2020 New York State Senate & Assembly Election Questionnaire
Launched in 2017, Voters For Animal Rights (VFAR) is a New York based 501c(4) grassroots multi-issue animal advocacy organization that is building political power for animals. In 2019, VFAR led the successful campaign to ban foie gras in NYC and to stop wild bird poaching. We also led the campaign to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in NYC. We look forward to working with you to win more victories for animals and make the state of New York a leader in compassionate public policy.
Our mission is to elect candidates who support animal protection, lobby for stronger laws to stop animal cruelty and hold elected officials accountable to humane voters. VFAR mobilizes public concern for animals through the political process. We know that animal protection is not only a moral issue but a bi-partisan political issue as well. Over 90% of Americans believe that animals need protection from abuse and exploitation. To that end, we organize humane voters to support candidates that care about animals. If you support animals, then we want to support you! There are over 60,000 humane voters throughout New York state, hundreds of which are volunteers for VFAR who are ready to knock on doors, make phone calls and get out the vote to elect people who will stand up for animals. We deliver the vote – for the animals and for you.
As an example, here is our animal-friendly voter guide from the 2019 NYC Special Election for Public Advocate.
1. Do you feel that promoting the humane treatment of animals should be a priority for the New York State Legislature?
Promoting humane treatment of animals should be a standard incorporated into everyday life. There are other priorities the NYS Legislature should be focused on. However, if members of society go off track and begin to use cruelty to animals as a means of entertainment (pit bull fights, chicken ‘cock’ fights, etc.) then, yes, we should get the legislature involved.
2. Do you have any achievements to date on humane issues, e.g. supporting humane legislation, adopting a shelter pet, volunteering with an animal rescue organization, supporting any national or local animal protection orgs, living a plant-based (vegan or vegetarian) lifestyle, etc.? Did you grow up with or currently live with any companion animals?
I have no specific involvement with any formally organized animal rights group. I did grow up on a farm that raised horses, cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys, and even pheasants to be released to the wild when nearly fully grown. We had dogs, cats, and pigeons as pets, and the latter as food occasionally. My last pet was a puppy that lived to be 16+ year old. It was a Chow/Golden mix. Before that, we had a Siberian Husky/Shepard mix puppy that lived to be 8+ years old. We almost always had cats as pets, sometimes feral cats that were domesticated. I am not a vegan. My experience with vegans is that after a while they have difficulty making decisions, thus will never become one.
3. What animal issues will you prioritize and lead on as a member of the NYS legislature?
I will probably not take the lead on any animal issue because my focus will be on ending the tyranny that the government has imposed on every one of us – a tyranny that we are supposed to just accept as ‘our good government in action.
4. Will you commit to having a designated person in your office to handle animal issues?
Probably not. It is my understanding that the Assembly members have a limited number of people they can appoint as assistants and there are many other demanding issues that need to be addressed that negatively impact people every day. I will not ignore issues brought before me and will consider them, but these issues are definitely are not on my priority list right now.
5. How would you work to empower the animal advocacy community to reach new success and growth into the 2020-2022 term, and ensure that New York is on the forefront of animal protection?
I have no immediate plans to empower the animal advocacy community. Their growth and success is the responsibility of their members. That should be their priority, as it is true with every organization formed in this country, including the political organizations. People are demonstrating and rioting in the streets and demanding police force budgets be cut. Countering them are people demanding the police forces be increased because of the riots, destruction, and crimes. Our health system is on the verge of being overloaded, and as a consequence, many people with health problems are suffering. Their treatment is placed on hold. Our economic system has almost been brought to a halt and is sputtering in an attempt to get restarted. In the meantime, many people are out of work and without personal resources. We need to put animal protection on the list of priorities, but that list should be attended to by the average concerned citizen in our society to address, not on the list of priorities that a busy legislature needs to address.
