In 2002 Congress made clear that the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) protects birds, but the USDA has not issued bird-specific Animal Welfare Act regulations in the ensuing 18 years, much to the chagrin of animal rights groups. But their luck may be changing.
by Michelle C. Pardo
We previously blogged about an Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit which pitted an animal rights activist against the Buttonwood Park Zoo (owned and operated by the City of New Bedford, Massachusetts). The zoo’s two elephants, Emily and Ruth, approximately 55 and 61 years old, respectively, have spent the greater part of their lives at Buttonwood Park. In 2017, longtime zoo patron Joyce Rowley, an animal rights activist who runs Friends of Ruth & Emily, an organization “dedicated to retiring Asian elephants Ruth and Emily from Buttonwood Park Zoo,” brought a lawsuit in Massachusetts federal court against the zoo. Rowley claimed that the zoo was committing an illegal “take” of the elephants when it failed to provide them with, among other things, adequate veterinary care and socialization, including a failure to protect one of the elephants from its more aggressive elephant companion. Her requested relief included confiscation of the elephants and relocating them to an elephant “sanctuary.” Continue reading Buttonwood Park Zoo Defeats Endangered Species Act Lawsuit
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
by Michelle C. Pardo
Serbia joins the ranks of European countries that have enacted bans on fur farming. Serbia’s Animal Welfare Act legislation passed in 2009, with a 10 year phase out period on farming. The Act makes it illegal to keep, reproduce, import, export and kill animals only for the production of fur. Efforts to delay or reverse the ban proved to be unsuccessful and the ban went into effect on the first of the year. Serbia’s fur farming centered on raising chinchillas, which are native to Northern Chile and known to have extraordinarily dense and soft fur. While both the long-tailed and short-tailed chinchilla are listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, chinchillas are still commercially bred. Serbia joins a number of countries that have banned fur farming or sales, including Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom. More countries have bans on their parliamentary agendas. Animal and environmental activists have long advocated for bans on fur farming due to animal welfare and environmental “sustainability” issues.
However a recent study commissioned by the International Fur Federation and Fur Europe found that natural fur biodegrades rapidly even in landfill conditions without oxygen as opposed to fake fur which did not biodegrade at all. The study results, announced last summer, note that synthetic fashion materials contribute to plastic pollution and directly challenge claims made by environmental activists who claim that fur production is an energy consumptive process.
Fur bans are not only trending in Europe. In 2018 the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban the sale of fur clothing and directed the City Attorney’s office to draft an ordinance outlining the ban. The LA City Council will have to approve the ordinance and have it signed by the mayor before it becomes law. The LA ban will likely have exemptions for fur trapped by California Fish and Game license holders and for fur worn for religious purposes. Some in the fashion industry have debated whether fur bans are only the first step in an activist agenda to ban the sale of leather and wool. Sustainability has become the “buzz word” in the fashion industry as more companies feel pressures to source their goods from raw materials that generate environmental, social and economic benefits while not using too many resources or causing pollution.
By John M. Simpson
Earlier this week, a federal district court in Washington, D.C., dismissed an action brought by animal rights organizations challenging the failure of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue animal welfare regulations specific to birds under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). American Anti-Vivisection Soc’y, et al. v. U.S. Dep’t of Agriculture, et al., No. 1:18-cv-01138 (TNM) (D.D.C. Dec. 10, 2018). While finding that the plaintiffs had pleaded sufficient facts to establish Article III standing to sue, the court rejected their substantive claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA): (i) that USDA’s failure to promulgate regulations applicable to birds was “agency action unlawfully withheld;” and (ii) that USDA’s decision not to issue the standards was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law. Continue reading Court Dismisses Challenge to USDA’s Failure to Issue AWA Avian Regulations
by John M. Simpson.
In a recent letter and an accompanying video directed at veterinarians, the Deputy Administrator for Animal Care of the USDA Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS), Bernadette Juarez, described a new initiative that will involve attending veterinarians more directly in APHIS inspections of persons and entities licensed under the Animal Welfare Act. Continue reading APHIS to Involve Attending Vets Directly in Inspections