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Somebody watched “Born Free” too many times

Students in California were participating in a big project: they were helping to raise tens of thousands of salmon to be released into San Francisco Bay. The release of the smolts was imminent, and a party was planned to honor the people who had helped, when animal rights activists cut the nets and freed the salmon prematurely.

I really do not understand how these kooks think. Nothing was gained by this action, other than to disappoint some kids who’d been working to help restore salmon stocks. I don’t even know what they want: do they just want the salmon to die out? Are they even aware that they released the salmon from an environment where they were sheltered and fed, into a wild world where food is more scarce and they will be actively preyed upon?

Peter Young, in a “Voice of the Voiceless” journal for the Animal Liberation Movement, weighed in after the first episode of vandalism, calling the perpetrators “anonymous saboteurs.”

“If this was the act of animal liberators, it would be the largest recorded animal liberation ever in the U.S.,” he wrote, noting that the largest previous one was the release of 14,000 mink in an Animal Liberation Front raid on a fur farm in Iowa.

“Those who cut the nets may not have known the fish were slated to be released in the coming weeks,” he went on. “Or, they could have chosen to risk themselves anyway to give the fish a few extra weeks of freedom, sparing them the psychological suffering of being kept in intense confinement with approximately 40,000 others in a small net.”

Oh. They were suffering psychologically. How does Young know? Which is happier, a salmon confined to a net with a steady food supply, or a salmon fleeing from an orca or a seal?

Referencing the mink farm release is also telling. Imagine 14,000 voracious predators released into the local environment: every other animal in the environment is going to experience intense “psychological suffering”, and ultimately most of the released mink are going to starve to death.

These people don’t think.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. ChasCPeterson says

    I despise these idiots.
    It’s pure ignorant anthropomorphism, and it’s even stupid as ignorant anthropomorphism.

  2. Peptron says

    Protecting animals… by preventing reinsertion in their natural habitats… I mean… WTF?
    To me that’s right up there with extending your life by drinking mercury. (True story, there was a Chinese emperor that did just that.)

  3. EvoMonkey says

    I once spoke with some of these idiots while in grad school. They asked a lot of fuzzy questions trying to draw information out of me to find out where the lab mice and rats were housed. I just asked them what they thought of the fate of “white” mice and rats would be if they were “liberated”. I also pointed out that many of these mice and rats were genetically modified as model organisms for the study of particular human disease. They wouldn’t have a chance competing in the wild. Nonetheless the security door to our animal housing facility was vandalized over the Christmas break. They didn’t get in but did quite a bit of property damage.

  4. Chrissetti says

    If the *a-hem* ‘liberators didn’t know about the re-introduction plan then I can understand their actions, there are some fish farms whose conditions truly are atrocious, this sounds like a naieve and ignorant but well-intentioned idiot.

    The minks are a different story, as someone moving towards vegetarianism, I can understand wanting to free the minks but anyone with any appreciation of ecosystems must be aware that you don’t do anyone any favours by flooding an area with one predatory species.

  5. John Morales says

    [meta]

    I’d worry about Ichthyic’s reaction — but, luckily, fish are cold-blooded.

  6. says

    It’s not even clear that these people’s hearts are in the right place. We know their brains aren’t. It’s hard to imagine that their primary motive is the protection of animals when they so rarely seem to bother finding out about the animals, their situation and what is actually best for them. It’s a lot easier to imagine them getting off on playing at being radical or the ‘danger’ of cutting a bit of chicken wire or leaving a gate open.

    There are animals the world over in serious plight and practical, straightforward and helpful action that can be taken to help them. These guys seem determined to pick the wrong targets and employ the wrong tactics.

  7. Jett Perrobone says

    It sounds a lot like what we have to go through in Canberra, Australia with the Government’s plans to cull kangaroos. A lot of the animal rights nutjobs opposed it, but only because they think that the killing of an animal is an intrinsically evil act, or something. They don’t care that the reason for the culling was to reduce the kangaroos’ numbers so that they don’t all starve to death, due to the scarcity of grass for them to feed on. I personally support the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), but I intentionally steer clear of any nutty “animal rights” groups. Fortunately we don’t seem to have the problem of having activists who act like they’re above the law in their quest to “liberate” animals.

  8. says

    Chrissetti:

    If the *a-hem* ‘liberators didn’t know about the re-introduction plan then I can understand their actions

    Whether they knew or not, their actions were both moronic and contemptible. They Disney-fy animals and don’t have the slightest understanding of how anything works, least of all the animals they claim to “liberate”.

  9. RAM says

    When we visited Loch Ness, Scotland, back in the early 1990s we commented to the tour bus driver about the lack of native wildlife in the area. Visiting from the U.S. Midwest, where there’s wildlife everywhere, including ever-present roadkill, we were struck by the absence in that rural area. He told us the main reason for the lack of local wildlife was that animal rights activists had destroyed the fur market in Great Britain, and that mink farmers in the Loch Ness area, not wanting to kill the vicious little beasties for no reason, freed them. They, as weasels are wont to do, promptly killed anything the could catch, wiping out many forms of local wildlife before they starving to death. I never was able to verify the story, but the driver was certainly convinced of it.

  10. Richard Gadsden says

    It’s hard to imagine that their primary motive is the protection of animals when they so rarely seem to bother finding out about the animals, their situation and what is actually best for them

    That’s because protecting animals, or, indeed, their welfare isn’t the motive. It’s “liberation”.

    They don’t care whether the animal is alive or dead, just that it’s “free” – not “enslaved” by humans.

    It’s like the libertarians’ attitude to poor people – we need to free them from the enslavement of welfare, so they are free to starve on their own.

  11. Chrissetti says

    Cain:

    I don’t doubt that they’re morons but it isn’t necessarily ‘Disneyfying’ to claim animals suffer and their suffering should be prevented where possible.

    That said, they clearly did not reduce the suffering here and their ignorant actions are contemptible.

  12. Dunc says

    RAM @10 – most native wildlife in the British Isles was thoroughly decimated by the 17th century, and as an island, we have limited potential for recolonisation. There’s also the issue of habitat loss – almost all of the pine “forests” you see in Scotland are actually plantations of non-native species and support very little in the way of biodiversity, and a lot of the upland moorland is managed for the benefit of exactly two species – red grouse and red deer – which people with lots of money like to shoot. But yes, escaped / released mink are an invasive species which have further damaged the local biodiversity. I’m not sure that I’d blame the shut-down of the fur trade though, as there was never any shortage of escapees when the mink farms were actually operating, and the on-going escape of mink from constantly replenished farmed populations was probably more damaging over the long term than a one-off release.

    Shorter: it’s complicated.

  13. says

    @Richard Gadsden

    That’s because protecting animals, or, indeed, their welfare isn’t the motive. It’s “liberation”.

    I partly agree. Some people use words like ‘liberation’ as a proxy for some sort of welfare. At the heart of this view is surely (?) the idea that animals are in some way better off if they’re free, whatever that means.

    It seems like the people who thoughtlessly release animals satisfy themselves with this dubious *proxy* of helping animals rather than the reality. That is, they do what they do in the name of helping without ever really caring much about whether they’re helping or not.

  14. Crys says

    These people are not biologists, nor do they have an appreciation of animal biology or ecology. They anthropomorphise animals and refuse to accept that maybe, just maybe, the scientist who dedicated his or her career to studying animal ecology MIGHT know more than they do. But no, they’re part of the evil evil system paid by the evil evil companies to turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering and emotional distress they’re intentionally causing, cause theyre just evil like that.

    And don’t exclaim in disgust at that rat you saw crossing the street, you might hurt its feelings

  15. says

    Chrissetti:

    First, it’s Caine, with an ‘e’.

    I don’t doubt that they’re morons but it isn’t necessarily ‘Disneyfying’ to claim animals suffer and their suffering should be prevented where possible.

    These types of groups do Disney-fy. As Chas stated in the first post, it’s pure ignorant anthropomorphism, which is why they always do harm not only to the animals they seek to “liberate”, but to local wildlife.

    Don’t confuse the desire to see animals treated humanely with these idiots. They run on Disneyesque emotion and willful ignorance, a combination which is often lethal to those “liberated”.

    Refusing to face reality and have actual knowledge about animals, nature and various situations animals are in is pure, weapons-grade stupid, nothing more.

    One can be seriously concerned and involved in animal welfare, however, a personal relationship with reality is best to do it properly.

  16. EvoMonkey says

    I don’t want to go to work this morning. I want to stay in my warm home cage with my mate, ample water and food. Maybe around noon, I will lever press for some Fruit Loops or if I’m lucky heroin.