Positions on Legislation and Policy
1. Companion Animals: Pet Stores
With thousands of homeless animals waiting for loving forever homes in shelters and rescues all over New York State, why should pet stores and breeders be allowed to profit off the backs of animals? The puppy and kitten mill/pet store connection create lives of misery from beginning to end. Breeding facilities and pet stores have repeatedly been found to have poor sanitation, infectious disease, animals overcrowded in cages with no exercise, lack of proper veterinary care, lack of protection from harsh weather conditions, and lack of adequate food and water. These conditions result in great suffering, and many sick animals are sold to unaware consumers. More info here.
Would you cosponsor and vote for S4234A/A6298A (Gianaris / Rosenthal) which would ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores unless they come from a shelter or rescue?
Additional Comments: The immediate impact of this bill will be the total inability of individuals to provide their puppies, or dogs, to these retail outlets. The failure of retailers to accept such dogs and pets for resale is a contributing factor in cities like Tucson that puts down (kills) hundreds, if not thousands of dogs per year. If the proposed bill is passed, people who own dogs and who want to get rid of them will have no outlet for sale and will just turn them loose. They will then breed in the wild, as happens all across America. It is no different than the situation with cats. Feral cats are now probably the greatest contributor to the disappearance of hummingbirds and songbirds. I will agree that we need to shut down the puppy mills for wrongful handling of their animals if they are cruelly treating the dogs and have untreated diseases being proliferated, but not at the expense of imposing tyrannical conditions upon the rest of society.
I am certain that if retailers chose to voluntarily inspect the dog owner’s facility, and there were no barriers to the retailer from doing so, many of the issues would disappear. The retailer’s customers could request a ‘certificate of authenticity’ from the retailer or owner that certifies that the retailer inspected the facility where the animal was born and raised or a certificate from the retailer that the animal was a feral pet that the owner domesticated. Customers can just make this a custom of the trade. Any law that I will support will have to make it clear that individuals, as individuals, can sell domesticated animals and pets. It seems this law is on the verge of making it illegal for a farmer to sell his Collie puppies or a hunter his Basset Hound puppies. If you want to shut down puppy mills, make it easier for people who domesticate feral animals to distribute them, and if you want to encourage that practice to save the other wildlife at stake because of the increasing number of feral cats and dogs, let people exchange them for a profit. Laws that prevent cruelty to animals in captivity are already on the books.
2. Animals Used for Fashion: Fur
Fur farms breed and confine animals in tiny, filthy cages where they suffer intense stress and unimaginable cruelty. They are beaten, bludgeoned, electrocuted, and skinned alive. Trapping animals in the wild is no better — animals are trapped in cruel leg hold traps where they can suffer for days in excruciating pain — starving until a trapper returns to shoot or bludgeon them to death. Coyotes are known to attempt to chew off their own legs trying to break free. Many other animals are unintentionally caught and killed in these traps, including household pets. California has enacted a ban on the sale of fur. Several countries such as Norway, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. have taken steps to close fur farms. With public awareness and innovative alternatives on the rise, many popular designers have stopped using all animal fur. There are ethical alternatives to fur which are not only stylish and warm but environmentally friendly. More info here.
Would you cosponsor and vote for A5040A (Rosenthal), that would ban the sale of new apparel products using real animal fur?
YES / NO
Additional Comments: I did not answer specifically with a yes or no answer for a reason. It would appear that private enterprise has already created substitutes for fur and have voluntarily moved to make furs a non-commodity. What this law does is to make even the ‘humane’ treatment of animals in captivity economically more difficult because it reduces one’s ability to recapture the expense of raising and caring for the animal. I would prefer the continued social pressure and technological advances as a means of reducing the desirability of furs. Another alternative approach, which would not mandate another restriction on people’s liberty, would be to levy a Luxury tax on fur products. I believe such a tax has already been applied to furs. A couple of questions that I cannot answer at the present time: If the proposed law restricting the sale of furs were enacted, what would the loss of revenue to the state amount to? If a luxury tax has not been levied, and one was to be levied, what would the increase in revenue amount to?
