‘It’s phenomenal’: Whales begin singing new songs off B.C. coast as seasons change

‘It’s phenomenal’: Whales begin singing new songs off B.C. coast as seasons change

Rochelle Baker, CHEK News, Oct. 7, 2023

Autumn is the season of whale song on the Pacific Northwest Coast, says longtime researcher Janie Wray.

Male humpbacks off the B.C. coast are beginning to get vocal – practising and modifying a supernatural and intricate song that is transmitted and almost simultaneously adopted among themselves before and during their winter migration to warmer climes.

“It’s phenomenal. The males are just starting to sing these long, beautiful songs that we’re quite certain are connected to breeding on some level,” said Wray, CEO of the North Coast Cetacean Society (BC Whales).

“I feel blessed to be able to listen to them. The humpback whale song has been changing, evolving for thousands of years. And yet, all of the males in the Pacific population are picking up those changes.”

It’s especially exciting because people everywhere will be able to tune into this humpback opera season, and orca and fin whale sounds as well, as a new collective network of hydrophones spanning the B.C. coast goes live this week, she said.

A coalition of First Nations and whale conservation groups have established Whale Sound – a collaborative website that allows researchers and the public to listen and learn more about whale acoustics and how that data might better protect marine mammals moving forward.

Data and marine sounds derived from 16 different hydrophones off southern and northern Vancouver Island as well as the central and northern coast of British Columbia will be pooled on the central platform and assembled into a massive acoustic library, Wray said….
More research groups and First Nations are expected to join the network over time, further deepening the understanding of whale acoustics on the West Coast, Wray said.

Working collectively will better ensure the continued recovery of whales in B.C. waters and efforts to mitigate the smog of human noise so humpbacks and other whales can continue to communicate and thrive in coastal waters.

“They are singing to be heard,” Wray said.

“When you listen, you have an emotional reaction because it is truly beautiful. It makes you recognize these whales are emotional beings.”
[… Read more at CHEK News ]  [and The Whalesong Project]


Provinces licensing wolf fur farms, B.C. group reveals

Timberwolves, or grey wolves, are among several wild predators found kept on fur farms in two Canadian provinces.Adria Photography / Moment / Getty Images

An animal rights group says the discovery was the first time anyone has found a wolf farm in Canada.

Stefan Labbé, Vancouver is AwesomeNov.21, 2023

A B.C. animal rights group says it has discovered several fur farms in Canada with licences to hold wolves, bobcat, fox and lynx.

One Alberta farm has housed at least four lynx, while five farms in Saskatchewan held 109 wild predators, including 27 Siberian lynx, 15 Canada lynx, one bobcat, 15 foxes and 51 timberwolves, according to documents obtained through public records requests and seen by Glacier Media.

Aaron Hofman, who uncovered licensee data and serves as The Fur-Bearers director of policy and advocacy, said the discovery was the first time anyone has found a wolf farm in Canada.

“To confine these iconic wildlife species in Canada just for their fur, it shows how unethical it is, and it shows how secretive it is,” said Hofman. “It shows how underground this sector is.”

A spokesperson for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture said there were five licenced fur farms in the province.

“All fur farm operators are licensed and regulated according to The Fur Farming Regulations 2017 under The Animal Products Act,” said the spokesperson in an email….

[… Read more at  Vancouver is Awesome ]


Hundreds of academics call for 100% plant-based meals at UK universities

Damian Carrington, The Guardian, Sept. 4, 2023

fight the climate crisis, saying that the institutions have “for centuries, been shining lights of intellectual, moral, and scientific progress”.

The open letter, organised by the student-led Plant-Based Universities campaign, likened the move to meat-free food to the fossil fuel divestment to which 101 UK universities have already committed.

Cutting meat consumption in rich nations is vital to tackling the climate crisis, with scientists saying it is the single biggest way for people to reduce their impact on the planet.

The letter, sent to UK university vice-chancellors, catering managers, and student union presidents, said: “We are acutely aware – as you must be too – of the climate and ecological crises; not only this but we are also mindful that animal farming and fishing are leading drivers of them.

“Most universities have declared a climate emergency, with many taking steps such as fossil fuel divestment. [Students] deserve to know that their universities are actively working to create a future for them to graduate into.”….

The Plant-Based Universities campaign is active in more than 50 universities. To date, the student unions’ at Birmingham, University College London, Stirling, and Queen Mary universities have voted to phase in 100% plant-based menus.

