In Defense of Animals Asks Judge to Reconsider Feral Pig Slaughter Ruling

In Defense of Animals in August asked a judge to reconsider a July decision that rejected its efforts to stop the National Park Service’s plan to eradicate wild pigs on Santa Cruz island in California.

Pigs were first introduced to the island in the mid-19th century. Ever since, according to the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy, they have been eroding the soil and damaging native plants and animals.

To put an end to the problem once and for all, the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy plan to hire a New Zealand firm, Prohunt, to eradicate the pigs. The firm will only receive its $3.9 million fee once there are no more pigs left on the island. Prohunt began killing pigs on Santa Cruz in April 2005.

In Defense of Animals has so far unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the plan in court. Their objections to the slaughter of the animals provides an interesting look at how animal rights ideology conflicts with environmental protection efforts.

The major claim made by the park service is that the presence of the pigs indirectly threatens the Santa Cruz Island fox. According to the park service, golden eagles are attracted to the island to feed on pigs, and while they’re there they also feed on the foxes to the point where there are believed to be only about 150 foxes left on the island.

Nature Conservancy spokeswoman Julie Benson told the Los Angeles Times that the choice was clear — wild pigs exist in large numbers throughout the world, whereas this particular fox only inhabits this island. Killing the pigs to save the foxes is, to Benson, the obvious choice.

Not so to IDA president Elliott Katz who told the Los Angeles Times that trying to make this sort of decision is attempting to foist human morality on to nature (emphasis added),

Northern California veterinarian Elliot Katz said that allowing the deaths of thousands of pigs for the benefit of a few foxes
doesn’t seem to be a fair balance of nature. Katz, founder and president of In Defense of Animals, a nonprofit animal rights
organization based in the Bay Area city of Mill Valley, supports halting the pig slaughter and says he intends to contact
Feldman about lending his support for the lawsuit.

“Our position is to take a step back and not to be killing animals for man’s belief of what’s right and wrong,” Katz said.
“Allowing an injunction will permit everyone to step back and rethink this thing and also to further evaluate whether it’s
necessary to remove each and every pig from the island.”

Presumably since relying on human standards of morality is not possible, Katz will be channeling supernatural powers to guide human interaction with the environment.


Suit Filed to Halt Pig Eradication on Santa Cruz Island. Gregory W. Griggs, Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2005.

Has FDA Vascillation Effectively Killed Market for Cloned Farm Animals?

The Associated Press ran a story this month outlining fears by the dairy industyr that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s inability to come to a decision about the safety of food from cloned animals may have already doomed that market. It has already led to the failure of one company that was prepared to sell cloned farm animals.

In 2003, the FDA issued a draft safety assessment that found food from cloned animals was probably as safe as food from non-cloned animals. But it also effectively banned the sale of food from non-cloned animals until it makes a final determination.

Several additional studies have been published in the interim confirming the FDA’s draft assessment that food from cloned animals is safe and indistinguishable from that produced by non-cloned animals, but the FDA’s final determination of safety is still nowhere in sight.

One company, Infigen, has already went out of business thanks to the FDA waffling. In 2002 and 2003, Infigen made headlines for advances it made in cloning pigs that allowed it to produce cloned pigs with just one round of embryo implantation in a single pig compared to earlier methods which required multiple rounds of embryo implantation in multiple animals to produce viable clones. Infigen co-founder Michael Bishop told the Associated Press that the FDA’s delay in approving food from cloned animals was the straw that broke his company’s back,

It’s hard to find people who want to do business with you when a government agency could possibly regulate against the food products entering the food chain.

According to the Associated Press, Bishop believes that cloned farm animals will never be economically viable.

This sentiment is apparently shared by many dairy farmers whom would otherwise benefit the most from cloned animals. As the Associated Press notes, because cloned animals are so expensive its unlikely they would ever be used for slaughter. Instead they would be beneficial in things like a dairy operation where a farmers could clone particularly productive dairy cows.

But the FDA lack of a decision and the current ban clearly creates the impression that milk from cloned cows may not be safe. Susan Ruland, a spokeswoman from the International Dairy Foods Association, told the Associated Press,

There’s a strong general feeling among our members that consumers are not receptive to milk from cloned cows. This seems to be one of the things where technology seems to drop something in the lap of the food companies. It’s not driven by the market or any benefit to the consumer.

There are currently farmers in the United States who have cloned dairy cows, but they feed the milk to family and employees rather than sell it for the moment. Wisconsin dairy farmer Bob Schauff, for example, tells the Associated Press that he had four clones of a prize-winning Holstein dairy cow made four years ago. Schauff calls the ban,

. . . ridiculous. It’s a phobia more than anything scientific. We need to get FDA to come along and say it’s fine. They’re as normal as any other animal. Common sense has to take over soon.

So when will the FDA finally resolve the matter one way or another? That’s anybody’s guess. According to the Associated Press, an FDA official said that the agency has no timetable for making a final decision.

The full text of the FDA’s draft assessment can be read here.


Dairy industry skeptical about cloned cows. Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press, August 11, 2005.

Animal Rights Group Protests at Sausage Sale

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned the controversy over a pig and cow raised at Daylesfor Secondary College in Australia to give students there exposure to traditional farming methods — i.e., the animals were raised to be slaughtered for sausage.

Members of Ballarat Organization for Animal Rights showed up at the Glenlyon Food and Wine Fayre in late July to protest the sale of the sausages made from the animals.