3. Animals Used in Entertainment
A. Rodeo Cruelty
While New York State has limited the use of animals in circuses and other entertainment, rodeos have been left unregulated despite the display of similar, and in many cases more egregious, acts of cruelty. Rodeos typically include an event called “calf roping” where baby calves are shocked with electric prods, forcing them to run as soon as the holding chute opens, only to be “clotheslined” with a rope and tied at the legs. Panicked calves are routinely injured or killed during these performances. Rodeos also continue to use flank straps or bucking straps, which are tightly fastened around the animal’s abdomen and may be used with sharpened spurs to cause pain to the animal, encouraging them to buck more violently. Rodeos are responsible for causing death or serious injury to countless animals, all for the sole purpose of entertainment and showmanship.
Would you cosponsor and vote for A8554/S7971 (Rosenthal/Addabbo) which would prohibit these practices at rodeos?
YES / NO
Additional Comments: This is an area where I will need to do some further investigation concerning the actual practice and the claims mentioned above. I do not believe it is the intent of anyone in a rodeo to injure or kill calves. Thus, this would fall into the same category of sports as football and baseball where people have died or seriously injured and as a result, the practices of the game were changed to prevent the deaths and injuries. I would want to find out what changes can be made in rodeos that would reduce injury to the players (in this case the calves) before I would ban the sport (and activities at such events are a form of sport, just as much as bob-sledding).
B. Animal Circuses
Circuses that use animals have been cited as a source of cruelty and exploitation for animals. Even if the basic levels of care and protection that the federal Animal Welfare Act demands are met, circuses force wild animals to languish in cages while traveling from performance to performance, without ever having the opportunity to exercise natural behaviors. Worse, time after time we see reports of circus animals being beaten and whipped, having their limbs tied together to facilitate training, being shocked to ensure compliance, not being provided with adequate food, water and shelter, and other instances of cruelty.
Would you cosponsor and vote for A3673/S5408 (Englebright/Martinez) which would prohibit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing permits or licenses that would authorize wild animals to appear in circuses?
Additional Comments: Effectively, this law would cause circuses to become extinct. One of the educational roles circuses play is to demonstrate two facts about animals. The first is that animals can be responsive to man. The second is that adequate precautions need to be taken because they are animals, not people, and you cannot just say “Stop. I’m Friendly” and expect a bobcat, lion, tiger, or elephant to respond. Without the exposure circuses provide, how are people supposed to gain the respect of wild animals? Rather than banning an activity, why not direct the attention to the treatment of concern and encourage alternative methods of training if such has been proven to be just as effective in demonstrating the ability of animals to responding to humans without the trainer being eaten or crushed. To move to eliminate the Circus is to state they have no value to society and that animals cannot be domesticated, and I believe that is an absolutely wrong premise.
C. Carriage Horses
Advocates have long called out the poor working and living conditions for horses used for NYC carriage rides. As recently as March 2020, a 12-year-old horse was euthanized after collapsing in Central Park, a tragic incident that was captured on video camera by a horrified pedestrian. Despite improvements implemented over the years, these horses are still forced to travel through NYC traffic to get to and from Central Park, they work long days sometimes in extreme weather conditions, with no opportunity for daily turnout. Over the course of the past three decades, there have been countless incidents and accidents involving New York City carriage horses, and many have died on the streets of NYC or been sent to slaughter once they are unable to continue working.
Would you cosponsor and vote for legislation to ban horse carriages in New York City?
Additional Comments: Carriage horses are still just horses. Some are older horses. They need exercise too. I don’t believe the carriages they pull are an excessive strain or too heavy for the horses to pull. The fact that they are euthanized after collapsing in Central Park is no different than the fact that they are euthanized if they collapse in a green field of clover. As for inclement weather, horses live in inclement weather – hot and cold and rainy and snowy. Those that have outlived their usefulness are nearly always sent to slaughter, with the exception of a few animals for whom the owner has a special fondness. Those animals will get to live for another year or so before they too die and are sent to the glue factory. If the accidents on the streets are of concern, one needs to address them specifically, one at a time, and look at the circumstances surrounding the accident to see if anything can be done to provide more safety. Carriage rides are enjoyable. Carriage horses are required for that feature. I would oppose banning them. For many people in NYC, walking up to a carriage horse will be their only up close and personal relationship with this “beast of burden”. If horses are not used for riding and transportation, they will soon become just another farm animal raised for meat.
