Thursday, December 23, 2010

Senate approves Pearson for U.S. District Court in Northern Ohio

Judge Pearson was recommended for the District Court position by Sen. Sherrod Brown and nominated by President Obama in December, 2009.

Pearson is currently an Adjunct Professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law where she teaches Animal Law. Listed in her Senate questionnaire responses were memberships in Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Senate Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees

Her association with animal rights groups, particularly ALDF, was questioned by Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL):

"In your questionnaire, you noted that you are a member of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (“ALDF”). As you noted during your hearing, you also teach Animal Law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. According to the syllabus you provided, your course includes a section devoted to constitutional standing. The ALDF advocates that animals should be considered “legal persons” and have “standing” in court. Do you believe that animals should be conferred legal standing to bring a lawsuit?"

Judge Pearson Response: Existing laws do not confer standing upon animals. On a case by case basis, however, courts have addressed whether standing should be conferred upon the legal representative of an animal. See, e.g., Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992) (finding that respondent lacked standing); Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Glickman, 154 F.3d 426 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (en banc) (finding ALDF had standing to challenge the treatment of primates). If confirmed as a United States District Judge, I will enforce applicable legal precedent.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) expressed its opposition to Pearson's nomination as a federal judge, claiming she has ties to animal activists and urged Senate members to vote against her appointment. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said Pearson’s connections to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an organization that advocates giving animals the same legal rights as humans, would make it difficult for her to be an impartial judge in cases regarding actions by animal rights activists.

December 21, 2010. U.S. Senate confirmed U.S. Magistrate Judge Benita Y. Pearson by a vote of 56-39 to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

ALDF describes itself as attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law. They specialize in "filing groundbreaking lawsuits to stop animal abuse and expand the boundaries of animal law." ALDF advocates changing the legal status of animals from property to personhood.

“Everything we are doing lays the foundation for the one day when animals will have rights" ....“We need to get in their faces and sue the animal users so often they don’t know which courtroom they’re supposed to appear in next.” Valerie Stanley, ALDF Attorney June, 1996

ALDF is a partner in The Great Ape Legal Project, a joint project between ALDF and the Great Ape Project International, working to establish legal rights for nonhuman great apes.

The ALDF website explains, "Through this groundbreaking enterprise, ALDF is working to improve the legal status of nonhuman animals, who continue to be viewed by the courts — despite the clearer vision of scientists, philosophers and animal guardians everywhere — as mere property. "Animals have never been made a part of our legal system," explains ALDF President Steve Ann Chambers. "As a result, there is no legal recourse when they're exploited and abused."

According to the Great Ape Project mission statement, "the exploitation of great primates in laboratories, circus, entertainment shows and zoos can be considered a kind of slavery, reminding what men used to do with others of his own kind who were considered to be inferior a little bit more than one century ago."

ALDF also works to establish Student Animal Legal Defense Fund Chapters at Law Schools. Student chapters work with ALDF to advance the interests of animals through the legal system. Currently 152 U.S Chapters and 8 International Chapters have been established.

Decision announced on Louisiana dog-deer hunting



ATLANTA (December 17, 2010) USDA Forest Service officials announced today the decision to prohibit the use of dogs to hunt deeron the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. The decision has no effect on the current hunting season, but will be implemented during the 2011-2012 season.

The Kisatchie National Forest and the Southern Region conducted an in-depth environmental analysis and reviewedmore than 1,200 public comments before issuing the decision. Comments included concerns about this activity's effects on public safety,impacts on adjacent private landsand the potential loss of this type of hunting opportunity.

This decision addresses the need to reduce safety concerns by limiting conflicts between dog-deer hunters, other forest users and adjacent landowners, said Liz Agpaoa, Regional Forester for the Southern Region. Through the analysis we have determined that dog-deer hunting is no longer appropriate on the Kisatchie National Forest.

Currently, the Kisatchie National Forest is the only public land within Louisiana with a wildlife management mandate where dog-deer hunting is allowed. Conflicts occur between users when deer-hunting dogs range beyond the control of hunters and trespass onto private land.

Over the last several years, adjacent landowners and other forest users have expressed concerns to the Forest Service on issues ranging from livestock harassment, personal confrontations, shooting from and across roads and road damage from the influx of dog-deer hunters.

We will continue to work with the State of Louisiana to implement this decision, Agpaoa said.

The decision allows for administrative appeal. For more information about this decision, please visit the Kisatchie National Forest website

USDA Forest Service
Kisatchie National Forest

Dog-deer Hunting Forest Plan Amendment

On December 16, 2010, Regional Forester Liz Agpaoa decided to amend the Kisatchie National Forest’s 1999 Revised Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) in order to add new direction for hunting deer with dogs on the Forest. The proposed changes will add a new standard to prohibit the use of dogs to hunt deer on the entire Kisatchie National Forest (Alternative 2 in the Environmental Assessment). These changes will provide management direction for the remainder of the current Plan period, or until modified by a subsequent amendment or revision.

