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Activist’s Harsh Sentence Shines Spotlight on England’s “Medieval” Badger Cull

January 21, 2015 by Leave a Comment

News & Opinion

Jay Tiernan, a leader in the fight to stop the killing of wild badgers in England, has received a six month suspended jail sentence and up to $83,000 in fines for breaching a court order brought by cattle farmers who support the “badger cull.”  According to The Guardinan, “the breaches ranged from filming someone involved in the cull” to “protesting outside an National Farmers’ Union (NFU) office wearing a FCK NFU T-shirt” to “failing to pass on details of the injunction to other protesters.” Notably, the judge said that Mr. Tiernan is “a man of good character” and that his “breaches did not involve any violence or damage to property.”

Activist Jay Tiernan has a strong message for the National Farmers' Union (photo: The Guardian)

Activist Jay Tiernan has a strong message for the National Farmers’ Union (photo: The Guardian)

While the ruling represents a serious infringement on free speech and imposes an insurmountable financial burden on Mr. Teirnan, it does shine a much-needed international spotlight on the badger cull and is serving to unify the large community of people who oppose the killing.

European badger

European badger

Supporters of the badger cull claim that the extermination is necessary to control bovine tuberculosis (TB), which, they say, threatens their cattle.

Opponents of the cull argue that killing is the wrong approach for many reasons:

  • A large, scientific study has demonstrated that killing badgers makes “no meaningful contribution to the control of bovine TB.”
  • Wildlife should not have to pay the price for cheap food produced through environmentally destructive factory farming, which is how TB was introduced to wildlife.
  • More frequent testing of cattle and cattle movement controls are addressing the problem in neighboring Wales.
Brian May of the band Queen protests the badger cull in 2013 (photo: The Mirror)

Brian May of the band Queen protests the badger cull in 2013 (photo: The Mirror)

Badgers are a protected species in England, and the government-sanctioned campaign to slaughter them in certain areas has generated backlash not only from veteran animal rights activists and “hunt saboteurs” but also from people who live in or near the killing zones.

In 2013, a reporter with the Guardian filmed Mr. Tiernan “engaging in guerrilla-style tactics” to prevent marksmen from shooting badgers. He also speaks to less confrontational protesters who are stunned by the high level of secrecy surrounding the cull.

Your Turn

Please consider supporting Jay Tiernan.

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Shortest Animal Rights Campaign In History?

September 23, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Eight hours after an animal rights group asked its supporters to leave comments opposing foie gras on the Facebook wall of The Sopwell House, the well-known hotel and spa in England announced that it will remove foie gras from its restaurant’s menu. It was that easy.

“We have reconsidered our offerings, and this dish will now be removed by our Executive Head Chef. Kindly note that it will take a couple of weeks for our menus to be reprinted. However, please be reassured that we are no longer serving foie gras.”

Sopwell House ends sale of foie gras

Sopwell House to remove foie gras from menu

In response to the news, Hertfordshire Animal Rights spokesperson Tod Bradbury said, “We would like to publicly thank Sopwell House for listening to the concerns of the public. Foie gras does not belong in a civilised society – it is undeniably cruel. We hope Sopwell House can be an inspiration to other purveyors of foie gras in the area.”

Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks and geese through metal pipes until their livers become diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size.

foie gras force feeding

Hertfordshire Animal Rights has stopped the sale of foie gras at five restaurants in England since August and intends to continue its campaign until the region is foie gras free. In the United States, the production and sale of foie gras were banned in California in 2012. A similar ban was passed in Chicago in 2006, but it was overturned in 2008.

In his 2011 book The Foie Gras Wars, Chicago Tribune reporter Marc Caro profiled the Humane League of Philadelphia’s multi-year campaign to stop the sale of foie gras in local restaurants. According to activist Nick Cooney, who ran the campaign, between 80% – 85% of the targeted restaurants ultimately removed foie gras from the menu.

foie gras wars

Your Turn

As evidenced by the victories in England, California and Philadelphia, grassroots activism works. If you live near a restaurant that serves foie gras, then you can employ the same tactics used by Hertfordshire Animal Rights and the Humane League to campaign against the sale of foie gras. To learn more, please watch Farm Sanctuary’s undercover investigation of a foie gras farm.

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Animal Aid & PETA Petition For CCTV in U.K. Slaughterhouses

July 1, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

With the support of PETA, a U.K.-based animal advocacy group called Animal Aid, circulated a petition (almost 13,000 signatures to date) “urging the government to make CCTV installation mandatory for all slaughterhouses.”  The meatpacking industry opposes the measure.

slaughterhouse CAFT s2064

News & Opinion

Paul McCartney once said, “If slaughterhouses had windows, then everyone would be vegetarian.”  I think it’s safe to say that many people would also go veg if they watched animals being slaughtered through a live feed from the kill floor.  We might not have CCTV – or windows – in slaughterhouses, but we do have the next best thing: videos that show the terror and agony experienced by animals being killed.

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