Nancyeclark's Blog


LONG DARK NIGHT

I can’t stop crying…and it is from a sadness and despair so profound, so deep, it has loosened my foundations like an earthquake. Everything I cherish and love and find beautiful in this world is being destroyed..by us. I cry in pain, and despair…and in the darkness of a soul that feels its connections withering into dust. My long dark night has begun.

I have seen the cruelty of humans. Active, intentional cruelty to children, to animals, to each other. And I have seen the neglect, the unintentional cruelty…the cruelty of not caring, of ignorance. Now I see, a cruelty, a neglect that comes, I believe from a deeper, more sinister place…and on a much more massive scale. We may say we are not aware…but if we stop to think, we must know the consequences of our actions…we are the smartest animal on the planet after all, and for years now it has been warned of, been in the news. “Activists”  and “environmentalists” and “scientists” have been issuing warnings for years. (I use the quotation marks because these folks have always been seen as alarmists and not quite with the mainstream.) We did not listen because we are too greedy and too busy to heed the warnings. There is a picture floating around the internet for shark week that I find revealing…(thanks to Ocean Defenders for the image)

diver and shark for blog601998_10151785141264653_314931760_n

We have so polluted and corrupted our planet…our mother, our home…our only place to survive, that it may never recover and become whole again. And the cruelty isn’t just to our fellow creatures, it is to ourselves. If we create a place so toxic and unwelcoming to other species…why can we not see that it is toxic and unwelcoming to us as well?

We have spewed out so many greenhouse gases that we have changed our climate forever. Even if we stopped right this second…the damage has been done and the erosion of our atmosphere will continue apace because there isn’t any way to remove what we have already released into our air…and because the rise in temperatures we have already seen will continue to thaw the permafrost and release more gases into the mix.

We have cleared so much forest and rainforest, to satisfy our hunger and greed…our planet is like a smoker with stage 4 lung cancer…our planets lungs are not just sick, not just less able to breathe…they are going to die and everything within them die too. With the trees, plants and grasses go the animals that depend on them…and so go we. Maybe not today..but soon. Our remaining time on earth is looking less and less long term. People worry about how to live better now, how to leave something for their kids and give them a better future…we should be worrying about having a future at all.

And it scares me silly that we might explore and expand one day onto other planets. What will we do there? Create more garbage and more problems. Movies show us big bad aliens showing up on Earth and trying to kill us. Maybe the reason is the fear of us figuring out how to colonize other planets. If I were a species from another planet, I would be very worried about us Earthlings showing up and killing them…not with bigger weapons…but with our garbage, toxins, pollution and greed. It might take longer to wipe them out than the apocalypses seen in the movies, but it would happen just the same. I would find humans showing up very scary indeed. Have we not left our refuse everywhere we have been? The moon, space, our own backyards?

doesnt matter how much money we have1148943_604889226218606_512838833_n

We have so polluted our oceans that thousands of miles from any continent…we are still killing in the most horrible and cruel way with just the detritus of our unthinking, greedy, ignorant lifestyles. Tossing garbage out of our cars, off our boats…dumping waste into our rivers and into the oceans…there are huge rafts of plastic floating around the world’s oceans. There is oil and god knows what spilled and leaching into the waters off every coast. That bottle you did not recycle, that hypodermic you tossed into the trash, those 6 pack rings…all of them are deadly.

On the island of Midway…far off in the pacific…look, if your stomach can take it,…at what we have done.

A warning here…the video is graphic and disturbing…and so it should be!

Midway

I am speechless with grief and horror at the reach of the death we mete out to the planet’s other inhabitants without even being present or aware of what we are doing.

I have heard my whole life how smart we humans are and how we can put our minds to anything…to technology and advance it leaps and bounds…to create the internet, robotics, weapons, move into space exploration. How we create language and art and so are far and away more advanced and wonderful and precious than other creatures…we call ourselves Homo Sapiens or “wise man” after all.

I have to say I am more convinced now than ever before that we are the most stupid of creatures, because we have never been able to see the impact of our actions quite so clearly as we do now, and yet we refuse to countenance our complicity in the extinction of species, destruction of habitat and rape and pillage of the planet that sustains us.

Worse than any Mongol Horde, any plague are we…through our lack of insight, our greed and ignorance, our refusal to believe that we are part of the ecosystems we study…that we are somehow above being a species reliant on the Earth’s biosphere. Are we so damn blind?

