Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Identifying Canadian Freshwater Fish Through DNA Barcodes

June 19, 2008

New research by Canadian scientists, led by Nicolas Hubert at the Université Laval in Québec brings some good news for those interested in the conservation of a number of highly-endangered species of Canadian fish.

The use of DNA for automated species-level identification of earth biodiversity has recently moved from being an unreachable dream to a potential reality in the very near future. The potential of mitochondrial DNA in achieving this target has been successfully assessed for all of the Canadian freshwater fish communities and the approach bears some very exciting promise.

Click here for the full article.

MRSA from farm animals found in humans in UK for first time

June 11, 2008

Three people have been infected with a form of MRSA usually found in pigs, the first time any humans in Britain have been infected by an animal strain of the superbug.

The variation has been found in farm animals and humans on the Continent, causing serious heart, bone, blood and skin diseases, as well as pneumonia.

Dr Giles Edwards, the director of the Scottish MRSA Reference Laboratory, said three people in Scotland had contracted the strain, known as ST398, in recent months.

“A lot of the patients who got this infection in Holland and Canada have been people who work with animals, such as farmers and vets. But none of the three individuals in Scotland have been in contact with animals, not that we could find.”

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Terry O’Neill on getting critters declared legal ‘persons’: Will animal rightists succeed where pro-lifers have failed?

June 3, 2008

If you’ve been to Olympic Plaza in Calgary or to Parliament Hill in Ottawa recently, you’ve probably come across an installation of five statues depicting the “Famous Five” — the five Canadian women whose lawsuit led to the historic declaration in 1929 that women are to be considered “persons” under Canadian law.

The sculptural tableau is a dramatic tribute to the accomplishments of Emily Murphy, Nellie Mooney McClung, Irene Marryat Parlby, Louise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards. But on the heels of the last week’s news about a case currently making its way through the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the question must be asked: Should the bronzes of Emily, Nellie and their friends now be accompanied by ones depicting Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail?

That’s certainly a possibility (albeit an intentionally flippant one) given the wide-ranging impact that will be felt should the European court agree with an argument being advanced by the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories, which is seeking to have a 26-year-old chimpanzee named Matthew declared a legal “person.”

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Baby gorilla good news for Calgary zoo

May 23, 2008

Zuri the gorilla delivered some much-needed good publicity for the Calgary Zoo yesterday: a new baby.

After a week during which the zoo has made headlines across the country over the mysterious deaths of 40 rays, Zuri’s little bundle of joy was welcome news.

The birth was especially good news for Zuri, a Western Lowland gorilla who suffered the loss of a previous baby in August 2006. That infant gorilla lived only 12 days because Zuri’s half-sister took the baby from her, but had no milk to nurse it.

Back then, Zuri was the lowest-ranking gorilla in the troop and lacked the confidence to grab her child back.

Now, it’s an entirely different story.

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Restoring Fish Populations Leads To Tough Choice For Great Lakes Gulls

May 22, 2008

You might think that stocking the Great Lakes with things like trout and salmon would be good for the herring gull. The birds often eat from the water, so it would be natural to assume that more fish would mean better dining. But a new report published in the April journal of Ecology by the Ecological Society of America says that the addition of species such as exotic salmon and trout to the area has not been good for the birds, demonstrating that fishery management actions can sometimes have very unexpected outcomes.

Craig Hebert (National Wildlife Research Center in Ottawa, Canada) and his team analyzed 25 years of data on the gulls and found that throughout the Great Lakes region, the birds were in poor health in many areas. Tests of their fatty acids showed an increase in the type of transfat that mostly comes from food produced by humans.

“It seems that the birds are being forced to make a dietary shift from fish to terrestrial food, including garbage,” says Hebert.

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Are zoos an anachronism from a time before the internet and Animal Planet?

May 21, 2008

Animal deaths or injuries at zoos often result in renewed debate about whether wild animals should be kept in captivity. Recently, the deaths of over 40 cownose stingrays at the Calgary Zoo and the death of a visitor at the San Francisco Zoo stirred up more questions on whether animals should be kept for public viewing.

While the institutions often tout their educational programs as one of the many reasons for people, and especially children, to visit, saying they can learn a great deal about animals from zoos, Rob Laidlaw, executive director of Zoocheck Canada, a national wild animal protection charity, disputes this argument.

“The menagerie-style zoo, like Toronto and Calgary, emerged in the 19th century in Paris and London and Berlin. This concept emerged at a time when there was no international travel, there was no internet, there was limited access to books for most people, there was no television, there was no Discovery Channel.

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Pets To Be Given ‘VIP Treatment’ Aboard Air Canada

May 6, 2008

After being banned from passenger areas and consigned to cargo flights, jetsetting animals are in for a treat when flying Air Canada: they can now board the plane as checked luggage.

The development, which takes effect on Monday, stemmed from an April 4 directive from the Canadian Transportation Agency ordering Air Canada to clear pets for takeoff on its domestic and international passenger flights.

The agency called Air Canada’s ban on pets and kennels weighing less than 31.7 kilograms (70 pounds) “unreasonable” as it created too many difficulties for pet owners.

