Hurst: So this week we are starting out with a story on staging bird murders for a good cause.
Carol: I have so many questions I don’t even know where to start…
Hurst: Well once your hear more about it, it makes a bit more sense…maybe. Officials in the Puerto Rican Wildlife Recovery Program have been teaching captive-raised Puerto Rican Parrots to fear their natural predator, the Red-Tailed Hawk, through a bit of avian theater. Parrots watch as a Red-Tailed Hawk lunges for another parrot in protective leather suit that keeps it from harm. The goal here is to teach the onlooking parrots to fear the hawk so that they can be released into the wild and know to fear predators.
Carol: Hmmm sounds a bit…questionable.
Hurst: You aren’t the only one that feels that way. Especially since, according to prior research, similar methods have been employed that are also effective and do not involve the harming of any animal.
Carol: I bet the bird in the leather suit isn’t happy about it.
Hurst: I bet you’re right. On a policy note, a bipartisan bill was introduced last week in the U.S. House to clarify that animal fighting – namely dogfighting and cockfighting – is illegal in U.S. territories. You can read some the comments by Representatives in this article from the Human Society.
Carol: Yeah, these forms of “entertainment” have been outlawed in the continental states, but the newest bill includes Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Island in the regulations. This law continues to be refined but as of right now it is a felony to sponsor or exhibit an animal in a fighting context, as well as to buy, sell, deliver, possess, train or transport an animal for fighting.
Hurst: Also, people can’t use the U.S. Postal Service or other interstate means to buy, sell, deliver or transport implements used in fighting. AND…it is a federal misdemeanor to be a spectator at an animal fight. But moving on to happier news, India and Italy join a growing list of places who have banned live animal circus acts.
Carol: That’s great news! You mean like lion, tiger and elephant acts? I’ve heard a lot about what it takes to “subdue” these wild animals so that they can be trained to do “tricks.” It’s pretty grim stuff. Have we banned them in the U.S.?
Hurst: Several cities and counties have, but no, not on a national level yet.
Carol: Maybe the tide is turning, though… Oh, so that reminds me. Speaking of local level news, the SPCA of Wake County in North Carolina is no longer listing dogs by their breeds. Their statement about the rationale for this is “When someone comes in to adopt a dog, we want them to see the dog standing in front of them, not the dog they think they will get based on the breeds listed on an information sheet.”
Hurst: Well, that makes total sense. Some types of dogs get a bad rap unfairly. Not only is there a lot of misinformation about rottweilers, dobermans, and pit bulls, there are urban myths about greyhounds needing a lot of exercise or that long-haired dogs should be shaved in the summer.
Carol: Yeah more and more shelters are staying away from listing breeds – and there’s some great research being done that suggests we don’t even get it right when we assign breed labels to dogs.
Hurst: Before we sign off, I wanted to mention that we are in the middle of Orangutan Awareness Week! Make sure you wear Orange for Orangutans on Wednesday 15th November to raise awareness about conservation of orangutans and their habitats.
Carol: Even if I don’t look good in orange?
Hurst: Yes Carol, even if you don’t look good in orange. Well, on that note, see you next week!