BOAR spokesman Trevor Wilson told The Courier,

They [the students] have all suffered. . . . We would hope to get the message through so that it never happens again. . . .When you desensitize people [to violence], who knows what they can turn into.

Wilson added that his groups thinks Australia’s Education Minister should ban schools from raising animals for slaughter,

We feel that Lynne Kosky should make a requirement that animals are not used this way in education.

Liam Thoryncraft, who helped organize the school’s participation in the young gourmet contest at the food fair, said that the sausages sold well. He added that if the project is repeated there would be some changes,

We understand [the controversy raised by keeping the animals on school grounds] and we did make the mistake of putting the pig in the school grounds for people to get attached to it. We would do it all again, but would change some things.


Protest at sale of sausages. The Courier (Australia), July 31, 2005.

Australian RSPCA Angered by Mock Killing of Pig on Reality Show

The Australian Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals publicly objected in July to the mock killing of a pig in which no pig was actually shown.

During an airing of the Australian reality TV show “Australian Idol,” contestant Shaye Biancha demonstrates how she would kill a pig by pretending to stab judge Kyle Sandilands.

This was enough to outrage the RSPCA. According to Australian Associated Press, the RSPCA’s Michael Beatty said,

Let’s make this easy for you Australian idol. Animal cruelty is not hilarious. It is not funny. The links between animal cruelty and other forms of abuse are quite clear and very frightening. . . . In one episode of Australian Idol you’ve broadcast a message that not only condones animal cruelty, but supports it.

Australian Idol responded to these charges by saying that what was depicted was not animal cruelty at all. A spokesperson for the show told the Australian Associated Press,

Shaye Biancha’s hobby of bush hunting is considered a legitimate activity in Far North Queensland, where feral pigs are declared pests under Queensland legislation. Shaye’s mock re-enactment of hunting a pig with Kyle Sandilands was not done in a serious manner.


Idol promoting animal cruelty: RSPCA. Australian Associated Press, July 28, 2005.

Debate Over School’s Slaughter of a Pig

In May, Daylesford Secondary Collage in Australia decided to participate in a national competition called Young Gourmet. The point of the competition is to encourage awareness and experience with traditional farming methods.

To that end, the school purchased a pig with the intent of having students raise it before having the animal slaughtered and turned into bullboar sausages to enter into the competition.

Several students, led by one Freeman Trebilcock, 17, objected to the plans to slaughter the pig. Trebilcock was among a group of students who circulated a petition which 100 students ultimately signed asking for the pig to be spared.

School officials would have none of it, saying that the pig was purchase for the purpose of the food competition, and had the animal slaughtered in July and students made the sausages for sale at a local food fair. According to Australia Associated Press,

Brooke Santurini, who was part of the 11-member student group that entered and voted to remain in the competition, said she was surprised and angered by the student opposition.

“We are a rural school,” she said.

“A lot of people, the parents of our students, they are farmers, that’s their living. We are not doing anything illegal; we haven’t done anything cruel to the animal.”

Ms Santurini said the pig was kept at the back of the school and was only visible to students who chose to visit it.

“They knew the pig was coming to the school because we were going to make bullboars out of it,” she said.

“If someone wanted to see the pig it was their choice to see it, they chose to get personally attached. The main positive that came out of it is it is bringing the students to realise that is where our food comes from.”

Animal rights activists and their allies complained the school was causing potential psychological damage to the children at the school and would burden them with guilt by slaughtering the pig.

Bernie Williams, executive producer of a new Charlotte’s Web film, fired off an e-mail to the school saying, in part,

I have worked with pigs over the past 11 months and I have so much respect for these animals. The bullboar sausages will soon be forgotten after the food fair, but the guilt of killing this pig which has been domesticated will last forever on those that have a conscience.

Meanwhile, Animal Liberation Victoria offered to provide legal assistance to any students who wanted to sue the school and the Education Department for causing “torment and distress.”


Furore as Charlotte made into sausages. Channel Nine (Australia), July 24, 2005.

Plea to spare animals from sausage meat. The Courier (Asutralia), July 21, 2005.

Pig Domesticated Repeatedly Throughout Human History

Scientists at the University of Durham recently published the results of their DNA analysis of pigs suggesting that pigs were domesticated independently at least 7 times throughout human history and in different parts of the world.

Lead researcher Keith Dobney said in a press release,

Many archaeologists have assumed the pig was domesticated in no more than two areas of the world, the Near East and the Far East, but our findings turn this theory on its head. Our study shows that domestication also occurred independently in Central Europe, Italy, Northern India, South East Asia and maybe even Island South East Asia. The spread of farming into these areas during the Neolithic seems to have kick-started local independent domestication of wild boar.

The first evidence of pig domestication occurs in both Eastern Turkey and China about 9,000 years ago. It was believed that from those two initial domestications that the domesticated pig then spread across the world through trade and immigration.

But the DNA evidence examined by Dobney’s team suggests that, instead, other pockets of human civilization domesticated the pig independently, accounting for the animal’s widespread domestication.

As Greger Larson, who collaborated on the research, put it,

Our data show domestication was not as rare as previously thought and that the question now is not “where were pigs domesticated?”, but rather “where were they not domesticated?” This forces us to reconsider our assumptions about early human history and the beginnings of domestication.

Dobney and Larson’s research was published in the March 11, 2005 edition of Science.


Pigs domesticated ‘many times’. The BBC, March 11, 2005.

Pigs force rethink on human history. Press Release, University of Oxford, March 11, 2005.