This is why I can’t stop crying…and it is from a sadness and despair so profound, so deep, it has loosened my foundations like an earthquake. Everything I cherish and love and find beautiful in this world is being destroyed..by us. I cry in pain, and despair…and in the darkness of a soul that feels its connections withering into dust. My long dark night has begun. And so has ours as a species, unless we can make big changes to the way we see ourselves and our place in the grand scheme and loosen the grip consumerism has on our minds and hearts. The darkness we face only mirrors the darkness within.

Welcome to the long, dark night.



I Loathe a Rainy Night

With deepest apologies to Eddie Rabbitt.

“Well, I love a rainy night
I love to hear the thunder
Watch the lightning
When it lights up the sky
You know it makes me feel good
Well, I love a rainy night
It’s such a beautiful sight
I love to feel the rain
On my face
Taste the rain on my lips
In the moonlight shadow
Showers washed
All my cares away”

I used to feel the way Eddie’s song goes. I do love thunder and lightning and rain pounding on the roof. I love going to watch a storm march across the lake and the lightning all around me. My fantasy vacation is heading to Tornado Alley to watch storms, wind, rain, clouds and lightning…with or without tornados.

But now I loathe a rainy night. All because of tailless, hopping Anura. Frogs. Peepers. Leopards. I don’t know what kind exactly…but mostly dead.

I loathe a rainy night and driving in the rain because rain…or mist or just the promise of rain…brings out the frogs. By the hundreds. Even thousands. Sitting, gulping, hopping out on the road in the rain…getting shmushed by the hundreds and thousands too.

Driving parts of the roads and highways in this area is like driving through a minefield…full of small, squishy, living, hopping mines. I slow down and swerve a lot…but in most cases there is traffic or too many of them to avoid.

So, I find myself driving to avoid as many as possible with my body tense, teeth clenched and saying over and over and over again “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry” and mentally apologizing to god and the frogs for killing or maiming the ones I cannot avoid. Best case scenario is my husband driving while I close my eyes and apologize until we get home. Sort of the same way I drive over the bridge to the States at Ivy Lea…eyes closed and praying we don’t fall off or get hit by a gust of wind!

Poor frogs. So happy they are to feel the rain. Hopping out onto the dark, wet pavement. Sitting, gulping, blissfully unaware of approaching mayhem…little faces raised to the rain…saying to themselves…”Wow! This feels so goo………..SPLAT!!

How unfair!

I have always wondered why they do this. Why rush out from their homes in the marshes and wetlands to sit in the wet & dark…communing with each other? Praising the gods of rain? Looking for moths and worms? Mating?

Here are 3 of the internets answers…and it seems I wasn’t far off with my theories…

1. -“Frog are cold blooded, or ectothermic animals, which means that they do not produce internal body heat. They go to the warm pavement during rain to maintain their temperatures.”

2. “For sex = to find a mate”

3. =During rainy nights drivers may have noticed dozens or even hundreds of frogs crossing roads in the area despite the danger of being hit.
Tarr said frogs travel out onto the pavement at this time because moist nights make for good amphibian travel weather."They breathe through their skin so they are susceptible to drying out when the sun is out. When it’s rainy they can go wherever they want and not worry about it. They tend to be the most active at night," Tarr said.
Mike Marchand, a wildlife biologist with New Hampshire Fish and Game, said frogs can be seen on the roads throughout the year during storms.
"When they move, it’s typically in the rain," said Marchand, adding the first big spring rainfall tends to bring them out of hibernation.
Experts say many frogs travel across pavement from their winter hibernating spots to get to wetlands where they can breed.
Tarr said the road also provides warmth as it holds the heat from the day better than the ground. Frogs also find things like worms and insects on the pavement to feast on, he added.
UNH Cooperative Extension officials are concerned about roads that run through wetlands because frogs and other amphibians are often run over more often during their travels.
Tarr said frogs and toads are remarkably adapted to their environment with features like camouflage and toxic chemicals that can be excreted to make them the last thing on the menu for many animals.
However, he said they certainly aren’t aware of the danger of vehicles.
"Most of the time the first time they are being educated about a car they are being squashed," Tarr said.
Marchand said the road is certainly a "risky" place for frogs to be considering that many motorists don’t even see them.
"There is certainly a high mortality rate on nights when it’s raining. When I drive I’m cringing and slowing down," Marchand said.”

The most telling part of what I found was this…"Most of the time, the first time they are being educated about a car, they are being squashed”.

So do we need to educate the frogs? Do we need frog tunnels? Signs warning drivers about frogs…like the signs for deer, turtles and other species?

Because it seems to me with all the talk about frogs being an indicator species…with their numbers dropping dramatically due to toxins and pollution, habitat destruction and climate change…we also need to take a look at the carnage on the roads.

