Chuckwagon driver speaks out amidst Calgary Stampede safety review

WATCH: After a difficult year for the chucks at the Calgary Stampede, one chuckwagon driver is sharing his perspective on a safety review into the deaths of six horses and the future of the sport.

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Jordie Fike and his team of thoroughbreds are back home for some rest after a tough year for the GMC Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede.

“The chuckwagon community is still mourning,” Fike said. “We lost family members. It hurts.”

Six horses died over 10 days in incidents related to the chuckwagon races, compared to no deaths at in at least three other circuit stops this year.

Fike isn’t sure why that’s the case, but he acknowledged that for drivers, the stakes are very high at Stampede.

He hopes to share a competitor’s perspective on the Stampede’s safety review.

“Our sport has evolved a long way. If it needs more in the name of horse safety, the drivers are all for it,” Fike, a fourth-generation driver, said. “During a race, if you feel something is wrong, you just do your best to save your animals.

 

READ MORE: Alberta chuckwagon driver fined, facing lifetime ban from Calgary Stampede after crash

It’s a view shared by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, the national body representing Canada’s veterinarians.

“Thoroughbreds are very much bred to race,” CVMA council member Dr. Trevor Lawson said from the group’s annual conference in Toronto. “However, any animal put in a situation that maybe doesn’t provide ideal conditions could provide risk. Many thoroughbreds race uneventfully without harm.”

The CVMA accepts the humane use of animals in competition and sport, according to its official position statement.

“Risk of injury, suffering, illness, and distress must be mitigated during training, sport and competition and every opportunity must be provided for the expression of normal behaviour in the rest periods between training, sporting, and competition events,” part of the statement reads.

READ MORE: Protesters demand end to chuckwagon races, rally outside Alberta premier’s office

It has been consulted by Stampede in other safety investigations in the past and hopes to take part in this new study.

“There are a number of potential things that can lead to greater risk, like track conditions, as well as driver error,” Lawson added. “These are all items that need to be examined.

“Some of these, bear in mind, were not preventable.

“Animals can have medical conditions that can not necessarily be picked up on a pre-race veterinary examination. In at least one of the situations (at Stampede), that was the case.”

READ MORE: University of Calgary studying stressors, injury in Stampede bulls

As protestors gathered in Edmonton Tuesday again calling for an end to the races, Fike is extending an invitation.

“I don’t want those people to like me,” Fike said. “I just want them to come spend a day with me.

“Come see how the horses and rodeo stock are treated, see the life they get.

“People don’t realize how many horses get to live longer because of our sport and because of rodeo.”

Lawson and Fike expect to see the chuckwagon races continue but hope to reduce risks as the pro chuckwagon circuit moves on to Strathmore for August 2.

A woman was arrested in Florida for allegedly stomping on sea turtle nests

(CNN)A woman has been arrested in Miami Beach, Florida, after she was seen stomping on a sea turtle nest, according to police.

Yaqun Lu, 41, was seen by witnesses and Miami Beach police officers on Saturday “jabbing at the sea turtle nest” with a wooden stake and “stomping all over the nest with her bare feet,” an arrest affidavit says.
The area had been closed off to the public with yellow tape and a sign that said, “Do not disturb sea turtle nest,” the affidavit says.

Yaqun Lu

Lu, a Chinese citizen who gave police a home address in Michigan, faces a charge of marine turtle or egg molestation or harassment, per online court records.
Court records indicate Lu is represented by a public defender. CNN was unable to reach the public defender’s office for comment.
A number of sea turtle species are protected under both the 1973 US Endangered Species Act and Florida law, according to Miami Beach’s website, and it’s illegal to touch or harm them or their eggs.
Miami Beach serves as a nesting habitat for three species of sea turtles — Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback — between April and early November, its website says.
“Thankfully,” Miami Beach police said, “it appears the eggs were not damaged.”

Japan Embraces Commercial Whaling, Pulls Out Of Global Alliance That Banned It

Japan once labeled its whaling vessels with prominent “Research” tags. The country will resume commercial whaling hunts in 2019. Here, the whaling ships Yushin Maru (right) and Yushin Maru No. 2 are seen before leaving for the Antarctic Ocean for a whale hunt in 2015. In the future, Japanese whaling ships will not operate in the Antarctic.

Kyodo/Reuters

Japan is withdrawing from an international group that bans commercial whaling, saying it will resume commercial hunts for the first time in 30 years next July. Japan will leave the International Whaling Commission, which put a moratorium on commercial whaling in the 1980s.