Environmental Assessment Report published April 2010 Proposed Plan Amendment
Prohibiting Dog-Deer Hunting

Related articles:
Leesville Daily Leader. Dog-deer hunters fear loss of age-old tradition

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

104,100 Pounds of Venison Donated During Hunting Season so far

Venison donations to be taken though February 6, 2011

COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio deer hunters have donated more than 104,100 pounds of venison to local food banks so far this deer season, according to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.

“I am happy to see this program continue to grow each year. Ohio hunters once again have shown their generosity so Ohio’s food pantries will receive the nutritious red meat they so desperately need,” said David M. Graham, chief of the Division of Wildlife.

The 104,100 pounds equals approximately 416,400 meals for needy Ohioans. To date, 2,082 deer have been donated with plenty of deer hunting opportunity left in the 2010-11 season. Last year at this time, 1,910 deer had been donated representing 95,500 pounds of venison.

Last year FHFH collected 116,750 pounds of venison from 2,336 deer through the entire season, which ran from September 2009 to February 7, 2010. Ohio county chapters with the highest numbers of deer donations so far are: Licking-208; Muskingum, Morgan and Perry-189; Coshocton, Tuscarawas, and Knox-160; Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs, Vinton and Washington-137; and Franklin-121.

“We are thrilled that the partnership between FHFH and ODNR has resulted in greater numbers of donated deer – and meals provided – across Ohio again this year. With high unemployment in many areas fueling an even greater need for nutritious food items at food banks and feeding ministries, this growth could not have come at a better time, ” according to Josh Wilson, FHFH national operations director.

Hunters still have a weekend of deer-gun hunting, December 18-19, and eight weeks of archery hunting in Ohio. Archery season remains open until February 6. The statewide muzzleloader deer-hunting season will be held, January 8 – 11, 2011.

Full Story ..

Group plans suit for nationwide gray wolf recovery

The ink isn't dry on the USFWS announcement to delist Western Great Lakes wolves and another suit is being planned by animal rights activists. In its press release, the FWS noted that “wolves continue to exceed recovery goals and are no longer threatened with extinction.” The USFWS delisting proposal for delisting gray wolves will be published by April 2011. (See SAOVA Dec. 14 blog post)

Group plans suit for nationwide gray wolf recovery
Posted: Dec 21, 2010 11:15 AM by Beth Saboe (KPAX Media Center)
Updated: Dec 21, 2010 11:30 AM

An Arizona environmental group says it plans to sue the federal government for failing to develop a recovery plan for gray wolves in the lower 48 states.

The Center for Biological Diversity says a protection plan is required by the Endangered Species Act and should have been developed 30 years ago or more.

The group wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create a national recovery plan to help existing wolves populations and return wolves to some of their historic range around the country.

"Wolves are an integral part of this country's natural history and need a national recovery plan now," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center.

According to the notice filed with the Interior Department, the government has 60 days to act or the Center will sue.

"It is time for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to chart a new course for wolf recovery," said Greenwald. "This plan is badly needed to establish new goals and management for existing wolf populations and as a blueprint for establishing wolves in additional areas."

According to a press release from the Center, a national recovery plan could specify a legally defensible path for truly recovering wolves and provide certainty for states that have wolf populations.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nebraska to HSUS: No deal

Feedstuffs December 16 2010 by Rod Smith

Neb. Gov. Dave Heineman has laid out his position on any effort by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to change agricultural practices in Nebraska: "No compromise, no deal."

In an interview, he said HSUS "is anti-agriculture and out to destroy animal agriculture," and if the organization tries to do in Nebraska what it has done in other states, it will be "in for a fight."

HSUS has increased its presence in Nebraska in recent weeks, with chief executive officer and president Wayne Pacelle conducting a town hall meeting and retaining a state coordinator.

Friday, December 17, 2010

NJ: Officials say 591 bears killed in hunt

TRENTON — New Jersey wildlife officials said Sunday that 591 bears were killed during the state’s six-day hunt this week.

The hunt, New Jersey’s first since 2005, is part of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s bear management policy.

Wildlife officials have said the hunt, which ended at dusk on Saturday, was needed to reduce a black bear population now thought to number about 3,400.

But opponents contend the policy was improperly developed.

Two animal rights groups-Animal Protection League and Bear Education and Resource Group-tried unsuccessfully to stop the hunt before it started.

But an appeals court refused to halt the hunt on Dec. 3, and the following day a judge acting on a petition to the state Supreme Court refused to grant an emergency stay. The lawsuit, which challenges the state’s bear management policy as improper, is continuing.