So, when next you drive on a rainy night near wetlands…be aware of the little things on the road…they might look like detritus or leaves lying there…but if you really look…they are happy little creatures about to be annihilated…

and if you see a car ahead of you acting strangely…it’s probably me…because I love frogs and loathe rainy nights!



waste not,want not…A food rant

That proverb, waste not, want not means If we don’t waste what we have, we’ll still have it in the future and will not lack or want it.

I learned this from my grandmother. My grandmother lived through the depression and was a farmer’s wife; she knew how to take care of precious things so they would last into the next generation. She knew how to re-use and recycle. She knew that helping your neighbour was the right thing to do and that if you had food you were lucky and if you had more than you needed, you shared it with those that didn’t. She is the reason I have boxes of all sizes in my closet, why I keep a collection of used ribbon and wrapping paper, why I have recycling embedded in my soul and leftovers in the fridge. She is the reason I do not like throwing anything out and feel so out of step with today’s world where everything seems disposable; appliances, pets, people and food.

My grandmother would be appalled at the waste in our world. When she grew up, things like oranges were special because they only appeared in the store once a year, and if her Mum & Dad were doing well enough, she would enjoy one in her Christmas stocking. You ate seasonally…the things you grew or the things in the store that were available during growing season.

Now we have food from all over the world  and in huge piles in our stores. If you could see how much of that food is wasted, you would understand my pain.

Hundreds of pounds of meat, cheese, frozen food, produce, thrown into dumpsters every day. Produce that isn’t perfect, so it is not saleable…food close or at it’s expiry date…things like bananas or meat someone decided they did not want partway through their shopping and so left it in the cereal aisle to rot. There is more food in our stores than they can actually sell…it is to produce an effect, a display of plenty…to make you buy.

“Studies have shown that 63 percent of the average supermarket’s waste is food. . In California alone, more than six million tons of food products are dumped annually. An estimated $20 billion worth of food is thrown away each year by supermarkets. Stores in the U.S. waste twice as much food annually as those in Europe, and a recent U.N. report found that total American food waste—including what we pitch from our refrigerators—is worth $48 billion each year.
Although federal and state laws protect grocers from liability, many stores expressed concerns that donated food could sicken recipients, even if it has yet to reach its expiration date. While some major chains donate food, others do not. Major retail grocery chains are more likely to throw away fruits, vegetables and even entire hams and roasts than donate to distribution centers.”

But it is not just stores…40 % of food waste occurred in our homes.

“Every month, residents in the city of Toronto (Canada), toss out 17.5 million kilograms of food. A recent British study determined that about one-third of food purchased in the UK is thrown out every year. This equates to £10bn (about CDN$19.5 billion). A 1997 U.S. study found that 27 per cent of edible food is never eaten. In Toronto, the picture is not all that different: single-family households produce an average of 275 kilograms of food waste each year. Twenty-five per cent of this food goes into the garbage. Most of it edible. Much of it still in its original packaging.” Worldvision

The problem is, that we are consumers and wasters of food, and yet we allow so many in our world to go hungry. And there are rules and standards that sometimes prevent us from helping. At a fundraiser I attended a while back, there was a large amount of food left over, good, well made, nutritious food…enough to give to the local food bank for several family’s meals…untouched food, but the containers had been opened, although not used. Because they had been opened…we were not allowed to give the food away, it had to be thrown away. It killed me to see so much food go to waste. I suppose I understand the concerns over opened containers, but we all knew it had not been touched or spoiled or contaminated in any way, and it hurt, physically hurt, to know it was wasted.

It hurts me to think about wasted food…and hungry people right here, in my backyard.

It hurts to know there are people dying from the lack of decent, nutritious food the world over…particularly in the Horn of Africa…one of the worst hit places by famine on our planet.

“The world produces enough food to feed every man, woman and child on earth. Hunger and malnutrition therefore are not due to lack of food alone, but are also the consequences of poverty, inequality and misplaced priorities.” – UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Kul C. Gautam

And yet, 30,000 children have died in the last 3 months in the Horn of Africa.

And yet, famine exists….what is famine?

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Reference Table (the standard used by the UN), famine occurs when the first three of the following conditions occur:

  • 20 percent of population has fewer than 2,100 kilocalories of food a day
  • 30 percent of children are acutely malnourished
  • Two deaths per 10,000 people, or four deaths per 10,000 children per day
  • Pandemic illness
  • Access to less than four liters of water per day
  • Large-scale displacement
  • Civil strife
  • Complete loss of assets and source of income

There are places still on this earth, where famine and drought exist, where the first three conditions exist, where all conditions exist, and people are dying from lack of food and clean water. It is obscene, when so many have so much, that so many have nothing.

