Tag: Year

New Report Reveals USDA Is Failing The 9.6 Billion Turkeys & Chickens Who Are Killed At Slaughterhouses Each Year

The inadequate, haphazard oversight by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) of the treatment of chickens and turkeys at slaughterhouses has resulted in the widespread mistreatment and suffering of birds at some of the nation’s largest plants, with no real consequences for the meat companies, according to new research released on Friday by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI).

AWI’s report reviews USDA inspection records from 2017 through 2019 at approximately 300 federally inspected turkey and chicken slaughter plants, which kill the vast majority of the 9.6 billion birds butchered every year for their meat.

The USDA has gradually increased the number of handling records issued for noncompliance with ‘good commercial practices’ (GCP) at chicken and turkey slaughter plants over the past 14 years. However, during the recent three-year period, inspectors took action to stop the abuse of birds in only 14% of the documented incidents.

Although the slaughter of birds is currently governed by the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act, not one single USDA regulation requires that individual birds be handled ‘humanely.’ As a result, inspectors are prevented from taking any enforcement action for most GCP violations.

Sixteen bird slaughter plants were cited for 20 or more ‘humane’ handling violations, yet the USDA only issued ‘Letters of Concern’ to Pilgrim’s Pride in Nacogdoches, Texas, and Mar-Jac Poultry in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for egregious or repeat handling problems, according to documents obtained by AWI through the Freedom of Information Act.

“Absent real accountability, industry leaders have no incentive to alter their behavior and treat birds more humanely,” Dena Jones, Farm Animal Program Director for AWI, said in a statement. “It is clear that the USDA is not serious about preventing mistreatment of birds at slaughter; the department’s GCP oversight program, which it created in 2005 in response to public and congressional outcry over bird mistreatment, is purely voluntary.”

Between 2017 and 2019, the most commonly cited “humane” handling problems at turkey and chicken slaughter plants involved birds drowning in scald tanks and the improper disposal of live birds, including burying them alive under piles of dead birds. Incidents affecting the largest number of birds involved high dead-on-arrival rates due to suffocationor prolonged exposure to extreme weather, as well as mechanical problems resulting in injury and death. For example, records showed that multiple birds had their legs ripped off or were disemboweled while conscious due to malfunctioning equipment.

Similarly, video footage obtained by animal advocacy undercover investigations has revealed that, even under the GCP program, the abuse of birds is still common practice at some slaughter plants, where workers have been observed throwing, kicking, and punching birds on numerous occasions.

In August, AWI and Farm Sanctuary sued the USDA for failing to require “humane” handling of birds at slaughter. The lawsuit is still pending.

AWI’s recent investigation, which updates its 2017 report on this issue, found that the following turkey and chicken slaughter plants received the most GCP citations from 2017 through 2019: Allen Harim Foods in Harbeson, DE (56); Mar-Jac Poultry in Hattiesburg, MS (49); Perdue Foods in Lewiston, NC (37); Moroni Turkey Processing (Pitman Farms) in Moroni, UT (35); and the former Simply Essentials Poultry in Charles City, IA (34).

Among the report’s recommendations:

  • The USDA should promulgate regulations requiring the “humane” handling of birds by addressing worker training, transportation, and holding conditions, the shackling of birds, the treatment of sick and injured birds, and more.

  • The department should proactively post online records related to noncompliance, and refer incidents involving intentional abuse for prosecution under state animal cruelty laws.

“Industry leaders and the USDA continue to promote a false narrative that there is robust federal enforcement of “humane” handling of birds at slaughter,” Jones said. “It is incumbent upon the next administration and Congress to put an end to this egregious cruelty.”

WAN and Peace 4 Animals looks forward to a compassionate plant-based future which no longer includes killing animals for their meat. 

The post New Report Reveals USDA Is Failing The 9.6 Billion Turkeys & Chickens Who Are Killed At Slaughterhouses Each Year appeared first on World Animal News.

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Breaking! McDonald’s Announces Its New McPlant Burger Which Will Begin Testing In Key Markets Next Year

This morning, McDonald’s Corporation announced a new growth strategy, Accelerating the Arches, which encompasses all aspects of McDonald’s business. As noted in a statement by the company, the growth pillars build on historic strengths and articulate areas of further opportunity including incorporating plant-based options on its menu.

This includes the new McPlant, which the company describes in a post on its website as “a delicious plant-based burger crafted for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s, and with the kind of craveable McDonald’s flavor customers love.”