CATA further said that cargo flights are considered lower priority and, because of frequent flight delays and schedule changes, the pet may not arrive at the appointed destination on time.

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Flock of birds in toxic trouble on oilsands tailings pond

May 2, 2008

The Alberta government is investigating why mandatory deterrents failed to prevent 500 migrating birds from landing on a toxic tailings pond used in oilsands development north of Fort McMurray.

While the health of the entire flock isn’t yet known, several birds – most likely ducks – are heavily covered in oil, the province revealed Tuesday. The birds remain stuck in the oil-slick pond, which is partially frozen. It’s unlikely many will survive, the province said.

“This is a tragedy. This is unacceptable,” Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner said at the legislature Tuesday. The province was alerted to the incident at Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine facility by a tipster on Monday night.

About 20 birds die a year in northern Alberta’s tailings ponds, the province said. Never has the government encountered such a large number of impacted birds, Renner added. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development workers are currently at the oilsands facility to ensure more birds don’t land in the tailings pond.

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Giant squid may decimate British Columbia fish population, scientists fear

April 30, 2008

Nightmarish packs of rapacious giant devil squid are hunting off the B.C. coast — and as their numbers increase, scientists are worrying about an attack on fish stocks.

Humboldt squid, called diablos rojos or red devils in Mexico, have been known to attack scuba divers, and were once a rarity in B.C. waters. But a changing ocean environment has brought them northward, and they may now be permanently establishing themselves off the B.C. coast.

Along the squid’s tentacles are about 2,000 suction cups, each circled with dozens of sharp teeth, to drag food to the razor-sharp beak with which it eats.

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Bison in a Canadian park face elimination

April 17, 2008

Waterton Lakes National Park is considering shedding the small bison herd that’s been stationed in the park for more than five decades.

If the herd of 18 is removed, the animals will likely be donated to First Nations or sent to auction to be sold for breeding or slaughter, park superintendent Rod Blair said Tuesday.

Two things are at the heart of the possible arrangement –cost and a Parks Canada philosophy concerning enclosing wild animals.

Blair said a decision on the herd’s future will likely come by the end of the year or next spring.

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Animals take shape on the Underground

April 17, 2008

A hard-hitting public awareness campaign to help protect seals, whales and elephants is being run by The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Animals on the Underground.

The campaign will feature ads on 224 sites across the London Underground network from April 21 for two weeks. Members of the public are being asked to send a text message to help protect these threatened or endangered species.

Tens of thousands of endangered elephants continue to be threatened by the illegal ivory trade, over a quarter of a million seals are killed annually in Canada’s cruel and unsustainable seal hunt and whales are still being harpooned despite an international ban on commercial whaling.

“These posters will place a spotlight on the current threats to some of the world’s most iconic species – whales, elephants and seals,” said Robbie Marsland, Director of IFAW UK. “This is a great opportunity to highlight to people across London that they can make a difference by taking action in support of IFAW’s campaigns to end this cruelty.”

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Wolves — the Jimmy Carter of the animal world?

March 20, 2008

You have to hand it to the wolf. As far as turning around a bad PR image goes, they’ve done an astounding job — they’re like the Jimmy Carter of the wildlife world. Once detested as the red-eyed, bloody-fanged creatures of Grimm fairy tales and generations of children’s nightmares, wolves are the cause célèbre in Alberta, ever since the University of Alberta announced it was planning to sterilizing wolves and shooting pups to test the effects on ungulate populations.

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Enter Nigel Barker’s challenge to save seals

March 10, 2008
Here I am on March 3 with HSUS President Wayne Pacelle at the amazing seal nursery.
Photo credit: The HSUS

Dear Kitty Mowmow Reader,

Like you, I care deeply about animals and don’t ever want to see them suffer.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the shocking images: conscious seal pups being clubbed over the head and dragged across the ice … with some baby seals even skinned alive. I vowed right then to do everything I could to help stop this senseless cruelty.

One important way that you can help is by signing the pledge to boycott Canadian seafood until the seal hunt is stopped.

Why boycott Canadian seafood? Seal hunting is an off-season activity for Canada’s commercial fishermen, who earn a small fraction of their incomes from killing baby seals for their fur. That’s why a financial blow to the commercial fishing industry’s seafood exports is key to bringing about an end to this vicious slaughter.

After you’ve signed, please take my Pledge Challenge and ask all of your friends and family to sign, too.

The person who recruits the most new pledge signers will win a fabulous seal-themed prize pack from me. This prize pack includes a signed photo, my new T-shirt (see photo to the right), a campaign hoodie, and cute seal mug and baby seal plush toy. Ten runners-up will receive a signed photo and the baby seal plush toy. The more people you get to sign the pledge between now and midnight March 24, the greater the chance you’ll have to win! You can send up to 10 emails per message and up to 20 messages per day. Read all of the contest rules.

After what I have witnessed these past several days, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to help prevent these defenseless baby seals from being brutally slaughtered for their fur — most of which is exported to Europe. You see, I’ve just returned from the ice floes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where I joined my friends at The Humane Society of the United States in viewing an extraordinary sight — the birth of thousands of harp seal pups across a pristine and peaceful winter landscape. View my photos of this amazing place here. It’s so painful to think that in only a few weeks’ time, this beautiful seal nursery will be transformed into a scene of bloody carnage.