The F Word

We see the bounty (and so much waste) in our stores and are bombarded by advertising for fast food and we do not know what it is like to be hungry, homeless and constantly at risk…we send food aid to countries without realizing that much of what we send is nutritionally deficient, particularly for children. We saddle poorer countries with so much debt they can never get out from under. We can and do so many good things…but there is so much more a species so intelligent and creative could carry out…needs to accomplish. We need to reconnect with our planet and the people on it, or we will never care enough to bring about the changes that must be made to save ourselves from ourselves.

Canada sends food aid around the world…so do many other countries…and that is a good thing…partly. So much of what we send is doing so little for the children who are starving, because what we send is nutritionally deficient and even with our help, children are malnourished and face the effects of that immediately and throughout their lives.

“Diets that do not provide the right blend of high-quality protein, essential fats, carbohydrates,vitamins and minerals can impair growth and development, increase the risk of death from common childhood illness, or result in life-long health consequences. Yet the cereal-based fortified flours donated as food aid do not meet these basic nutritional standards.

The Starved for Attention campaign hopes to rewrite the story of malnutrition, by convincing governments to ensure food aid also targets the specific needs of young children with adequate nutritional products.”

MSF, Medecins sans Frontieres or  Doctors Without Borders has launched a campaign, Starved for Attention, to try to ensure that world food aid actually nourishes and helps children who are starving. You can find out more at their website…

MSF Doctors Without Borders

Famine is obscene…so is the massive waste of food in richer countries.We need to do so much more for hungry people, here in our own country, on our own doorstep, and in our “global village”. We are responsible on every level, from what we buy and where we shop and what we waste right through to our neighbours and neighbouring countries to those who live a world away…they are on our global doorstep after all.

I really do think one of the reasons for humankind’s lack of stewardship of our planet, our technological advancement at the cost of something deeper and more meaningful, the problems we face as a species, are brought on, partly at least, by the continued urbanization of and lack of connection with nature. We live more and more, in places where you cannot see the stars, where you cannot truly see and feel the seasons, where foods are available year round from far, far away instead of being seasonal and local, where children do not know where their food comes from, what growing vegetables look like, who have never met a cow. We isolate ourselves further and further from our own world, the planet that nurtures us and which we rape and pillage daily. If we grow up knowing only that food comes from a store, how do we care about what it costs to produce it, how do we care about the loss of the family farm to huge conglomerates, how do we care about the death of honey bees, or the cruelty to the animals we eat or the underpaid workers who harvest our coffee and other crops. If gas just comes from a pump…how do we care about a faraway oil spill, the toxic waste in Alberta or Ecuador…the cost to our oceans and marine life…to our air and climate?

Even with the internet and television there are too many people who do not seem to care that children are dying from hunger and thirst in a world that has more than enough food and water for all. We demand that our food be available at all times and in huge supply and not too expensive. We consume far too much of the world’s supply of food, resources, and water. It is time to re-think our ways.

Take a moment or two today (and every day) to assess your own habits, to open your eyes to the plight of the hungry. Follow a link, read about hunger…look at the faces of the children…and of the parents who would provide if they could, but instead see their children starve. Sign a petition…write a letter…make a donation.

Waste is obscene. Famine is obscene…allow yourself to be disgusted…and then add your voice to all those hungering for change…and help.

Please get involved. Now, before it is too late for one more child.



Nevada Continues War Against Wild Horses

Nevada Continues War Against Wild Horses.



My Rant for today…

I have been talking a lot to friends and family lately…my Mum has not been well at all and I have been trying to keep in touch and let everyone know how she is doing. With my Uncle Bert the conversation has been relatively new to us and thanks to his compassion insight and knowledge…very thought provoking. We have talked about Mum and Dad and friends and family and the stars in the night sky.

Funny isn’t it how something that looks so small, so insubstantial and not so very far away…just hanging there in the sky, is, in reality so enormous, and so far, far away and it inspires and awes me, that the light we see from the stars is so old…back into and past our human history and so much further back into time. The light takes so long to reach us and is so beautiful and bright….