Related votes also have passed at Cambridge, Kent and London Metropolitan universities. Votes at Edinburgh and Warwick universities did not pass. The University of Cambridge removed beef and lamb from the menus of its 14 catering outlets in 2016, “dramatically reducing food-related carbon emissions”.

Chris Packham said: “The student campaigners of Plant-Based Universities are making incredible changes in their institutions and it’s only right to see hundreds of academics stepping up to support them.”

In 2020, A powerful coalition of the UK’s health professions said the climate crisis could not be solved without action to cut the consumption of high-emission food such as red meat, and that sustainable diets were healthier.

Public sector caterers serving billions of meals a year in schools, universities, hospitals and care homes also pledged in 2020 to cut the amount of meat they serve by 20%. In 2021, a government-commissioned national food strategyrecommended cutting meat consumption by nearly a third.

[… Read more at The Guardian]


Vegan diet massively cuts environmental damage, study shows

Detailed analysis finds plant diets lead to 75% less climate-heating emissions, water pollution and land use than meat-rich ones

Damian Carrington, The GuardianJuly 20, 2023

Eating a vegan diet massively reduces the damage to the environment caused by food production, the most comprehensive analysis to date has concluded.

The research showed that vegan diets resulted in 75% less climate-heating emissions, water pollution and land use than diets in which more than 100g of meat a day was eaten. Vegan diets also cut the destruction of wildlife by 66% and water use by 54%, the study found.

The heavy impact of meat and dairy on the planet is well known, and people in rich nations will have to slash their meat consumption in order to end the climate crisis. But previous studies have used model diets and average values for the impact of each food type.

In contrast, the new study analysed the real diets of 55,000 people in the UK. It also used data from 38,000 farms in 119 countries to account for differences in the impact of particular foods that are produced in different ways and places. This significantly strengthens confidence in the conclusions.

However, it turned out that what was eaten was far more important in terms of environmental impacts than where and how it was produced. Previous research has shown that even the lowest-impact meat – organic pork – is responsible for eight times more climate damage than the highest-impact plant, oilseed.

The researchers said the UK should introduce policies to help people reduce the amount of meat they eat in order to meet the nation’s climate targets. Ministers have repeatedly said they will not tell people what to consume, despite the precedent of, for example, taxes on high-sugar drinks.

Prof Peter Scarborough at Oxford University, who led the research, published in the journal Nature Food, said: “Our dietary choices have a big impact on the planet. Cutting down the amount of meat and dairy in your diet can make a big difference to your dietary footprint.”

The global food system has a huge impact on the planet, emitting a third of the total greenhouse gas emissions driving global heating. It also uses 70% of the world’s freshwater and causes 80% of river and lake pollution. About 75% of the Earth’s land is used by humans, largely for farming, and the destruction of forests is the major cause of the huge losses in biodiversity.

Prof Neil Ward at the University of East Anglia said: “This is a significant set of findings. It scientifically reinforces the point made by the Climate Change Committee and the National Food Strategy over recent years that dietary shifts away from animal-based foods can make a major contribution to reducing the UK’s environmental footprint.”…

[… Read more at The Guardian]

See original study: Scarborough et al, “Vegans, vegetarians, fish-eaters and meat-eaters in the UK show discrepant environmental impacts,” Nature Food 4 (565–574), 2023

Animal Markets and Zoonotic Diseases in the United States

Researchers at Harvard Law School’s Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law and Policy Program and New York University’s Center for Environmental and Animal Protection released an in-depth examination of 36 animal markets in the U.S., spanning everything from livestock for food to the fur trade to niche markets like camel farming and bat guano harvesting. They found that the U.S. live animal trade is enormous and largely unregulated.

And where it is regulated, regulators are largely blind to public health concerns and the potential for zoonotic diseases, which cross from animals to humans. The research team was formed during the pandemic in 2020 with a goal of taking a close look at such markets in 15 countries to gauge the risk of activities that drive animal-to-human transmission of pathogens.

Read the full report: “Animal Markets and Zoonotic Diseases in the United States.”

This report in the media:



Canada Slaughtered 841 Million Animals in 2022

Animal JusticeFebruary 15, 2023

Image shows number of animals killed in Canada for food from 2015 to 2022.

In 2022, 841 million land animals were killed for food in Canada, making it the highest year on record since Animal Justice began analyzing government slaughter statistics.

Up from 825 million in 2021, 812 million in 2020, 834 million in 2019, 819 million in 2018, 800 million in 2017, 771 million in 2016, and 750 million in 2015.

