• Don Lichterman

Big Cat Public Safety Act, Beijing, Chicago, Live Wildlife Markets, & Killing is not Conservation!

Welcome to the Animal & Wildlife Welfare, Abuse & Crime Report brought to you by the Sustainable Action Network (SAN)!

Seven years ago, the landmark documentary Blackfish exposed the cruelty that captive orcas endure, forever changing the way that we view these animals. Now the director of Blackfish and other Hollywood actors are leveraging their power to protect big cats. There are more tigers living in cages in the United States than exist in all the wild. These tigers and other big cats languish in small cages in private homes and roadside zoos across the country—deprived of the ability to engage in any of their natural behaviors. It’s not only cruel—it’s a serious public safety risk. It’s time to crack down on this cruelty with the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would prohibit the private possession of big cats like tigers and lions. It would also ban exhibitors like roadside zoos from allowing the public to interact with cubs in expensive “petting” and photo opportunities. Once these cubs grow up, they’re discarded—either sold into the wild “pet” trade, sent to other substandard facilities, or even killed for their body parts.  More than 25 celebrities are asking Congress to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. But your voice is urgently needed. There’s power in numbers—join us in telling Congress to protect big cats today.

Lady Freethinker: Interior Secretary David Bernhardt

In what would be the largest single expansion in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s history, the Interior Department plans on opening 2.3 million acres of land to hunting and fishing across more than 100 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries after the coronavirus pandemic slows down.

This unprecedented move would allow for the expanded hunting and fishing of migratory game birds, big game, and game fish. Under federal law, all national wildlife refuges – excluding Alaska – are closed to hunting and require the secretary of Interior to open them if such activity is seen as compatible with their purpose. Killing is not conservation.

The move could spell disaster for endangered species, who may be accidentally killed — or even poached, if USFWS fails to adequately monitor the land for illegal hunting practices.

“These beautiful places need to be protected for all wildlife, especially the endangered animals that rely on them for their survival,” said Randy Serraglio of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Right now, our focus should be on protecting these special places.”

With current COVID-19 and climate change concerns, environmental groups have criticized the government for not having their priorities in order.

“With all the pressures on wildlife from climate change and loss of habitat, additional hunting in refuges makes no sense,” said Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club. “It’s very wrong, and it’s especially wrong right now.”

These refuges and hatcheries were created to conserve wildlife and offer animal populations a place to recover uninhibited by people, guns and traps.

Sign this petition urging Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to stop this plan and prevent the senseless and brutal killing of defenseless animals living in wildlife sanctuaries, including hundreds of endangered species.

We need to stop live wildlife markets now

COVID-19 has changed everything: infecting and killing thousands across the globe, bringing economies to a standstill, and costing millions of American workers their jobs.

It will take a long time for us to recover from this outbreak, but we must act now to prevent the next one. The Humane Society Legislative Fund is leading the charge to end live wildlife markets and trade—a key driver of pandemic risk—and we need your help today.

HSLF is joining with leaders around the world to call for a global ban on live wildlife markets and trade. Donate today to help us make the world act and to support all of our work to promote animal welfare.

This current pandemic is another example of how deadly the wildlife trade can be—disease outbreaks from multiple markets around the world have happened before where deadly diseases moved from animals to humans, endangering our lives then and now. In addition to the threat they pose to public health, live wildlife markets are incredibly cruel operations where sick, injured, and scared animals are displayed in small cages. Once purchased, they are often slaughtered on-site, creating a perfect breeding ground for transmission of disease from animals to humans.

A threat to public health anywhere is a threat to global health everywhere. Countries need to permanently ban the trade, transport and consumption of wild animals—or else an outbreak like this one is bound to happen again.

You have the power to change that by helping to amplify our call to end live wildlife markets and trade and strengthen everything we do to protect animals.

Emilio Jiang: Beijing bans residents from eating wild animals anywhere in the city in the wake of coronavirus outbreak

Beijing has forbidden its residents from consuming wild animals throughout the city in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Local officials passed a new law on Friday to impose severe punishment on people who hunt, trade and eat wildlife, which is believed to be the source of the COVID-19. China rolled out a temporary ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals across the country in late February. But the new legislation marks the first time that the capital city signed the policy into law.

Earlier this month, two other Chinese cities introduced new regulations to prevent residents from eating dogs and cats. Beijing has forbidden its residents from consuming wild animals across all regions of the city in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The picture above shows the cat-like mammals seized by officials at Xinyuan wildlife market in Guangzhou on January 5, 2004 The law, titled 'Beijing Wildlife Protection and Management Regulations', was passed by the legislative committee of Beijing Municipal People's Congress on April 24. An older version of the regulations was introduced by the Beijing government in 1989. The officials decided to revise the wild animal protection law in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The new legislation will take effect from June 1.

The previous law listed over 500 types of terrestrial animals under the Beijing Wildlife Conservation Directory, Chinese media report. 

Under the new regulations, 'terrestrial wildlife of important ecological, scientific and social value' will be included, according to a government notice. Seventeen types of aquatic wild animals are also added to the list.