“Japan argues that it has a long tradition of whaling, even though Japanese today eat very little whale meat,” NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reports from Tokyo.

In a notable shift, Japan also said it will no longer conduct controversial hunts in the Antarctic Ocean — where its fleet of whaling ships have killed 333 whales in each of the past two years, under the justification of performing whale research.

After the withdrawal becomes official on June 30, “Japan will conduct commercial whaling within Japan’s territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone,” said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

News of Japan’s plan to exit the IWC first emerged last week. Suga made the move official on Wednesday, saying the commission is focused only on banning whaling, not on regulating the practice to ensure sustainable whale populations.

Suga said that “although scientific evidence has confirmed that certain whale species/stocks of whales are abundant,” anti-whaling countries remain focused “exclusively on the protection of whales.”

Criticizing Japan’s plan, Humane Society International said that while it welcomes the end of whaling in the Antarctic and other areas in southern waters, the group believes “Japan’s decision to leave the rules-based order of the IWC will place its North Pacific whaling program completely outside the bounds of international law.”

The Humane Society also said it’s concerned that Japan’s withdrawal could lead other IWC members to follow suit — possibly reviving the whaling industry and posing renewed threats to humpback, fin and other protected whales.

In addition to Japan, both Norway and Iceland have maintained some level of whaling since the moratorium took effect in 1986, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Suga said Japan has lost patience with the IWC, citing a lapsed 1990 deadline to modify its whaling moratorium. After Japan’s request to adapt the ban fell on deaf ears at the IWC’s meeting in September, Suga said, “it unveiled the fact that it is not possible in the IWC even to seek the coexistence of States with different views.”

Greenpeace Japan Executive Director Sam Annesley accused Japan’s government of “trying to sneak in this announcement at the end of year” to avoid international scrutiny. He added that whales and other ocean animals are struggling to cope with a variety of man-made problems, from plastic pollution to over-fishing.

“As a result of modern fleet technology, over-fishing in both Japanese coastal waters and high seas areas has led to the depletion of many whale species,” Annesley said. “Most whale populations have not yet been recovered, including larger whales such as blue whales, fin whales and sei whales.”

Critics say it’s long past time for commercial whaling to end. In recent years, Japan was often accused of using the guise of “scientific research” as an ethical and legal cover for its hunting trips to Antarctica.

Japan was ordered to halt its whaling program in the Antarctic in 2014, when the International Court of Justice ruled the annual practice — which has killed thousands of whales since 2005 — had not produced enough scientific data to justify its existence. The program generated whale meat that was sold in specialty stores, as a legal byproduct of hunting that was labeled scientific in nature.

Swiss army airlifts water to thirsty cows in drought-hit pastures

A cow is seen as Swiss Air Force Super Puma helicopter delivers water for cows in a pasture due to an ongoing drought near Rossiniere, Switzerland, August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Large red plastic containers hung from the bottom of the Super Puma helicopters carried the water to farms in the Jura Mountains and Alpine foothills.

Some 40,000 cows graze in the summertime in high-altitude pastures in Vaud canton (state) in western Switzerland and each needs up to 150 liters (40 gallons) of water a day, authorities said.

A Swiss Air Force Super Puma helicopter loads water for cows in the Lac d’Hongrin due to an ongoing drought near Chateau d’Oex, Switzerland, August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Two large basins have been filled with water to allow farmers with land accessible by road to fill up their tank trucks, they said.

Several dozen farmers have called a special hotline to request help from the helicopters since the emergency operation was announced last Friday.

“I’ve been renting this pasture for 13 years now. We had to airlift water sometimes but never that much,” Gregoire Martin, who runs a farm with 68 cows and 90 head of young cattle at Le Culand pasture in Rossiniere, told Reuters Television.

“We already used the army’s helicopter two years ago but in the long term we cannot go on like this,” he said.

Slideshow (16 Images)

Switzerland will cut import tariffs on livestock feed and offer interest-free loans to help farmers deal with the drought, the federal government said on Monday, amid a heat wave that is killing off fish in the Rhine.

“The situation is very worrying because Switzerland has not known a drought like that … since 1921,” said Philippe Leuba, head of economy and sport for Vaud, who attended Tuesday’s operation.

Additional reporting by Denis Balibouse; Writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

OCTOBER 1, 2018 / 7:06 AM / UPDATED 7 HOURS AGO

A Serial Cat Killer Has Mutilated At Least A Dozen Cats In Washington State

The man who discovered the body of the latest cat called the scene “gut-wrenching.”
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Authorities in Thurston County, Washington, are hunting for an apparent serial cat killer they believe is responsible for killing and mutilating at least a dozen cats in the county since February.

