Monday, March 31, 2008

PETA - the Video Clip They Don't Want You to See

From what I can tell, the folks at PETA
are, for the most part, small powerless people who want to feel important. In order to feel important, they begin to see themselves as the ultimate arbiters of morality in the animal world.

From there, it is only a small step to believing you are a God; the only proper entity to decide who -- and what -- gets to live and die. The law does not matter, social norms do not mater, and rules and regulations do not matter. Those things are for mere mortals. You are a God.

If you think this sounds a bit like a cult, you are not the first to notice.

If you think this type of thinking is not too far removed from that embraced by abortion-clinic bombers, 9-11 jet liner jockies, and animal-liberation lunatics, you are not the first to notice.

But, of course, there is an alternative. Author Nathan Winograd thinks he see something else going on with PETA: what he calls, Munchausen by PETA. Read the whole thing.


Otter Ironies

One of the ironies of wildlife management is that the very devices that pushed so much wildlife to the edge of extinction -- guns and traps -- are the very things that are now working to bring wildlife back.

The difference between today and 120-years ago is the rise of hunter-conservationists who understand the value of hunting seasons, the need for limits, and the necessity of wildlife habitat conservation and reclamation.

In earlier posts, I have detailed the history behind the return of the wild turkey which, in the space of 50 years, went from teetering on the edge of extinction to a population of 5.5 million birds distributed over a greater range than occurred even in pre-Columbian times.

Wild turkey hunting is now a billion-dollar-a-year industry, with 2.6 million hunters harvesting about 700,000 birds a year.

The article below is about the return of the river otter to Middle America. As Audubon magazine noted just a few years ago, "More than 2,000 river otters have been caught in legholds in the South and released virtually unscathed in Midwestern states where the species had been extirpated."

Back in the 1990s, when the river otter was being reintroduced in Ohio, Audubon was not only defending the use of leghold traps as necessary for the reintroduction of species like the river otter, but also for management of such species as the wolf and nuisance abatement of other species such as beaver, raccoon, and red fox.

For those interested in the foundation history of wildlife management in America, Aldo Leopold's book on Game Management is still in print more than 70 years after its first publication. Chapter 10 is on predator control. >> Click here to buy

January 21, 2005

Ohio wildlife officials consider allowing otter trapping after success of reintroduction programs

By: Carrie Spencer, Associated Press


The wily and playful river otter was once on the verge of extinction in Ohio. Now they're thriving - and causing so much damage that wildlife officials are considering allowing hunters to trap them.

It's a situation other states have had with other animals. In Florida and New Jersey, it's the black bear. The Rockies and Alaska have the gray wolf. Nearly everywhere else, it's the white-tailed deer and Canada goose.

"In a human-dominated landscape, it's really tough to keep wildlife in the numbers we feel are appropriate," said Greg Butcher, a zoologist with the Washington-based National Audubon Society. "We have affected the environment so much that a lot of natural checks and balances are gone."

The otter's numbers have soared in just two decades - from 123 to about 4,300 - and Ohio wildlife officials are proposing a permit-only two-month trapping season. The Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on the proposal in April.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that wildlife causes US$1 billion ([euro]770 million) in crop and livestock damage each year, while deer collisions injure about 29,000 motorists a year and cost another $1 billion ([euro]770 million). Bird collisions cost the aviation industry $740 million ([euro]572 million) annually.

The otter's story is familiar. Fur trapping drove the native species from Ohio by the early 1900s, but their reintroduction - starting in 1986 and lasting seven years - has been so successful that farmers are starting to complain. A family of otters can eat half the fish in a privately stocked pond before the owner gets wind of their visits.

"If they find a nice trout farm, they're pretty happy with that," said C. Greg Anderson, assistant biology professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

Otters used to be in every U.S. state except Hawaii but were wiped out over 70 percent of their range, Anderson said. Reintroduction programs began in the 1980s in 21 states, all successes. Missouri, one of the first with 19 otters released in 1982, now has more than 10,000 and allows trapping, he said. Kentucky began its first otter season this winter, running through February.

Government-sanctioned hunting of all kinds of animals is proliferating across the country.

Starting in February, private landowners in Montana and Idaho won't need written approval to kill gray wolves harassing livestock, while Wyoming is suing the federal government to get its wolf management plan approved. From about 30 wolves introduced 10 years ago, 825 or more now live in the three states.

Florida wildlife officials reported a record number of sightings of threatened black bears in 2004 because of sprawling development and busier roads. The state is studying the bear population and could lift its protected status this year.

New Jersey's second annual bear hunt was called off this year amid a dispute over the state's management plan. New Jersey has more than 3,000 bears, up from fewer than 100 in the 1970s.

Hunting groups once feared the disappearance of white-tailed deer, but management encouraging reproduction worked too well. Last fall, the Cleveland suburb of Solon became the latest Ohio community to hire sharpshooters to cull the prolific landscape munchers.

Few success stories compare with that of the giant strain of Canada goose, which was nearly extinct in the 1960s because of hunting and lack of their preferred grassland habitat.

In the Midwest, restrictions on hunting coincided with the explosion of office parks with manicured lawns and lush golf courses. The birds, with their 6-foot wingspans, are now fouling picnic spots and hissing and nipping at golfers. States from North Dakota to Pennsylvania have expanded hunting allowances.

While some see overpopulation as triumph over extinction, the Animal Protection Institute sees it as failure on the part of wildlife officials. Reintroduction of a native animal requires planning to prevent an overrun, said Barbara Schmitz of the Sacramento, California-based institute.

"A lot of times, lethal solutions are looked at first," Schmitz said. "It is possible for them to become part of the balance of nature again."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Deben LRT Raffle to Benefit TRAPPED

The folks putting on the Cowboy Classic Terrier Trial are raffling off a Deben LRT collar and box to benefit TRAPPED ( ) The head coordinator for Trapped, but the way, is Charlene (Char) Smith who, in the small world department, bred Pearl, the dog pictured in the post immediately below.

The raffle at the Cowboy Classic Terrier Trial is set up so that folks from all over can purchase tickets, and this one is no different.