A proposal of the new law was first issued by China's top legislative committee in late February as the killer bug ravaged the country. But the regulations passed last week marks the first time that the capital city signed the temporary ban into law. Under the new regulations, 'terrestrial wildlife of important ecological, scientific and social value' will be included in the directive. People are pictured unloading a truck at a seafood market in Guangzhou, Guangdong province on February 25 Consumption of the listed wildlife will be prohibited across the city of Beijing. Hunting, trading and transporting such wild animals with the purpose of consuming are also forbidden. A woman wearing a mask works in a seafood market in Guangzhou on February 25 Consumption of the listed wildlife will be prohibited across the city of Beijing. Hunting, trading and transporting such wild animals with the purpose of consuming are also forbidden.

Violators of the law can face fines up to 20 times the value of wild animals or their by-products. The regulations also specified that food service providers who breach the law will face harsher punishment.

The law will also restrict the breeding of wildlife by banning private breeders. Institutions and companies can only breed wild animals for scientific, medical and display purposes. The new rules have redefined the scope of protected wild animals and banned wildlife hunting in all regions in Beijing unless otherwise specified, Wang Rongmei, a lawmaker of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, told state media CGTN. It remains unclear if other cities in China will follow suit and enforce similar regulations. Two other Chinese cities have introduced regulations to prevent residents from eating pet meat earlier this month. The law will also restrict the breeding of wildlife by banning private breeders. Institutions and companies can only breed wild animals for scientific, medical and display purposes. The file photo taken on January 5, 2004, shows government workers collect civet cats in Xinyuan wildlife market to prevent a possible spread of SARS in Guangzhou city Authorities in Zhuhai issued the order in line with a government's proposal which lists dogs as 'companion animals', an official told state media. The file photo shows butchered dogs displayed for sale at a stall in Yulin on June 21, 2018

Zhuhai and Shenzhen, both in the southern province of Guangdong, will enforce the ban from May 1.

Authorities in Zhuhai issued the order in line with a government's proposal which lists dogs as 'companion animals', an official told state media.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has recently excluded dogs from farm animals in a drafted directive.

The authority said it recognizes dogs as 'companion animals' and 'not suitable' to be managed as livestock in the document released on April 8.

Only the animals officially listed as livestock or poultry can be bred, raised, traded and transported for commercial purposes in China, according to China's Animal Husbandry Law. This means the proposal can potentially prevent around 10 million dogs being killed for their meat every year in the country.

The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival, held every year on the summer solstice, is one of the most controversial food festivals in China.

It sees thousands of dogs cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by the locals.

The coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the globe is widely believed to start from a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. 

Although it remains unknown which animal transmitted the virus to humans, China has imposed a clampdown on its lucrative wildlife industry under control in a bid to prevent another outbreak.

New York City COVID-19 Pet Resources

All of us at NYCLASS hope that you and your loved ones, including your furry family members, are staying healthy and safe during this uncertain time. If you or a loved one are a New York City pet owner affected by COVID-19 and need assistance, call the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline at 1-877-204-8821, 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week. Click here for more information and resources for pet owners from the Mayor's Office of Animal Welfare related to COVID-19 and pet care.

Chicago City Council BANS Horse Carriages in Vote Today!

We have tremendous news to share with you today: The Chicago City Council voted to BAN the operation of horse-drawn carriages in Chicago today during their live-streamed Council hearing. The ban passed by a vote of 46-4! The carriage horses must stop operating by the end of the year. Huge congratulations to Jodie Wiederkehr for all her tremendous work to make this animal rights victory happen through her group Chicago Alliance for Animals and her team of dedicated activists. We applaud Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly and Brian Hopkins who sponsored and championed Bill #SO2019-4125 and the entire Chicago City Council for making a compassionate vote for animals and for improved public safety in their City.

More and more cities around the country and world are making the decision to severely restrict or completely end cruel and dangerous horse-carriage rides on their streets. Our work continues in New York City to end carriage horse abuse on our own streets, where in just the past several months we have documented, reported and exposed numerous cases of carriage horse abuse, deaths, and law-breaking by carriage drivers, including the gut-wrenching collapse and death of carriage horse Aisha in February.

New York City's carriage horses are temporarily no longer operating due to the forced closure of non-essential business on March 22. As we reported, NYC horse-carriage drivers were still recklessly operating right up until the forced closure, and were shockingly handing out reused, shared blankets to passengers and violating social distancing protocols during the height of the pandemic, in spite of our calls to the City to shut them down.  Alec Baldwin wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on our behalf, urging him to shut down horse carriages to protect public safety.

Many of our supporters have asked us where the NYC carriage horses are right now since they are not able to operate due to coronavirus. We have been told that the horses are all on farms in Pennsylvania and other states temporarily while the shutdown continues. We will update you with more information as we get it.  Our priority is always to ensure the safety and well-being of the horses.