I really do think one of the reasons for humankind’s lack of stewardship of our planet, our technological advancement at the cost of something deeper and more meaningful, the problems we face as a species, are brought on, partly at least, by the continued urbanization of and lack of connection with nature. We live more and more, in places where you cannot see the stars, where you cannot truly see and feel the seasons, where foods are available year round from far, far  away instead of being seasonal and local, where children do not know where their food comes from, what growing vegetables look like, who have never met a cow. We isolate ourselves further and further from our own world, the planet that nurtures us and which we rape and pillage daily. If we grow up knowing only that food comes from a store, how do we care about what it costs to produce it, how do we care about the loss of the family farm to huge conglomerates, how do we care about the death of honey bees, or the cruelty to the animals we eat or the underpaid workers who harvest our coffee and other crops. If gas just comes from a pump…how do we care about a faraway oil spill, the toxic waste in Alberta or Ecuador…the cost to our oceans and marine life…to our air and climate?

We see the bounty (and so much waste) in our stores and are bombarded by advertising for fast food and we do not know what it is like to be hungry, homeless and constantly at risk…we send food aid to countries without realizing that much of what we send is nutritionally deficient, particularly for children…just ask MSF. We saddle poorer countries with so much debt they can never get out from under. We can and do do so many good things…but there is so much more a species so intelligent and creative could accomplish…needs to accomplish. We need to reconnect with our planet or we will never care enough to bring about the changes that need to be made to save ourselves from ourselves. In my own small way I am trying to improve my world and lessen my impact on it.

I live in a small village north of Napanee, between Kingston and Belleville in Ontario, Canada. There are family farms nearby and we try to support them by buying local foods and products..attending markets and going to the fair each year to see the things they grow and the animals they raise. These are important people, the farmers who raise and grow our food…and they do not get the help and support they need from government or from business…local grocery stores need to carry more local food…why should I buy vegetables from California when there are neighbours growing the same things just down the road…or at least in the same province? 

We live in an old house from the 1850’s and are currently renovating much of it to lower our carbon footprint and reduce our use of non renewable resources. It all started with the now defunct Eco-Audit/Green Audit program, one of the best programs a government has come up with, as it allowed some financial help for those in older homes to insulate and improve and lower their costs as well. The program has now been cancelled by our environmentally deficient government, an incredibly stupid decision because not only did it help home owners, it helped the economy through the products and services bought and used by the people in the program. There were contractors hired, work provided, products like insulation, windows, caulking, toilets…all given some rebate help and bought by those using the program.

We had our house and well audited and then insulated our walls,which had no insulation at all, our attic, which had a little insulation, but not enough, added vents for air circulation etc., added all new low-e windows and doors, rebuilt all 4 porches, patched, painted, rebuilt all the old trim and mouldings, did some electrical and plumbing and are now rebuilding the bathroom which fell apart during the rest of the project. It has been a full year of renovations and is almost over….we hope to have reduced our carbon footprint considerably and also our bills…although thanks to the idiocy of the McGuinty government in bringing in the HST, our bills may now go up instead of down and our payback on the whole project will be messed up. It has been a lot of work..both for the contractor and for me, as I have done most of the interior work myself…carpentry is indeed mostly math.

The house sits mid village, but is far enough away from Napanee, that we do get to see a decent view of the night sky…and it isn’t too far away to get an even better view…just north along the Salmon river or somewhere to the north. We are not really in the country and yet it is pretty rural…farms nearby, wild places not too far away…lots of birds and wildlife…coyotes come through most nights about 3 am…there are migration flyways for geese just at the end of the village…last year we had swans go through…and there are eastern bluebirds, larks and bobolinks in the hay fields down the street….oh, and lots of cats….people dump their unwanted cats and kittens here all the time…we have taken in and fostered 5 pregnant mums this past year…more than 30 cats and kittens…both on our own and through the local shelters. We have found homes for all of them so far.  There are two new mums upstairs in my studio and in Alicia’s room at the moment from the shelter…with 9 brand new babies. Now there is another rant i could get into…people not spaying and neutering their pets…but I will get into that another time.

I truly believe at this moment in our planet’s history and in the place we are right now as human beings…each of us has to do something to make the world a better place. It doesn’t have to be big. Teach your children about where their food comes from…show them vegetables growing…let them see a cow or pig if you can and that meat comes from living things too….show them how to recycle and why it is important…teach them to be kind to each other, their neighbours and friends, teach them compassion and respect for animals, for each other and for our planet. Show them the night sky and let them learn about our universe. Turn off a light. Turn down the thermostat. Join a group. Sign a petition.Teach your children tolerance, charity and compassion. Let them learn about other countries, religions, races and species. Anything that will impact our lives together on this small blue planet. Look at the stars…let them fill you with awe…let them inspire you to make a change, however small. From small things, big things come. From tiny acorns, mighty oaks grow.