The drawing will occur at the Cowboy Classic Terrier Trials in Wyoming over Labor Day weekend this year.

Tickets are $5 each and 5 for $20. The winning ticked will be drawn August 30, 2008 after the go-to-ground and racing awards are handed out for that day. Tickets can be purchased via Paypal (make yourself an account, etc.), provided they are purchased no later than August 28.

To buy tickets via PayPal, send your money to this email >> or you can can snail mail a check or money to >> Erin Schwartzkopf, 73 Hwy 59, Douglas, Wyoming 82633.

For the record, the Deben Long Range Terrier Finders are a pretty good bit of kit in my opinion. These new collars and boxes are well made, and will locate a dog as much as 40ft away. The collar is fully waterproof, has a battery life of 350 hours and is switched on/off by a magnet in the hand held receiver - there's no reason to remove the batteries after each use. The transmitter is fitted with a top quality leather collar. The new LRT box and collar are normally sold for $300 box/collar set.

Compare and contrast:
The Deben LRT locator box/wand is at far right; the collar for the LRT is the middle one of the three shown. The other collars show are the old Deben Mark I (no longer made, but the type I still use) and the Deben Mark III (which is fine for ferrets, but cannot take the beating it gets from terrier work).

Digging on the Dogs

This is Pearl with two of the three groundhogs we accounted for today. No drama; just solo digging with two decent dogs. No injuries to dogs or human, and off the farm by 12:30 for a coffee with the missus.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

PETA Spokes-Idiots

PETA lawyer and spokes-idiot Jeffrey S. Kerr joins a pantheon of other fools associated with PETA [previous post about Kerr here].

In the past, we have featured Pamela Anderson, noting that "every facet of Ms. Anderson's career, body and future depends on animal testing and animal products -- the hair, the fake breasts, the clothes, the lipstick, even her pathetic love life."

We have also mentioned other faded peaches, such as Alicia Silverstone and Pink who seem to have tried to jump-start their sagging careers by "gettin-nekkid" for a cause (or just because).

But, of course, the internet being what it is, it turns out that keeping up with the hypocrisy of PETA spokes-idiots is actually a regular beat of a fun web site called, where the motto is "Practice what you preach. Or else."

They note that Katherine Heigl, who has been seen running around Hollwyood in a PETA T-shirt, is apparently so clueless that she wore a "fake fur" coat to the Pedigree Adoption Drive in New York.

One possible problem however. It seems not all those high-end fake fur coats are actually fake-fur. Some are made of dog fur.


That's a picture of Heigl, the coat, and a puppy, below. You have to admit the dog on the right and the coat collar do look alarmingly interchangeable.

Then we have porn star and PETA spokes-idiot Jenna Jameson.
Now I am not a connosieour of porn, so I have to ask: is this picture of her the result of really bad plastic surgery, or has she always looked this way?

Either way, from a casual inspection I would guess her own body has been been injected with silicione and darted with botox, and then of course there is the rumored "vagino-plasty."

Yes, I thought that was a joke too, but maybe not. Boxers get their noses fixed, and God knows that Ms. Jameson's box has been pounded on more often than any boxer's nose! So who knows?


Ms. Skank-a-lot is whoring for PETA now? Is there no shame?

Considering Ms. Jameson's line of work (cough cough), is there any doubt that her very life depends on animal-tested vaccines and let-us-pray-for-the-cures?

I think there's enough irony here to start a rust factory.

There's more, of course. Much more: Lindsay Lohan sporting a "No Fur" button on her leather coat, and lots of pics of her wearing fur coats everywhere.

Then there is Russell Simon's ex-wife who is a PETA spokes-idiot, never mind her own line of "Baby Phat" clothes made of leather and fur.

Kim Cattrall has no problem lounging around naked in fur (aging stars will do that I am told), but she also claims to be a big PETA fan -- or at least a big fan of the tax write-offs that come when you donate paint-stained fur to PETA so they can claim they are "giving them away to the homeless."

And then, of course, there is PETA spokes-idiot Steve-O of the "Jackass" movie fame who would lecture us all about fur, never mind the video (see it right here) of him swallowing a live fish for fun and profit.

Jackass indeed. A perfect name for PETA, their legal counsel, and their entire leadership team.

You witness counselor.

PETA: "People Euthanizing Thousands of Animals"

The numbers, above, are Virginia state data for PETA's notorious kill shelter run out of PETA's headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

Note the 97.4 percent kill rate for FY 2006 (the latest year for which data is available).

The paragraph, below, is from a letter to PETA [PDF] from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services informing them that they will not be allowed to lie on their reporting forms to the state by counting as "received" and "adopted" those animals that they spayed or neutered as part of spay-neuter clinics.

This letter was copied to PETA general counsel Jeffrey S. Kerr.

Why is this particular paragraph imporant?

Simple: Because under Virginia law, PETA's license is to run an animal shelter or humane society rather than a slaughter house.

Under Virginia law, an animal shelter means "a facility, other than a private residential dwelling and its surrounding grounds, that is used to house or contain animals and that is owned, operated, or maintained by a nongovernmental entity including, but not limited to, a humane society, animal welfare organization, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or any other organization operating for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes for animals."

Under Virginia law, a humane society means "any incorporated, nonprofit organization that is organized for the purposes of preventing cruelty to animals and promoting humane care and treatment or adoptions of animals."

Under Virginia law, "adoption" means "the transfer of ownership of a dog or a cat, or any other companion animal, from a releasing agency to an individual."

If PETA claims it does not have the money or the facilities to run a true animal shelter or humane society (never mind their $27 million a year annual budget!) where animals are kept for 5-10 days and then placed for adoption as other Virginia shelters do, then their animal shelter license needs to be revoked by the state, and PETA needs to re-apply with the state Department of Agriculture to run ... a slaughter house.

This is now available in a T-shirt!
>> Buy yours now.