Seven of those cats were found dead in August, according to The New York Times.

On Tuesday, the 12th known mutilated cat was found, its body found with “carving” and “surgical-type mutilations,” Olympia Police Lt. Sam Costello told local news station Q13 Fox. He added that, as with the other cats that have been found, the body was “splayed out” and appears to have been “posed” by someone.

In some cases, cats’ bodies had been sliced all the way open and spines had been removed. In one instance earlier this month, a kitten was found beheaded, according to news station KIRO 7.

“This person is a sick, callous, disgusting psychopath,” Paul DeTray, the man who found the latest dead cat, told KOMO News. “To say the least, a little gut-wrenching to see somebody’s beloved pet torn apart like that.”

While the bodies of at least 12 cats have been found in the county, it’s possible that there are more victims of the cat killer or killers. One grisly scene appeared to have possibly involved body parts from multiple cats, the Times notes.

Officials trying to track down the person responsible have a few clues to go on. One cat, a family pet named Ollie who was strangled to death, appears to have fought back. Investigators are hoping that DNA found on Ollie’s claws could lead to a match.

Evening Standard

@standardnews

US police believe the DNA found on a cat’s claws could hold the key to identifying a serial animal killer https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/dna-found-on-cats-paws-could-help-us-police-catch-serial-pet-killer-a3923526.html?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1535640035 

DNA found on cat’s paws could help police catch serial pet killer

US police believe DNA found on a cat’s claws could help them track down a serial animal killer. A manhunt has been launched after at least 12 cats were mutilated and killed in Washington this year….

standard.co.uk

And near the body of a cat named Tubby, investigators found a surgical glove that had apparently been left behind.

Authorities are warning people in the area to keep their pets inside in the wake of the crimes. Earlier this month, Pasado’s Safe Haven, an anti-cruelty organization and animal sanctuary in Sultan, Washington, put up a $3,000 reward ― half of which was donated by Q13 Fox anchor David Rose ― for information leading to the arrest of the killer. Now, after donations from the public and other animal advocacy groups, the reward is up to $36,000.

So far, there’s no evidence that the cat killer has harmed humans. But law enforcement working on the case worry the person responsible may move on to people. Animal cruelty investigator Erika Johnson told the Times that she’s previously prosecuted people for violent acts against humans that started with perpetrators “just desensitizing themselves” by hurting animals.

In 2016, the FBI began collecting data on animal cruelty crimes, largely because of evidence linking animal abuse to violence against people.

CHICKEN FARMERS WILL HAVE TO USE BIGGER CAGES

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To prevent health hazards in chicken, the Korean government is making farmers increase rrthe size of the birds’ cages.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Monday, the minimum legal size of cages in local poultry farms will be expanded from 0.05 square meters (5 square feet) per bird to 0.075 square meters. Providing at least 0.075 square meters of space per hen is the standard currently in place among the European Union countries.

The new standard will go into effect on Sept. 1 with a grace period of seven years so existing farms can gradually upgrade their facilities.

An official from the Agriculture Ministry explained that the regulations announced Monday are a follow-up to measures introduced in the wake of the pesticide egg scandal that swept the country about a year ago.

“It was pointed out that overpopulation of hens in tight spaces caused the spread of ticks and mites, which were essentially the cause of the contaminated egg scandal,” explained the official.

Chickens stuck in small cages are unable to remove ticks on their own, which forces farmers to spray pesticides to kill them. These pesticides, used to keep chickens “healthy,” end up in the eggs they lay, which are consumed by the public. The pesticide-egg scare last year led to a drastic fluctuation in the price of eggs as the government scrambled to provide safe eggs to consumers, going as far as importing them from abroad.

“It was apparent that we needed to improve the living conditions of the birds to prevent or minimize such incidents in the future,” the official said.

The new standard is also a part of the government’s effort to prevent the spread of a highly pathogenic strain of the H5N6 avian influenza, a deadly virus that can also infect humans.

In addition to the enlargement of the bird cages, the government will also make it obligatory for farmers to install cameras at the entrance of their farms and inside hen houses.

This could help authorities figure out how a virus has spread and anticipate where it might end up next. Farms will also be required to install inspection facilities when they register for a business permit.

Bird flu has been a headache for the Korean government, spreading through the country almost every year.

