Tuesday, November 29, 2011

'The Bull Moose'

(The poem that follows, from The Writer’s Almanac, appeared in What Happened When He Went to the Store for Bread. © Thousands Press, 2000.)

The Bull Moose

by Alden Nowlan

Down from the purple mist of trees on the mountain,
lurching through forests of white spruce and cedar,
stumbling through tamarack swamps,
came the bull moose
to be stopped at last by a pole-fenced pasture.

Too tired to turn or, perhaps, aware
there was no place left to go, he stood with the cattle.
They, scenting the musk of death, seeing his great head
like the ritual mask of a blood god, moved to the other end
of the field, and waited.

The neighbors heard of it, and by afternoon
cars lined the road. The children teased him
with alder switches and he gazed at them
like an old, tolerant collie. The women asked
if he could have escaped from a Fair.

The oldest man in the parish remembered seeing
a gelded moose yoked with an ox for plowing.
The young men snickered and tried to pour beer
down his throat, while their girl friends took their pictures.

And the bull moose let them stroke his tick-ravaged flanks,
let them pry open his jaws with bottles, let a giggling girl
plant a little purple cap
of thistles on his head.

When the wardens came, everyone agreed it was a shame
to shoot anything so shaggy and cuddlesome.
He looked like the kind of pet
women put to bed with their sons.

So they held their fire. But just as the sun dropped in the river
the bull moose gathered his strength
like a scaffold king, straightened and lifted his horns
so that even the wardens backed away as they raised their rifles.
When he roared, people ran to their cars. All the young men
leaned on their automobile horns as he toppled.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cricket combat: big (?!) blood sport in China

Crickets: not as in Jiminy Cricket, the famous Disney character. And not as in summer’s singing insects. Try crickets as in fighters -- engaged in a blood sport that goes back more than 1,000 years in China.

Described in a November 6 NYTimes story on the subject --"Chirps and Cheers: China's Crickets Clash" -- crickets have long been a staple of Chinese poetry, painting and storytelling. One emperor even included crickets in his subjects’ tax burden – that’s how valued they were.

Nowadays in China, field crickets are carefully selected, fed and trained to become insect warriors. They’re sold in cricket markets and indulged with “elaborately carved cricket houses [...] and hand-painted ceramic bowls fit for a tiny king.”

Some cricket matches are filmed and projected onto large screens, and illegal back-room fights attract gamblers.

An interest in cricket fighting has been revived among young men who want to return to old Chinese pastimes. Older men, who grew up without toys or TV (imagine!), make up the other main group of cricket fanciers.

The Times story includes details on identifying potential champions and building a warrior. One corn farmer who profits from cricket sales, says “The loudest chirpers are usually the fiercest.”

Two up-sides to cricket fighting: First, injuries are rare in the insect combat. Losers are tossed away and may live happily till the first frost. Second, fighting is illegal, so according to one cricket-fight fan, men “project their emotions onto crickets,” possibly lessening their own aggression.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dogs and cats luckier than turkeys and pigs

Let’s not think about turkeys right now. Nothing to be thankful for there – just a hope that the poor, deformed, purpose-bred creatures died fast without any foreshadowing of doom.

Same with pigs. Talk about purpose-bred. The New Yorker cartoon showed a pig sitting on an examining table as his doctor said, “The problem with you is that your ribs are delicious,” or something like that. Close enough. Does anyone in the world raise pigs for the pleasure of having pigs, or to give pigs a nice life?


Good things happened in the last week for dogs and cats, though. At least a dozen were adopted at the Easel-sponsored event last Saturday at the Trenton Farmers Market. Everything seemed to work right, starting with the weather, and moving on to the numbers of volunteers involved and people who came out.

Eight cats are in new homes right now, as are at least four dogs. (A couple additional adoptions were iffy and may have taken place this week at the Ewing shelter.)

Thanks to everyone who spread the word, who helped with the event, who adopted and/or donated to Easel. This major effort to lessen the number of animals in the shelter got a big, emphatic push last Saturday.

And for those who still want to adopt a pet, Easel resumes its “regular” adoption days Saturday, December 3. Details at www.easelnj.org.* There’s still time before the winter holidays to change the world for a homeless animal.

* sorry, but technical difficulties precluded a link here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adoptions, deep-sea murders, migration menace

A dozen or more animals ‘home for the holidays’

Last Saturday’s special adoption day for animals from the Ewing shelter was a big success, according to Mark Phillips, executive director of Easel Animal Rescue League, the all-volunteer organization that ran the event.