A similar challenge succeeded in 2007 and no hunt was held. An appeals panel found flaws with the management policy and ruled that the 2005 hunt should not have taken place.

Some 6,680 bear hunting permits were issued for this year’s hunt, with each hunter entitled to one bear regardless of age or gender. The DEP has estimated that as many as 700 bears would be killed overall.

West Milford Messenger December 16, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kudos to Congressmen Dan Boren (D-OK) and Paul C. Broun, M.D. (R-GA)

SAOVA endorsed Representatives Dan Boren and Paul Broun wrote to the fellow Congressmen expressing their opposition to scheduling any floor vote on HR 5434 PUPS during the lame-duck session.

Boren and Broun wrote their chief concern is the manner in which PUPS broadly defines "high volume breeder." Under this legislation, small hobby breeders, such as show breeders, hunting clubs and dog trainers, who breed only a litter or two a year would be considered "high volume breeders" and forced to comply with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Letter is posted on the AKC website.

Contact Rep. Broun

Contact Rep. Boren

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Feds may delist wolves in 2011

U.S. Interior Department officials have pledged to members of Congress that the eastern timber wolf will be removed from the endangered species list sometime in 2011, though the move would still face legal scrutiny.

By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune

U.S. Interior Department officials have pledged to members of Congress that the eastern timber wolf will be removed from the endangered species list sometime in 2011, though the move would still face legal scrutiny.

The pledge went to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Thursday after she and other members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation had been pressuring the Interior Department to take action.

It’s the latest update in a decades-long saga over how wolves should be managed in the western Great Lakes.

In a letter to Klobuchar dated Dec. 9, Thomas Strickland, assistant Interior secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, pledged a proposal would be made public in April and that a new rule on wolf management could be final by the end of 2011.

“We now have a timetable that we didn’t have before,” said Georgia Parham, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman.

But agency officials cautioned that the proposal first must pass scientific review, be biologically credible and be subject to public comment. The end result would return management of wolves to state and tribal wildlife agencies and is the next step needed for states to allow trapping and hunting of wolves as they see fit.

There are about 3,200 wolves in Minnesota and about 700 each in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — many more than federal officials expected when the animal first received federal protection in 1974.

Full story at link

Related articles:
Black Bear Blog. In Wolf Wars The Divide Widens

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Court case on pit bull ban as service dogs

Disabled veterans await court case on cities' ban on pit bulls as service dogs
By Kyle Glazier The Denver Post 12/11/2010

A U.S. District Court judge will decide whether Denver and Aurora must allow disabled people to use pit bulls as service animals.

Animal Law Center spokesman Kurt Holzberlein said the Wheat Ridge-based law firm represents three plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the cities of Denver and Aurora, which have banned the breed.

The suit contends that owners of pit bulls classified as service animals must be allowed to keep their dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The plaintiffs filed in federal court in March.

Holzberlein said one plaintiff is from Denver, and another is from Aurora. The third is a Washington state resident who was planning to travel to Denver with a pit bull.

The Denver Council voted Dec. 6 against granting an exception to the city's ban for pit bulls classified as service animals.

Animal Law Center attorney Jennifer Edwards said the suit seeks financial damages against both cities, with the ultimate goal of allowing pit bulls classified as service animals within city limits.

"This isn't about overturning the ban. It's about getting Denver into compliance with the ADA," Edwards said.

She said two of her clients are veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who use pit bulls as service dogs: Vietnam veteran Allen Grider of Aurora and Persian Gulf War veteran Glenn Belcher of Denver.

Edwards said her firm filed for a stay in proceedings because Aurora filed a motion to disqualify the Animal Law Center as counsel on the grounds that firm members are necessary witnesses.

Edwards said this would leave her clients without representation because they cannot afford to hire another firm.

"We are in hurry up and wait mode," Holzberlein said of the current status of the case.

Aurora City Attorney Charles Rich ardson said the litigation against Aurora hinges on whether the city reached a "reasonable" accommodation for Grider, as the ADA requires. Richardson said the case could take some time.

"It's moving slowly through the federal court system, just like every case," he said.

Kyle Glazier: 303-954-1638 or

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

OH Farm Bureau proceeding on livestock deal

Sportsmen and dog breeders were caught up in the HSUS demands after the fact. Once the Farm Bureau conceded and HSUS smelled victory, their scope of so-called negotiations expanded to include regulatation of dog kennels (puppy mills in HSUS vernacular) and to ban ownership of exotic animals (currently licensed by either the state or USDA). HSUS was not elected as a lawmaker by the citizens of Ohio. Sportsmen need to be clear in their message to newly elected officials that their rights are not negotiable.

Brownfield Ag News
December 7, 2010 by Julie Harker

A spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau says results of the November election won’t affect their agreement in regard to the livestock care standards board.

