PETA Asks Palisades Park to Stop Squirrel Slaughter

In July, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to the mayor of Palisades Park, California, asking her to put an end to a city program of poisoning squirrels.

In a press release, PETA said,

Today, following a barrage of complaints from outraged Santa Monica residents, PETA fired off a letter to Santa Monica Mayor Pam OÂ’Connor, urging her to order city employees to immediately remove all pesticide currently being used to poison ground squirrels at Palisades Park and to establish strict policies prohibiting the use of poisons in Santa MonicaÂ’s parks. PETA points out that if the city is concerned about the possibility of the spread of disease, it should be targeting fleas and not squirrels or other animals.

Poisons cause immeasurable suffering and prolonged deaths for the animals who ingest them and for “nontarget” animals who consume—even in part—the poisoned bodies. As PETAÂ’s wildlife caseworker, I often receive requests for information on proven humane methods of managing urban wildlife populations. For instance, if city officials are concerned about disease outbreaks, they should be targeting fleas rather than squirrels. To prevent the spread of plague, an online pamphlet produced by the LA County Department of Health called Facts About Plague in Los Angeles County outlines an effective flea-control strategy that employs bait stations to distribute insecticide dust on squirrelsÂ’ fur as they enter the stations. The flea powder, harmless to squirrels, kills the fleas living in squirrelsÂ’ fur, and when the squirrels carry the powder back to their subterranean homes, the powder also kills the fleas living in these burrows.

“Death from the poisons being used by the city is slow and agonizing,” says PETA Wildlife Biologist Stephanie Boyles. “No one knows how many animals have suffered and died, but the mayor has the power to stop this cruel program and the obligation to stop any violations of local, state, or federal laws relating to the poisoning.”

But PETA didn’t quite have all of the facts in the matter.

Palisades Park Mayor Pam O’Connor told the Santa Monica News that all poison bait had actually been removed in June. Moreover, the use of poison bait had been ordered by the Los Angeles County Department of Health, which PETA cites in its letter as favoring alternatives to poisoning!

O’Connor said,

The City of Santa Monica is not performing any ground squirrel suppression measures at this time. We stopped the last week of June, removing all the bait from the stations.

As you know, the City was ordered to suppress the ground squirrel population [by Los Angeles County]. The coastal belt of California is one of the high-risk areas for plague. Keeping the ground squirrel population down is a precaution against humans and pets being infected.

And while PETA’s letter said it had received “a barrage of complaints from outraged Santa Monica residents,” city officials told the Santa Monica News they had only received a complaints from a handful of people.

Judy Rambeau, assistant to the City Manager in charge of community relations, told the Santa Monica News,

I’ve gotten numerous calls and emails from two people. We heard a lot from the same people over and over and over again.

Of course, in PETA World, if two activists each call and e-mail officials 12 times, that translates to dozens of complaints!


Animal rights group calls for end to squirrel killings. Jorge Casuso, Santa Monica News, July 29, 2005.

PETA Calls On Santa Monica Mayor To End Cruel, Deadly Squirrel-Poisoning Program. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, July 27, 2005.

PETA Protests Use of Leg Traps in Rapid City, South Dakota

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals held a press conference in Rapid City, South Dakota, in January to protest the use of leg traps in national parks.

PETA chose Rapid City because in the summer of 2004 a number of dogs were injured by leg traps in Badlands National Park. The traps were set to capture coyotes.

Badlands National Park Superintendent William Supernaugh says that his agency regrets that dogs were caught in the traps, but that the traps are necessary to hold down the coyote population.

The Rapid City Journal reported that,

Supernaugh said those injuries mainly were the result of the Park Service’s failure to check traps quickly. He blamed shift change among personnel and an unclear policy on how often those traps should be checked. Those procedures have been tightened, Supernaugh said.

But he said banning all uses of leg traps in the Badlands would cripple the park’s program to monitor the range and health of coyotes. He said that program was crucial to the successful reintroduction of swift foxes and black-footed ferrets to the Badlands.

