9th Circuit Rejects Animal Rights Organization’s Claim That a Bengal Tiger is an “Individual” Under FOIA

by John M. Simpson.

Yesterday, in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, et al., ___ F.3d ___, No. 18-16327 (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2019), the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a summary judgment of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California holding that a Bengal tiger is not an “individual” within the meaning of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).   The case had been brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) denied ALDF’s request for expedited treatment of its FOIA request for records concerning an inspection request regarding a tiger named “Tony.”     Continue reading “9th Circuit Rejects Animal Rights Organization’s Claim That a Bengal Tiger is an “Individual” Under FOIA”

Animal Activist Leader Steps Down In Advance of Multiple Criminal Trials

by Michelle C. Pardo

The leader and co-founder of West-coast based animal activist group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), Wayne Hsiung, announced yesterday that he will be stepping down from his leadership position at DxE and explained to his followers “why that’s a good thing.”  DxE had become known for its “open rescues” — essentially stealing farm animals in order to “liberate” them — and mass arrests of the activist participants.  In these raids, activists openly enter farms, usually at night, and “rescue” animals.  They often videotape the incident and release it to various media forums.  DxE’s “Organizer’s Handbook” states that the activists involved do not hide their identities so as to avoid being compared to “criminals, vandals and terrorists.”  DxE has also favored storming into restaurants and yelling at patrons about eating meat and entering grocery stores and climbing into food cases to protest.   One particular disgusting protest involved a DxE activist covering herself in feces at a San Francisco grocery store to protest that eggs come from laying hens that allegedly sit in their own waste.   Many of DxE’s members have boldly embraced these extremist techniques even if they involve criminal activity, such as trespassing or stealing.  Former leader Hsiung has asked fellow activists before such raids if they are “comfortable” with the possibility of doing jail time. Continue reading “Animal Activist Leader Steps Down In Advance of Multiple Criminal Trials”

Animal Activist Group Loses “Right to Wilderness” Lawsuit

by Michelle C. Pardo

If you thought animal and environmental activists had already pushed the envelope far enough in the world of federal court litigation, think again.

This week, an Oregon federal judge ruled that a group of plaintiffs – made up of animal and environmental activist organizations and individuals – do not have a constitutional “right to wilderness” and dismissed with prejudice their lawsuit which sought to force the federal government to cease policies that contributed to climate change that, in turn, harmed plaintiffs’ enjoyment of nature and wildlife.   ALDF et al. v. United States, (6:18-cv-01860-MC)(D. Oregon). Continue reading “Animal Activist Group Loses “Right to Wilderness” Lawsuit”

Baltimore Seafood Restaurant Continues to Needle PETA

by John M. Simpson.

We have reported previously (here and here) on an ongoing back and forth between animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, a seafood restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland.  PETA started it with a billboard advertisement in which a Maryland crab proclaimed “I’m ME, not MEAT.  See the individual.  Go Vegan.”  Jimmy’s responded with its own billboard asserting:  “SteaMEed crabs.  Here to stay.  Get Famous.”  Jimmy’s also trolled PETA on Twitter with humorous effect with hashtags like “#SteamThemAll.”  This tactic reportedly had the effect of boosting Jimmy’s sales. Continue reading “Baltimore Seafood Restaurant Continues to Needle PETA”

Maine’s Top Court Rules Harvesting Seaweed Is Not “Fishing”

by John M. Simpson.

Animal rights enthusiasts have a knack for pushing the envelope in their various arguments that legal rights should be recognized for a wide variety of animal species.  For example, it was reported recently that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) tweeted in connection with World Oceans Day that “Oysters and other bivalves are animals who deserve our consideration.”  Against this backdrop, a recent decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine raised an interesting issue.  Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd., 206 A.3d 283 (Me. 2019), presented the question whether “rockweed,” a species of seaweed in Maine that grows in the intertidal zone, is owned by the adjoining upland property owner who owns the intertidal soil in fee simple or is held in trust by the state through the jus publicum for the public to harvest. Continue reading “Maine’s Top Court Rules Harvesting Seaweed Is Not “Fishing””

Animals and Politics: Traveling Exotic Animal Ban Reintroduced

by Michelle C. Pardo

On May 21, 2019 Representatives Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), a bill that would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the use of exotic and wild animals, including lions, tigers and elephants, in traveling performances.  The bill had previously been introduced in 2017. Continue reading “Animals and Politics: Traveling Exotic Animal Ban Reintroduced”

Study Shows Racism and Sexism Contribute to Animal Activist “Burnout”

by John M. Simpson.

A study was published recently in Social Movement Studies entitled “Nobody’s paying me to cry:  the causes of activist burnout in United States animal rights activists.”  The authors concluded that, while many factors play a role, racist and sexist treatment of individuals within animal rights groups also contributed to what the authors described as “burnout:”  “when people once deeply embedded in movements – people who intended to remain engaged – are forced to disengage due to the stress impacts of participation.” Continue reading “Study Shows Racism and Sexism Contribute to Animal Activist “Burnout””

Pigeon Seeks Election as “Animal Mayor”

by John M. Simpson

As recently reported, a pigeon in the London borough of Lewisham named “Tony” has been proposed by an online petition to be the town’s “Animal Mayor.”  The petition requests that the existing mayor and borough council create this position which would be “the figure head and forum to bring everyone together.”  According to the petition, “if we had a more respectful and empathetic view of Lewhisham’s non-human residents, we would try harder to protect the environment.”  Tony’s entertaining campaign video indicates that he would rename the borough, which has 300,000 inhabitants, “Zooisham.”   Evidently, the campaign would be “run online and open to every resident of Lewisham aged 5 and above.”  Perhaps Tony will have some insights on Brexit strategy.


PETA Jumps the Shark with Steve Irwin Tweets

by John M. Simpson.

As recently reported by the BBC,  and by other media outlets, PETA went off the rails on Friday by disparaging the name of Steve Irwin on the occasion of what would have been his 57th birthday.  Irwin was a wildlife conservationist, enthusiast and television performer well known for his interesting and often breath-taking interactions with wildlife, crocodiles in particular.  Irwin died in 2006 after a fatal interaction with a stingray during a wildlife program shoot. Continue reading “PETA Jumps the Shark with Steve Irwin Tweets”

PETA Animal “Shelter” Continues to Show High Rate of Euthanization

by John M. Simpson.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization well-known for attention-grabbing tactics, often inserts itself into a wide variety of issues to promote its views.  In the past several days, PETA complained about performer Big Boi wearing a fur coat during the Super Bowl; complained that the character “Little Bo Peep” will be portrayed with a shepherd’s crook in the animated feature Toy Story 4; and insisted that wildlife art be displayed on President Trump’s Wall (if it is ever built).  Continue reading “PETA Animal “Shelter” Continues to Show High Rate of Euthanization”

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