  17. Pickle surprise says

    I remember reading an article titled “fish species that are environmentally safe to eat”. It dealt with invasive species in America that were causing tremendous ecological damage such as Lionfish and Silver carp.

    Cue the bleating from the comment section that the idea of killing ANY species was wrong, no matter what the circumstances. They pretty much said it was man’s fault they were there in the first place and now they should be allowed to stay there (Despite the fact that some of these introductions were accidental in the case of Lionfish being swept into the Atlantic due to damage to aquariums by hurricanes).

    I was astonished by the sheer naïveté and ignorance being displayed on this issue. The refusal to deal with invasive species by animal rights people is just as anti environmental as the denial of climate change by the right. If we ignore both issues, then ecosystems and humanity are buggered.

  18. says

    The article says no one has claimed responsibility. They don’t know who it was. Could have been some vandal kids, or someone confused about the nature of the operation, or someone who just wanted them released now, or who knows.

    Oh. They were suffering psychologically. How does Young know? Which is happier, a salmon confined to a net with a steady food supply, or a salmon fleeing from an orca or a seal?

    The question is moot, since they were going to be released in a few weeks anyway. Someone could have thought that they shouldn’t have to be packed in like that awaiting the Big Release. I don’t know anything about this situation beyond what it says in the article, but you seem to be making a case that any animal subject to predation in the wild is better off in tight confinement under human “management.”

  19. Bruce Gorton says

    Animal rights activists are one of the worst things that can possibly happen to conservation.

  20. Chrissetti says

    Caine:

    Apologies, must learn to read!

    “One can be seriously concerned and involved in animal welfare, however, a personal relationship with reality is best to do it properly.”

    Couldn’t agree more. To me, these people are like well-meaning guys who want to help their grandmother by doing DIY for her whilst being utterly ignorant of how to do it properly. Granny might briefly be appreciative of the work he’s done but that lasts exactly as long as the electrical fire caused by the grandson’s inept wiring.

  21. says

    It’s pure ignorant anthropomorphism,

    I don’t think it’s anthropomorphism or requires any great reach of the imagination to think that 10-inch, free-swimming fish aren’t going to be their happiest cooped up more than six to a cubic foot (if that figure is correct). This, however,…

    The first act of vandalism, on Oct. 3, scotched a celebration set for the end of the month, when students at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma were to cheer on the fish they had raised from eggs as they were being set free into the bay, the finale of the institute’s annual program.

  22. Ing says

    The article says no one has claimed responsibility. They don’t know who it was. Could have been some vandal kids, or someone confused about the nature of the operation, or someone who just wanted them released now, or who knows.

    Yeah and Rebecca Watson was so over reacting to thinking that Elevator guy was misogynist rather than just creepy.

  23. nazani14 says

    The anthropomorphizing of mink and weasels (and probably stoats) is just ridiculous. Just look at the pejorative language you and some commenters are using. That’s not good science, that’s Aesop’s Fables. Didn’t you just do a post about cephalapods always being the bad guys?
    Mustelids are effective predators in the environments that they evolved to succeed in. In the case of mink, that would be near clean streams with plenty of small fish. It is true that the release of American mink in the Soviet Union all but eliminated the native mink, but they were competing for the same niche. In past mink releases, many of the mink died within a few days, in some cases from the males fighting each other.
    I really would need to see a field study proving that released mink have been responsible for noteworthy wildlife decline in any area. Other causes of decline might be the use of farm chemicals, destruction of forest and waterways, and domestic cats and dogs.
    Coming from Alaska, I can say that there is nothing good about any aspect of the fur industry. The Eskimo could wear all the fur they want, but they prefer lighter, warmer, easier to clean man-made fabrics and insulation.

  24. says

    Yeah and Rebecca Watson was so over reacting to thinking that Elevator guy was misogynist rather than just creepy.

    Oh, please. We don’t know who it was.

    The more I read the article, in which the people from the project don’t mention anything about the release endangering the fish, the more I get the impression that they were being held like this because people wanted to have the big release party in a few weeks. If it was safe to release them now (maybe it wasn’t, but no one seems to be saying that), I don’t know why they wouldn’t have done so themselves.

  25. Ing says

    @SC

    My inference is that you seem to be slipping into the same Solomon Lawyering that trolls seem to do when their pet ideology seems to have done wrong.

  26. bunderbunder says

    I fear the cat may already be out of the bag on responding to one group’s knee-jerk reactionism with more knee-jerk reactionism, but I’ll ask anyway:

    I don’t think there’s much room to argue about whether sabotaging conservation programs is wrong-headed, at the very least because it discourages future conservation efforts. And being mean to kids is also pretty icky.

    But about the practical complaint – it’s true that these salmon will suffer predation, but they would be suffering predation after October 30, too, so I’m not sure I see how that’s such a strong argument. Are these salmon currently too young to fare well in the wild? I was under the impression that salmon are normally on their own from the moment they hatch, so I’d think they should be able to take care of themselves. If not, I’d love to learn more.

    The foamy-mouth stuff can be fun and all, and the fact that ALF-types are obnoxious and senselessly destructive is hardly a news flash. OTOH, my curiosity has been piqued about this salmon program and something that’s way more than foaming at the mouth over something we already know is learning about science and conservation efforts. Besides, if all we get out of this is that we’re all running in circles yammering about how upset we are, then we’ve let them accomplish exactly what they were trying to accomplish.

  27. Spamamander, the Good Kind of Spam says

    The idiocy of this “liberation” aside, as a parent I would be pissed. Two of my kids have participated in raising salmon smelt at school for release in the rivers, and it was a really awesome project for them to be involved in. It’s win-win; the state gets help raising salmon for release, and the kids learn about conservation and the life cycle of the fish. Having some jackhole ruin the experience for my kids would seriously tick me off.

  28. says

    My inference is that you seem to be slipping into the same Solomon Lawyering that trolls seem to do when their pet ideology seems to have done wrong.

    What? First, it isn’t my “pet ideology,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. Second, I’ve just suggested that it might have been right (though I lack the full information to make an assessment). Third, it is a fact that we don’t know who did it. The article suggests that animal rights groups have been critical, but doesn’t provide any examples of criticism from before the releases. That would be suggestive, but only that. People shouldn’t make an attribution of responsibility without evidence regardless of what they think of the morality of the act.

  29. Ing says

    Besides, if all we get out of this is that we’re all running in circles yammering about how upset we are, then we’ve let them accomplish exactly what they were trying to accomplish

    Your concern is noted

  30. says

    This may be a good thing. It will help the kids understand how stupid the animal liberation movement is. One hopes that there’s now less danger of any of the kids ever supporting or joining these kooks.

  31. says

    Caine #9

    They Disney-fy animals and don’t have the slightest understanding of how anything works, least of all the animals they claim to “liberate”.

    Dinsney-fy? How can you accuse them of Disney-fying animals when …oh dear… um, never mind.

  32. Aquaria says

    Every time I read one of these stories about animal rights morons, I think of how much they’re like the Mrs. Jellyby and Pardliggle from Bleak House.

  33. Stevarious says

    I think this clip is obligatory for this sort of discussion, isn’t it?

    While I normally don’t condone violence, in this case… More bricks, indeed, Leela. More bricks indeed.

  34. Aquaria says

    And don’t exclaim in disgust at that rat you saw crossing the street

    If I see one, I’m calling the pest control guy to come out–right now, and I’ll be dancing on a table until the fucker is dead. Rats have long been known carriers of:

    Rabies

    Typhus

    Tularemia

    Bubonic plague

    Liver worms

    Hantaan fever

    Rat-bite fever (RBF)

    Eosinophilic Meningitis

    Leptospira spp. bacteria causing Weil’s disease

    Listeria spp. bacteria causing listeriosis

    Yersinia enterocolitica bacteria causing yersiniosis

    Pasturella spp. bacteria causing Pasturellosis

    Pseudomonas spp. bacteria causing Meilioidosis

    And that’s not the complete list!

  35. Beana says

    The evidence seems to point to the idea that animal rights activists and ethical vegetarians lack an understanding of ecology and natural history. Would anyone agree with this?

    Rather than thinking about the impacts of animal liberation on the animals and their habitat, they put themselves in the animal’s place and project their own very human feelings about entrapment onto the creature. Usually though, these folks are more mammal-centric in their liberation efforts. They want to free those mink and the lab rats and mice but what about the zebra fish? What about insects? They tend to select animals that more closely resemble humans. Sure, they’re all about stopping the seal hunt in Newfoundland, but who thinks of the many, many cod that those seals will eat in their lifetime? The seals are doing just fine. The polar bears can’t get at them with the sea ice melting so early. I want to know what these animal rights nutjobs are planning to do for the poor codfish who are disappearing. Save a cod. Club a seal.