Friday, March 28, 2008

PETA Lawyer Jeffrey S. Kerr is a Total Moron

PETA lawyer Jeffrey S. Kerr is a total moron. That is the only conclusion I can reach after reading his absurd paper-rattling letter to Universal Press Syndicate columnist Gina Spadafori threatening libel because she had the temerity to write that over 90 percent of the animals that end up at PETA's "shelter" end up dead. Read all about it here.

Here's a note for Mr. Kerr -- truth is an absolute defense for libel. And discovery here is going to be a bitch (pun intended).

PETA does, in fact, run one of the most notorious kill shelters in America. And the kill data are public.

PETA does indeed kill over 90% of the animals turned over to it and though the organization has a budget of over $27 million a year -- mostly spent on self-promotion as far as I can see -- it spends almost nothing on rehoming dogs and cats, preferring to rush them to the "blue solution" of death instead.

And how often does it do this? Consider this: PETA's "humane society" operation averages one ton of dead animals a month going out its back door.

One Ton. PETA, it seems, stands for "People Exterminating Tons of Animals."

PETA not only kills almost every dog and cat turned over to it, they also proactively go out to pick up perfectly good animals from other shelters in order to kill them and illegally dump their bodies in roadside dumpsters.

All of this is fact.

Want to read and see more? Check out this previous post.

And yes, feel free to cross-post it to list-servs, web sites, and forward to family and friends. Let's tell the story far and wide that Mr. Kerr is ashamed to see in print.

God Himself Tips His Hat for Governor's Last Run

Northern lights in Alaska, aka, the aurora borealis.

The sum total of what PETA knows about animals
in general, and dogs in particular, could be written on the head of a pin with a felt tip.

As Gina noted in a recent post on the Pet Connection blog, PETA expresses great concern whenever a well-loved pulling dog dies on the once-a-year Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, but we hear not a peep out of them about the ONE TON of dead animals that they kill every month and push out their back door for the incinerator man to haul away.

No matter. What are you going to do about morons and hypocrites, ignorants and self-aggrandizing goofs? They will always be with us.

And let us hope the men and women of the Iditarod will be as well. The Anchorage Daily News ran this wonderful article the other day which sums up how these folks feel about their dogs. Sometime a short story tells quite a lot:

By Kevin Klott March 11th, 2008

Lead Dog's Ashes Spread Where He Often Ran Best

Governor's last great race ends at Bishop Rock, where Gebhardt says goodbye.

UNALAKLEET -- Feeling melancholy from pouring the ashes of his dead lead dog on the Yukon River, Paul Gebhardt dug deep for happiness late Saturday when he watched green northern lights dance in the sky.

Traveling in and out of the fog banks between Nulato and Kaltag, the lights illuminated the sky so brightly that even Gebhardt's dogs took notice. Running with their ears pinned back from a slight headwind, all but one dog looked to the heavens and watched the aurora borealis show.

"I'd never seen them do that," Gebhardt said. "It was something out of a Disney movie.

"I was just laughing," he said. "It would have been a beautiful picture."

Hours before, Gebhardt had been mourning Governor, a 4-year-old that died suddenly four months ago at the musher's Kasilof kennel. Gebhardt took out a bag with ashes of his prized lead dog and spread them along the Iditarod Trail.

Governor was just reaching his prime when he died Nov. 2. He had led Gebhardt to a second-place finish in last year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. But Governor, a rock eater all his life, swallowed a quarter-sized rock and it killed him.

Instead of burying him near the kennel, Gebhardt decided to spread Governor's ashes at Bishop Rock -- the halfway point between Ruby and Kaltag where Governor often ran best.

"He was always good on the river," Gebhardt said. "So it made sense."

With 13 dogs traveling by the glow of Gebhardt's headlamp, he cut a hole in the bottom of the bag and let Governor's ashes spill out as the team ran.

"Mitch (Seavey) was right behind me, so his team was running right through Governor," Gebhardt said. "That's probably why he's ahead of me now. He's got Governor dust." >> Read the rest

A musher rests with one of his dogs during the 2005 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Great Minds in the Middle East

From The Daily Telegraph (UK):

"Kidnappers attempting to evade capture in Iraq have hit on a new, risk-free method of collecting ransom payments: the homing pigeon.

Iraqi police say they have recorded repeated instances of kidnappers leaving homing pigeons on the doorsteps of their victim's homes, with instructions for the families to attach cash to the birds' legs. The pigeons then deliver the ransom to the gangs' hideouts.

Pigeon-keeping is a popular hobby in Iraq, and enthusiasts there say that some of the stronger birds can carry weights of up to 2½ ounces on each leg.
One family attached $10,000 in $100 notes to the legs of five homing pigeons, which they found in a cage left on their doorstep. "

Hmmmm. Is the "Talibanning of pigeons" too far away? Maybe not.

Only in New York


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Virginia County Raises the Bounty on Coyotes

Cumberland County, in central Virginia, has raised the bounty on coyotes to $50 for each one killed.

Bounties for coyote control have had mixed results in Virginia. Halifax County is satisfied with the success of its program, but Nottoway County dropped its bounty after about a year because officials didn't feel it was effective.

Biologists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture say coyotes are in every county in Virginia, and that a bounty program is not the way to go as it is indiscriminate slaughter that does not properly the target the very narrow problem.

Two years ago Cumberland County had three baby goats killed by coyotes, but now farmers say they attribute as many as 30 calf deaths to coyote predation last year.

To lower loses, the Dept. of Agricutlure recommends using an integrated approach that includes fencing, quard animals such as dogs and llamas, and targeting killing of those select coyotes that are actually attacking livestock.


A Calgary Version of Caddyshack


Gophers Notch a Win in Man-Rodent Battle

CALGARY, Alberta - A war on gophers waged by two Canadian men went awry this weekend when a device used to blast the rodents in their holes sparked a grass fire in a rural area near Calgary, causing more than $197,000 in damage.

Despite a ban on fires in the tinder-dry area of Springbank, just northeast of Calgary's city limits, two men went into a field to kill gophers using a device called a Rodenator, fire officials said on Monday.

The device pumps a mixture of propane and oxygen into gopher holes, which is then ignited, and, according to the manufacturer's Web site, the resulting blast creates a shock wave that kills the gopher and collapses its tunnel system.

