Nicholas Kristof | Spy Cams Show What the Pork Industry Tries to Hide – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“The hog industry hails the gas chambers in which pigs are prepared for slaughter as “animal friendly,” “stress free” and “painless.” That would be a good thing, since on average, four pigs are slaughtered each second in the United States.

But a California activist recently sneaked into a slaughterhouse at night and installed spy cams inside a gas chamber to record this supposedly humane process. The resulting videos are horrifying: They show the pigs squealing desperately, thrashing about and gasping for air before eventually succumbing.

“Everyone’s been lied to,” the activist, Raven Deerbrook, said. “It’s a massive consumer fraud.”

She may have a point. These gas chambers, which use carbon dioxide to render pigs unconscious, are how “animal friendly” modern meat plants across North America and Europe often prepare hogs to have their throats slit.”

Mark Elbroch | Cougars Are Heading East. We Should Welcome Them. – The New York Times

Dr. Elbroch is the director of the puma program at Panthera, a nonprofit group focused on protecting the world’s wild cats and the ecosystems they inhabit, and the author of “The Cougar Conundrum.”

“Numerous cougar sightings were reported east of the Mississippi River last fall, encounters that have become more frequent in recent years. A trail camera glimpsed one in northern Minnesota, for instance, while authorities captured another in Springfield, Ill., after it had made its way there from Nebraska. Yet another was fatally struck by a car on I-88 west of Chicago.

Cougars once had the run of the continent, ranging far and wide. But they were virtually eliminated in the Eastern United States by the early 1900s (except for a small population that survives in Florida), victims of bounty hunting and habitat loss. In recent decades, their numbers in the Western United States, where they were also once targeted for eradication, have rebounded, and now these big cats, also known as mountain lions, panthers and pumas, are slowly moving east.”

“. . . . .  Wary of humans, cougars feed mainly on deer and smaller prey. The risk of a cougar attack — on people or domestic animals — is extremely low, and almost zero with pragmatic precautions. Fewer than two dozen people have been killed by cougars in North America in the past 100 years. (Males range in size from 120 to 180 pounds, depending on where they live; females are much smaller, ranging from 70 to 110 pounds.) Scientists estimate a recolonization of the Eastern United States by cougars could reduce deer-vehicle collisions by 22 percent over 30 years, averting 21,400 human injuries, 155 human fatalities and over $2 billion in costs. The return of cougars to South Dakota in the 1990s, for example, reduced costs of deer-vehicle collisions by an estimated $1.1 million annually.”

David Lindsay: Bring them back, I say.  Here is the top comment, I endorsed:

Ames
New York City8h ago

in 2021, the USDA’s Wildlife Services killed 1.75 million animals, including cougars, wolves, bald eagles and other protected species to protect livestock producers raising cattle and sheep on public — not private — land. How long will we let a government agency like the USDA, and its handmaiden, the Bureau of Land Management continue protecting subsidized ranchers on public lands at taxpayer expense over the cougars and other species who belong on that land, can restore that precious but damaged land…and the public, who owns it? More cougars, please!

8 Replies461 Recommended

The Health Benefits of Bird-Watching – The New York Times

Erik Vance learned to bird-watch in college, during the winter near St. Louis. Since then, he has spotted hundreds of species around the world.

6 MIN READ

Tammah Watts remembers the exact moment she became a bird-watcher.

It was April of 2007. She was stuck in her house, struggling with chronic pain resulting from complications after a surgery. The pain had become so debilitating that Ms. Watts, formerly an avid biker and hiker, couldn’t hold a pencil or pick up a cup at times. It had forced her to leave her job as a therapist and confined her to her home, where she had sunk into a deep depression.

Then one day, she looked out her kitchen window.

“There’s a tree that has a branch that tends to grow down. And there was this bright yellow bird there,” she said.

She didn’t know that it was called a yellow warbler, or really anything about birds at all, but she was entranced. Every day she watched it jump from branch to branch, barely discernible from the yellow blossoms of the tipu tree. And over time, this bird led her to others in her yard and brought Ms. Watts out of her pain and sadness and back into the world.

She started keeping track of the birds she saw, joined a local Audubon Society chapter and traveled the state looking for new birds. She now sits on the Audubon California board of directors. In short, she said, birding changed her life.