Eight cats and 4 dogs – with 1 or 2 follow-up possibilities this week – meant a needed drop in the shelter’s animal population. The Trenton Farmers Market proved to be an excellent place for the event.

Easel’s “regular” adoption days resume December 3. Check www.easelnj.org for times and places.

Say no thanks to ‘pearly’ jewelry

We’re “Loving the chambered nautilus to death,” according to a newspaper story late last month. Picture the nautilus, “a living fossil” with a spiral shell (sorry--no image available) that has inspired poems and – alas – attracted exploiters. People out to make money, in other words.

Even though it means killing a creature whose ancestors go back a half-billion years, the nautilus’s pearly shell is still a cheaper alternative to “real pearl.” In an example of deceptive marketing, the iridescent material is often sold as “Osmena pearl.”

Now chambered nautilus shells are made into earrings, pendants, display items and curios – an ignominious end for a deep-sea creature related to the octopus, which sometimes attains a breadth of 10 inches.

It’s the same old, same old: the nautilus shell caught on, humans killed chambered nautiluses by the millions . . . and now other humans are considering adding the creature to the endangered species list to “curb the shell trade.”

(http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/science/25 nautilus.html?emc=eta1)

Birds & glass-sided buildings

For migrating birds, glass-sided city buildings can be killers, especially when the glass facades are near parkland or vegetation. Birds see reflected trees and bushes, fly toward them and . . . . It’s estimated that 90,000 birds are killed each year by flying into buildings in New York City.

But, increasingly aware of the problem, some architects are employing design to lessen reflection. And some building managers have agreed to alter the exteriors of lower floors to cut down the incidence of bird-building crashes.

New York City Audubon volunteers scan for dead or injured birds during migration seasons and document where they’re found. Those numbers can be significantly lowered with building reps’ cooperation. One example is turning lights off after midnight during spring and fall so the bright lights don’t confuse birds in flight.

(http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/nyregion/making-new-yorks-glass-buildings-safer- for-birds.html?emc=eta1)


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Demo at 'crime scene,' a.k.a. DFW

If ever a state agency deserved to be protested against, it's the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Last Monday afternoon, that's what happened in a highly effective demonstration at DFW's headquarters in Trenton.

Numbers of animal welfare organizations took their protest directly to the source: the people who will bring us another horrific black bear hunt next month and who have been responsible for numbers of black bear deaths this year. . . the people who stack the deck against bears in myriad ways and sell hunting licenses for trophy kills.

Here's a link to the story that appeared in an online publication worth knowing and spreading the word about:



Sunday, November 13, 2011

SOS going out for Ewing shelter animals

Just "do the math" on why adopting out many of the cats and dogs in the Ewing Animal Shelter is so crucial. It's a simple case of not enough space for every animal now being sheltered because the new facility will be smaller than the present one.

Yes, it's a shame that's the case, but it's true. So before talk of euthanasia gets started, let's just work on adoptions for at least the number of cats and dogs above the cut-off number.

They're all homeless. They're all adoptable. So what's the hold up?

To motivate people who may be thinking of adopting a shelter pet, Easel Animal Rescue League is sponsoring a major adoption day this coming Saturday at the Trenton Farmers Market, 10 am-3 pm.

Dogs will be on leash and cats will be available for people to meet in a county animal rescue trailer. Every animal will have been vetted and given shots, besides being spayed or neutered.

Some newspapers will carry Easel's ad that offers $25 off the adoption fee. Bring the ad or mention the flyer that's been posted all around to get that discount. . . and a wonderful new pet.

"Save our strays" for the holidays!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Protest DFW crimes at DFW headquarters

Starting with last December’s bear hunt, AnimalBeat has included numerous posts about NJ’s black bears, including the innocent bears killed in the name of public safety or “we didn’t have tranquillizer darts.” The agency behind all those killings, as well as the hunt, is the Division of Fish and Wildlife, in the Department of Environmental Protection.

Next Monday is the date for the first protest at the DFW office in Trenton. After this year’s killings – and before the hunt that’s no doubt planned for this year – it is an appropriate time to let DFW know what we think of its “crimes against nature and crimes against good government,” as the Bear Education and Resource Group in APLNJ describes them.

The bill of indictment against DFW includes the following, taken from the APLNJ flyer about next Monday’s event.