“The new administration and election of new administration really doesn’t affect our commitment to the agreement that was reached this past summer with HSUS.”

Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman Joe Cornely says that includes making recommendations to the livestock care standards board. Cornely says Governor-elect John Kasich spoke to delegates at their annual meeting last week.

“He recognized what a challenge out-of-state activist groups can provide. He also recognized that if farmers bought into this agreement then perhaps he needs to allow farmers have the say there.”

Cornely says the Ohio Farm Bureau will be engaging the governor and his new director of ag Jim Zeringer, along with members of the General Assembly, in conversation – helping them understand ag’s position as they make their own decisions about the agreement.

The HumaneWatch Veterinary Student Interview

The HumaneWatch Interview: Jake Geis December 7, 2010

The Humane Society of the United States has put many Americans in uncomfortable positions during the current decade, but few have found themselves in a box quite like veterinarians.

Just last week the American Veterinary Medical Association (whose chief executive we interviewed back in September) made significant changes to The Veterinarian's Oath, which had only been amended once since its creation in 1969. It now refers to "animal health and welfare," along with "the prevention and relief of animal suffering." (New words are in italics.) The first reaction of many observers was that the move was taken in reaction to HSUS—and specifically to its threat to capture the hearts and minds of young vets, and of vets-to-be.

Many vets—especially the youngest ones who are most comfortable questioning authority—recognize that they’re caught between the proverbial “rock” and the corresponding “hard place.” On one hand, many of them are visibly uncomfortable with seeing the animal rights movement gather steam. But on the other, they recognize the need to maintain the dignity of the veterinary profession by refusing to return fire when HSUS slings mud. In short, playing dirty is supposed to be beneath them. And for good reason.

With everything going on in the veterinary world, it's fitting that we're talking with Jake Geis. He’s a second-year veterinary student at Iowa State University. (That school’s cooperative agreement with the University of Nebraska has put him in Lincoln for the first half of his training.) Geis first pinged our radar screen on November 19 when The Daily Nebraskan published his passionate essay titled “National Humane Society has Backward Priorities.”

Full interview at link ...

Related article:

Veterinarian's Oath revised to emphasize animal welfare commitment

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

HSUS and Lawyers, Lawyers, Lawyers …

The animal rights playbook is the same, no matter which organization it is or how it is peddled to the public. Valerie Stanley, an attorney for Animal Legal Defense Fund, said in 1996 “Everything we are doing lays the foundation for the one day when animals will have rights" ....“We need to get in their faces and sue the animal users so often they don’t know which courtroom they’re supposed to appear in next.” That is exactly what ALDF does with its $6 million in annual contributions. Certainly HSUS with its $101.6 million revenue is capable of using the court system to inflict much more damage on animal owners and producers.

Blog by HumaneWatch
(19 Hours Ago) in Society / Animal Rights

You may have noticed that the Humane Society of the United States sued a chicken company on Monday, apparently over “humanely raised” chicken package labels that don’t presently exist. But that’s not all the nation’s best-paid animal rights lawyers are up to.

On Christmas Day 2009, the Associated Press reported that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) employed "[a] staff of 30 attorneys—up from three when Wayne Pacelle took the helm five years ago."

And that doesn’t include the outside counsel that Wayne Pacelle hires to handle the really tough cases, like defending HSUS against civil lawsuits. Sadly, this leaves the salaried HSUS legal team—whose sheer size rivals that of many mid-size law firms—free to hassle farmers, pet store owners, and food companies.

Let’s take a look at where a few of HSUS’s legal nightmares stand. Funny how they don’t turn up on HSUS’s online docket. But if you’ve contributed to HSUS recently, you’re paying the legal bills.

Feld Entertainment Inc. v. ASPCA et al
In February 2010 the Ringling Brothers Circus company (Feld) sued a handful of animal-rights defendants—including HSUS, the HSUS-controlled Fund For Animals, and two HSUS attorneys—under the federal RICO act. This came after a federal judge’s December 2009 decision to dismiss the animal rights groups’ elephant-welfare lawsuit against Feld.

Why was that lawsuit dismissed, you ask? Good question. It turned out that the plaintiffs had paid their star witness (a former Feld employee) $190,000 for his testimony. The Court ruled that he was “not a credible witness,” adding that he “often gave conflicting answers and was repeatedly impeached on the witness stand.”

Here’s the latest on that lawsuit: It’s moving forward, but the defendants (including HSUS) are asking the judge to put a “hold” on everything while they make a motion to dismiss the case. Meanwhile, the plaintiff has proposed a 27-month-long schedule for dealing with things like “discovery,” the certification of expert witnesses, and pre-trial motions.

So the bottom line is that it will be at least 2013 before this RICO case really gets underway, presuming the case survives a near-term challenge.

Full story at link ...