Activists Complain about Mitt Romney’s Canned Hunt

Animal rights activists are up in arms after Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney bagged some quail on a hunting trip while on a trip to Georgia.

According to the Boston Herald,

. . . the political outing backfired when it was revealed the birds had been fenced in.

Humane Society of the United States’ Michael Markarian complained about Romney hunting at the Cabin Bluff animal preserve, telling the Boston Herald,

Many of these private hunting preserves are basically providing drive-through killing animal opportunities. These animals are often tamed and bred on the property, fed by people and accustomed to people. They have no chance of escape. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokeswoman Jennifer McClure told the Boston Herald,

Stalking and shooting animals is a cowardly, violent form of recreation, and if Romney wants to keep his political career alive, then he should stop supporting this dying blood sport.

Right, because hunting really killed the careers of politicians such as George W. Bush and John F. Kerry.

Anyway, opponents of such animal preserves like to call them canned hunts or refer, as the Boston Herald does, to the fact that the animals are fenced in. But this sort of criticism is silly in the case of preserves like Cabin Bluffs which sits on no less than 45,000 acres.

That’s one incredibly large can.

Source:

Mitt under fire for hunt: Romney catches flak after quail kill. Dave Wedge, Boston Herald, January 5, 2006.

Massachusetts Activists Protest Geese Hunt at Golf Course

The Boston Globe reported that about 15 members of Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition showed up at the Braintree, Mass., municipal golf course to protest a decision by that city’s Board of Selectman allowing the shooting of Canadian geese to reduce the number that try to make the golf course home.

According to the Globe, the activists carried signs reading, “Stop the Slaughter” and “No Blood for Golf.” MARC member Jordan Gallagher told the Globe (emphasis added),

I love the geese. I know they go to the bathroom here and there, but there are other ways of removing them. When man has a problem today, whether it’s wolves, bears, or birds, the first thing they do is kill.

Maybe Gallagher’s got a point — perhaps instead of killing first, “man” should dispatch Gallagher to open diplomatic negotiations with the wolves and bears.

But lets consider his point about the geese going to the bathroom here and there. According to the Globe, as many as 100 to 400 geese show up on the golf course. Each of these geese, again according to the Globe, can produce anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds of feces each day.

Studies have shown that feces from Canadian geese pose a serious risk to human health. A 2002 study (PDF) of samples of Canadian geese fecal matter found that overall 25 percent of such samples contained pathogenic e. coli.

In the case of the Braintree golf course, the issue of diseases carried by the hundreds of pounds of geese feces is amplified because the golf course is part of a larger athletic field which regularly hosts sports programs for children.

As Charles Kokoros, chairman of the Braintree Board of Selectman, told the Globe,

It’s just way too many feces. It’s impossible to clean up and they spread disease. There are kids out there rolling in it, tackling in it. It isn’t healthy.

Which is why the Board has annually allowed the shooting of the geese annually since 1995.

But, in the typical animal rights formulation, to the activists this is an example of how human beings should put aside disease concerns in favor of the animals. MARC member Steve Rayshick told the Globe,

I think we need to recognize that these are wildlife and this is their habitat.

No, the golf course and athletic field are part of the human habitat; the animal rights activist just need to recognize that and accept the need to minimize the risk of disease in that habitat.

Sources:

Prevalence of Escherichia coli serogroups and human virulence factors in faeces of urban Canada geese (Branta canadenses). (PDF) Kullas, H., et al, International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 12, 153-162 (2002).

Avian Diseases: Carriage of Bacterial Pathogens by Canada Geese and Blackbirds. USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services, Accessed: December 11, 2005.

In Braintree, activists protest goose hunt on golf course. Tracy Jan, Boston Globe, December 11, 2005.

Effort Underway to Put Greyhound Racing Ban on Massachusetts Ballot in 2006 or 2008

Anti-greyhound racing group Grey2K USA recently filed proposed language for a ballot question to ban greyhound racing Massachusetts.

The proposed ballot initiative was filed with the state’s attorney general. If the language of the proposal passes muster with the attorney general’s office, proponents of the ban will have to gather 66,000 signatures to place the initiative in either the 2006 or 2008.

In 2000, Massachusetts voters rejected a similar ballot initiative in a very close vote.

Source:

Petition to ban greyhound racing is off and running. Emelie Rutherford, Daily News Staff, August 4, 2005.

Mary Max: Stop Making Fun of the Sharks

Every year for the past two decades, the Boston Big Game Fishing Club has run its Monster Shark Tournament. Fifty to sixty boats compete to capture the largest shark.

This year’s contest made national news when one competitor captured an almost-1,200 pound tiger shark, although the shark was brought back into the harbor six minutes too late to qualify for the tournament. Still, such a big catch brought national stories and an appearance for the crew on the Today Show.