    As for factory farms, sure some of them are absolute crapholes. But not all of them. And if it weren’t for factory farms, most of those animals wouldn’t be alive anyway. In fact, if not for humans chickens, cows, pigs and sheep would not exist in their present form. Better to have lived in a crowded pen than to have died in the jaws of a snake, I say.

  36. JoeKaistoe says

    @32 bunderbunder

    You summed it up very well in the beginning of your post. While there is likely no practical reason for keeping them for that long confined, the damage done is the antisocial nature of the vandalism. The lack of psychological reward for the kids deters the continuation of the program, possibly stopping a program that was doing some real good for conservation.

    Some day it would be nice to hear of animal rights activists doing something that is helpful to animals being acted upon, non-violent and doesn’t have harmful ramifications that half-witted people could easily figure out. I’m not holding my breath.

  37. Paul W. says

    I think I’m with SC on this.

    It’s not clear that this was even done by an animal rights group, or by the sort of really extreme and stupid kooks who would release thousands of minks in one spot.

    Usually animal rights groups are happy to take credit for sabotage, so until one does, I wouldn’t assume it’s the usual suspects, or that it was done for the prototypically stupid reasons.

    They just let the fish go early, right?

    I could see wanting to do that, and I’m not the sort who would release thousands of predators into a prey-poor environment, or the sort who opposes sensible kangaroo culls, or any of that.

    I do think that it’s an unfortunate act of sabotage, but the damage was that it spoiled a party for kids.

    If we’re a little charitable toward whoever did it, maybe they were actually doing it for the fish, and making the point that it’s kinda tacky to keep ten-inch fish penned up 6 to a cubic foot (or whatever, if that’s roughly right) waiting for a children’s party date to roll around.

    I would think that would be bad for the fish, likely physiologically if not psychologically—if they can’t help rubbing up against each other sometimes, wouldn’t that tend to mess up their slime coatings and put them at greater risk of infection? (Not to mention them all excreting into the water they’re breathing. Ew.)

    I’m not a fish expert, so I don’t know, and likely the people who did it were ignorant too, but it’s not an obviously horrendously stupid idea like “liberating” minks.

    Maybe the organizers should have moved the party up, so that they could release the fish promptly.

    Don’t get me wrong—I do think it’s pretty likely that the people who did this were ignorant extremist kooks acting for pretty stupid reasons. I also think that they shouldn’t have spoiled the party (and the PR) to sabotage a program that releases salmon into the wild. That’s a bit fucked up. It is bad to keep fish penned up like that when you don’t have to, but it’s worse to sabotage conservation programs than need the PR.

    It’s just not as obviously or extremely fucked up as a lot of the things people are comparing it to. I think it’s wrong at the bottom line, but it not batshit crazy, as near as I can tell, so far. It’s not like “liberating” newly-hatched salmon that would just get gobbled up immediately.

    Which makes me wonder, though—were the fish being penned up and fed so that they’d grow significantly more, to a point where they’d be more likely to survive in the wild? Is that why the party wasn’t for three weeks?

    If so, then it was more fucked up than is obvious—if it was bad for the fish, then it’s a little bit closer to the mink-“liberating” craziness.

  38. Jett Perrobone says

    It’s interesting hearing of this talk of “anthropomorphism” of animals – a lot of animal rights activists seem to like elevating animals to our status; thinking that they deserve all the rights that humans enjoy.

    But it’s also weird how they sometimes do the exact opposite. I’ve heard of some activists who are opposed to animal experimentation do things like hold up a sign with a picture of a rat on it with the caption “DOES THIS LOOK LIKE YOU?”, in an effort to argue that experimentation on animals for the purpose of treating human diseases, is useless. Sort of like the stupid way that anti-choice protestors wave signs with pictures of aborted fœtuses on them to try to argue that abortion is wrong. They push this crap in your face hoping that you’re not smart enough to see straight through it.

  39. Trebuchet says

    Regarding keeping the smolts until they reach a certain size:

    Yes, they’ll suffer predation regardless, but the bigger they are the more chance they have to be predators, rather than prey. It’s all about improving the survival rate. You’d probably be lucky to get 1% survival from newly hatched fry, as opposed to perhaps 5% or even 10% if you hold them for a while. (Note — I just made those numbers up — you can probably look up real ones!)

    The objective, other than educating the kids, was to reestablish a wild run. You want to have as much survival as possible. Releasing them early reduced the chances of success, which were likely slim to start with.

  40. FreebornJayne says

    Some animal rights activists let all of the cows out of my father’s dairy farm barns the other week. Sure, the cows wandered out — greener pastures and all of that — but none of them went very far, and most of them (except a few especially stubborn ones) wandered back into the barn after not very long. You know, the barn — where they’re fed and looked after and protected from the elements? Funny how the cows had a better understanding of what was good for them then the people supposedly fighting for their rights.

    (No, I’m not pretending that all dairy farms are bovine paradise. The point is that the ARAs didn’t even look at the situation — they just found a dairy farm and acted. IF ARAs let these fish go — and I’ll reserve judgement on that one pending further information — they probably did the same thing. It’s not like it’s unthinkable that there could have been a good scientific reason to delay the release…)

  41. numenaster says

    @Beana #46: Yes, animal rights activists usually aren’t concerned about the actual structure of ecosystems into which they propose to release animals (which are often not native species in the area where they’re being released). And yes, the more the species in question looks like us or our pets, the better we like it.

    When I worked for a land management agency that had to deal with public lobbying on environmental issues, we used the term “charismatic megafauna” to refer to large, pretty mammals that bring in the donations & the attention because people are emotionally attached to them. That’s pandas, elephants, chimps, etc. Wolves and bears get attention & funding because people feel a spiritual attraction to them, and indeed wolves have some admirable personal habits (not so much the one about taking over a pack by killing your sister or brother though), but note that there’s a lot less sympathy for the equally awe-inspiring cougar. Probably because cougars can get along close enough to population centers to kill suburban residents’ pets and occasionally threaten their children, and wolves can’t.

    And @whoever said it would be nice to see people doing something genuinely helpful for animals: visit your local animal shelter sometime. People who are willing to do something boring, repetitive and dirty to help animals can be found there in droves.

    Regarding whether animals are better off “free” of human “enslavement”–my cats have the option to meander away any time they like. The cat door is never locked. And yet, somehow, they always can be found near the automated feeder when it’s about to go off. Funny, that. Even Cat 5, who lives on the porch because the density inside the house is too high for peaceful coexistence, makes sure to be nearby when she knows I’m home. They’re rational beings too, making choices for themselves, and the greatest freedom is for us to let them do it.

  42. says

    Releasing them early reduced the chances of success, which were likely slim to start with.

    [citation needed], especially since no one from the program seems to be talking about this.

    ***

    I also think that they shouldn’t have spoiled the party (and the PR) to sabotage a program that releases salmon into the wild. That’s a bit fucked up. It is bad to keep fish penned up like that when you don’t have to, but it’s worse to sabotage conservation programs than need the PR.

    To be clear, though, as far as we know (which of course isn’t everything) they didn’t really sabotage the program; they sabotaged the release event. That’s quite different. If I were participating in a conservation program that was unnecessarily holding the fish in cramped conditions ahead of a party, I would want them released (the party moved up or held separate from the release). I would also want the policy of the program to be to release the fish as soon as is safely possible or get bigger pens.

    Which makes me wonder, though—were the fish being penned up and fed so that they’d grow significantly more, to a point where they’d be more likely to survive in the wild? Is that why the party wasn’t for three weeks?

    That’s the question, though the lack of any mention of it by the people involved makes me think probably not. They’re juveniles.

  43. Mel says

    They’re rational beings too, making choices for themselves, and the greatest freedom is for us to let them do it.

    Eat at home or starve as feral? Some choice! American slaves operated under the same “freedom”.

    Cats are rational beings, suddenly?

  44. says

    numenaster:

    They’re rational beings too, making choices for themselves, and the greatest freedom is for us to let them do it.

    I don’t agree with that. I don’t know for sure that cats don’t hang out, thinking out things rationally then making a considered decision, but I’ll go with not.

    As for letting your cats out to roam, I have serious problems with people who do that. You aren’t showing much regard for the local wildlife or your neighbours by doing so. I live rural and there are plenty of assholes in my tiny town who let their cats roam. As a photographer who makes a fair amount of money shooting (with a camera) birds, I do not appreciate other people’s cats coming onto my property and killing birds. I also don’t care for other people’s cats using my property as a catbox, an area to fight a/o mate and I sure as hell don’t care for other people’s cats spraying on my property.