4. Animals Used for Experimentation: School Hatching Projects
Principals and school teachers should end the use of bird-hatching projects and replace them with learning activities that teach life processes without the use of live animals. School classroom incubation and hatching projects of baby chicks and ducks is cruel and leads to the abandonment and death of countless young birds each year. Once the eggs develop and the cute baby birds grow up, schools realize that they have no plan for the adult birds. These hatching-project birds are deprived of a mother hen. The birds are often abandoned in city parks where they cannot survive on their own or dumped at local animal shelters and rescues who are already overburdened with unwanted animals. Hatching projects encourage the view that animals are disposable objects instead of living creatures requiring a lifetime of care and commitment. Humane alternatives have been developed by the United
Federation of Teachers (UFT), HEART, and humane educators. More info can be found here and here.
Would you cosponsor and vote A00058 (Rosenthal) that would prohibit schools from using eggs, live baby chickens, and ducks for classroom projects?
Additional Comments: Absolutely I would not support this law. While I like all of the alternate projects described, the statistics provided and the malformations mentioned are questionable because an insignificant amount of data has been presented: the rate of occurrence and the source of the malformed animals (birds) are two pieces of information that is missing. It is implied the rate is high, but no rate has been given. Other very necessary data is missing. There is a concern expressed for the health of the children when they hand the chics, but what I found your descriptions of concern stressed were the deficiencies in the environment the children were exposed to few and dirty wash stations and bathrooms, lack of cleansers and disinfectants, and shoddy janitorial work.
What the complaint is primarily based on is the inability of teachers to properly plan a project, the inability of the school to provide the appropriate equipment and sanitary facilities, the failure of schools to provide proper washing facility, and a score of other deficiencies in the teacher’s preparation. Properly run, this project is no different than a farmer placing 20 or 30 or 100 eggs in an incubator and tending to those eggs over the period necessary for hatching. I have done this task many times myself, duplicating what happens in the schools, with 100% birth rate success and no deformed chickens. And I turned them only about once every eight hours
A better approach would be to create a day plan for the teachers to adopt – they obviously need one for this project – beginning with their responsibility to go out and find individuals or farmers, or organizations who would be agreeable to raise these animals and birds after they are hatched. So why not consider a law that requires the teachers to go through the effort to locate a person, or farm, or organization capable of providing a home, or a market, for the creatures hatched. As for a ‘mother hen’, having raised hundreds of chickens in the past, a ‘mother hen’ is not necessary. While it has been some time since my wife and I were in a class where eggs were hatched, my wife remembers her teacher already had arranged to have the birds taken care of even before they were placed in the incubator. After the school year was over the proper care of animals and birds as part of the educational process that her teacher demonstrated. My wife remembers that her hatchlings were all healthy and well cared for – they had 20 nannies to make sure.
5. Factory Farms, Live Animal Slaughter Markets and Transportation
There are more than 600 factory farms in New York State, confining animals and engaging in heinously cruel practices such as castration of pigs, cows, and other mammals without painkillers, “debeaking” or “beak cutting” of chickens and turkeys without painkillers, confinement of egg-laying hens in battery cages, confinement of baby cows in veal crates, and confinement of pigs in gestation crates. These factory farms are degrading the environment and poisoning our communities.
There are also 80+ slaughterhouses and live animal markets in NYC, in all five boroughs – more than any other U.S. city. These facilities in New York are no different than the live animal markets abroad where coronavirus started. In addition to the brutally cruel treatment of the animals (tiny cages, no vet care, severely limited food, and water), these storefront facilities pose a significant health and safety hazard to the community affecting the quality of life for neighborhood residents. Blood, feces, urine, dismembered body parts, and feathers are routinely found on our public sidewalks and streets due to the unsanitary conditions associated with storefront slaughterhouses. They are also a breeding ground for infectious diseases — avian flu has been found in many NYC live animal markets. Many of these slaughterhouses are located close to schools and playgrounds. Additionally, when large animals such as cows, bulls, and goats escape (as routinely happens), including during transport, it puts us all in danger, even causing a multi-hour traffic jam on the Verrazano Bridge. Sometimes these animals are allowed to be rescued by a farm animal sanctuary but most often they are killed.