• Since April of this year, DFW authorized the killing of more than 20 bears, cubs, and yearlings to underscore a claimed need for a hunt
• DFW continues to promote a trophy hunt despite mounting evidence that hunts achieve nothing and cause increased "nuisance" behavior in orphaned cubs and yearlings left without their mother's guidance
• DFW inflates population estimates to justify their goal to expand the bear hunt
• DFW relocates bears to repopulate the species into other hunting zones
• DFW refuses to enforce the black bear feeding ban law
• DFW killed an innocent bear cub in Stokes State Forest after the bear was exonerated on all charges

The demonstration next Monday will take place at NJ Fish and Wildlife HQ, 501 East State St., Trenton, between 1-2:30 pm. The program includes a number of speakers, from leaders of the “Bear Group,” APLNJ and the League of Humane Voters, to HSUS and NJ Sierra Club reps, to an investigator and a wildlife specialist.

Yes, Monday is a “work day,” but if hunters take off from work for trophy hunts, bear supporters can take off to speak up against bear hunts and bear killing. That would be a good day’s work!



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Afternoon with walruses

And now for something completely different -- and lighter in spirit, for a change. The following poem comes from "The Writer’s Almanac" [Newsletter@AmericanPublicMedia.org] for Sunday, October 30, 2011.

(All that’s lacking is a good image of a bull walrus. And on the subject of needed images, a chambered nautilus pix would also be welcome!)

In Praise of the Great Bull Walrus

by Alden Nowlan

I wouldn't like to be one
of the walrus people
for the rest of my life
but I wish I could spend
one sunny afternoon
lying on the rocks with them.
I suspect it would be similar
to drinking beer in a tavern
that caters to longshoremen
and won't admit women.
We'd exchange no
cosmic secrets. I'd merely say,
"How yuh doin' you big old walrus?"
and the nearest of
the walrus people
would answer,
"Me? I'm doin' great.
How yuh doin' yourself,
you big old human being, you?"
How good it is to share
the earth with such creatures
and how unthinkable it would have been
to have missed all this
by not being born:
a happy thought, that,
for not being born is
the only tragedy
that we can imagine
but need never fear.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

“I care about animals and I vote”

This is an unpaid political blog post on behalf of The League of Humane Voters, a New Jersey organization whose sole purpose is to unite voters who care about animals. There’s no need to summarize or rephrase its flyer; here it is:

Dear LOHV-NJ member,

The LEAGUE OF HUMANE VOTERS OF NEW JERSEY'S sole purpose is to unite voters who care about animals.

We are delighted to release our first electoral endorsements. Please visit: http://lohvnj.org/endorse2011c.html for endorsements, questionnaire respondents, and additional information. In the "Additional Information" section, we also include legislators who are members of animal-use, trade-backed legislative caucuses responsible for animal suffering.

Read, and vote! Let compassion be your guide.

Our potential as a humane voting bloc is enormous:
• Over 1.8 million New Jersey households have companion animals.
• 1,713,000 NJ wildlife watchers generate $537,388,000 in revenues for our state.

The good news is: many thousands of you have already joined LOHV-NJ!

The animals we all care about can neither speak nor vote. We can. Here's to an electoral season where humane sensibilities and compassion count!

Important Dates & Deadlines:
November 7, 2011 - Deadline for In-Person Mail-In Ballot Applications for General Election
November 8, 2011 - General Election Day
Happy Voting,

Angi Metler
State Chair
ametler@lohvnj.orgLeague of Humane Voters of New Jersey
PO Box 17, Manalapan, New Jersey 07726


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Interaction with a savvy squirrel

Four days after the Oct. 29 snowstorm, there were few signs of that aberrational weather in the park when I walked earlier today. The grass may have been greener, and a few clumps of weeds looked flattened in the middle as if they’d had an heavy, icy burden for a while.

The snow probably had nothing to do with the numbers of blue jays I saw. However, I encountered one squirrel who may have been reacting to the recent weather and decided to prepare for winter. She was under some trees around a small parking lot when I threw one of the (unsalted) peanuts-in-shells I sometimes carry.

I got off a good throw, the nut landed within a few feet of the squirrel and . . . she walked right over to it and picked it up. This doesn’t usually happen with me and squirrels. More often, they scamper up the nearest tree when I toss a peanut their way, and I’m left to wonder if they ever checked it out and accepted it.

Today’s squirrel was different. She seemed ready for that peanut. Not only that, she knew just what she’d do with it. She started across the parking area to grassy land leading toward a berm and then some bushes. Partway to where she wound up (planning to bury the peanut, I thought), she stopped, sat up and looked right at me.

I decided she was saying, “Thanks, amigo.” And I threw another peanut her way – in case what she actually said was, “More!”