The number of animals slaughtered for food in 2020 and 2021 dipped due to disruptions caused by the pandemic. Sadly, the death toll has now bounced back up again, and Canada continues on its path of drastic growth in the number of animals killed….

[… Read more atAnimal Justice  ]


How Many Fishes Are Killed in Canada? The Number Is Staggering

Animal JusticeApril 3, 2023

For years, Animal Justice has tallied the numbers of land animals who are killed every year for food in Canada. And now, for the first time ever, Animal Justice is releasing an estimate of the number of aquatic animals killed for food in Canada.

Aquatic animals aren’t counted as individuals in government statistics. Instead, the industry only measures the scale of their “harvest” by their collective weight in tonnes. This makes it complex to get a full picture of the heartbreaking death and destruction caused by fishing and farming aquatic animals for food.

How We Got the Numbers

Fortunately, the annual weights reported by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are at least categorized by species. We divided the total landing weight of each species by the average weight of an individual member of that species. This allowed us to come up with a rough estimate of the number of individual aquatic animals killed each year in the aquaculture and fishing industries.* Looking at the data for each species in the DFO landing reports, we arrived at an absolutely staggering number of lives lost to commercial fishing.

By our estimate, over 10.2 billion aquatic animals were killed by Canadian fisheries and fish farms in 2021. That’s over 12 times more than the already shocking number of land animals killed each year….

[… Read more at Animal Justice ]


The Weight of Responsibility: Biomass of Livestock Dwarfs That of Wild Mammals

Wild land mammals weigh less than 10 percent of the combined weight of humans and are outweighed by cattle and other domesticated mammals by a factor of 30

American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, February 17, 2023

We often think that our world is an infinite realm comprising great plains, jungles and oceans, teeming with wild animals featured in memorable nature shows like the BBC’s Planet Earth. But the first global census of wild mammal biomass, conducted by Weizmann Institute of Science researchers and reported today in PNAS, reveals the extent to which our natural world – along with its most iconic animals – is a vanishing one.

The new report shows that the biomass of wild mammals on land and at sea is dwarfed by the combined weight of cattle, pigs, sheep and other domesticated mammals. A team headed by Prof. Ron Milo found that the biomass of livestock has reached about 630 million tonnes (metric tons) – 30 times the weight of all wild terrestrial mammals (approximately 20 million tonnes) and 15 times that of wild marine mammals (40 million tonnes). …

[… Read more at the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science]

Canada is so close to prohibiting cruel and unnecessary testing on animals

BCSPCAApril 24, 2023

…After almost 10 years of advocacy from the BC SPCA and many other individuals, organizations and businesses, the federal government has recently proposed bans on cosmetic and toxicity testing on animals.

The 2023 federal budget, and the recently published Notice of Ways and Means Motion contains proposed amendments to the Food and Drugs Act that would finally prohibit:

• Testing cosmetics on animals in Canada;
• Selling cosmetics that rely on animal testing to establish the product’s safety (with some exceptions); and,
• False or misleading labelling about the testing of cosmetics on animals.

Through our national leadership at Humane Canada, the BC SPCA is continuing to ask the Canadian government to fulfill its mandate and adopt this legislation at the earliest opportunity.

Bill S-5, an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, is also moving forwards and sets out a roadmap to phase out cruel toxicity tests on vertebrate animals, and for Canada to become a leader in the development and use of alternative testing methods….

[… Read more at BCSPCA]


Wolf cull deemed inhumane after B.C. government releases ‘disturbing’ photos

Pacific Wild Alliances says images don’t align with what people would consider ethical treatment of wildlife

Lauren Collins, Victoria News, April 22, 2023

An environment charity is calling on the provincial government to rethink its wolf cull after the release of dozens of “disturbing” images.

Pacific Wild Alliance received 46 images from the B.C. government April 12 after having pushed for the release photographic evidence, and on April 18 the charity released the “disturbing” and “extremely graphic” images to the public. A release from the Pacific Wild adds that internal government documents “suggest that thousands of other photos, as well as video, should be on file from the cull, but have not been released.”

The photos depict wolves being “killed by gunfire from helicopters” between 2015 and 2022, with the release noting the cull has run for eight years at a cost of more than $8 million in taxpayer dollars, and has been “challenged as unethical, unscientific, and inhumane.”

Pacific Wild animal law lawyer Rebeka Breder said some of the photos don’t align with what the public would consider as ethical treatment of wildlife….

[… Read more at Victoria News ]