They Shoot Horses Don’t They? and prod, stab, chase, starve, maim, you name it…they do it…..

Horses have given us so much. They have pulled our plows and our heavy loads, carried us and all our worldly goods, broadened our horizons, gone to war with us, given us milk and food, entertained us with their speed and skill, rounded up our cattle, pulled our canal-boats and wagons, turned the mills, delivered the mail, the milk; their speed, stamina, endurance and strength was ours. They have enchanted us with their beauty and intelligence, rewarded us with their loyalty and companionship…they enthrall us with their wildness, their spirit and ability to survive in harsh conditions.

We have used them and abused them…bred them for size and shape, speed and strength, agility and pace.  We have shaped them to fit our needs and wants…we have raced them, ridden them into new territories, terrified our enemies with them, traded them, eaten them, taken their milk and foals,  cosseted them, starved them, rounded them up and turned them into dog food, worshipped and revered them. They are symbols of beauty and freedom and yet we treat them so badly, so cruelly. We over breed them, we stand them in stalls forever pregnant to produce the hormones that keep aging at bay, we race them after breeding them for speed at the loss of bone and then put them down when their bones break. We round them up from land and air, terrified and hurt: we fence them from water, we use them for target practice, we protect them by law (just not here) and then treat them like pests. And no one gives a damn because it doesn’t affect our pocket books.  Little girls love them…books and stories and movies feature them…our history would be very different without them. They carried us into the frontier…and what do we give them in return….crops and whips, starvation and abuse, roundups where foals die and mares abort and dehydration kills, and then send them to god knows where…the end is often a harrowing and horrific transport to an inhumane and awful death at a slaughter-house…. here in Canada, our oh so lovely and kind nation. We slaughter horses for other people of the world..Japan, Belgium, France and the States. 

What we owe to horses is a debt so big we can never pay it…yet pay they do. We owe them love, affection, food, water, exercise, green grass, flowing water, land to roam on.  We owe them decent stabling, company and respect…we owe them a life of fulfillment and peace…they could still work with us, entertain us, enchant us and carry us over jumps and round racetracks…but with care and respect and humanity. We can let the wild ones be free…let them have the land intended for them, allow them access to water, stop seeing them as pests and forage stealers…allow the wild ones, the ones that trace their bloodline in part back to the Conquistadors, the protection and freedom that they should have…what in the States, the bill of 1971 says they should have.

Politicians in Canada and the United States should be ashamed of themselves when they look at the state of the wild horse, the state of horses in general. In Canada we cannot even agree that they are wild..only feral and not worth protecting…so any Tom, Dick or Harry can round them up or shoot them or abuse them, so much so, there are almost none left. In the United States, the horses and burros are at least protected by law…but the protectors are now the abusers. In Canada, our oh so kind and gentle and smug land, we slaughter horses for the world, Japan, Belgium, France…and we do it in a way that no animal should ever have to suffer (see the video available from inside a  Canadian slaughter-house) We have rules governing their transport to slaughter…so much headroom on double-decker trucks, and yet no one enforces the rules…horses end up injured, maimed and dead before they ever reach the place where they are going to die a horrific, inhumane and terribly cruel death. The CFIA says they have rules and regulations about this…but who enforces them? This is what I got in return for a letter I wrote to them about this issue:

“Thank you for your interest in the issue of humane transport.

The regulations do not prohibit the transport of horses by double-decker trucks. The regulations specify that:

142. No person shall transport or cause to be transported animals in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel unless
(a) each animal is able to stand in its natural position without coming into contact with a deck or roof; and
(b) provision is made for the drainage or absorption of urine from all decks or levels.

Smaller horses can be segregated and shipped in double-decker trucks if they are able to stand in their natural position. If larger horses are shipped in violation of the regulations, the operator may be issued an Administrative Monetary Penalty by an inspector or face formal prosecution.

Thank you for using the CFIA web site.”

So…horses are inhumanely treated in so many ways…the wild horses of Canada and the United States are disappearing in the wild…there are now more mustangs in holding pens than on their range in the American west…they are sold, slaughtered and terrified. And supposedly protected by law. Canadian mustangs have no protection under federal law…and little under provincial…horses are slaughtered in Canada in at least 4 facilities…in a way that would make you sick…and you can see it on YouTube among other places…and the RCMP investigated and says there is no basis for charges…I wonder how they would feel if their beautiful Musical Ride horses ended up like that. Horses do not in any way deserve such callous treatment by our society.

There are people working to change things…check out some of the links here or google some…and get in touch with your MP and MPP right now…tell them how you feel…ask your MP to support the Private members bill C544…put forward by Alex Atamenenko..to ban horse slaughter in Canada. Please get involved.