Especially in light of pandemics that originate from crowded, unsanitary live animal markets, would you support a permanent ban on the operation of all factory farms? Would you support legislation A10399/S8291 (Rosenthal/Sepulveda) that would ban the operation of live animal markets in New York City?
Additional Comments: The slaughterhouses and factory farms cited are a result of the need to feed nearly six million people in the New York City area. If you can get people to stop eating these problems would go away. Being as illogical as that last request is, the concern about these facilities should be focused on the cleanliness of the area and the control of the animals. I don’t mean to seem rash, but God created the hierarchy of animals and created the system where one animal, bird, fish, or bug eats another to survive. If it wasn’t supposed to be this way He would have created fields of grains and orchards of fruit with no bugs to destroy them. So, working with what we were given, the best we can do is to try to continue to improve the conditions and efficiencies without compromising comfort. As for the schools being next to slaughterhouses, if it is a problem, determine which was first, and then, if you must, move the latter. In most cases, it will be the schools that need to be moved. The rest of the problems can be solved one at a time. But, prohibiting slaughterhouses and factory farms is not an option I would vote for.
Would you cosponsor and vote for legislation to ban confining animals and other cruel practices such as (a) castration of pigs, cows, and other mammals without painkillers, (b) “debeaking” or “beak cutting” of chickens and turkeys without painkillers, (c) confinement of egg-laying hens in battery cages, confinement of baby cows in veal crates, and (d) confinement of pigs in gestation crates?
YES / NO
Additional Comments: I did not pick a yes or no on this answer because I would not ban confining animals. I do not consider it to be a cruel practice. The use of the “mandatory” use of pain killers is a tough one because I am not knowledgeable of the pharmacological impact on the feed quality of the meat when such chemicals are used. To the extent that it is economically viable, then yes. But I believe that call should be left up to the farmer. As for “debeaking” or “beak cutting”, I have never performed the process and I raised both. I would have to find out why it occurs. As for confinement of hens, baby cows, and pigs, I have observed the practices and except for the terminology involved, and the thought that I would not want a human to be placed in those conditions, I cannot advocate for the prohibition of those practices. We do nearly an equivalent treatment to humans in an incarceration (prison) situation.
S6252/A8009 (Gianaris/Weprin) is legislation that would renew the state moratorium prohibiting new licenses for slaughter facilities in NYC. It has passed both houses. Will you reach out to Governor Cuomo and ask him to sign the bill?
Additional Comments: I believe we need to increase the number of slaughter facilities in NYS. What usually happens in any business is that new businesses adopt new, better, cleaner, more efficient technologies. If we prohibit new facilities from starting up, we will stagnate the industry, and the older, sloppier, less efficient facilities will remain, thus removing the very process that would eventually solve the problems the complaints are about. Also, as the population grows, to meet the demand the older slaughterhouses and process farms would have to increase in size, thus increasing the very problem that one wishes to avoid.
Would you cosponsor, support, and vote for legislation to require that any animal who escapes a slaughterhouse or transport vehicle be released to an animal sanctuary or other rescue?
Additional Comments: The responsibility for any damage done, and the animal itself belongs to the slaughterhouse or transport vehicle owner. What you are proposing is the legalization of the confiscation of property. This would then be followed by acts of vandalism where animals are deliberately set free for-profit motives and “humane” motives.