That offended animal rights activist Mary Max who posted an e-mail complaining that, “NBC makes fun of shark suffering.” It said, in part (emphasis added),

Please send an e-mail to the Today Show at today@nbc.com to let them know how
appalled you are by the story they aired on the 8:00am half hour segment,
Thursday, July 21, about the brutal killing of a shark at an annual shark killing
contest off the coast of MarthaÂ’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

In the segment, the four men who caught the almost 1200lb. shark gushed over
their kill. By the men’s own description, the shark suffered horribly,
struggling for hours, being gaffed again and again, until he was finally dragged on
board, thrashing for air. (Especially chilling was the laughter and
congratulations from the people standing around watching this magnificent creature being
tortured.)

Please let the Today show know that it is bad enough that certain individuals
like to bash sharks for behavior that is completely natural, but it is even
more disconcerting to see a highly regarded show join in on “the fun” by
making light of the shark’s suffering.

The Humane Society of the United States chimed in as well, complaining in a press release that,

“Contest killing of sharks or any animal is an affront to a civilized society,” said Dr. John Grandy, senior vice president for HSUS wildlife programs. “In this case it contributes to further declines in shark populations while adding to the stigma that surrounds these magnificent predators.”

“Shark killing contests should go the way of the bison killing contests of old. They perpetuate cruel and unnecessary treatment of some of the most ancient and fascinating of the ocean’s creatures,” Grandy said. “Many shark species, including blue and thresher sharks, have suffered dramatic population declines and can ill-afford to be the target of this sort of dubious enterprise.”

Of course, the Humane Society of the United States forgot to mention that the annual contest is carried out with the approval of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and actually benefits that public agency.

Gregory Skomal, a shark expert with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, told the Associated Press that many of the sharks end up with his agency after the tournament,

You have to kill them to do the samples that produce the best scientific data. We do the same for other fisheries as well. If the shark tournament goes away, we lose an avenue into this type of science.

The meat from the huge tiger shark that was six minutes late was donated to the Long Island Council of Churches.

Sources:

The HSUS Issues Statement on Shark Killing Contest. Press release, Humane Society of the United States, July 22, 2005.

Animal rights group calls for end of shark hunt. Associated Press, July 29, 2005.

NBC Makes Fun of Shark Suffering. Mary Max, July 25, 2005.

Tiger shark too tardy to get teeth in tourney. Joe Dwinell, MetroWest Daily News, July 20, 2005.

Boston Herald Outlines Feld's Donations to Anti-Circus Ban Legislators

The Boston Herald reported in October that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ Kenneth Feld paid Massachusetts lobbyist Robert Rodophele almost $150,000 since 2001 to lobby against bills that might impact or ban circus performances in that state.

The Herald notes that State Sen. Robert Hedlund introduced a bill this year that would have banned circus animals in the state, but that the bill was killed by the state House’s Criminal Justice Committee. Rodophele made contributions of at least $100 to seven Democrats who sit on the committee, including the maximum $200 donation to committee chair Sen. Thomas McGee and committee member Sen. Michael Morrissey. Feld himself donated an additional $250 to McGee.

The Herald reports that Feld’s wealth is estimated at upwards of $775 million.

Source:

Circus chief gave $$ to lawmakers for letting show go on. Dave Wedge, Boston Herald, October 8, 2004.

Massachusetts Judge Dismisses Indecency Charge, But Fines PETA Activist for Disturbing the Peace

The Harvard Crimson reported in September that a district judge dismissed indecency charges against six activists with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but upheld a charge of disturbing the peace against PETA’s Dan Mathews.

The case stems from a March 1 protest in which the six activists stripped to their underwear in Harvard Square to protest fur. At the protest, Mathews shouted,

We’re here because we care. We’re bare in Harvard square. Wearing fur’s not fair. WeÂ’re in our underwear.

In addition to Matthews, those arrested were Aryenish Tiraz Birdie, Amy Thomson, Brandi Valladolid, Kristin Waller and Karla Waples.

Except for Mathews, the disturbing the peace charges were “continued without a finding” meaning that as long as the activists aren’t arrested in Massachusetts again over the next six months, the charge will be dismissed. Mathews chose to plead guilty to the charge, according to his attorney, because he doesn’t want the restraint of being arrest free for the next six months. In addition, Mathews said that he has had to travel to Cambridge repeatedly for time consuming court hearings and it was easier to just pay the $300 fine.

The Crimson reported that Matthews said he has been arrested more than 20 times since he joined PETA.

Source:

Court dismisses PETA charges. Joseph Tartakoff, Harvard Crimson, September 17, 2004.

PETA Protest Ends in 6 Arrests. Faryl Ury, Harvard Crimson, March 2, 2004.