    I have cats and I know cats like to enjoy being outside once in a while. My solution? I have a 12′ x 12′ kennel which can be accessed via a kitchen window. They have pieces of dead tree to scratch and climb on, dirt to dig in, grass to eat and lounge on, etc. They don’t bother my neighbours, they don’t get run over and they don’t kill the local wildlife.

    You want cats? Great. Then be responsible for them.

    /rant

  45. Jett Perrobone says

    Regarding whether animals are better off “free” of human “enslavement”–my cats have the option to meander away any time they like. The cat door is never locked. And yet, somehow, they always can be found near the automated feeder when it’s about to go off.

    “A singing bird in an open cage…”

  46. says

    to release the fish as soon as is safely possible

    And by “safely” I mean, of course, that it the timing wouldn’t dramatically cut the group’s chances for survival or reproduction, taking into account the conditions in the pens. They’re going to eat and many of them will be eaten, ’cause they’re fish.

  47. Zerple says

    Animal rights nuts piss me off. A few years ago, the PetSmart in my town packed up and left because stupid hippies kept protesting it on the basis that they had all seen a long-ago debunked PeTA propaganda video.

  48. raven says

    Mel the idiot crackpot:

    Eat at home or starve as feral? Some choice! American slaves operated under the same “freedom”.

    What a stupid comment. Cats are symbiotes or commensuals, not slaves. Same thing with dogs. Or your young children.

    They get something out of the relationship and give something back.

    Cats are rational beings, suddenly?

    Compared to you, yes, orders of magnitude more intelligent. I have several cats and wouldn’t let a kook like you near my houseplants.

  49. Inane Janine, OM, Conflater Of Arguments says

    I see that Zerple is playing a game of “Punch The Hippie”.

  50. raven says

    Far as I can tell, most ARA and Earth Liberation extremists are acting out their personality and mental problems and their causes are just excuses.

    I did once meet a Earth Liberation Front activist up north, by happenstance. These aren’t animal rightists but it is a similar movement with the same mentality.

    He was a young guy. Had three children by some girl somewhere that he never paid any child support to. Lived in an abandoned school bus without any visible job. His rants and raves about the environment were hard to tell from gibberish. I wouldn’t call him very sane.

  51. raven says

    Eugene arsonist sentenced for selling heroin | The Columbian w ww.columbian.com/…/eugene-arsonist-sentenced-for-selling-heroin…Cached

    Jun 27, 2011 – EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — An arsonist who avoided federal prison five years ago by helping lock up Earth Liberation Front activists is headed to …

    An example of what I mean from above.

    This guy was an arsonist for the Earth Liberation Front. They all got caught.

    1. He ratted out his gang to avoid prison time.

    2. He then got busted for selling heroin.

    So any ARA/ELA activists, help me out here. Which is worse, turning in your co-activists to stay out of prison or selling heroin?

    The fact is, the ARA and ELA are both harming their causes, not helping them. There is a lot of support for keeping the environment clean and ecosystems intact but not a lot for just setting fires to other people’s property or government facilities.

  52. Anonymous says

    “Which is happier, a salmon confined to a net with a steady food supply, or a salmon fleeing from an orca or a seal?”

    there are a couple of fallacies in that question…
    You can’t know which is happier either. The situation of the salmon in question is not always either confined and well fed or unconfined and fleeing from an orca. I could return your question with “which is happier, a salmon left alone to pursue whatever it would do outside captivity, or salmon kept by humans that cannot necessarily do whatever it would do outside captivity.” Either way, you know it is not that simple, and that is why I think your question is disingenuous.

    Maybe the people who cut the nets or whatever were not trying to simply free some fish. Maybe they have a problem with the institutionalized and rationalized (see what I did there) perspective that humans have any idea what is best for salmon, or that human interference is welcome, or would be if only the salmon knew what is best for them.

    I don’t think they are wackos, but their methods are rather alienating.

    I am trying to fit my brain around whether I am like the everyday christians who say “but not all of us are like that” without understanding that supporting the system at all allows it to keep oppressing everyone and creates a fertile, safe environment for dangerous wackjobs. Because I think humans should leave animals alone, but I do not think property damage and injury to humans is acceptable to further this cause. Uggghhh I do not like the idea of being called an idiot for this.

  53. says

    [citation needed], especially since no one from the program seems to be talking about this.

    It is pretty clear that there is an optimal time/size to release various types of fish raised to ensure the best chance of survival. A quick Google Scholar search for optimal release size of fish finds plenty of hits, so I do not think “Releasing them early reduced the chances of success” is really under question, there is plenty of literature about this. I have not been able to read much about this particularly species however (I found some literature for cutthroat trout indicating 22 cm is optimal but of course that is not the same species) as I am not at the university and cannot access the articles, so sadly I have no idea if these smolt were of a reasonable size to be released.

  54. Mak says

    Caine said:

    I have cats and I know cats like to enjoy being outside once in a while.

    Oddly enough, the only cats I had who gave a crap about being outside were ones my mom owned and had previously let out to wander. After I became sole caregiver I wanted to keep them indoors, but it was really hard keeping them in (one of them ripped through a window pane while I was at work, once!), though it got way easier after I had them neutered, then they were content to sit out in a screened lanai once in a while. No matter how much they wanted to be outside, though, they always came back on their own (usually covered in scratches and with at least one infection from fighting with other cats).

    Their successors never pined for the outdoors, though. They were perfectly happy just staying in the house.

    One time, my aunt had a cat who lived with her for ten years, and then he decided to up and leave her and live with a neighbor who gave him chicken and fish. He stayed with the neighbor and lounged with her in her back yard ’til the day he died.

  55. ChasCPeterson says

    My first comment, which was first, was a knee-jerk off-the-cuff (yes, I wear kneecuffs; so what?) reaction to PZ’s entire post, including the teeth-gnashingly stoopid mink release.
    Now reading the comments and I agree with SC’s and PaulW’s points that the release of native aimals into their native habitat a few weeks earlier than scheduled is not nearly so egregious (as the mink thing). So, yeah, teh ECO went a little overboard with the better-off-in-the-pens claim.

    Now, we’re missing lots of information here, but let me counter some of the ideas that are being tossed around with a couple of other, equally ill-informed ideas.

    First, this was (evidently) not a straight conservation program. Cal Fish & Game does that shit all the time with no publicity at all. (And, by the way, they know what they’re doing. There is very little guesswork left in hatchery-raising salmonids. Several generations of fisheries biologists have scientific-methoded this shit to death.)
    Instead, this was, very specifically and importantly, a conservation-education program. The whole point was to instill some local conservation ethic into the students, and teach them some biology along the way. From my experience with analogous programs (head-starting threatened turtles), the release is the most important part. All the raising and feeding and cleaning the filter and learning about life cycles and conservation leads up to the metaphorical setting of the hook when you go out to some animal habitat in the students’s neighborhood or very local region, and it all pays off in a shamelessly Born-Free peak experience that actually means something and resonates for a long time. Seriously. By scotching the release Event, the vandals really did fuck up the entire program, by which I mean the educational program. If it was my educational program, I’d be dejected and/or pissed off. No payoff.

    Second point(s). I sense the feeling that some might consider the vandalism a zero-bad if the fish were being made to suffer unnecessarily by close confinement merely because of convenient scheduling. And I have a variety of reasons for suspecting (though not knowing) that that was not the case in, you know, this case.
    But first, even if it was the case, I am going to refer to my argument above: in terms of the educational objectives, the release event was, in my opinion, important enough to justify prioritizing its scheduling over the ‘happiness’ of the fish. I would not condone outright suffering, but I would decide to subject them to some (limited) stress for some (limited) time if it was necessary for my payoff.

    That said, I am going to assert that, in general, fisheries biologists know what they’re doing. Better than me, better than PZ, better than you, way better than whoever cut the nets. Consider the following viewpoints from comparative physiology:
    1) the fish were not in tanks, they were in floating pens, nets that are completely open to the surrounding bay waters with plenty good circulation. There is no problem with concentrating wastes. (btw did you know that fish do most of their excretion through the same organs with which they breathe, i.e. their gills?)
    2) Although you and I don’t know how stressed the fish were under these conditions, I am very confident that there are people who do know, and they know it from measuring circulating corticosteroids in fish held at every size and density you can imagine. Nor is this likely the first time fish were kept successfully at similar densities in the selfsame pens. I will repeat that these are very well-studied problems, and if there was any evidence that keeping them at these densities was detrimental to survivorship, then they would have been kept at lower densities.
    3) PaulW speculated that they might have been held for good reasons other than merely party-scheduling, for example, growth to a size that increases survorship on release (this too is well-studied). I don’t know if they were being fed in the pens. I do know that these are anadromous fish that hatch and grow in freshwater and then swim downstream as smolts to grow further in the ocean. In the process they have to switch over their entire salt-and-water-balance apparatus from maintaining homeostasis in a strongly hydrating, solute-poor environment to a osmotically desiccating solute-overload environment, and this involves a number of important physiological changes that take some time. Since these floating pens are in San Francisco Bay (saltwater), but the fish had been school- and hatchery-raised in freshwater, they might have been given time to acclimate before release. Just an idea; I don’t know.

