According to the Foundation,

Wildlife research has shown that baiting deer causes them to unnaturally concentrate around baited areas. This increases the likelihood of spreading diseases between animals by direct contact and through eating bait contaminated with disease causing agents shed in feces, saliva or other excretions.

Penn, however, points out that supplemental feeding of deer is legal when hunting season is out, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that such supplemental feeding has increased the spread of disease among deer.

The full text of the bill can be read here.


SB49/HB518 – It’s a Bad Bill Don’t Take The Bait!. Press Release, Alabama Wildlife Foundation, Undated.

Proposed idea up for de-bait. Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Alabama), January 25, 2004.

Alabama SB 49 — Baiting of Hunted Animals

62645-2:n:01/27/2004:FC/ll LRS2004-381R1

By Senator Penn
RFD Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry
Rd 1 03-FEB-04

SYNOPSIS: Under existing law, by regulation of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, hunting of game may not take place where feeding has taken place until all feed has been removed or consumed for at least 10 days prior to hunting.
This bill would provide for the voluntary feeding of game by spincast, broadcast, or any other container feeder at any time during the year and would require permits for use of each feeder. This bill would not affect the ability of a person to operate a feeder for purposes other than hunting game.
The bill would set the amount of the fee for a permit for each feeder and provide for the deposit of the funds in the Game and Fish Fund of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The bill would also provide penalties for violations.
Amendment 621 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 prohibits a general law whose purpose or effect would be to require a new or increased expenditure of local funds from becoming effective with regard to a local governmental entity without enactment by a 2/3 vote unless: it comes within one of a number of specified exceptions; it is approved by the affected entity; or the Legislature appropriates funds, or provides a local source of revenue, to the entity for the purpose.
The purpose or effect of this bill would be to require a new or increased expenditure of local funds within the meaning of Amendment 621. However, the bill does not require approval of a local governmental entity or enactment by a 2/3 vote to become effective because it comes within one of the specified exceptions contained in Amendment 621.


To provide for the feeding of game by spincast, broadcast, or any container feeders; to require a permit for each spincast, broadcast, or container feeder; to prescribe the fees for each permit; and to prescribe penalties for violation of the act; to supersede Sections 9-11-244 and 9-11-245, Code of Alabama 1975, for any activity in compliance with this act; and in connection therewith would have as its purpose or effect the requirement of a new or increased expenditure of local funds within the meaning of Amendment 621 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901.


Section 1. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources shall allow the feeding of game by spincast, broadcast, or container feeders and shall issue permits for spincast, broadcast, or container feeders each year for the entire year. For the purposes of this act, the term “game feeder” shall mean only a spincast, broadcast, or container game feeder.

Section 2. The judge of probate, license commissioner, or other county official who issues licenses in the county may be duly appointed by the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources to issue permits pursuant to this act. All permits issued shall be dated when issued and shall authorize the individual named on the permit to operate a game feeder for the feeding of game during hunting season or for one calendar year. The permits shall be numbered consecutively at the time they are printed and shall be furnished by the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources. The issuing official shall sign the permit and the individual requesting the permit shall also sign on the margin of the permit. The official issuing the permit shall keep in a book or on specially prepared sheets furnished by the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources a correct and complete record of all permits issued, which record shall remain in the office of the issuing official and shall be open to inspection by the public at all reasonable times.

Section 3. (a) An individual may procure a separate permit to operate each game feeder by filing an application with the county license issuing official in the county in which the feeder will be located, stating his or her name, age, place of residence, and mailing address. The individual receiving a permit shall be issued a numbered decal to be placed on the game feeder to correspond with the number of the permit. The cost for issuance of a permit to operate a game feeder effective for one year shall be twenty dollars ($20). This permit may only be purchased each year from February 1st through March 15th.

(b) In addition to the prescribed cost of each permit in subsection (a), there shall be a five dollar ($5) issuance fee for each permit issued, to be collected by the issuing official and retained by the official to be paid into the general fund of the county issuing the permit.