Please take a moment to sign the pledge to boycott Canadian seafood and help end this hunt forever.

Your involvement during these next few weeks is critical — because our campaign is starting to achieve real results. Since the ProtectSeals boycott began, the value of Canadian snow crab exports to the United States has plummeted $465 million (in Canadian dollars). Help us keep the pressure on Canada’s fishing industry by joining more than 545,000 people who have already signed the pledge!

It only takes a few minutes to speak up for baby seals. If we all act now, this may be the last commercial seal hunt any of us ever has to witness.


Nigel Barker

Copyright © 2008 The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) | All Rights Reserved.
The Humane Society of the United States | 2100 L Street, NW | Washington, DC 20037 | 202-452-1100 |

For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

Vancouver, Canada: Increased fines, and more power to SPCA in animal cruelty cases

March 7, 2008

The province is strengthening the Animal Cruelty Act by extending the B.C. SPCA’s powers when it comes to investigating animal cruelty cases. This comes in the wake of last week’s destruction of 1,200 roosters discovered in a cockfighting bust, and other high profile cases.

The new amendments include giving agents the ability to get search warrants by phone. The province is also clarifying agents’ authority to seize evidence and to take abandoned animals into custody. It’s also clarifying the SPCA’s power to hold and dispose of animals, and may force those animal owners to pay back the Society for taking care of those pets.

Click here for the full article.

For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

March 1, 2008

Three properties in the Cloverdale area of Surrey operated what might have been Canada’s largest cockfighting ring, where birds tore at each other for the entertainment of gamblers.

At these invitation-only events, pairs of specially trained roosters had long, hooked knives strapped to their feet and were driven into a frenzy by their handlers. The birds were then released to fight each other, often to the death, and all well out of the public eye.

In April, 2006, the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received a tip relating to one of the Surrey properties. They informed the RCMP, which began an investigation that lasted nearly two years and, this week, led to a dramatic bust of the cockfighting operation.

Police and SPCA investigators searched three properties in Cloverdale over a 21-hour period, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and finishing at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. They turned up fighting roosters, six fighting pits and large amounts of cockfighting paraphernalia. Many of the birds had stab wounds or were missing eyes or feet.

Among the items found were spurs – sharp two- or three-inch blades attached to roosters’ feet so that they can slash each other during fights – needles and veterinary supplies, scorecards, tethers and muffs, which are like small boxing gloves for the birds’ feet during practice matches. According to the SPCA, many of these items are easily purchased online.

The fighting birds would have been tethered to barrels on six- or eight-foot leads for most of their lives and kept in a constant state of agitation, said Shawn Eccles, chief animal protection officer with the B.C. SPCA. These specially bred fighters, called “game fowl,” were kept in close proximity to other fighting cocks to make them more aggressive. They were occasionally let free to breed with hens or to practice fighting other birds, but they were tied up again soon after.

“These birds are encouraged to fight to the death,” said Mr. Eccles, calling cockfighting one of the few remaining blood sports. “If they don’t die in the ring, they will die shortly after, probably as a result of injuries sustained during the fighting.”

Click here for the full article.

Teen animal cruelty: ‘Take it seriously’

January 8, 2008


Of all the questions raised by the horrific killing of a cat in Camrose, Alta., late last month, the most important was uttered by the mother of one of the four teenage boys allegedly responsible.

In an interview with the Edmonton Journal, the woman said people are asking why she didn’t stop them. “How do you do that?” she said. “That’s really quite difficult.”

The boys, three of whom are 15 and one whom is 13, are alleged to have broken into a house on Dec. 30 and put a cat in a microwave. They are now facing various charges, including unlawfully killing an animal.

Little is known about the motives or backgrounds of the children involved, and the allegations against them have not been proven.

But in other cases of animal cruelty, experts have seen a troubling link between young people who abuse animals and serious incidents of violence later in life.

So how should parents and society respond when kids demonstrate an act of callous disregard – or worse – toward an animal?

Click here for the full article.

Haven’t had your fill of raven info? Check this out:

January 1, 2008


In the latest issue of Scientific American, Bernd Heinrich and Thomas Bugnyar – scientists based at Vermont University in Canada and St Andrews University in Scotland, respectively – reveal a series of experiments that provides startling backing for the idea that ravens are the brainboxes of the natural world. ‘These birds use logic to solve problems and some of their abilities even surpass those of the great apes,’ they say…

…Many animals, birds and insects are capable of carrying out complex actions: nest-building, for example. However, such creatures are programmed genetically to undertake the different steps involved in such behaviour. Little intelligence is involved. By contrast, ravens have demonstrated that they can work out complex sets of actions, involving no tests or trial and error. This implies that they use logic. ‘The birds acted as if they knew what they were doing,’ the two researchers say in Scientific American. ‘Ravens have the ability to test actions in their minds. That capacity is probably lacking, or present only to a limited extent, in most animals.’

Click here to read the full article.