"We had a couple of acreage owners out taking care of their rodent problem with this device," said Capt. Joe Garssi of the municipal district of Rocky View's fire department.

"They did a few holes successfully and then hit a hole that didn't go in very far. When they filled it with propane it over-filled the hole ... and when they ignited it (fire) flashed out of the hole into the grass beside them."

The resulting grass fire scorched about 160 acres of surrounding property and destroyed a number of outbuildings. No homes were damaged.

"The way I look at it, it's 'humans eight, gophers one'." Garssi said, as the two men destroyed about eight of the rodents before sparking the blaze.

Charges are being considered against one of the two men involved.

In Western Canada, gophers, more properly called Richardson's ground squirrels, are often considered a nuisance, blamed for ruining crops and damaging golf courses and lawns.


Alison Krauss and Robert Plant

Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On) - an old Everly Brothers song record at The Mill in Lebanon, Tennessee from the excellent duet album Raising Sand. More and more here.

Led Zeppelin is just celtic music with a whammy bar, and blue grass is just celtic music with a dobro and banjo. So why do old Everly Brothers songs? Dunno, but not bad all the same.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Making Hay and Losing Birds

As human population numbers have increased
in the U.S. and across the world, more and more pressure has been put on America's farm land -- the source of 15% of the world's cereal production.

The good news is that record crops are being produced despite the fact that less and less land is being put under the plow.

The bad news is that this increased production has required more automation, less fence-row cover, and more intensive management of farm habitat than ever before.

A good example of what is going on can be seen by taking a look at America's hayfields. While 40 years ago a hay field might have been harvested once a year, most hayfields are cut three times a year now, thanks to automation. The second and third hay harvests typically occur just as grassland birds are breeding. The result -- a tremendous decline in grassland breeding birds across the U.S. (PDF at link)

The number of hayfields in the U.S. is also in decline -- a direct consequence of fewer horses and fewer grass-fed beef cattle, and also a decline in grass-fed dairy production.

Today most cattle are fed and fattened on grain, which produces both greater milk yields and more rapid beef production. While consumers benefit, grassland bird populations are in general and rapid decline.

A Small World ... With Snakes

I was over at Blue Crab Boulevard when I came across an article about Andy Bacas getting bit by a Canebreak (i.e. Timber) Rattlesnake.

I know Andy! He and I rowed crew together (on different boats) in high school. And yes, it was a public high school. Andy now coaches the Yorktown High School team. Though Andy and I both graduated from a nearby rival high school, my son graduated from Yorktown just last year (he played baseball). Small world! Apparently Andy is doing well despite the snake bite.


Only in Alaska -- Flying Moose

This is one of those only-in-Alaska stories that happens to be true.

Back in October of 2004, a trophy-sized bull moose was accidentally entangled in a power line under construction by City Electric Inc. The power lines went to the Teck Pogo gold mine about 80 miles southeast of of Fairbanks. The moose apparently got its antlers tangled in electrical wire before workers farther down the line pulled the line tight. The moose was suspended 50 feet in the air when workers, recognizing something was wrong, backtracked and found it. (click on pictures to see larger versions).

The moose was alive when it was lowered to the ground but was later killed when officials from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game decided against tranquilizing it to remove the wires because they were worried the moose, already stressed, would die and the meat would not be salvageable as a result of tranquilizer drugs. The moose, which weighed about 1,200 pounds, reportedly had an 62-inch antler spread

The theory is that the moose came across the sagging and swaying wires and, fueled by testosterone during rut, decided to challenge the power line to a fight and got entangled. Workers didn't know the moose was tangled until they tightened the line up with a hydraulic winch. Because the line is tensioned in five mile segments, and the moose got entangled near the middle, no one was actually there to see the moose get winched up into the air. The moose was actually tangled in the static line, a half-inch cable strung next to the power lines to serve as a lightning rod.


Dog Car Circa 1932

The folks over at Pet Connection have an entire web site on Dog Cars, but they are missing this wonderful prototype dog car (above) from 1932.

This article is from the December 1932 edition of Modern Mechanix magazine (cover to the right).

Of course, not everyone is wealthy enough to be able to afford a dedicated car for the dogs, so a low cost option was suggested in the June 1936 edition of Popular Mechanics: a dog sack.

This idea is not too different from a terrierman's bag hung from the side of a horse, eh? Except, of course, that the dog would be hit in the head with gravel at 60 miles per hour in a car, would fall under the wheels of the car if any part of this device came undone, was completely unprotected from other dogs at stop lights, and was unsheltered from the wind and rain ....

Otherwise a marvelous idea.

For the record, the best overall "dog car" for 2007 was deemed to be the Honda Element. For other contenders in 2007 >> click here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dogs and Dyslexia

Where in the World?

The map, above, shows human population densities -the spikes are major urban areas. To see this map large, and its analog -- a map of the natural world elevations, click here.

Most of us like to think of ourselves as being rather worldly, but in truth our knowledge tends to start and stop with the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Consider the following eight locations, most of whom the average American has never even heard of:

  • Shandong: Has a population as big as Mexico.

  • Guangdong / Hainan: Have a population as big as Germany.

  • Anhui: Has a population as big as Italy.

  • Hubei: Has a population as big as France.

  • Liaoning: Has a population as big as Spain.

  • Shanxi: Has a population as big as Canada.

  • Tianjin: Has a population as big as Sweden

  • Ningxia: Has a population as big as Finland.

All of these locations are in China, of course. While falling birth rates have slowed population growth in China, demographic momentum continues to move the population of that country upwards.

Between 1995 and 2025, China's population will increase by a number roughly equivalent to the total population of the United States.

And though China's population is large, it's status as #1 in terms of size is being threatened by India, whose population growth rate is twice that of China.

India's population, now at well over 1 billion, is expected to overtake China's sometime within the next 30 years or so. Food for thought ...