6. Food and Health
A. Dairy Subsidies and transition to plant-based suppliers in New York State
Milk and other dairy products are top agricultural products in New York State, but demand for and sales of dairy products in the U.S. have dropped precipitously in recent years, while sales of non-dairy kinds of milk have grown substantially. This change comes as more research and information illuminate the harmful effects of dairy on adult and children’s health, the environment, and animal welfare. Regardless, the quality of individual animal care offered by a given farm, dairy production necessarily involves farmers taking newborn calves from their mothers, who bellow and chase after them. Instead of a mother’s milk going to her babies, her calves are taken to veal farms where they are kept isolated in small plastic huts in rows upon rows. Perhaps worst is that forcibly impregnating, tail docking, and beating downed cows are standard practices on NY dairy farms. Former dairy companies like long-time New York producers like Elmhurst Dairy are making the switch to non-dairy products. New York based companies offering healthy food, yet every year taxpayers subsidize New York’s dairies with as much as $60 million in credits.
Would you support ending or reducing the immense subsidies that New York provides dairy farmers, and reallocating them to plant-based initiatives?
Additional Comments: The dairy industry has many issues. One is that the USDA has allowed cows to be injected with hormones (Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin, or RBST, which is the most common). RBST is a growth hormone. It causes the cow to lactate and it is passed into the milk. I am opposed to the fact that the USDA allows milk containing RBST to not be labeled as such and requires the farmer who does not use RBST to label their milk as “not containing RBST”, and I am opposed to the fact that there is no real penalty to the dairy farm if they put milk containing RBST into containers labeled “RBST free”. RBST in milk and dairy products causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The USDA claims the milk is the same. I agree, the milk is the same. It is just that some contain RBST and some don’t. People that have an allergic reaction to RBST suffer diarrhea symptoms, some within 15 minutes of consuming the substance. (My theory is that it causes their colon to lactate.) These sufferers then believe they have become lactose intolerant – because the USDA has said the milk is the same. The consequence has been the development of a market for “non-dairy” products.
What is amazing is that Byrne Dairy, which has gone 100% RBST free, doesn’t have a problem selling their product at a price lower than those dairies that use RBST to stimulate milk production. If you or your child are suffering with a problem from drinking milk, I would suggest you consider the USDA allowed medications used by the farmers to be at fault. Those chemicals pass into the milk. (If you ever tasted ‘organic’ milk over the course of the year, you would have noticed the change in flavor that is caused by the grasses and weeds that the cow has eaten. Organic chemicals, even those produced in plants, pass into the milk.
As for taxpayer subsidies to agriculture and businesses, I would vote to end them all and let the economy set the price of farm and industry products. As for plant-based food alternatives, companies need to develop products people like and want. If they do they will have no problem with raising funds from private investors. The government needs to be kept out of the product development process.
B. Food Labeling
Would you support legislation to require that any food products sold in New York must be labeled with information detailing the sourcing of the animals and the conditions the animals were raised in and requiring restaurants to provide such signage?
Additional Comments: I would definitely oppose requiring restaurants to provide such information. They have enough bureaucracy to comply with now. They don’t need more. If people are concerned about how animals are being raised they need to get rid of the USDA for not doing its job to their satisfaction. Civilian groups and volunteers can be empowered to carry out oversight activities on food production.
I am more concerned about the genetically modified organisms (GMO) These developments will have a much more lasting and disastrous impact on us as human beings. They are not well researched concerning their impact on human beings. And, the GMO foods are not being labeled as such. Consequently, those vegetables, if they are beginning to cause problems, the GMO vegetable will not get the blame. Serious medical problems will be difficult to trace back to their cause. Complicating the trace will be the fact that spontaneous cross breading will occur in nature. The genetically modified corn is one of the vegetables of concern. For every vegan, GMOs should be their primary concern.
7. Protecting New York’s Wildlife
A. Wildlife Killing Contests
Animal killing competitions are publicly held contests where the person or team who has killed the most animals, or the heaviest or largest animals is crowned the winner. In animal killing competitions, individuals compete to kill the most animals, the heaviest animal, or the largest animal. Competitions such as these are inhumane and provide an incentive for killing animals for glory, prizes, or titles. In many cases, these competitions are conducted in a party-like atmosphere and are more like slaughters or massacres and are unsportsmanlike. These competitions are considered cruel by many hunters.
