DEAR READERS: On Dec. 22, 2023, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed critical legislation (A.2917/S.4099) ending wildlife killing contests for coyotes, foxes, bobcats, squirrels, raccoons, crows and other species in New York. This historic law prohibits competitive events during which contestants compete to kill the most, the heaviest and the smallest animals for cash and prizes. Championed by Assemblymember Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, and Sen. Tim Kennedy, D–Buffalo, this legislation was approved by bipartisan majorities in both the Assembly and Senate earlier this year. New York is the 10th state to end these gruesome competitions after Oregon took action to do so in September.
The bill was supported by leading animal protection and conservation groups and by thousands of New Yorkers. Hunters, farmers, veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators also backed the legislation.
DEAR DR. FOX: You may not remember me, but I was one of your students when you were a professor in the psychology department at Washington University St. Louis, and I took your popular course in animal behavior. I am writing to you for two reasons.
First, to thank you for your dog and cat food recipes that have made our two rescued dogs and three cats enjoy long and happy lives. My son, who lives in Poughkeepsie, New York, sent me the information, since we do not get your column in our local newspaper.
Second is to thank you for spreading the word about these horrendous coyote-killing contests in several states. I am now in my early 70s and hope you all can keep up the good fight for the animals forever! -- T.C., Washington D.C.
DEAR T.C.: I am glad that my dog food recipe has benefited your dogs as it has so many, according to the testimonies of other readers.
On this issue of providing good nutrition for our animal companions, obesity and its serious health consequences are a virtual epidemic in cats. I consider it a crime against felines for pet food manufacturers and others to continue to advertise and sell high cereal- and soybean-containing cat kibble. I have helped many readers with cats who are addicted to this kind of food to transition to biologically appropriate, meat-based canned cat foods or the diet posted on my website, and they have lost weight and regained their vitality.
I recall so many excellent students in those good years at Washington University, where I received the Washington University Faculty Award in 1972 during the challenging times of the Vietnam War and student protests. It was during that time when young minds were developing a sense of politically empowering ethics and responsibility that I became a more active advocate for animal rights. Since then, I have expanded my advocacy, joining many of all ages, to call for better protection for wildlife and their habitats.
My daughter Camilla grew up with wolves, coyotes and other wild canids whose behavior and development was my academic focus while at Washington University. She came to know many of them, so it is no surprise to me that she is doing what she is doing now with Project Coyote. The more support for such endeavors, the better for us all.
In this last decade of my life, I am promoting, along with many other scientists, doctors and veterinarians, the concept of One Health since our own health and well-being are dependent on a healthy environment, optimal biodiversity and animal health and well-being. This is a threat to the economic status quo of current business interests that have played a major role in the climate and extinction crises because it means a radical change in how we live and treat other sentient beings. So I will leave you with this declaration: Perish or Evolve: One Health-One Earth-One Economy.
CALIFORNIA INITIATIVE TO EMPLOY BEAVERS TO RESTORE ECOSYSTEM
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Maidu Summit Consortium have released seven beavers into waters near the tribal community of Tasmam Koyom in hopes of developing a breeding population that will serve as a nature-based ecosystem restoration tool, supporting groundwater recharge and other essential functions. Beavers are a "keystone species" and "[t]here's a cascade of effects where you see (once beavers are gone), other species are no longer there," said department official Valerie Cook. Full Story: The Columbian (Vancouver, Washington, Dec. 15)
Beavers were trapped almost to extinction by the fur trade, causing ecological damage to millions of acres of wildlands, loss of biodiversity and rainwater containment.
On a related issue of wildlife exploitation, the Bearskin regimental headgear of the British Royal King’s Guard should be buried in shame. Bearskin hats are made from the skin of black bears, who contribute in many ways to the health of the forests, hundreds of which are killed annually in Canada as well as in the U.S.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)