For some other posts from this blog on population growth, see:


Hillary Spins It Into the Ground

Whatever your thoughts and feelings about NAFTA, what all of us heard from Hillary Clinton when she was campaigning in Ohio was somewhay shy of the truth, wasn't it? Her schedule has revealed that she was a cheerleader for this trade deal, not a vocal critic as she has claimed.

And then, of course there is the Bosnia thing, where she claims she flew in under fire and had to be rushed out of the airplane in fear of her life.

Of course, that's not the way anyone else remembers it, is it?

Yes, this is small potatoes, but remember this is also her claim to fame in the world of foreign policy experience.

That, and bringing peace to Northern Ireland (cough, cough). Somehow no one else remembers that happening either.

Hmmm . . . .


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Coffee and Provocation

The Camera Trap Codger has (so far) been defeated in his quest to build a squirrel-proof owl box. Check out the blog for fantastic shots of cougar, grey fox, ext. but the progessive story of owl-box armament is amusing in its own right.

Praire Mary has a terrific piece on the difference between black and white churches, and offers some insight as well into the difference between churches in the North and the South as well. As always, very well written and insightful. Check it out.

Want to read the stupidest article ever on the stupidest pet owner ever? Check out this piece on an overweight Chihuahua and what these morons spent to try to get it to lose weight. Unbelievable. How about serve it less and walk it more?

Hunter Education is now being offered in West Virginia Schools. This is a terrific idea, because such a course would reasonably include not only the history of U.S. wildlife management, but population dynamics, concepts like sustainability, eco-system integration, fire-arms safety and responsibility, and the rise of zoonotic diseases. Read more about it. Excellent. Hope it's being done right.

California Wolverines? Yep, it looks like that. A California camera trap took a shot of a wolverine in California. The last confirmd wolverine in the Sierras was shot in 1922.

Wal-Mart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have given $1 million to Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited to help protect more than 10,785 acres of habitat for birds in North and South Dakota.

A very good piece on veterinary conflicts of interest is up at Pet Connection. For another excellent piece by Christie Keith, read this one about the political assumptions people often make about those of us who think PETA are ninnies, guns are not necessarily evil, and hunting dogs should actually be used to hunt. . Does that make us right-wing authoritarians? Think again. Common sense, in turns out, is radical challenge to ideologues both political parties.

And finally, an old classic from Peter Sellers:


Get Rich Raising Rabbits

Wow! What a great idea!
Nothing breeds faster that rabbits, and this fine company in the heart of the rabbit-raising capitol of the world (cough, cough) will pay you "up to" $5.00 each.

What could go wrong? Nothing!

This ad is from the 1937 edition of Popular Science magazine.

No Neck and Skin Tail

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Part of the Furniture, Like Her Mother

A hat tip to the wonderful blog "Lassie, Get Help" for this video. Also, check out the wonderful piece on Jon Katz at the same blog.

Getting advice on dogs from Jon Katz is about like getting cooking tips from Jeffrey Dahmer; yes, it's cooking, but .... well, should there be leg bones in the soup?

Camera Traps Finds Pygymy Hippos in the Wild

Scientists are thrilled to report that a camera trap set up in Liberia has found a pygmy hippo in the wild. This is only the second picture of a wild pygmy hippo ever taken -- the first was photographed in Sierra Leone back in 2006.

The fact that the pygymy hippos still exists in the wild is very good news, as these animals have endured two civil wars and a 90% loss of their habitat. >> To read more

Raccoon and Fox in the Front yard

You might have noticed I cut down the big miscanthus grass in the front yard -- it's that time of year.

Not having the white background of a big stand of dead grass has actually helped the camera get a better exposture on the critters at night. I wondered if cutting away the cover would phase the fox and raccoon, but apparently the answer is "no."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Skin Tail Last Night

A pretty good shot of the fox I am calling "Skin Tail." It looks to me like he's losing more fur on his tail, which would be pretty classic for mange. He's running with a young female I am calling "No Neck."

Overbreeding: Beware of Simple Answers

You could look a pretty long time and not find anyone as sympathetic to over-population problems --both canine and human -- as I am. I have spayed or neutered all my own dogs, and I have never had a litter of pups despite over 40 years with dogs.

I raise money for canine rescue and have rescued dogs directly from the street.

I suspect not many people in the world can say they have written a book that mentions the importance of Thomas Malthus in the development of the dog, and even fewer that have also written a piece entitled "Thank You for Not Breeding."

I take a back seat to almost no one when it come to population control. I have a Masters Degree in Demography, and at the age of 25 I walked into a urologist to get a vasectomy. The next week I began the process of adopting two children (now lovely young adults) from overseas. I imagine I am one of the very few working terrier enthusiasts in the world that can give a talk about all 23 methods of human fertility control.

Nor am I a big supporter of dog breeders. I do not value ribbons and paper pedigrees. My general recommendation to people looking for a pet dog is to go to rescue and/or or the local shelter. I do not believe that a "pure bred" Kennel Club dog is a better pet than a mongrel, any more than I think the Royal Family is a good place to find an athlete or a brain surgeon.

With such such deep concerns about over-population and the welfare of dogs, and a rather pronounced skepticism about the merits of paper pedigrees and selective breeding, you would think I would be the kind of person that supports mandatory spay-neuter programs as a way of reducing the number of dogs that end up in kill shelters.

But, as a general rule, I do not.

I am against broad mandatory spay-neuter proposals not only for practical reasons (they generally do not work as intended), but also for philosophical reasons.

First the philosophical reasons. I am pro-choice. Or, to put it another way, I am generally against authoritarianism, and I am for rational discourse and the power of persuasion and example. I would no more force all dog owners to spay-neuter their own dogs than I would outlaw contraception or require mandatory surgical contraception for all humans.

Now let's look at the practical. First, is there a problem? The short answer is "yes," but it's a much smaller problem than it used to be. Persuasion, education and teaching-through-example have been working to curb canine pet over-population in the United States for more than 30 years. As I noted a few years back, since 1975, canine shelter intakes and euthanasias have decreased by 60-80 percent in many cities, particularly those located on the East and West coasts of the U.S. This is a good thing.