The latest case detected was in March when a highly pathogenic strain of H5N6 avian influenza was discovered on some farms in Gyeonggi and South Chungcheong.

The government slaughtered more than 200,000 birds that month. More than six million birds were culled since November last year, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

“Bird flu occurs during the winter starting in November,” explained the Agriculture Ministry’s official. “We designate the months from October to May as needing extensive disinfection.”

Some experts, however, say that expanding the size of cages may not be sufficient, explaining that EU countries are banned from raising hens in battery cages and required to use so-called enriched cages instead, which are cleaner and more comfortable for the birds.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]

Remains Of More Than 140 Children Who Were Sacrificed Found In Peru

Buried together, a child and a llama were part of a mass sacrificial killing that included more than 140 children and over 200 llamas in the Huanchaquito-Las Llamas site in coastal Peru near Trujillo.

Gabriel Prieto/National Geographic

Archaeologists discovered the remains of more than 140 children in Peru, children who they believe were sacrificed because of heavy rains.

Their skeletons were found on an excavated site formally known as Huanchaquito-Las Llamas — ground that was controlled by the Chimú Empire some 550 years ago, reported National Geographic in an exclusive published on Thursday.

Researchers believe that both boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 14 were killed by expert hands. The victims appear to be from different ethnic groups and were brought to the bluff from faraway places in the Chimús’ vast empire.

Peruvian archaeologist Gabriel Prieto, who grew up in the area, was excavating an ancient temple there in 2011 when people who lived near coastal dunes told him they were seeing bones.

“We started the excavation the same day,” Prieto told NPR from Peru. “I remember in the first hour or two hours we found like 12 or 13 complete bodies and from there we knew we were in an important site and that we had to call other archaeologists because it was beyond our possibilities at the moment.”

Preserved in dry sand for more than 500 years, more than a dozen bodies were found by archaeologists. The researchers reported the “remains were of children, ranging in age from approximately five to fourteen years.”

Gabriel Prieto/National Geographic

Prieto, a National Geographic Explorer and professor, said his work there resumed in 2014 with grants from the National Geographic Society. He and John Verano, a professor of anthropology at Tulane University, led the research.

They found that these were no ordinary remains. Many of the children had faces that were caked with red pigment, sternums with cuts and ribs that had been dislocated — suggesting that their hearts had been removed. The researchers also found the remains of 200 juvenile llamas that also appear to have died in ritual killings.

Footprints of barefoot children, adults in sandals, young llamas and dogs have led the researchers to construct a theory of their demise. And it’s rooted in a layer of dried mud at the eastern part of the 7,500-square-foot excavation site.

The researchers believe that heavy rains and flooding caused by El Niño weather patterns prompted the massive sacrifice. It would have had devastating consequences on Chimú infrastructure, which was built for arid conditions and featured a network of canals.

Prieto said the damage would ultimately have threatened those in power. “Anything that would affect their economic or political stability, they would take advantage of whatever resources they had possibly to control this kind of situation.”

The discovery has left archaeologists captivated. Vanderbilt University anthropology professor Tom Dillehay, who has not worked on the project, told NPR that the Andes has a legacy of human sacrifice but “not at this intensity or scale.”

He said that the children appear to have died as a sacrifice, as researchers concluded. “There is no other explanation for the accumulation of so many children,” said Dillehay. “You could relate it to warfare and perhaps gathering up children — but why sacrifice so many animals as well?”

But he is skeptical of what prompted their death, saying that many archaeologists and geologists are “trigger happy,” often blaming El Niño as the cause of catastrophes. “I think we need to be more cautious, unless they have solid geological evidence,” he said, adding that the mud could indicate there was, say, a tsunami. “If a highly localized event such as El Niño impacted the community, then why do you need to stretch out several hundred miles to bring children in?”

Jonathan Haas, curator emeritus at The Field Museum, disagreed. “The layer of mud indicates that it’s raining. And it never rains in the coast of Peru except during fairly traumatic El Niño events,” he told NPR from Peru. Because the infrastructure was built for an arid region, “when it rains, it wipes out the entire agricultural system.”

Haas also noted that the sheer number of sacrificed children shows that this ancient society wasn’t benevolent. “It goes to show the power the rulers had to take children away from their parents and kill them. That’s a lot of state power.”

Prieto said the researchers will continue to learn about the victims through DNA and biological analysis. They will submit a report about the discovery to a peer-reviewed, scientific journal, reported National Geographic.