    Anyway. I still despise the net-cutters. I am confident that they did something way more bad than whatever they prevented.

    [meta: wow, my longest comment in a really long time]

  56. uncle frogy says

    well I only know what I read in the linked article I did not even see the damages so I am not going to argue the facts as presented.

    I think we are making a mistake when we take the word of the ALF types word that it is about the animals. The actions I have heard about have some things in common they are at least indifferent to the animal’s welfare if not actually very negative and always involve damage to other peoples property.

    I think it is really about the people more than the animals. They see it as a way to punish the people involved for “hurting” the animals which they identify with. They seem to be more clearly focusing on the people than the animals. They are not really trying to save the animals as much as they are trying to use their terrorist tactics to scare people away from “exploiting” the poor animals. They are identifying their own “suffering” with the perceived suffering of the animals and are striking back at the abusers. They are (to use a phrase that some may not like but I can think of no other) mad and not just angry, and possibly in need of psychological help.

    uncle frogy

  57. Carlie says

    [meta: wow, my longest comment in a really long time]

    And a very good one it was. I like reading your ecology rants. :)

  58. bunderbunder says

    @47 JoeKaitsoe

    Some day it would be nice to hear of animal rights activists doing something that is helpful to animals being acted upon, non-violent and doesn’t have harmful ramifications that half-witted people could easily figure out. I’m not holding my breath.

    I’m sure you won’t ever hear about it, but at the same time I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it happens all the time. The thing about stuff that isn’t controversial is that it doesn’t have quite so much ability to generate controversy.

  59. Ben says

    If you eat meat, any outrage you may express over this is dubious. You do far more destruction to the environment than a bunch of doofy hippies.

  60. chigau () says

    Ben

    If you eat meat, any outrage you may express over this is dubious. You do far more destruction to the environment than a bunch of doofy hippies.

    You are mistaken.

  61. SalmonGirl says

    SC_OM, PaulW, ChasCPeterson:

    (with the caveat that I am not associated with this program and thus do not know specific details)

    There have been solid studies on the appropriate amount of time to hold hatchery salmon. Early release can lead to higher mortality in the estuarine and marine environments, as the fish have not been able to achieve a certain level of growth. Release date can have a ten- to twenty-fold effect on survival for chinook salmon (this number is from a study on University of WA hatchery chinook, Whitman 1987). There is also evidence (at least for coho, not sure about chinook off the top of my head) that holding past a certain release date will lower survival rate. So it is not likely that the release date was determined by the date of the party.

    Hatchery fish in net pens are generally fed. The physiological changes associated with fresh- to salt-water residence do not happen until the fish begin migrating downstream (and are to some extent triggered by the migration. It doesn’t happen all at once; it’s a gradual process. O/T, the really cool parts at that stage of maturity are the changes in thyroxine levels and the imprinting process).

    I would refer anyone interested to a really great summary book: The Behavior and Ecology of Pacific Salmon & Trout by Thomas P. Quinn (a lead salmon researcher at UW). It is an extremely well-written and engaging textbook.

    (/first Pharyngula comment. I’m a long-time lurker…of course it would be salmon that would draw me out of that shell!)

  62. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Ben, do you plan to present anything to support your assertion, or are we just supposed to happily swallow whatever nuggets you pull from your ass?

  63. ceph says

    It’s sad to read about another act of vandalism by an animal rights group, but this time on what looks like an important conservation project. What’s really sad is that actions like this will do nothing but hold back the cause of animal protection. There are welfare and environmental issues with fish farming, but targeting a research project is just mindless destruction.

    I’m unsure about whether or not fish can perceive pain in a meaningful way, but a study by scientists at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh gives some positive evidence:

    Researchers injected bee venom and acetic acid into the lips of captive rainbow trout and found that they rubbed their lips into the gravel at the bottom of their tank and preformed a rocking motion that is common in mammals who appear to be in pain. Other fish, in a control group, had only seawater injected into their lips and did not show the same behaviour. In general, the researchers said, the trout showed ‘profound behavioural and psychological changes.’ These changes went far beyond simple reflex responses. Moreover, when the fish were given morphine, they resumed feeding, as one might expect them to do if they had been in pain and the drug relieved the pain.

  64. crissakentavr says

    There are two things which determine release dates of hatchery salmon (I know this because I’ve spent my entire life on the Pacific on rivers with salmonid runs and hatcheries – they’re a big part of any school on the beach north of SF all the way into Alaska): The size of the fish and the time of season/amount of rainfall.

    The only reason the salmon wouldn’t be hurt being released early this year is because heavy rainfall this last week started early, getting all our streams flowing. Later releases are better, because it better mimics when then rains come in earnest, and give clear flowing water to break the sand berms built up over the summer and let the fish out to sea.

    You’d schedule the party based upon when you expect the fish to be the right size and the weather to be correct. Which in the SF Bay is late October. If the fish are big enough earlier, all the better – larger fish survive better.

    I’m all for animal rights, but this is ridiculous: The salmon runs in the SF Bay were destroyed in the nineteenth century. If we want salmon, and we do, we need intensive hatchery support as well as river restoration. There’s more than enough water for both fish and farms.

    Out here, I’d think it’s more likely someone who wants to program to fail than an animal rights person. And the ALM guy totally walked into this and made a fool of himself as they often do.

  65. says

    Someday I’ll tell the story of my personal run-in with PETA.

    Idiots at best, deliberate liars at worst. The details are funny in a pathetic sort of way.

  66. Spamamander, the Good Kind of Spam says

    @ Tracy the flyby up a ways…

    I’m a Tracy. Please don’t make us all look fucking stupid. Thank you.

  67. says

    OK, back from tea and picture-taking.

    Some of the responses here have been odd. No one has denied that release times are important, that premature release could have a significant negative effect on survival rates in general, or that this has been studied in depth. In this specific case, though, we don’t have the information to know. If there’s a range of times in which it’s good to release them (won’t make an appreciable difference in their potential survival vs. remaining in the pens), they should be releasing them as early as possible during this period, I believe. Obviously not before. I think considering the experience of crowding in confinement like that should be part of the educational process, and that animals’ experiences in general should be an important part of any conservation-education efforts. The only evidence, such as it is, that I have that this release isn’t thought by the people in the program to have a real detrimental effect on survival rates is that if this were the case I would expect the people involved to mention it to reporters and to be up in arms about it. These people are focused on the event. If it was safe to release them now, I don’t think they were delaying it for the party; I think perhaps – again, if this is the case, and I’m just speculating – they have an annual event that’s scheduled at a regular time and just didn’t think about the crowding particularly. I would be surprised by this, but it seems like a real possibility.

    And I’ll remind people going on about how scientifically ignorant animal rights activists are of one well-known animal rights supporter.

  68. Ing says

    @SC

    Your conflation between animal welfare and rights has been noted. And yes I know you don’t see any difference

  69. says

    @SC

    Your conflation between animal welfare and rights has been noted. And yes I know you don’t see any difference

    Yet again you have no idea what you’re talking about. I even gave you a reference a few weeks ago, which you ignored.

  70. Ing says

    @SC

    I had in my degree animal ethics, companion animal, research animal care etc. I do not agree that the distinction is only made by the vivisectors (which sounds like well poisoning propaganda shleck to me).

  71. says

    I had in my degree animal ethics, companion animal, research animal care etc. I do not agree that the distinction is only made by the vivisectors (which sounds like well poisoning propaganda shleck to me).

    You have problems reading.

  72. Kagehi says

    If you eat meat, any outrage you may express over this is dubious. You do far more destruction to the environment than a bunch of doofy hippies.

    You do realize that, while humans are not **usually** so stupid, there have been some cases of “plants” being so overused by human populations, for various reasons, that they went extinct, probably along with what ever else used them as a food source too, right? Of course not. Humans are “outside” the animal kingdom to your sort, and plants are *magic*, so eating them, making fuel/clothes out of them, growing massive amounts of them, to feed ourselves, in places they don’t belong naturally, or who the hell knows what else, has *no* effect at all on the environment. But, those meat eaters… they are “evil”.