“It’s contagious. It’s addicting,” said Ms. Watts, who is writing a book called “Keep Looking Up: Your Guide to the Powerful Healing of Birdwatching.” “Birding really does cross over into so many areas of wellness, health and fitness.”

Image

Four people, including Kim Ehn, president of the Dunes Calumet Audubon Society, are bundled up against the cold inside a building, hold binoculars up to their eyes while looking outside.
Kim Ehn, front center, president of the Dunes Calumet Audubon Society, leading a group of winter bird-watchers on the shores of Lake Michigan at the Indiana Dunes National Park in Portage, Ind.Credit…Tristan Spinski for The New York Times
Image

A red-bellied woodpecker, which actually has far more red on its head than its belly, perches on a tree trunk and looks off to one side.
A red-bellied woodpecker perching on a tree in Willow Springs, Ill. This species is rarely seen any time of year, but it is easier to spot in the winter.Credit…Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

Starting on Dec. 14, bird-watchers across the country will begin the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, a 123-year-old tradition where people gather and help to catalog species in their area. Novices and serious birders alike walk through parks, forests and fields, looking for birds and listening for bird song; someone shouts “another yellow one!” and somebody else writes down “goldfinch.” “

They Fought the Lawn. And the Lawn Lost. – The New York Times

“COLUMBIA, Md. — Janet and Jeff Crouch do not know which flower or plant may have pushed their longtime next door neighbor over the edge, prompting him to pen complaint after complaint about the state of their yard.

Perhaps it was the scarlet bee balm that drew hummingbirds in darting, whirring droves. Or the swamp milkweed that Monarch butterflies feasted upon before laying their eggs. Or maybe it was the native sunflowers that fed bumblebees and goldfinches.

Whatever it was, their neighbor’s mounting resentment burst to the fore in the fall of 2017, in the form of a letter from a lawyer for their homeowner association that ordered the Crouches to rip out their native plant beds, and replace them with grass.

The couple were stunned. They’d lived on their quiet cul-de-sac harmoniously with their neighbors for years, and chose native plants to help insects, birds and wildlife thrive. Now the association was telling them that their plantings not only violated the bylaws, but were eyesores that hurt property values. “Your yard is not the place for such a habitat,” the letter read.”

An App for Naturalists Offers a Shared Sense of Reality – The New York Times

In the process of reporting this article, Amy Harmon photographed an animal she saw in Riverside Park in Manhattan and experienced unironic elation when strangers in New York, California and Louisiana identified it as an Eastern gray squirrel.

“What was it?

A segmented worm? A sea slug? A centipede, colonized by a parasite?

When Merav Vonshak wanted to identify the gelatinous blob she had photographed floating in a shallow pool of water on a family vacation, she bypassed a wildlife-related website too often beset by bickering. She gave no consideration to brand-name social media platforms known for snark or misinformation.

Instead she uploaded the picture to a site called iNaturalist, where strangers have come together to pursue a very specific type of truth: the correct scientific classification for the living things they photograph in the wild or the backyard. They have so far processed about 90 million, with at least a quarter completed in 2022 alone.”

(692) Queen of The Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? (Trailer) – YouTube

David Lindsay

oedpSrtsno6027f8fcamuli4ml042t5g11t5gmhga57a6m52ht4311g672h3  · YouTube  · 

Shared with Public

Public

I learned about this film about international bee colony collapse, from my new FB friend Tim Mack’s page. I haven’t seen the whole film yet, but the trailer is horrible, I mean fantastic,

oh Blah and Fiddlesticks, I mean, bad news well presented.

Fat Bear Week Is in Full Swing – The New York Times

“The first time Mike Fitz saw a bear in the wild, in 2007, he did what he was trained to do: He made a lot of noise.

“You can read and listen to all of the advice — it helps prepare you mentally, but at the same time I’m thinking, ‘Oh, that is a bear in front of me, looking at me,’” Mr. Fitz said. “What am I going to do now?”

This particular bear, on top of Dumpling Mountain in Katmai National Park in Alaska, however, was not exactly an imminent threat. The bear was about a quarter-mile away from Mr. Fitz, and his yells across the vast landscape barely made a dent. “I hadn’t figured out that making noise is appropriate in certain situations,” he said. “The bear probably heard me and thought, ‘What is this two-legged creature doing?’”