The discovery offers a new insight into Peru’s history apart from the geoglyphs of Nazca Lines and the Inca culture represented at Machu Picchu, Prieto said. “Facing all these human remains and llama remains in very fragile conditions, surrounded by modern houses, it was really a feeling of responsibility that we were facing something important — that we need to record it in the best way possible to finally tell this story.”

California Fish and Game Commission Adopts Progressive Predator Policy


Model Policy Sets Precedent for the Nation 

VENTURA, Calif.— Wildlife conservationists and scientists praised California Fish and Game Commissioners for their vote on Thursday in support of a progressive predator policy that provides the framework for how the state approaches predator conservation, stewardship, and management into the future.

The policy is a result of an 18-month process carried out by Commission staff and a Commission-appointed Predator Policy Working Group (“PPWG”), which was initially established to help modernize predator management in California by drafting a policy “intended to reflect the intrinsic and public value of terrestrial predators while recognizing the need to minimize and address conflicts when they may arise between predators and other values, such as public health and safety and economic stability.”

The final policy adopted by the Commission “acknowledges that native terrestrial predators are an integral part of California’s natural wildlife and possess intrinsic, biological, historical, and cultural value, which benefit society and ecosystems,” while “recognizing that sustainable conservation and management strategies are necessary to encourage the coexistence of humans and wildlife.”

The policy will provide direction as to how predators are managed going forward, and will ensure that “the department shall protect and conserve predator populations.”

“This policy represents sound science and acknowledges the important ecological role that predators play in maintaining ecosystem health, integrity, and diversity,” said Dr. Rick Hopkins, a San Jose-based wildlife ecologist who served on the PPWG (representing Project Coyote). 

“I am proud of how the disparate groups in the Predator Policy Work Group came together and developed a forward-thinking predator policy which recognizes both the role that predators play in the environment, but also provides a sensible approach to management,” said Commission Vice President Anthony Williams.

Project Coyote submitted more than 2500 petition signatures and letters to the Commission urging adoption of a policy that acknowledges the importance of native terrestrial carnivores and their intrinsic and biological value, and that includes the term “humane” in how human-predator conflicts would be addressed—elements that are incorporated in the policy the Commission adopted Thursday.

“We commend the Commission for this vote,” said Camilla Fox, Founder and Executive Director of Project Coyote. “We believe this policy sets a precedent and serves as a model for the nation in how a state wildlife agency should approach predator conservation and stewardship—recognizing that wildlife is held in the public trust for current and future generations and that predators should be valued for their ecological, aesthetic, and intrinsic value.”

 

To view the policy as adopted by the Commission on April 19, 2018, click here.

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Project Coyote, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Northern California, is a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visitProjectCoyote.org.

2 B.C. men fined for ‘brutal’ killing of coyote with pickup truck and machete

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/coyote-killing-vanderhoof-1.4511069

Charges supported by DNA evidence and eyewitness accounts

By Andrew Kurjata, CBC News Posted: Jan 30, 2018 6:30 PM PT Last Updated: Jan 30, 2018 6:35 PM PT

Two men have plead guilty to the 'brutal' killing of a coyote in Jan. 2017.

Two men have plead guilty to the ‘brutal’ killing of a coyote in Jan. 2017. (Roger Dubois/CBC)

Two men from Vanderhoof, B.C., have pleaded guilty to injuring a coyote with their truck and then killing it with a machete, in violation of the provincial Wildlife Act.

Conservation officer Jeff Palm said the”brutal” killing was corroborated by multiple eye-witnesses and DNA evidence.

The incident occurred in Jan. 2017 when officers responded to a 911 call reporting two men in a pickup running down a coyote on the frozen Tachik Lake, near Vanderhoof in central British Columbia.

Multiple witnesses were able to direct conservation officers to the men, who first denied their involvement Palm said.

However, officers found blood on the men’s clothes and the truck, which DNA analysis confirmed belonged to the coyote.

Tachik Lake

Tachik Lake is located near Vanderhoof, roughly 113 kilometers west of Prince George. (Google Maps)

The men later admitted to their actions in a sworn statement. Officials have not released their names.

In Aug. 2017, the driver pleaded guilty to harassing wildlife with a vehicle and unlawful possession of a coyote. He lost his hunting licence for three years and received a fine of $5,000.

The passenger pleaded guilty on Jan. 25, 2018, and has been fined $500.

Palm said though illegal, wild animals are chased down with vehicles “more often than people think.”

“It’s actually a common offence,” he said. “It’s just difficult to capture individuals involved in it.”

Palm thanked members of the public for reporting the act and providing information that led to the convictions.