NYCLASS joined a citywide demonstration of NYC live-animal slaughter markets on April 21

NYCLASS was proud to join a citywide NYC demonstration (while maintaining social distancing) on Tuesday, April 21 calling for the closure of the more than 80 live-animal slaughter markets operating right now in the epicenter of the pandemic. Executive Director Edita Birnkrant and supporters were at a live-slaughter market in Queens, the borough hardest hit by COVID-19. We stood in unity alongside PETA, Slaughter Free NYC, Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund, Total Liberation New York, and Their Turn. These storefront slaughterhouses operate within densely populated neighborhoods and can be breeding grounds for infectious diseases and future pandemics. Birds, sheep, goats, and cows are crammed into cages and pens, often have their throats slit and are bled out, an agonizing death. Their existence poses a public safety risk to New Yorkers who live and work in these areas. 

New York Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, a longtime hero for animals, announced that she is proposing legislation that calls for the closure of live-animal slaughter markets in New York. "It's too great a danger to have these markets that have been shown through inspection records and hidden camera investigations to be filthy. It's not safe. It's not safe," Rosenthal said. "And in this COVID-19 period, we know diseases jump from animals to humans, especially when species are mixed and that is the state at a lot of these markets." 

Stay tuned for more updates and news on this legislation effort and how you can help!

Our hearts are with all of you during this difficult time, and our work at NYCLASS continues to protect animals from abuse and cruelty.

A years-long battle between a controversial southern Indiana roadside zoo and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ended in a victory for animal rights, as a judge revoked the zoo’s permit to exhibit warm-blooded animals, including two of the establishment’s main attractions, bears and big cats.

More than 120 violations — some dating as far back as 2012 — were considered in the lawsuit against Timothy Stark’s organization, Wildlife in Need. Stark was accused of providing inadequate care for sick and dying animals, falsifying documents, abusing and threatening government officials, and even killing several creatures.

Stark’s most egregious confirmed allegation came when he “euthanized” a leopard cub by beating the poor animal to death with a baseball bat. This isn’t the only tragedy to allegedly happen at Stark’s facility. The list of animals who needlessly died while in his care is extensive, according to USA Today. In 2013, for example, an ocelot was strangled to death in a “caging accident.” Days later, Stark allegedly administered Benadryl to a kangaroo for swollen feet instead of taking him to a veterinarian. Sadly, the poor creature died.

A veterinarian who testified on behalf of the USDA stated that Stark was a threat to the agency’s personnel, substantiating the complainant’s allegations that the defendant interfered with the zoo officials’ ability to carry out inspections on multiple occasions by “verbally abusing, harassing and threatening” them.

Stark, who represented himself after his lawyer recently withdrew from the case, was found guilty of violating the Animal Welfare Act. He has 35 days to appeal the decision and stated his intention to do so in a heated interview with WDRB, despite admitting that some of the allegations against him are true. In the meantime, he says he’ll continue running his zoo as usual.

Too often, captive big cats suffer at the hands of abusive or unqualified caretakers. More must be done to protect these innocent creatures. If you haven’t already, please sign LFT’s petition urging Congress to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act.

Support the Big Cat Public Safety Act in style with our latest shirts! Choose from two different designs available exclusively in the Animal Legal Defense Fund store. It’s an easy way to let the world know that you support keeping big cats safe!

There are few federal laws protecting the millions of wild animals living in captivity in the United States, some of whom are kept in private homes. The Big Cat Public Safety Act would ban the private possession of big cats—protecting animals like tigers and lions from cruelty and neglect.  

In addition to supporting this important bill, your purchase will support our work to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system.

*Applicants with an outstanding commitment to animal law and a particular interest in anti-vivisection can apply for a scholarship for the Law & Ethics of Animal Testing course. 

Animal Law CLEs

Are you a member of a Bar Association Animal Law Section or Committee planning an online Animal Law CLE in the coming months? If so, don't forget to post the details on our calendar of events. We can help you get the word out!

Take Action, Responsibility & Wildlife...
"Corporations Are People My Friends."
Our companies are known for creating products that enhance people's lives. Through Sunset Corporation of America and its companies, we’re equally dedicated to improving lives.  Our commitment extends to helping local communities, fostering better educational systems, supporting the arts and culture, helping disadvantaged youth, protecting and improving the environment, animal welfare, wildlife issues and encouraging employee volunteerism.

The Sustainable Action Network (SAN), A Don Lichterman non-profit organization dedicated to building a global community raising awareness of corruption, injustice and the need for action across a full range of issues impacting people and animal/wildlife welfare around the world, such as conservation, climate change, campaign law, lobbying, government action and rescue work. SAN’s vision is to create safer world, free from political, environmental, and social oppression, where all the inhabitants of Earth can live in harmony within their own natural environments. Our commitment extends to helping local communities, fostering better educational systems, supporting the arts and culture, helping disadvantaged youth, protecting and improving the environment, animal welfare, wildlife issues and encouraging employee volunteerism.

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Purchase gifts that help animals! The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s holiday shop is now open – for a limited time. Find past favorites and new designs in options including totes, shirts, hoodies, and even options for dogs!

These items make the perfect holiday gift for friends and family who care about animals. Spread the message of compassion and support the Animal Legal Defense Fund. 100% of the profits go to our work to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system.