The encounter proved to be a formative moment for Mr. Fitz, and for millions of bear fans around the world. Mr. Fitz is the founder of Fat Bear Week, now in its ninth year. What began as a way for Mr. Fitz, a former park ranger, to engage with visitors to Katmai has “spiraled.” “

Alone in a New World With Vast Open Space, and Sheep – The New York Times

“ENGINEER PASS, Colo. — The baas, bleats and bells were fading ever so slightly, and the shepherd’s trained ear detected that his flock was veering off the path home, for this was the soundtrack of his life in the Rocky Mountains. “The sheep must be herded,” he said in Spanish, as he quickly ascended a hill overlooking a meadow.

Then the herder, Ricardo Mendoza, whistled loudly, commanding his two dogs to coax his 1,700 sheep closer to his campito, a tiny shed with a single sun-bleached word — “HOME” — over the door. His employer had hauled it up a winding, unpaved road used by 19th-century miners to this 13,000-foot pass shortly before Mr. Mendoza arrived with his horse, pack mule, dogs and sheep, ready to settle into the last outpost of his seasonal nomadic journey, about 65 miles north of Durango in western Colorado.

Mr. Mendoza, 46, has spent most of the past decade living in these rugged, remote mountains, herding sheep raised for wool and meat from spring to fall. “You live in complete solitude, just you, your animals and your thoughts,” he said, gazing at the windswept tundra below the soaring Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn peaks.”

David Lindsay: Good article, and comments. Here is one I liked:

Kevin Ott
Crested Butte, COSept. 23

This is a nice article romanticizing the grazing of domestic sheep high in the subalpine tundras of the American West. Just weeks ago, we backpacked across this exact area of the Uncompahgre Wilderness NE of Engineer Pass. Wilderness is no place for commercial animal grazing for any number of reasons. What the article did not mention are the demonstrable negative impacts of overgrazing and erosion caused by the grazing of large herds (hundreds to thousands) of domestic sheep in this delicate high elevation (12,000’ ) environment. This is Wilderness, or was. Also not mentioned is the very real impact on native Rocky Mountain Bighorns who populate these craggy locales. Domestic sheep transmit an ovine pneumonia (mycoplasma ovipneumonia) to the Bighorn population which is decimating Bighorn herds in the Rocky Mountain West. Keeping domestic sheep long distances away from the Bighorn herds is the only way to protect these dwindling, ever more isolated, majestic wild animal herds.

2 Replies75 Recommended

The Number of Ants Worldwide Reaches Into the Quadrillions – Rebecca Dzombak – The New York Times

“Right now, ants are scurrying around every continent except Antarctica, doing the hard work of engineering ecosystems. They spread seeds, churn up soil and speed up decomposition. They forage and hunt and get eaten. You may not know how much you rely on them.

“Ants are the movers and shakers of ecosystems,” said Nate Sanders, an ecologist at the University of Michigan. “Knowing anything about them helps us understand how ecosystems are put together and how they work.”

“I would argue most ecosystems would simply collapse without ants,” said Patrick Schultheiss, an ecologist at the University of Hong Kong. As some naturalists worry about an insect apocalypse, scientists are racing to keep track of what’s at stake. But they didn’t know how many ants there are or where they live.”

David Lindsay: This article about estimating ant populations worldwide, reminds me to ask anyone reading this, one of my new research questions.
Edward O Wilson, the famous entomologist, wrote that if we do wipe out 50% of non-human species, as we are on trajectory to do, humans will not survive, because of the complex dependencies of species in ecosystems. I am looking for research on this topic. What research is this conclusion or hypothesis based on?  My email is daljr37at gmail dot com.

Hundreds of Whales Stranded Off Tasmania – The New York Times

“DARWIN, Australia — They may have taken a wrong turn, chased their prey into shallow waters, or blindly followed a dying matriarch who intended to beach herself. But the pilot whales, more than 450 of them, somehow ended up stranded on a remote beach in Tasmania.

More than half of them are likely to have already died. Now, scientists are racing to save the others.”