Coyotes prey on swift foxes, so park personnel introduced them to areas outside known coyote territories, which are determined through radio collars attached to trapped animals.

Canine distemper, Supernaugh said, could wipe out the fragile ferret population.

PETA disagrees, with Stephanie Boyles saying in a press release on the issue,

These traps are so barbaric that they have been banned in 88 countries. It is shameful that in the 21st century, a federal agency would use such primitive, cruel devices. We urge [Interior] Secretary Norton to call for a ban.


Group Calls News Conference to Reveal Shocking Photos of Dogs Caught in Leghold Traps in Badlands National Park. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, January 24, 2005.

PETA protests Badlands trapping. Bill Harlan, Rapid City Journal, January 26, 2005.

Activists Complain about Dolphins Used During War in Iraq

CNSNews.Com ran an interesting article in March about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ opposition to the U.S. Navy’s use of mine-detecting dolphins.

Writer Marc Morano interviewed PETA’s Stephanie Boyles who characterized the Navy’s use of the dolphins as “just ridiculous.” She told Morano,

These are animals that, number one, have not volunteered to take part in this whatsoever. Number two, they are being put in harm’s way . . . when they don’t even know they are in harm’s way.

There have been already enough victims in this world. We don’t have to start adding other species to it.

Boyles goes on to assert that although the dolphins do not realize “they are in harm’s ways” this does not mean that the dolphins don’t have a mind of their own,

Why are we spending time trying to train animals that have lives and minds of their own to try and carry out these tasks for us? That just seems a little archaic, not to mention unreliable.

. . .

They have mind of their owns; they don’t realize the tasks they are being taught to perform are life and death. And when they don’t perform correctly, human lives will be lost. [The dolphins] think this is a game and yet the risk to their lives and the amount of suffering they may endure is great, and we don’t seem to care about that.

Meanwhile Humane Society of the United State marine biologist Naomi Rose offered a more moderate approach to the dolphin issue saying it was “concerned about the welfare” of the dolphins, but stopped short of opposing their use for mine detection. Rose told Morano,

As we have in the past, we will continue to express our concerns to the Navy and Congress about the military use of marine mammals, but while the war continues, we remain focused on the welfare of all those in the combat zone — human and animal.

But it was left to Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy to state the obvious point that animal rights activists always fail to grasp,

My personal priority would be to save human lives and most especially American lives. If the dolphins can do so, hopefully at minimal risks to themselves and at great benefit to us, that seems to me to be a proper rendering of the priorities.

According to a UPI story about the program, the use of dolphins to detect mines goes back to Vietnam era. The dolphins are trained to drop a buoy near a suspected mine, which divers then inspect and detonate any mines they find.

The Navy has never released statistics on how effective the dolphins are at locating mines, but UPI quoted a retired Naval officer who helped create the dolphin program as saying that the dolphins are actually more effective than the mine sweeping ships and typically locate 99.8 percent of mines in tests.


Dolphins Did Not ‘Volunteer’ for War, Animal ‘Rights’ Activists Say Marc Morano, CNSNews.Com, March 26, 2003.

Animal Tales: Dolphins do duty in wartime Alex Cukan, UPI Science News, March 28, 2003.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Ants?

The Los Angeles Times wrote a profile this week of Milton Levine who, in 1956, created a novelty craze with his Uncle Milton Ant Farm. Since 1956, Levine’s company has sold more than 20 million ant farms and sales for the product are still strong.

The reporter decided to call People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for their take on ant farms, and PETA’s Stephanie Boyles obliged with the following,

Ants are sentient beings, like we are, and have a right to life like we do, and they shouldn’t be shown the level of disrespect the producers of ant farms show them. We can learn about ants without having an ant farm. Kids end up getting tired of them and they perish.

Usually anti-animal rights folks are told that they are being disingenous when they claim that animal rights will inevitably be pushed to its logical outcome of granting insects and other very primitive life forms rights. It is nice to see PETA admit that it thinks even ants are “sentient beings” like us and should be accorded rights.


Creator of the Ant Farm Finds That His Tiny Workers Can Still Pull Their Weight. David Kelly, Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2002.