    Ben, you are the perfect example of what is being discussed here. You have some entirely emotional, mostly incoherent, view of how ecosystems work, environments are affected by everything from existing, to invasive, species, but you are *certain*, while knowing jack shit, (or, possibly worse, just enough to be dangerous), about any of it, that you are “convinced” you, instead of people that have spent their lives trying to figure it out, know “exactly” what is going on. You are the reason the original leader of Green Peace, last I heard, gave up on the “environmental movement”, to do something frakking useful with his life, protecting wild life preserves, and forests, as a “government forest service worker”. He pulled his head out of his ass. For too many of the rest in the movement have theirs shoved so far up there own that one of them could easily pull a scene out of some horror flick, release a genetically engineered batch of super locust, being used to research how to “stop” real swarms, and their, and your, only comment, when 90% of the species on the planet, and entire forests, where wiped clean by the swarms, and their crawling through cracks in the walls to get at you, would be, “Well, at least humans are not around to screw it all up any more.”

    Screw what up? Thanks to the exactly this sort of blind ignorance, a scenario like that would pretty much have, in one stroke, the effect of resetting the environment back to billions of years ago, before fish grew limbs, and produced the first land dwelling animals. And, it wouldn’t have been the “meat eaters”, fault, but, ironically, some idiot afraid that bugs where mistreated, releasing stuff that someone was trying use to protect crops, so people didn’t ‘have to’ eat meat.

    People like you Ben, talk about “consequences”, yet by some estimates, if every single person tried to have a “personal” farm, and be 100% self supporting, the land to grow enough, storage to keep it out of growing season, etc., would require that we cut down “every single forest” on the planet, to make room for them. Why? Because it takes, well, a quick google suggests 280 acres, for 4 people, *if* you also include farm animals. No idea what it would be without them, but you would have to “make up” some of the loss from the high-energy source animals, but gain “a bit” back, from not having to feed them too. But, its not going to be less than 280. So, 280 * 75 (4 per group) million, just in the US… So, 2.3 billion acres of land in the US *total* means that you would have to, for “personal” farms, use 2.1 billion acres of it (91.30% of all land, including the side of bloody mountains, cliff faces, swamps, and other nearly/completely unlivable places), to survive “purely” on plant crops.

    Yeah, that will “save the environment”… Then, its hardly a surprise that people that don’t bloody understand the environment at all, but think they are “protecting it”, also can’t grasp basic math.

  73. says

    Oh, hi fellow Canberran Jett!

    Also, if the roos really must be culled, we must not kill and eat them and use the hides. We must only bulldoze them into a mass grave. (Though to be fair, I doubt that starving roos are in good eating condition.)

  74. Kagehi says

    BTW, this is an “economy of scale” thing. One guy with “lots of acres”, can grow more than they actually need, and sell it to people without personal gardens, so a “much smaller” amount of land gets used for it. Adding in animals reduces that ever farther. And, I admit my numbers may be off by a fair amount, since the person quoting the number they owned was “probably” in that category. So.. Maybe we would only have to use 1.1 billion of all the land in the US, or something. But it isn’t some magically frakking utopia that simultaneously turns the planet into a garden, protects wildlife, and eliminates the need for “any” sort of farm animals. What it is, is shear ignorance, coupled with a desire to “fix”, or “save” things, about which the people trying to do so know ***absolutely nothing***, including what is really going on. BTW, what’s the latest propaganda against GE foods, by less efficient, both small, and very large, multi-billion dollar, farms, which would have to ship 10 times as much, at much greater cost, to make up the difference in the “food value” of the perfectly safe GE foods they appose? Because, oddly enough, half the environmental movement seems to be “backed” by corporations now, just.. not the same corporations that the environmental movement is constantly whining about.

    Personally, it wouldn’t surprise me to find Big Oil funding attacks on Monsanto, at the same time Monsanto was funding attacks on an oil company that wanted to drill someone’s farm land, for all that certain parts of the badly distorted, and completely oblivious, “environmental movement” has a damn clue who is funding their protests.

  75. Carlie says

    Imma just going to interrupt a moment to launch my patented “glad to see you post” hug at Jafafa Hots.

    *oomph*

    Carry on.

  76. MattE says

    @kagehi –
    This is just wikipedia talking, but:

    “According to the USDA, growing the crops necessary to feed farmed animals requires nearly half of the United States’ water supply and 80% of its agricultural land. Additionally, animals raised for food in the U.S. consume 90% of the soy crop, 80% of the corn crop, and a total of 70% of its grain.”

    also:
    “When tracking food animal production from the feed through to consumption, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from 4:1 up to 54:1 energy input to protein output ratio.”

    Not that we should stop eating animals or using them for the good of science, etc., but your economic projections seem off.

  77. says

    SC,
    I misunderstood your request for a citation. At the time I thought you were questioning what that specific statement said, but now that I go back and reread the post you were quoting from I realize you were asking for a citation dealing with the applicability of it in this specific case.

    Sorry for getting all screwed up.

  78. Mak says

    This is just wikipedia talking, but:

    It sure is Wikipedia talking. That claim is sourced by a report from 1997 that doesn’t actually say what the article claims it says.

    I’ve seen those claims used a lot even up to 2008 when I was last up to my ass in AR stuff (PeTA specifically still uses the same number claims that it was using back then) and yet I could never find an original source for them, nor was I able to make what numbers I could find match the claims that were being made, unless I fudged them a lot.

    I ought to try again. It’s been a few years, though it seems the specific claims haven’t changed since.

  79. Therrin says

    [OT]
    Spamamander (had to sound it out)

    I’m a Tracy. Please don’t make us all look fucking stupid. Thank you.

    I similarly cringe whenever I see a Ben do the same.

    numenaster

    Even Cat 5, who lives on the porch because the density inside the house is too high for peaceful coexistence, makes sure to be nearby when she knows I’m home.

    I’m sure that one has the best connections.

  80. MattE says

    @Mak
    Hmm, you’re right about that report. I haven’t read it extensively, but I can’t really see how those particular numbers came out of that. My bad.

  81. GravityIsJustATheory says

    Re #89:

    Additionally, while producing meat is, in an absolute sense, less energy-efficient than producing crops, livestock can be raised on land that is not suitable for growing food crops, and can be fed on the non-edible (by humans) parts of food crops.

    Plus, livestock fertilizes the land it is kept on, and in some cases produces other useful products as well (e.g. leather, bonemeal, motive power, etc).

    (A completely unsourced claim I heard recently was that you can feed more people by using a piece of land to grow vegetables than by raising livestock, but you can feed even more by using it for mixed farming).

    The fact that intensive livestock farming is often cruel, resource-inefficient, and bad for the environment is a problem with intensive livestock farming, not with the concept of eating meat itself.

    Mel says:
    12 October 2011 at 3:40 pm

    They’re rational beings too, making choices for themselves, and the greatest freedom is for us to let them do it.

    Eat at home or starve as feral? Some choice! American slaves operated under the same “freedom”.

    Cats are rational beings, suddenly?

    A completely ridiculous comparison. When we start forcing cats to feed us and clean up our waste, then it might be valid.

    But to be more serious, and to address the question of “are cats rational?”, I suppose for a certain interpretation of rational, simple animals probably are more rational than humans. Something really simple, like an insect, probably operates on a thought process something like:

    If threatened then
    Evade
    Else If hungry then
    Eat
    Else if horny then
    Mate
    Else
    Rest
    End if

    which (for a certain value of “rational”) is probably the most rational you can be. Now, cats are more complex than that and seem to have distinct personalities and emotions, so are less rational. But AFAIK they don’t have religions or political ideologies, and aren’t prepared to die for the flag, so arguably they are still more rational than humans.

  82. ohnhai says

    its the same mentality that drive these ignorant fucktards to release a pig farmers stock (down on the Isle of Wight) on the news that Foot and Mouth disease has broken out, for fear that the stock was going to be put down, in a similar manner to the heard destructions we were seeing on the news.

    an Neighbour of mine in Melbourne was absolutely crazy in this regard, and once knocked a groundsman to the ground for doing his job and de-cobwebbing the front of the building…

    these people don’t think… they don’t understand… to them animal,fish,bird or bug trumps human every time…

    it is, completely and utterly fundamentalist thinking. They don’t even understand that the vast majority of the animals they free wouldn’t exist at all, wouldn’t have had ANY kind of life, had they not been bread for their meat, fur, whatever…

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not for animal cruelty. In fact I truly believe if we are going to use animals for food, leather, and what ever else we we get from them, then we should strive to make their short lives a pleasant and comfortable as possible. and that when their time comes we don’t resort to the truly barbaric bronze age practices of Halal and Kosher. For that matter I would prefer to see the modern methods (bolt to the brain) phased out in favour of Nitrogen induced hypoxia. which is quick, painless and according to humans who have experienced hypoxia (and lived) induces a state of euphoria just before you slip into unconsciousness.