Section 4. The use of each feeder permitted pursuant to this act shall be subject to all of the following:

(1) The contents of a game feeder shall contain at least 20 percent protein.

(2) No game feeder permit shall be issued to be operated upon any privately owned land without the written consent of the owner or individual in lawful possession of the land.

(3) No buck harvested using this feeding program may have less than three one-inch points above the hairline on one side. However, this restriction does not apply to hunters under the age of 16 or a licensed hunter who is legally handicapped.

(4) No feeder may be placed within 500 feet of a public road.

(5) The requirements of this act are for hunting purposes only. This act does not affect or place obligations on any person that desires to feed game for any reason other than hunting.

(6) Each feeder shall be located within 100 yards of a prepared seedbed food plot or green field during the deer season and the field shall be at least 1/4 of an acre in size. A waiver of this requirement may be applied for with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on leased property that has a written prohibition on the clearing of land.

(7) Each feeder shall be located at least 300 feet from any adjacent property line.

(8) Feeders used on property during deer or turkey season may not be hunted over. A hunter may not hunt within a minimum of 100 yards from any grain broadcast or the feeder shall be out of the hunter’s line of sight.

Section 5. A violation of this act constitutes a misdemeanor, and upon conviction, an individual shall be fined not less than three hundred dollars ($300) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500) for each violation.

Section 6. All revenue received from fees under this act shall be forwarded by the issuing official to the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources on the first day of each month and shall be deposited into the Game and Fish Fund of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. All revenue received from fines and penalties for violations of this act shall be forwarded to the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources by the trial court on the first day of each month to be deposited into the Game and Fish Fund of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Section 7. The Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources may promulgate rules and regulations to carry out this act. In addition to this authority, the State Veterinarian in agreement with the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries and the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources may declare an emergency because of disease or other outbreak and suspend this feeding program.

Section 8. This act is voluntary for hunters. Hunters not wanting to participate are under no obligations or restrictions of this act.

ction 9. Although this bill would have as its purpose or effect the requirement of a new or increased expenditure of local funds, the bill is excluded from further requirements and application under Amendment 621 because the bill defines a new crime or amends the definition of an existing crime.

Section 10. All laws or parts of laws which conflict with this act are repealed. Sections 9-11-244 and 9-11-245, Code of Alabama 1975, shall not apply to any activity in compliance with this act.

Section 11. This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.

New Charges Made in Alabama Greyhound Killings

One of the more shocking incidents of alleged animal cruelty this year was the discovery of a mass grave of 2,000 to 3,000 greyhounds in Alabama. In October and November, several arrests were made in that case.

In May 2002, Robert L. Rhodes, 68, was arrested and charged with violating Alabama’s animal cruelty statutes. Rhodes worked as a security at a greyhound track in Florida and admitted to killing the greyhounds over a period of 40 years.

Rhodes killed with animals with a shot to the head from a .22 caliber, and sometimes took $10/dog from owners to kill the animals. Police believe that individuals at various greyhound race tracks throughout Florida shipped animals to Rhodes to be killed.

Rhodes defense is that shooting the animals once in the head is not cruel under Alabama laws.

In November three Florida residents were arrested in the case and a fourth is wanted but has not yet been located. Ursula O’Donnell was arrested at Melbourne Greyhound Park in Melbourne; Paul Discolo Jr. was arrested at Ebro Greyhound Park in Chipley; and John W. Smith was arrested in Marathon.

Alabama plans to ask for the four individuals to be extradited to that state for prosecution. The indictments against the Floridians charges them with committing torture against the dogs.


Greyhounds killing probe brings additional arrests. Associated Press, November 8, 2002.

More Arrests in Case of Thousands of Slain Greyhounds; HSUS Says Deaths Indicative of Inherent Cruelties in Greyhound Racing. Humane Society of the United States, Press Release, November 8, 2002.