If we agree that there is still a problem (albeit a smaller one than there used to be), the next question is WHAT is the problem? You would be surprised at how little thought has gone into that question.

You see, the problem is NOT puppies. Healthy puppies are readily sold or adopted from pounds. There is always a line of people eager for a puppy.

The problem is DOGS. While puppies are small and cute, a dog is a loud, expensive, demanding, barking, defecating, and life-restricting ball-and-chain.

It turns out that a lot of people that want a cute puppy are not so enamored with the realities of adult dog ownership. In a world of throw-away marriages, jobs, cars, communities and houses, dogs have been tossed on to the pile.

According to the the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs that are left in shelters are those that are most likely to have been obtained at little or no cost, are deemed by their first owners as needing more care and attention than expected, and are most likely to come from a family that is divorcing, moving, or has changed financial circumstances.

The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy has identified the top ten reasons people abandon dogs and cats in shelters: (1) euthanasia due to illness; (2) moving; (3) found animal (of unknown origin); (4) landlords will not allow pets; (5) owner has too many animals; (6) euthanasia due to age; (7) cost of maintenance of pet; (8) animal is ill; (9) allergies within the family; and (10) house soiling

If you look over this list, it becomes quite clear that the problem is not that there are "too many puppies," but that a lot of people who get puppies are not well-prepared for the realities and responsibilities of full-sized dog ownership.

How will mandatory spay-neuter laws change that equation? Not to the positive. You see, the unintended consequence of a mandatory spay-neuter policy is that it will increase the percentage of dogs coming from full-time commercial breeding facilities (sometimes called puppy mills or puppy farms) where paying the additional licensing cost for an unspayed bitch ($100 a year or more per bitch) will still make sense.

Commercial canine breeding facilities treat dogs as a cash-and-carry business. Little or no screening or education of prospective owners is done, and if the dog does not work out, the breeder is not going to take that dog back -- good luck with it.

Mandatory spay-neuter laws also have other unintended consequences, not the least of which is that they dramatically reduce the number of people willing to show up to get a dog license, since enforcement of spay-neuter laws often occurs at this contact-point with authorities. Since receipts from dog licensing are often used to support local shelters and animal control facilities, this loss of revenue is no small thing. Add to the mix the new work of inspecting and evaluating breeding facilities, and tracking all puppy sales, and you have an unworkable compliance and enforcement situation.

Ironically, it is the responsible person who takes his dogs to the vet, and who gets his dogs licensed, that will feel the full weight of mandatory spay-neuter laws. Ignorant and irresponsible dog owners who do not take their dogs to the vet, and who do not get their dogs licensed, will continue to remain "under the radar" and will continue to breed all those "free to good home" dogs that so often end up in kill shelters just nine months later.

There is an obvious alternative to the heavy hand of mandatory spay-neuter laws -- programs that enable and encourage responsibility by subsidizing spay-neuter procedures, or which change the way such services are paid for. In my area, spaying a dog can cost anywhere from $250 to $500, and absolutely nothing is done to cushion that cost even for the poor or the elderly on fixed incomes. How hard would it be for the State to simply add a dedicated tax to dog food, with the proceeds from that tax going to subsidize voluntary low-cost spay-neuter programs within the state?

If we are really interested in reducing the number of dogs put up for adoption, of course, we need to spend some time on the "unselling" of dogs in general, and purebred dogs in particular.

When we talk about dogs to people that do not have dogs, we need to talk about the fact that dogs are expensive, time-consuming, and smelly.

We need to acknowledge that they will occasionally pee on a carpet or wake us up at 5 in the morning. Dogs not only bark, they howl, they scratch at doors, they eat cell phones, and they will quickly reduce the resale value of your car. Not to mention that landlords hate them.

If people want to get a dog, fine, but there should be no surprises about the numerous liabilities involved, and that those liabilities can easily last for 15 years.

I consider it a great credit to the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America that this particular organization publishes warning ads about their breed in almost every canine publication, and that they also feature a prominent section on their web site warning prospective Jack Russell Terrier owners that these dogs "are not Wishbone," are "first and foremost hunting dogs," are "often aggressive with other dogs" and are "NOT a non-shedding breed." The JRTCA goes on to note that Jack Russells may kill other small pets in the house (especially rodents and cats), require a fenced yard, and "can be very destructive if left unattended and unemployed."

The AKC and the various breed clubs associated with the AKC should follow the JRTCA lead and similarly "unsell" their breeds while working to fully describe the general liabilities of dog ownership.

Perhaps fewer people would be so enamored with puppies if the Eukenuba and Westminster show announcers told the TRUE liabilities of dogs in general, and each breed in particular. Would that make these dogs show less interesting? I think not.

Haven't most of us heard the same lies and "bon mots" told about these breeds again and again? Wouldn't it be nice to hear a little about why dogs eat their own excrement, and why dogs will repeatedly urinate on the exact same spot on the rug?

How about a run-down on the cost of fixing the bad hips of a St. Bernard and the bad back of a Dachshund?

How about a little description of the liabilities of a Corgi or a Sheltie around small children, and the financial cost and labor of fencing in a yard? Perhaps a few statistics could be given on what percentage of landlords allow dogs, and what percentage of dogs are truly "nonshedding" (that would be zero).

If you want to reduce the number of shelter dogs, the place to start is not with spay-neuter laws, but with an honest reporting on what dog ownership is really about -- fleas, fur, turds, stains and all.

To admit to all the liabilities of dog ownership is not to value them less. I love my dogs and spend a lot of time and money on them, but dogs have never been a surprise to me or anything less than a responsibility and a burden that I have cheerfully accepted on myself.

Dogs are not for everyone, and they are not a relationship anyone should enter into lightly. The more we dog owners tell that story often -- and loudly -- to new and prospective dog owners, the fewer dogs we will see in shelters. If pound pups are a disease, the remedy is a talking cure.

So why do I hedge a bit? Why do I not come out and say I am opposed to mandatory spay-neuter under any circumstances?

The short answer is Pit Bulls.