The state of animal welfare in our civilized world is appalling…our laws do not do enough, the penalties are not harsh enough, they are not enforced. Institutional crueltyexists in Canada because our animal welfare laws of 1892…outlaw unnecessary suffering…and so would seem to allow necessary suffering…Check out “No Country For Animals”..Kevin Newman’s documentary for CanWest/Global.

I am distraught that I live in a country so smug because we make the list of places everyone wants to live…while we accept institutional cruelty, slaughter horses in a way that would make you sick, and live by animal welfare laws that have not been updated since the century before last…we pride ourselves on being a kind, gentle, peacekeeping country…all the while the creatures who live with us have no recourse and few protections. They are living, breathing, sentient and feeling creatures…pain is as horrible to them as it is to us…we spend millions on food and toys and trinkets for the animals we choose to spoil…and neglect the rest.

I love my country and I am a proud Canadian…but I am not proud of our continued abuse of animals and our inability to protect those who cannot speak for themselves. Countries in Europe are doing so much more than we are…surely it is time to make some changes…and truly become a kind, gentle and humane place to live. To quote a man I revere (as do many),

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”…Mahatma Ghandi

 

He also said,

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed

 

and,

Be the change you want to see in the world.

 

That is precisely what I will try to do with the rest of my life.



The Canadian ‘Qiyus’

… Tsilhqot’in for cayuse. Cayuse is the word for horse, or mustang, derived from the name of a now vanished tribe of natives who inhabited the present day north-west United States.

Wild horses in Canada are a species under threat. The total number of wild horses in our huge country is about 800…i did not forget a zero…that is eight hundred ! In the United States the estimate is  20 to 25,000 in the wild, possibly as many as 32,000….in Canada we are looking at a total population of 800…400 in B.C….200 in Alberta…200 on Sable Island. There is no possible way these small numbers constitute a threat to anyone or to the ranchers who complain about grazing competition with their cattle.

 

Wild horses in Canada exist mostly in 4 places…on Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia (Acadian horses from French blood were shipped to the island after the Acadian deportations of 1760)…In the Siffleur Wilderness Area in Alberta and in B.C. in the Chilcotin  and Brittany triangle. In our Canadian herds, as in the American mustang, there is evidence of Spanish bloodlines…dating back to the Conquistadors in the 1500’s. Genetic dilution has occurred  as horses from other sources joined herds over the years…but many mustangs here and in the states carry the genes of Spanish ancestors. There were at one time millions of horses here…the Assiniboine people had herds of mustang in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, there were horses acquired from the Shoshoni in Alberta and many thousands in B.C., nurtured and used by the Xeni Gwet’in .  By the time explorer Simon Fraser ventured through the Chilcotin two centuries ago, the horse was already there.

In the United States, an Act of Congress became law in December of 1971, signed by then President Richard Nixon, to protect the wild horses and burros of the west…it is not working out at all well for the horses just now…but at least there is something on the books to argue about. Here in Canada, there is no federal law to protect or conserve our wild horses. They must contend with provincial laws…the Grazing act in B.C.…the Stray Animals Act in Alberta (in 1993 Alberta  introduced the Horse Capture Plan which limits capture to 25 to 30 horses per year…it was up to about 2000 a decade) and the Sable Island Regulations section of the Canadian Shipping Act.

One of the biggest threats to Canadian wild horses is that they are not considered wild…they are considered feral…and not worthy of protection. They are considered an alien species by Environment Canada…alien and invasive.

A dispute over the horses of the Chilcotin has highlighted how we see and understand the concepts wild, indigenous and alien. Community members and the Xeni Gwet’in (ha-nay gwet-een) First Nations are fighting the government to classify the horses as indigenous wildlife, and they want a preserve created for their protection. The government says the  horses are feral and not due any protection under the law, and ranchers view them as competition for their cattle. Logging destroys the horses’ habitat and leaves them vulnerable to predators. (Wild horses in western Canada are found primarily in forested areas, typically pine woodlands with pockets of grass and  shrubland and sedge meadows). A typical herd is 5-10 individuals. Horse populations may increase when times are good, but high mortality rates due to starvation and predation by cougars/wolves during severe winters tend to prevent over population.

The horses’ classification as feral, and not wild, is based on Environment Canada’s definition of invasive alien species, which states: "Alien species become invasive when they establish and spread in the new environment, and threaten the native species, the environment, the economy, or some aspect of society."