    But these loons can not be reasoned with. because if you object to their methods you must be advocating cruelty to animals and are thus the enemy…

  83. Ichthyic says

    Holy crap!

    How did I manage to overlook this drama today?

    way back up at 3:

    I once spoke with some of these idiots while in grad school. They asked a lot of fuzzy questions trying to draw information out of me to find out where the lab mice and rats were housed.

    ditto, exact same thing happened.

    I told them all the lab animals were being kept in the old Life Sciences building (which was actually just being gutted for a refit at the time) and that was why they had a fence around it!

    They fell for it hook, line, and sinker, and picketed and tossed bricks at an empty building for a week.

    I got kudos from my department for that one for months afterwards.

    @ john:

    I’d worry about Ichthyic’s reaction — but, luckily, fish are cold-blooded.

    I can see no disagreement with PZ’s take on this at all. This was a stupid, thoughtless act entirely born of ignorance.

    they have NO CLUE what purposes or reasons fish are being kept for in any given facility.

    I personally know of cases where entirely facilities were being utilized as massive quarantine stations for whirling disease (look it up). If these fuckwits had “freed” the fish from a facility like that, they would have DOOMED all related fish species in the entire aquatic system downstream of the release point.

    Oh, and by the way, it’s probably more technically accurate to call fish “poikilotherms” instead of “cold blooded”, as a large number of them actually do have mechanisms for keeping localized areas warmer than ambient temperature (tunas, billfish, lots of sharks…).

    @ evomonkey:

    I don’t want to go to work this morning. I want to stay in my warm home cage with my mate, ample water and food. Maybe around noon, I will lever press for some Fruit Loops or if I’m lucky heroin.

    I like the cut of your jib! May I subscribe to your newsletter?

    >>>>scrolling down….

    Yeah and Rebecca Watson was so over reacting to thinking that Elevator guy was misogynist rather than just creepy.

    OH HELLS NO, TELL ME YOU DIDN’T JUST BRING ELEVATORGATE INTO THIS THREAD???

    ….looks like it avoided sparking another shitstorm though…

    *whew*

    @27: I really would need to see a field study proving that released mink have been responsible for noteworthy wildlife decline in any area.

    mink, no gots one, how about Stoats instead?

    and no, stoats are not native to New Zealand. :P

    mustelids are remarkably adaptable critters.

    >>>>

    Two of my kids have participated in raising salmon smelt at school for release in the rivers, and it was a really awesome project for them to be involved in.

    Imagine if it was your entire PhD thesis they just released.

    It’s happened, many times, and to a couple of people I know personally.

    kind of hard to recover 4 years of PhD work like that.

    They want to free those mink and the lab rats and mice but what about the zebra fish? What about insects?

    Fuck me! don’t give them any MORE ideas, m’kay?

    I saw this pattern actually happen with the animal use protocol system implemented when I was a grad student at Berkeley.

    1st, it was only the mammals. The next year is was reptiles and birds, the next, fish….

    seems the animal rights definition of “animal” is rather… malleable.

    Some day it would be nice to hear of animal rights activists doing something that is helpful to animals being acted upon, non-violent and doesn’t have harmful ramifications that half-witted people could easily figure out. I’m not holding my breath.

    yup, it sure would. In fact, I’d bet this is more often the case than not, and we don’t hear about all the good things *some* animal rights groups do for conservation efforts because they simply go under the media radar.

    still, it’s just as important to emphasize that ignorance is NOT going to help their cause, and cases like this are common enough to certainly suggest there IS a lot of ignorance out there feeding into the animal rights movement.

    Now reading the comments and I agree with SC’s and PaulW’s points that the release of native aimals into their native habitat a few weeks earlier than scheduled is not nearly so egregious (as the mink thing). So, yeah, teh ECO went a little overboard with the better-off-in-the-pens claim.

    you know what is entirely invented?

    yeah.

    that.

    you have NO clue from that article WHAT the damage might be long term to the project.

    none.

    you have NO real idea what the purpose was for releasing the fish at a specific time and place.

    so, who is making up stories here?

    hey, being involved in a lot of fish conservation work myself, I can come up with any number of reasons why releasing at a specific time and place is important.

    but even I would only be guessing at what the strategy was with this particular effort.

    ah, and I see “Salmongirl” noting some of this in 75.

    case closed.

    And I’ll remind people going on about how scientifically ignorant animal rights activists are of one well-known animal rights supporter.

    I very carefully note you don’t call Richard an “animal rights activist”

    good thing, as I’m sure he wouldn’t call himself one.

    Richard, like most of us that have ever been involved with animal research, are concerned with ANIMAL WELFARE, and it is logical and proper we should be.

    as I have said, many, MANY times, the assignment of RIGHTS is an entirely human, and even an entirely CULTURAL endeavor.

    but then as for this, and the concept of various types of farming, I haven’t changed my stance since the last time these issues got brought up.

    *looks*

    think I’m caught up now.

  84. Mak says

    Plus, livestock fertilizes the land it is kept on, and in some cases produces other useful products as well (e.g. leather, bonemeal, motive power, etc).

    The alternatives of which are usually synthetic and made from petroleum products and dyes with other nasty by-products, and aren’t necessarily biodegradable (synthetic fur/leather immediately comes to mind), which also complicates things.

    And considering Non-Point Source pollution is still a significant source of watershed pollution, I’m curious to know how national pure-vegan farming would compare to, say, vegetable farming with grass-fed and/or free-range meat farming.

  85. Ichthyic says

    btw, as to the point of contention regarding PZ saying:

    Which is happier, a salmon confined to a net with a steady food supply, or a salmon fleeing from an orca or a seal?

    I read that as:

    exactly, who the fuck COULD know?

    It was a rhetorical question to my mind, not one that was intended to have people actually try to rationalize why a fucking salmon might be happier in a pen or the open ocean or not!

    gees.

  86. Mak says

    I would prefer to see the modern methods (bolt to the brain) phased out

    How come? It’s quick and painless too and there’s not as much handling.

  87. Ichthyic says

    How come? It’s quick and painless too and there’s not as much handling.

    they probably saw the vids where the bolt misses, and they saw that cows can see their “friends” dying ahead of them, etc. There is a case that can be made that the overall stress levels could be reduced, with minimal costs involved.

    it really *could* be done more efficiently and more accurately in most cases too, though you’re right that the actual killing blow itself, done correctly, is quick.

    It’s obvious that the intent is not to torture the animals, that’s clear.

  88. Mak says

    Ichthyic:

    It could certainly be done wrong, for sure. It doesn’t take much to do it right, though, proper management and equipment upkeep being the biggie, and Dr. Grandin designed really great ways to handle livestock with minimal stress.

    and they saw that cows can see their “friends” dying ahead of them, etc.

    I’ll never understand this logic, though. More anthropomorphism, I guess?

    All in all, I don’t think it needs to go away, just needs to be kept on the right track.

  89. ceph says

    Threads like this usually bring up reponses about family farming, mixed farming, flexitarianism, conscientious omnivorism and ‘organic factory farming’! – whatever that means – as a way of rationalizing the consumption of animal products. Occassionally this leads to unhinged word salad from people like Kagehi at post 87 (who seems to be advocating factory farming because of it’s environmental benefits? – who knows). I do think in theory though a consistent welfarist argument can be maintained for being selective about consuming animal products, it’s just that in practice it’s very easy to go back on that commitment. How many people who are opposed to religious slaughter on welfare grounds go out for curries at the weekend? The most committed conscientious carnivors have to be extremely selective, because in America for example 99% of all chickens are factory farmed.

    I think part of the solution to ending CFOs does lie in a combination of these ‘structural’ alternatives, but another part is to reduce our collective animal consumption all together, and that’s an element that’s missing from these responses.

  90. ChasCPeterson says

    …the release of native animals into their native habitat a few weeks earlier than scheduled is not nearly so egregious (as the mink thing). So, yeah, teh ECO went a little overboard with the better-off-in-the-pens claim.

    you know what is entirely invented? yeah. that.

    um…which part?
    That releasing juvenile salmon earlier than planned isn’t as (ecologically) egregious as releasing non-native minks? That’s an informed opinion, not an invention.
    That PZ claimed they were better off in the pens? He did; see below.

    you have NO clue from that article WHAT the damage might be long term to the project…you have NO real idea what the purpose was for releasing the fish at a specific time and place.