This is a breed that is SO over-prescribed, and which is SO prone to tragedy (especially among unaltered males), that I think there is a very legitimate reason for cities and counties to require mandatory sterilization as a condition of ownership.

With nearly a million Pit Bulls a year being euthanized, and with education campaigns having no impact on voluntary reductions in breeding, there is a place for a rational and compassionate society to step in. Enough is enough.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's the Chance of This?

"As unbelievable as it sounds, an eagle ray leaped onto a boat off the Florida Keys on Thursday and stabbed a woman with its barb, knocking her to the deck and killing and killing her, a Florida wildlife investigator said." >> Read the rest

Playing Possum?

Sometimes when opossums are cornered, they will simply keel over into a dead faint. Many predators, such as dogs, don't quite to know what to do with a dead opossum, and will walk away. If the predator does leave, the opossum will eventually raise up its head, look around, and if danger has passed, scurry off to cover.

Research indicates that "playing possum" is not really an act. Instead, the possum suffers a kind of nervous collapse. Since opossums aren't well equipped for fighting, their "delicate nervous system" has adaptated by creating an "over ride" mechanism that pushes them into a kind of temporary catatonia which, ironically enough, can help keep the possum alive.

The reason "playing possum" works is that the attack response in many dogs and other predator is also genetic -- it has nothing to do with being "angry" or being "hungry". The reason a fox will kill as many chickens as it can is that the jerky and fluttering movement of the chicken triggers a "mass murder" response within the fox. If chickens simply "played dead," like a possum often will, a vixen would pluck off one hen and be on her way.

Ironically, another animal that will occassionaly go into catatonic shock when cornered is the red fox. A fox bolted into a net will sometimes slip into a kind of momentary catatonia as it's nervous system shuts down, the body stiffens, and a kind of nervous shock sets in. Again, this is a kind of defense mechanism. It must work well enough, for it is employed by two very different animals that are very successful. The red fox is the most widely distributed carnivore in the world, and the possum is one of the oldest animals on the planet.

Jeremiads are America's Oldest Scriptural Tradition

In all the recent press discussion
of Jeremiah Wright, I have yet to hear anyone note that Mr. Wright was named after the prophet Jeremiah.

For the record, the Book of Jeremiah is one of the oldest books in the Bible, and was one of the books found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

If you want original scripture, you cannot go to an earlier source than Jeremiah.

Because I am lazy, I will turn to Wikipedia for a quick summary of the prophet, his book, and the term jeremiad :

  • Jeremiah was a very theatrical prophet of the Old Testmant (i.e. the "eye for an eye" testament). Notes Wikipedia: "In his various exhortations, Jeremiah made extensive use of performance art, using props or demonstrations to illustrate points and engage the public. He walked around wearing a wooden yoke about his neck. He served wine to a family with a vow of temperance."

  • In The Book of Jeremiah, according to Wikipedia, Jeremiah spends a quarter century "repeatedly issued prophecies predicting God's forthcoming judgment; advocating the Jews put down their idols and repent in hopes of turning away God's judgment and fulfilling their destiny as his chosen people. Jeremiah's fellow Jews refused to heed his warnings, did not repent and due the failure of his efforts, he witnessed the destruction of everything he knew, the exile of the Jewish elite to Babylonia, and the fleeing of the remainder to Egypt."

  • A jeremiad, Wikipedia inform us, "is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in poetry, in which the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of society's imminent downfall .... Authors from Gildas to Robert Bork have had this label hung on their works. In contemporary usage, it is frequently pejorative, meant to suggest that the tone of the text is excessively pessimistic."

Jeremiads are some of America's oldest sermons, and were a core part of the early Puritan ministry.

The fact that so few Americans seem to have ever heard a good religious jeremiad gives you some idea of how far we have strayed from "that old time religion." It seems today's feel-good, pass-the-basket, sing-along churches don't really go in for that kind of thing. Hell fire? That's just allegory, right?

America's new churches, with their Gospel of Wealth, are designed to make us feel good about turning up the airconditioner, turning our backs on the poor, and killing muslims. They want us to feel good about ripping people off. You're rich? Great! That's as God intended -- never mind what Jesus said about camels, rich men, and eye of needles.

In the average church today, you will almost never hear a sermon about the evil of dumping toxins in the water or displaying ostentatious wealth. Helping the poor? There's not a lot of that in the modern church; just enough to give the youth fellowship folks something to do.

In the modern church, you will almost never hear anything about the state of America's crumbling schools, the slippery slope of detention without trial, or the failure to provide child care for young women with children struggling at the bottom of the U.S. economic ladder.

Instead, you will hear silly "children's sermons" and announcements about the permanent campaigns for a new roof or organ or mission trip. Bible passages may be read, but they will be devoid of social context -- as if we do not live in a country where housing prices have slipped 12 percent in the last year, where debt is not climbing through the roof, and where wages are not flat as a Kansas wheat field.

Churches have been devoid of social construct for a long time, especially in white America.

The churches most people are attending today were not leading the march for civil rights in 1960, anymore than they are leading the march for gay civil rights today.


No place in daily life is more segregated than the church pew on Sunday morning. And so no, you will not hear a sermon about the state of race relations in most churches; that would be too controversial. And again, never mind what Jesus said.

Meanwhile, we have draft dodgers like Rush Limbaugh questioning the patriotism of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a man who stood up, showed up and queued up for U.S. military service back in the era when this country would not allow black men in the south to eat at a lunch counter.

And we have people like Sean Hannity -- a former bar tender who dropped out of both high school and college -- telling us what it all means.



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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This Is a REAL Political Ad

Glass houses, etc. Too rich!

What's The Special of the Day?

I have posted the video, but the gourmands, will want to check out the article as well.

And nothing wrong with it -- we serve pig's feet in this country, and tripe and blood pudding (a type of sausage, for the record) are national dishes in some countries.

And for anyone in the U.S. getting too holier-than-thou, be advised that our national food, the hot dog, is made from ground dairy cow udders packed inside casings made from animal intestines. Quite good too.

So they're serving dingus today are they? Bring it on -- scrotum on the side, if you please.