Friends Of the Nemaiah Valley, say the horse population "is kept in check by predators and harsh winters, and they live in harmony with the existing ecosystem." But the government says horses on Crown land affect the area’s ecosystem by contributing to habitat destruction, through overgrazing and increasing competition for forage in the area.

The federal Species At Risk Act defines a wild animal as one "that is wild by nature and is either native to Canada or has extended its range without human intervention and has been present in Canada for 50 years." By these terms, the issue doesn’t lie with how long the horses have been in the area, but rather that theycame to North America by humans as domesticated animals.

"They are not considered wildlife under the provincial Wildlife Act, there is evidence to support that these horses are descendants of the original Spanish stock. The majority of them were born in the wild and live and behave as wild animals."

FONV supports a program to get DNA from the horses to trace their origins back to their Spanish ancestors. The Xeni Gwet’in First Nation is seeking injunctions against proposed logging and is part of a court case seeking land rights to the area. Everyone agrees that no one wants to see the entire population of horses disappear.

However…check out this story from 2008…

“Chilcotin aboriginals paid to shoot wild horses

December 6, 2008. The B.C. government paid aboriginal people in the Chilcotin to shoot wild horses for wolf bait and to round-up other wild horses for live sale, ultimately to slaughterhouses, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The Ministry of Environment purchased the shot horses as wolf bait for a predator study related to the recovery of threatened caribou herds in the Interior, while the Ministry of Forests and Range bankrolled the live capture of horses as part of a program to reduce competition with range cattle.

News of the provincial actions is generating debate even within the aboriginal community over the management of wild horses in the Chilcotin and the need to ensure their humane treatment.

The forests ministry, through an agreement with TNG, paid the Stone band $200 a horse to catch 25 horses last winter to reduce competition with ranchers’ cattle. Up to half of the horses were sold at auction and ultimately sent to slaughterhouses, he said, and the rest were kept in the Chilcotin as saddle horses.

Environment Ministry spokesman Dan Gilmore confirmed the ministry paid members of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation of the Nemaiah Valley $500 apiece for four horses last winter.

"When it came time to consider how best to lure and capture wolves for the purposes of the mountain caribou recovery program, it was recommended that we use horseflesh," he said in a statement.

The horses were shot last winter to aid in the live capture of wolves near Quesnel as part of ministry research into threatened caribou populations. Gilmore said larger carcasses are preferred because they keep the wolves longer at one location, and that moose carcasses are not always available.

Mike Pedersen, Chilcotin forest district manager, said the horse culls are a response to ranchers’ concerns about loss of forage. "It’s a worthwhile project," he said, noting that horses also compete with moose and mule deer. "These guys [ranchers] just have to buy more hay. And in these times for those individuals, it’s extremely difficult."

Aerial surveys in the area showed that the wild horse population has increased to 442 in 2008 from 123 in 1998.”

Wow…442 horses…on how much land??? The Brittany Triangle is 155,000 hectares and the Chilcotin is around 5 million acres…it is believed that about 100 horses live in the Brittany Triangle and the other 300 over the rest of the area. In the United States we are talking about  25,000 horses on 32 million acres…with much more supposedly available under the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

For those of us hectare/acre/squarefootage-ly challenged: a hectare is

  • 2.471 Acres
  • 100 Ares,
  • 10,000 square meters,
  • 4,840 square yards,
  • 107,637 square feet

The issue is not so much too many horses on too little land..it is competition with cattle ranchers over grazing/forage. When it comes to the pocketbook…the bottom line…who do you think will win???

I have spent a lot of time online recently, trying to learn about mustangs, here and in the States…and the overwhelming truth that appears over and over, is that there are not very many wild horses left in North America and they are under constant threat, the threat of extinction, through competition with cattle ranchers grazing their animals on public land, through energy and resource development, through drought and climate change, habitat destruction, senseless killing (Parker Ridge near Sundre, Al.) and wolf bait, and most of all through their lack of financial usefulness…it is apparently only through slaughter that you can value these incredible, beautiful, tragic animals. It is this lack on their part, of not touching our pocketbooks, that has, I think, ended them with a lack of political will on the part of government, to declare them wild and worthy of protection. There is much more money and tax to be made with logging, mining, oil production, pipelines and ranchers.  Wildness is it seems a political issue…not one of nature. True, the mustang was once domesticated…500 years ago. How many generations must be foaled and nurtured  in the wild before you are, in the eyes of politicians, at least, considered truly wild??  The distinction escapes me.

There are lots of links here…check them out…google yourself silly…contact your MP and tell them how you feel…the wild horses need us…and need us now, before it is too late.