    As noted several times, explicitly, in the rest of my comment.
    But irrelevant, since I meant ecologically egregious, not harmful to the project (which, as noted, I believe to have been primarily educational in its objectives).

    so, who is making up stories here?

    You’re going to have to back up and show me a story I made up.

    but even I would only be guessing at what the strategy was with this particular effort.

    Even you, Dr. Science? Gosh!

    case closed.

    What fucking ‘case’? Do you have to try hard to be such a supercilious asshole, or do you come by it naturally?

    Which is happier, a salmon confined to a net with a steady food supply, or a salmon fleeing from an orca or a seal?

    It was a rhetorical question to my mind, not one that was intended to have people actually try to rationalize why a fucking salmon might be happier in a pen or the open ocean or not!

    That part could be read rhetorically, true. Problem is, just before that he wrote:

    Are they even aware that they released the salmon from an environment where they were sheltered and fed, into a wild world where food is more scarce and they will be actively preyed upon?

    which sort of colors one’s interpretation of what was meant.

  91. says

    I very carefully note you don’t call Richard an “animal rights activist”

    good thing, as I’m sure he wouldn’t call himself one.

    Richard, like most of us that have ever been involved with animal research, are concerned with ANIMAL WELFARE, and it is logical and proper we should be.

    as I have said, many, MANY times, the assignment of RIGHTS is an entirely human, and even an entirely CULTURAL endeavor.

    Actually, the distinction I was making was not between “animal welfare activist” and “animal rights activist,” but between “animal rights activist” and “animal rights supporter.” The chapter I linked to is from a book edited by Peter Singer, probably the most well-known philosopher of animal rights, about the Great Ape Project, widely recognized as an animal rights campaign.* (Feel free to try to correct pretty much everyone else’s understanding of the matter.) The only reason I referred to him as a supporter rather than an activist is that I wasn’t sure his writing on the subject (in the absence of other activities, which I don’t know about) qualifies as activism. Since I’ve always considered writing an important form of activism in other contexts, though, that was an error. He is (or was)an animal rights activist.

    you have NO clue from that article WHAT the damage might be long term to the project.

    none.

    As I said, the evidence that I have (and it’s really just suggestive) that the damage isn’t to the salmon is that the people involved with the program don’t seem concerned or angry about it; they’re upset about the high scholl students’ disappointment at not being able to do the release at the time of the celebration.

    hey, being involved in a lot of fish conservation work myself, I can come up with any number of reasons why releasing at a specific time and place is important.

    Which, as I’ve said more than once, is irrelevant unless the difference in timing made an appreciable difference in this case.

    I read that as:

    exactly, who the fuck COULD know?

    People can get evidence about the effects of tight confinement and crowding from studies of other animals or salmon themselves. Certainly, findings from many other animals suggest that prolonged confinement in crowded conditions is not pleasant or conducive to well being. It’s far from unreasonable assumption (and erring on the said of ethical caution) with many wild animals. I don’t understand why people are talking about their (domesticated, it has to be noted, since some people seem to think there’s no difference between a house cat and a lion) cats being content in their homes. There’s a big difference between a house or apartment (or preserve) and a small cage or pen with dozens of other animals, little room to move, standing in your own excrement,… I don’t think many people would argue that cats would be content or thrive in the latter situation.

    *From Wikipedia: “As a supporter of the Great Ape Project – a movement to extend certain moral and legal rights to all great apes – Dawkins contributed the article “Gaps in the Mind” to the Great Ape Project book edited by Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer. In this essay, he criticises contemporary society’s moral attitudes as being based on a “discontinuous, speciesist imperative”.[139]”

  92. says

    The Great Ape Project:

    The Great Ape Project (GAP), founded in 1994, is an international organization of primatologists, anthropologists, ethicists, and other experts who advocate a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes that would confer basic legal rights on non-human great apes: chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. The rights suggested are the right to life, the protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture.

    Dawkins’ issue with the project noted at the end of his chapter is that it treats different species discontinuously, suggesting that the change shouldn’t be limited to nonhuman primates. This was a more radical vision than the project’s.

  93. Kagehi says

    Occassionally this leads to unhinged word salad from people like Kagehi at post 87 (who seems to be advocating factory farming because of it’s environmental benefits? – who knows).

    Oh., f-you. I never said any such thing. My point was that the whole “eat plants and save the environment” movement are clueless idiots, not that any specific method that is used now is *good*. The numbers, even if you bother to find real ones, which are not made up on the spot by vegans, instead of spending 2 minutes on it, like I did, **do not support the idea of only growing food on vegetable farms, as a solution**.

  94. Therrin says

    SC (Salty Current),

    As I said, the evidence that I have (and it’s really just suggestive) that the damage isn’t to the salmon is that the people involved with the program don’t seem concerned or angry about it; they’re upset about the high scholl students’ disappointment at not being able to do the release at the time of the celebration.

    Except that (from ChasCPeterson):

    The whole point was to instill some local conservation ethic into the students, and teach them some biology along the way. From my experience with analogous programs (head-starting threatened turtles), the release is the most important part. All the raising and feeding and cleaning the filter and learning about life cycles and conservation leads up to the metaphorical setting of the hook when you go out to some animal habitat in the students’s neighborhood or very local region, and it all pays off in a shamelessly Born-Free peak experience that actually means something and resonates for a long time. Seriously. By scotching the release Event, the vandals really did fuck up the entire program, by which I mean the educational program. If it was my educational program, I’d be dejected and/or pissed off. No payoff.

    Aside from any fish sentiments, that’s a pretty big hit to the students who might have been considering this career path (why bother if it’s just going to be sabotaged).

  95. Kagehi says

    People can get evidence about the effects of tight confinement and crowding from studies of other animals or salmon themselves.

    Interestingly, in the case of fish, having “wide open” areas is hazardous to the survival of young. Fish habitats, where insufficient roots, snags, weeds, and the like, are available, are generally areas where larger fish can’t get in, and the smaller fish have to “crowd” to remain safe. More to the point, in the open ocean, the vast majority of fish swarm, in dense formations, with up to thousands of fish, because its “safer” for any given fish to have a chance at being the one “over crowded” in the center of the mass, than at the edge of the cloud, where a predator can eat them. So… Just from the perspective of examining their “normal” behavior, when in groups, what plausible grounds is there, in the first place, to assume that such confinement and crowding **has** the same effect on fish as animals that do not form swarms, or masses?

  96. Ichthyic says

    People can get evidence about the effects of tight confinement and crowding from studies of other animals or salmon themselves.

    which is entirely irrelevant to the issue of whether you can judge their “happiness” or not.

    Hey, I say whether or not an animal is “happy” is whether it is able to reproduce or not. Has just as much logic to it.

    eaten vs crowded….

    I’ll say crowded wins.

    not that it’s even relevant to this case, since the issue really is what was best for the fish IN THIS CASE, and it’s quite clear that early release wasn’t in the best interests of the fish.

    suggesting that the change shouldn’t be limited to nonhuman primates. This was a more radical vision than the project’s.

    then you have no concept of what he meant by “rights”.

    what’s more, you didn’t even address the problems with assigning human concepts of rights to begin with.

    hell, as noted it’s a problem across our OWN CULTURES let alone across entire species.

    I will bet you ANY amount of money that if you go and ask Richard RIGHT NOW, whether he say, agrees with the concept of animal rights as PETA sees it, HE WILL NOT.

    so, your argument is entirely disingenuous at best.

    Which, as I’ve said more than once, is irrelevant unless the difference in timing made an appreciable difference in this case.

    no, what you had to go on was a media report.

    that’s. it.

    you speculated from there.

    you have NOT ever been involved in salmonid conservation.

    In fact, you must admit, you really know fuck all about salmonids in general. Sorry.

    you just want to argue an inane point of no relevance, IMO.

    The chapter I linked to is from a book edited by Peter Singer, probably the most well-known philosopher of animal rights,

    Yeah, I’ve read it. I disagree with the very concept of applying human rights to animals. And I’ve explained why that is dozens of times.

    you have yet to argue against the points I’ve made, but instead like to play Singer as little more than a purely authoritarian argument, which, btw, you also tried with Dawkins.

    not buying it.

    He is (or was)an animal rights activist.

    again, I fucking dare you to tell Richard he is an animal rights activist. he’s readily accessible.

    go ahead.

    do it.

    I mean, if you want to make authoritarian arguments, you better be fucking sure you actually understand the position of the authority you’re citing, right?

    phht.