Besides, dingus is a step up from rats, eh?

That said, this story reminds me of an old joke:

On a vacation in Spain, a guy goes to a bullfight. He sees the bull get killed.

Afterwards he's looking for somewhere to eat and he comes across a restaurant near the bullring. He goes in and takes a seat. He can't understand anything on the menu, so he just orders the special of the day.

The waiter brings out a bowl of broth in which float two large meaty balls.

"What are these?" asks the guy.

The waiter explains that they are the testicles of the bull that was killed in the ring that very day.

The guy's adventurous, so he takes a bite, decides they are delicious and finishes them off.

The next day he's sightseeing but he can't resist going back to the restaurant and ordering the "Bullfight Especial."

The waiter brings out a bowl, but this time the balls are much smaller.

He eats them anyway, finds them delicious but asks the waiter: "Aren't these balls much smaller than the ones you had yesterday?"

"Oh yes, SeƱor. You see it is not always the bull that

As for what dingus to order, when you are ordering your plate of dingus, Yak is apparently pretty good, but be sure to ask if they have any duck dong. Seeing is believing here.

Of course, I hope it does not need to be said that not all dingus are not the same, and it's best if you steer clear of those with bones in them or anything that is not well cooked.


The Price of Putting on the Dog

The article, below, is from The Wall Street Journal, and suggests that dogs are very expensive to own -- maybe $1,000 or more per dog per year. Outrageous? I thought so too, but if I figure out the wear and tear on the car, the the occasional high-cost health care bill (two of those in 7 years), food, etc., it's not quite as cheap as I think either. I figure my three dogs cost me about $1,000 a year for all three, but I might be low-balling that.

Calculating the True Cost of a Pet
by By Ron Lieber, The Wall Street Journal,
Dec. 12, 2005

That doggy in the window costs much more than you think.

How much? Almost $12,000 over a lifetime for a small dog that lives 15 years, and more than $23,000 for a larger breed that lives for 12. Those are just averages; the numbers grow quickly if, say, illnesses require trips to the vet.

These figures come from Jim Wilson, a veterinarian, lawyer and consultant who has created a detailed spreadsheet, down to the last chew toy, using data from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association and owners. Dr. Wilson crunched the numbers as part of his research into damages in lawsuits over pets and his work for a pet-insurance company.

Numbers like that might give anyone pause. "People think they can get the puppy from the pound for $125," he says. "And they honestly don't have a clue as to what the annual costs are going to be."

Some highlights from the spreadsheet: "Destruction of Household Items" averages $1,000 for a larger dog. Dr. Wilson knows of a Weimaraner that chewed up $3,500 worth of SUV dashboard. "Sometimes a tail takes out a whole table, and then you have broken china, red wine stains," he says. "Nobody takes that into account."

Thinking about pets in these terms may make you feel dangerously like the Grinch. In fact, it's precisely because animals can end up playing such important roles in our lives that it's crucial to consider the economic cost ahead of time. After all, once that pet becomes part of your household -- a playmate for the kids, a friend and companion -- you'll likely find yourself determined to spend whatever it takes to shield it from pain.

It's the veterinary bills that can really add up. These days it's a snap to spend a four-figure amount or more on care that wasn't even available a decade ago. That can lead, inevitably, to difficult choices. Trade journal DVM Newsmagazine asks vets every three years for the dollar amount at which most clients would stop treatment. In 2003, it stood at $961, up 67 percent from the 1997 figure. A 2004 American Kennel Club survey of dog owners found that 14 percent said their current ownership costs would deter them "significantly" or "quite a bit" from getting another one.

There are several things you can do to avoid finding yourself in that group. Before you buy, see a vet for a "pet selection" appointment. Once there, ask about recurring costs and potential genetic and behavior problems.

Also set a realistic budget. Fran Hickman, a financial planner with JSF Financial LLC in Los Angeles, sets aside almost $14,000 annually for her African green parrot, two Jack Russell terriers and a horse named Temptation. Her advice? Be honest with yourself about what you're willing to sacrifice for an animal (or a menagerie). "It impacts your family vacations when you spend $5,000 on an ill pet," she says.

Finally, consider insurance. Some employers offer it, or you can buy it through outfits like Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. Deductibles and payment caps may apply, just as they would for humans.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Tough Day at the Veterinary Office

This combination of two photos shows the torn human arm of veterinarian Chang Po-yu remaining in the jaws of a Nile Crocodile at a local zoo in Kaohsiung, Taiwan on April 11, 2007, and veterinarian Chang Po-yu undergoing a physical therapy in Kaohsiung on Dec. 19, after surgeons had re-attached his forearm. >> To read more

A More Perfect Union

Full text of speech here Link to video here

More folks need to read Barack Obama's first book,
in which he talks about the fact that when his white mother, from Kansas, married his black father, from Kenya, such a marriage was illegal in more than half the states in the Union.

In that book, Barack also writes of his grandmother's fear of black men, the sacrifices his white mother made to put him in a very good school in Hawai'i, the marginal economic situation of his white grandparents (who raised him for 10 years), his own service organizing poor black communities in Chicago, and his personal conversion to Christianity while attending Trinity United Church of Christ.

The book is entitled Dreams From My Father and is available, in paperback, in any book store or library in the nation. It is an excellent read, and though it was written 13 years ago (right after Barack finished graduating from Harvard Law School), no one who has read the book, or heard it, would find a note out of place from the speech he gave today.

This is not a politician recutting his jib. This is not a politician who has any fear of controversy, or who is confused about who he is, or what he wants to say to the world.

Instead of diving for cover, Obama used the Ferraro-Wright flap as a moment to reaffirm his message and how he came to it.

Instead of assuming Americans are fools, he spoke as if most Americans are smart, honest and looking to build a better America.

Of course, not everyone is going to get to the promised land. There are some who are too angry, too scared, or too vested in the politics of division. Is Reverend Wright one of those? Maybe. Are Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly? Maybe. Time and action will tell us who is most interested in dividing the nation along race or religious lines. One thing for sure: it's not Barack Obama.