Looking back . . . but mostly ahead

Is it [hunting] really a sport if you have all the equipment
and your opponent doesn’t know a game is going on? — Bill Maher

Every new year begins with a transition period when we look back as well as forward, wondering how it will all fall out. What was memorable about 2016, and what will mark 2017?

Last year turned out to include numerous highlights for world animals. Among other positives, Ringling Brothers retired their performing elephants and the US tightened sales of ivory. Sea World pledged to stop breeding captive orcas. A worldwide ban on trade of endangered pangolins took effect.

pangolinWith China’s plan to shut down its commercial ivory trade by year’s end, 2017 began with hopeful signs for animal protection – in this case, elephants, who are staring extinction in the face. We’ll watch and hope.

But as the saying goes, “Think globally, act locally.” Which brings us to the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, where animal advocacy never stops. Caring and working for animals has been described as a non-partisan activity. So, despite politics and “for the animals,” let’s go!

APLNJ campaigns from last year continue this year. One example: the fight to force steel-jaw leg-hold traps back into the illegal status they earned in 1984. Recent attempts by trappers and their cronies to circumvent the statute outlawing these sadistic traps succeeded last October with an appellate court’s decision in their favor.

Not sitting still for that opinion, APLNJ has appealed. An op-ed column in the Star-Ledger (1-1-17) tells the story behind the court’s decision. Susan Russell, its author, is wildlife policy director for APLNJ; she was Friends of Animals’ VP for wildlife and chief lobbyist behind the law outlawing leg-hold traps.

Her incisive column opens this way: “In a sharply criticized opinion, an appellate panel in New Brunswick allowed the state Fish and Game Council to continue its pretense that a modified steel-jaw leg-hold trap is not a steel-jaw leg-hold trap.”

Don’t stop there! Please read on – then act! (http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/01/animal_rights_court_ignored_the_law_in_ruling_on_c.html)

FourTrapsB“Defending New Jersey’s black bears since 1988,” APLNJ efforts continue on behalf of our bears, going into the final year — and, it’s hoped, the final hunt(s) — of Gov. Christie’s tenure. Things can only get better for bears. Same with the Canada geese in Edgewater Borough, where gassing has been the mode du jour for managing wildlife “problems,” despite APLNJ suggestions for non-lethal means like habitat modification and its offer to buy out the town’s gassing contract.

Reform doesn’t come easily. “So much of what we’re doing must be under the radar, so the opposition doesn’t thwart efforts,” says Executive Director Angi Metler. “It’s frustrating because our members need to know.” Demonstrations or protests aren’t commonly used methods because they can so easily become counter-productive — without huge numbers of people representing a cross section of the population, without a plan, without follow-up.

Instead, Metler says, “We attended over 150 meetings last year,” reflecting the organization’s preference for campaigns with educational components. These can also include talks with public officials and presenting alternatives; billboards; brochures; mailings; advertising. “We don’t do dictates,” Metler says: “We offer solutions. If you set up a blueprint in one town that others can use . . . ,” that’s the way to go.

Last year for instance, APLNJ’s political arm, the League of Humane Voters (LOHV-NJ), realized success in convincing New Jersey towns and counties to ban animal circuses and shows. This resulted largely from return visits and patient chipping away at the issue. Bergen County freeholders praised reps Julie O’Connor and Laurie Perla for how they won them over to the side of the animals.

While other 2017 action targets also exist, Metler’s aware that “our work is dynamic and it can’t be 100% planned.” One thing is certain:  a lot will be happening.

– Pat Summers

Return to our website for details
on what we’re all about “for the animals.”

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