BFF INFORMATIONAL release 1 of 6/1/95
Distrib. by Gary Holowicki, [log in to unmask]
Date: Thu, 1 Jun. 95 11:06:54 PDT
From: Howard Davis <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: USFWS - more
To: [log in to unmask]
I have just got off the phone after a 20-minute conversation with
Mr. Bruce Blanchard, who is acting director of the USFWS in absence of Ms.
Beattie. He seemed a very thoughtful guy who was taking what I said on
board, and promised to bring our concerns, protest, and alternatives to the
personal attention of Ms. Beattie, and (2) to have the home office take a
fresh look at the elderly release program to determine whether to go ahead.
He was cautious about what could be expected at this point, but seemed
receptive to the line that there would be lots of follow-up
troubles--condemnations from various sides, including HSUS, as well as
demands for reports on the status of the first release group, and demands
for a thorough re-evaluation before any second release. I do believe he is
going to follow through, so though it's hard to say whether we can reverse
the juggernaut in time to stop the June 5 release, they are going to take a
close look at the possible negative repercussions.
I think it would be very helpful at this point if you can get
anyone who has hard-copy of helpful letters, especially for example the
Rutberg (HSUS) letter of May 24 to Morgenweck, if they would FAX said
copies TODAY to the office of the director, USFWS, 202-208-9695, with
cover sheet "FOR THE ATTENTION OF MR. BRUCE BLANCHARD." I just have an
emailized version of Rutberg, my sense is his focus on this issue will
increase the more he finds out there are politically significant concerns
Howard Blanchard's voice # is 202-208-4717
I agree! For all you cut and paste fans, here is the HSUS letter spoken
of, if you don't have handy.
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L. St., NW, Washington, DC 20037
May 24, 1995
Ralph Morgenweck, Director
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
134 Union Blvd.
P.O. Box 25486
Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225
Dear Mr. Morgenweck:
On behalf of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its 2.4
million members and constituents, I write to express my concern for the
welfare of the group of four- and five-year-old black-footed ferrets
scheduled for release into the wild in South Dakota and Wyoming next month.
The HSUS has strongly supported the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service=B9s
(Service) efforts to recover endangered species, and has fought hard to
protect the Endangered Species Act. In our view, the red and gray wolf and
black-footed ferret reintroductions have provided the Service with some of
its greatest and most visible endangered species successes.
Nevertheless, we have recurring concerns about the humaneness of these
reintroduction programs. Many of our constituents have questioned whether
the stresses and risks faced by the reintroduced animals are ethically
justified by the principles of the endangered species recovery.
Accordingly, The HSUS has examined this issue in detail.
In that context, we must express our misgivings about the Service's plan to
release this group of older ferrets into the wild. It is our understanding
that last February these ferrets were removed by the Service from several
breeding facilities, at Pueblo, Colorado, and Sybille, Wyoming. Until that
time, these animals had spent their entire lives in small cages, with
considerable exposure to and handling by human caretakers.
The HSUS believes that these senescent animals are unreleasable, and to
release them into the wild under the guise of a scientific experiment would
be both inhuman and hypocritical. It has been reported to us that many of
these ferrets suffer serious physical ailments associated with old age,
including damaged teeth, partial blindness, life threatening coccidiosis,
and tumors; that few show either inclination or ability to hunt and kill
prarie dogs when given the opportunity; that all, as hand-reared,
habituated animals, are unwary; and that until late in their lives, none
was ever intended for or trained for release. Based on past experience
with black-footed ferret releases, it seems extremely unlikely that any of
these animals would survive as long as 24 hours. Moreover, their last
hours would be filled with confusion and fear.
The Service justifies the release of these animals as an experiment
designed to answer questions about monitoring technology, ferret behavior,
and the effectiveness of pre-release conditioning in older adult animals.
Because of the health and known behavior of these animals, however, we
consider it virtually certain that the pre-release conditioning will be
ineffective. Moreover, because these animals are senescent, their deaths
will tell the Service little about the potential effectiveness of
pre-release conditioning on healthy three-year-old adults, which might be
better release candidates. The short expected survival time of these
animals also makes it unlikely that they will provide data to answer the
other scientific questions being posed. In our view, this is a poorly
designed experiment that will kill many animals in a short period of time.
The HSUS believes that all those who hold wild animals captive have the
responsibility to ensure humane care for them to the end of their lives.
Even though these black-footed ferrets are no longer considered useful to
the captive breeding program, they nonetheless deserve to spend their last
days in comfort. If suitable care cannot be found, they deserve at least a
quick, humane death.
We urge you to review this release program. If useful to you, The HSUS
would be happy to offer its expertise in helping resolve this difficult
Allen T. Rutberg, Ph.D.
Wildlife and Habitat Protection
cc: Mollie Beattie, Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
[Posted in FML issue 1212]