McDonald’s will begin to test the McPlant burger which is served on a sesame seed bun with all the classic toppings, in key markets next year. The company reportedly may include plant-based chicken and breakfast sandwiches on its menu as well.

As previously reported by WAN, McDonald’s tested its first plant-based burger, the P.L.T., in partnership with Beyond Meat, in 28 restaurants in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, last year.

We hope that the new McPlant burger is a huge success and leads to more compassionate plant-based choices in fast food dining worldwide.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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Breaking! A Lawsuit Filed Today Aims To Save An Estimated 300 Leopards Each Year From Being Imported Into The United States By Hunters As So-Called “Trophies”

Conservation and animal protection organizations filed a lawsuit today challenging decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that authorize leopard trophy hunting imports from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia into the United States.

The United States is a major global importer of leopard “trophies.” On average, the country imports nearly 300 leopard “trophies,” which is 52% of all leopard trophies in trade each year. During the most recent five-year period for which data is available, the United States imported 1,037 leopard trophies from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia alone.

“Federal officials are dishing out leopard import permits right and left despite lacking the data to know how trophy hunting harms this highly imperiled species,” Tanya Sanerib, International Legal Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Regulations clearly require our government not to OK imports without adequate info about these beautiful big cats and all the ways humans are harming them.”

Leopards are vulnerable to extinction. Scientists believe that African leopard populations are plummeting due to habitat loss, prey depletion, persecution by people, poaching for the illegal skin trade, and unsustainable trophy hunting. The actual rate of leopard decline remains largely unknown, and most nations lack population estimates.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),the leopard trade is permissible only under exceptional circumstances. Nevertheless, bowing to politics and diplomatic negotiations, parties to the international treaty recently sustained unjustifiably high quotas or caps on the number of leopards that can be traded annually as so-called “trophies.”

The lawsuit challenges the Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to meet this obligation by authorizing U.S. trophy hunters to import leopard trophies from Africa. The hunters rely on these decisions when traveling to Africa to hunt this beautiful species. Due to travel restrictions and COVID-19 risks, fewer hunters are traveling to Africa, meaning the leopards covered by the challenged import authorizations are likely still alive and could still be saved from import.

Today, the organizations also gave the Fish and Wildlife Service notice of their intent to sue over the agency’s failure to make a 12-month finding on their 2016 petition to list all leopards as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

Most leopard populations in Africa are currently listed as “threatened” and are not given the law’s full range of protections. Furthermore, an endangered listing would increase transparency and give the public the ability to comment on trophy import applications. That petition also requested that the agency take immediate action to apply a stricter standard to the import of leopards as “trophies.”

WAN and Peace 4 Animals believe that leopards should be protected without question under the Endangered Species Act, and all trophy hunting imports into the United States should be banned indefinitely,” stated the organizations. “If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and CITIES do not step up to help this imperiled species, we might lose them to extinction in the near future.”

The Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States, and a South Africa-based photographic safari operator filed the lawsuit.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

The post Breaking! A Lawsuit Filed Today Aims To Save An Estimated 300 Leopards Each Year From Being Imported Into The United States By Hunters As So-Called “Trophies” appeared first on World Animal News.

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Breaking! New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Moves To Put An End To The State’s Barbaric Bear Hunts Beginning Next Year

Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy announced that the New Jersey Fish and Game Council has proposed changes to the state’s Game Code that would end bear hunting in New Jersey after 2020.

The Fish and Game Council, which has authority over the hunt, has proposed an amendment to the New Jersey Game Code that suspends the hunt and removes the current Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy from the Game Code.

These changes enable the Council and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct a thorough review of the current scientific data to develop a new policy that promotes public safety and welfare while protecting New Jersey’s wildlife, with a focus on non-lethal bear-management techniques.

“With today’s announcement, we will end the bear hunt under my Administration and develop a new black bear policy that keeps public safety at the forefront of our concerns while protecting wildlife in the state,” Governor Murphy said in a statement. “I am grateful to the Fish and Game Council for their commitment to working with the Department of Environmental Protection to address this issue and chart a better way forward.”

“The DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), in coordination with the independent Fish and Game Council, is committed to protecting public safety and wildlife,” stated DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “As DFW and the Council embark upon the data and policy analysis necessary to develop a new Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, we will rely on the best available science, communicate often with the public, and work to achieve the best balance. We look forward to continuing our productive dialogue with the Council on this and other important natural resource management priorities.”

The rules proposed in yesterday’s New Jersey Register are subject to a 60-day comment period. Pending the public comment process, the current Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy will be removed from the Game Code, which means that no bear hunt may proceed unless and until a new Policy is adopted. The Murphy Administration will prioritize non-lethal bear management strategies in any future Policy. Bear hunting will not proceed after the 2020 season under the Murphy Administration.

In August 2018, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order directing the DEP to close all public lands under the Department’s jurisdiction to bear hunting for the 2018 season. That order prohibited bear hunting in all state forests, state parks, state recreation areas, state historic sites, state wildlife management areas, and state natural areas.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

The post Breaking! New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Moves To Put An End To The State’s Barbaric Bear Hunts Beginning Next Year appeared first on World Animal News.

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Breaking! Western Joshua Trees Are Now Protected Under California’s Endangered Species Act For At Least One Year

Earlier this week, the California Fish and Game Commission agreed to accept a petition protecting western Joshua trees under the state’s Endangered Species Act, granting legal protection to the iconic trees for at least a year.

Joshua trees are threatened by climate change, fire and, habitat destruction from urban sprawl, and other development in their Mojave Desert home.

“This is a huge victory for these beautiful trees and their fragile desert ecosystem,” Brendan Cummings, the Center for Biological Diversity conservation director and a Joshua Tree resident, said in a statement. “If Joshua trees are to survive the inhospitable climate we’re giving them, the first and most important thing we can do is protect their habitat. This decision will do that across most of their range.”

This week’s vote grants Joshua trees candidate status under the California Endangered Species Act, giving them legal protection during a yearlong review to determine whether the species should be formally protected under the state law.

The vote affirms the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s April recommendation, which came in response to a petition from the Center.

Commissioners also agreed to give developers of 15 shovel-ready industrial solar projects in Kern and San Bernardino counties so-called “take authorization,” allowing them to kill Joshua trees. In exchange the developers must pay into a state fund that will be used to purchase and permanently preserve Joshua tree habitat. This exemption applies only during the review period and requires developers to pay approximately $10,000 an acre, based on a ratio of 1.5 acres for every acre of occupied habitat that’s destroyed.

“This summer’s raging wildfires, heatwaves, and hurricanes confirm our dire climate crisis and the need to urgently achieve 100% renewable energy,” stated  Cummings. “But, the best places to put solar panels are on rooftops, parking lots, and degraded farmland, not pristine desert habitats. We disagree that these exemptions are needed, but we understand the commission’s decision.”

Recent studies show Joshua trees are dying off because of hotter, drier conditions, with very few younger trees becoming established. Even greater changes are projected over the coming decades. Earlier this year scientists projected that the Joshua tree will be largely gone from its namesake national park by the end of the century.

Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied federal protection to the species.

“Joshua trees face extinction in the wild and there is not much time left to save them. Human-caused climate change is making matters worse,” said Cummings. “It’s critical that the state stood up for these spectacular trees, because the federal government, local officials, and for-profit corporations are facilitating their destruction.”

Climate change could wipe out western Joshua trees, which already are failing to reproduce at drier, lower elevations. Prolonged droughts are projected to be more frequent and intense over the coming decades, shrinking the species’ range and leading to more tree deaths. Higher elevations, where Joshua trees might survive increasing temperatures and drying conditions, are at risk of fire due to invasive non-native grasses.

Habitat loss and degradation are also major threats. Outside of Joshua Tree National Park, off-road vehicle use, cattle grazing, power lines and pipelines, and large-scale energy projects are destroying habitat. Approximately 40% of the western Joshua tree’s range in California is on private land, with only a tiny fraction protected from development. Current projections show that virtually all of this habitat will be lost without stronger legal protections for the trees.

“Developers are bulldozing Joshua trees every day to build roads, power lines, strip malls, and vacation rentals,” said Cummings. “If these beautiful plants are to have any hope of surviving in a warming world, we have to stop killing them.”

The Joshua tree has recently been recognized as composed of two distinct species, the western Joshua tree and the eastern Joshua tree. The two species occupy different areas of the desert, are genetically and morphologically distinguishable, and have different pollinating moths.

The vote addresses the western species. The western Joshua tree has a boomerang-shaped range stretching from Joshua Tree National Park westward along the northern slopes of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains, through the Antelope Valley, northward along the eastern flanks of the southern Sierra Nevada and eastward to the edges of Death Valley National Park and into Nevada.

The eastern Joshua tree’s range in California is centered in the Mojave National Preserve and extends east into Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

If Joshua trees win protection under California’s Endangered Species Act, state and local agencies will have to manage threats to them, including developing a recovery plan outlining a strategy to protect the species in the face of climate change.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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