Would you cosponsor and vote for A9775/S4253B (Glick/Martinez) and A722B/S7542/A722B (Martinez/Serrano) to ban killing contests in New York State?
Additional Comments: This is too general. We have a squirrel problem upstate. Locally, a squirrel hunt is a contest carried out once a year, held to prevent the overpopulation and reduce the squirrel nuisance. There are fishing contests during fishing season that are based on the same concepts, the biggest, the most, the heaviest. While the result is that some animals will be killed, the animal, type of animal and the season for doing so are under the control of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and if there appears to be a danger of wiping out a species, or if there is a danger of overpopulation, the DEC can step in and change their ground rules. I would not be in support of limiting people’s activities by prohibiting competitions of this nature.
B. Wildlife Management
New York is home to an immense diversity of wildlife, whether in urban, suburban, or rural areas. Even New York City’s five boroughs are home to hundreds of species, including geese, deer, squirrels, ducks, raccoons, opossum, coyotes, hawks, eagles, whales, dolphins, seals, turkeys, beavers, bats, pigeons, rats, migratory birds, and so many more species. While many animals inhabit New York year-round, other species pass through on their annual migrations. USDA Wildlife Services is a federal agency notorious for exterminating millions of wild animals across the country in cruel manners while ignoring and undermining humane approaches to coexisting with wildlife in New York. Examples of humane wildlife management practices include: Instead of killing Canada geese to reduce the threat of “bird strikes”, nests are now being treated as a birth control method. In Staten Island, a deer vasectomy program was instituted as a more humane and effective approach to stabilizing the population, and turkeys were relocated to a sanctuary in upstate New York to avoid being slaughtered.
Do you support New York City’s WildlifeNYC program, aimed to promote awareness, tolerance, coexistence, and understanding of urban wildlife? If you don’t represent NYC, would you support a similar program for your district? How do you view our relationship with wildlife in New York State?
YES / NO
Additional Comments: We, in upstate, view wildlife is a resource. For that reason, most people upstate are in favor of any control activity that utilizes hunters to ‘depopulate the herd’. For the USDA Wildlife service to just wipe out large numbers of birds that could otherwise be ‘harvested’, especially ‘harvested using recreational means’, is incomprehensible. In a pitiful attempt at a humane solution, in Canada, I believe it was farmers in Ontario who actually had a program where they rounded up truckloads, thousands of geese, and hauled them 500 miles or more away in the hopes they would not come back to destroy the farmer’s crops, an almost futile effort. An effective method of control, time-proven, is to allow people to hunt the game that is overpopulated. Deer and geese are a continuing problem and should be better managed this way. The DEC has acknowledged that fewer and fewer people are hunting and more and more areas are restricting and prohibiting hunting. As a consequence, managing wildlife has become an increasing problem. By the way, the hunters up here thank you for the turkeys.
In 2014, the New York State Department of Environmental Protection (DEC) declared, with no public input in support, and no clear scientific basis, that mute swans are an invasive species in New York, and soon thereafter proposed eliminating all mute swans in New York. Would you support legislation reversing the New York State DEC’s determination that mute swans are an invasive and prohibited species in New York, and allow mute swans to continue to exist?
Additional Comments: From the point of view that all species have the right to migrate and compete for space, including humans, I would support legislation that allowed mute swans to continue to exist, provided that legislation also allows the DEC to control the population with the appropriate hunting season restrictions, especially if man is the only ‘natural’ predator and overpopulation would result in the extinction of other species.
Do you oppose lethal management initiatives for “nuisance” wildlife such as Canada geese, deer, and turkey populations that result in the cruel and needless killing of these animals in New York’s parks by government contractors particularly where there are demonstrated non-lethal and humane alternatives that can be applied?
Additional Comments: I am opposed to the blanket killing of wild animals and birds by government contractors. This is a task that the public (hunters) would gladly participate in and help solve. While some groups would gladly incur the expense of rounding up the creatures and haul them off to some wilderness land, those efforts have tended to look to the government for funding. The surest way to make a reduction without cost to the government is to allow hunters to remove them for the purpose of their own consumption. There is another problem with the non-lethal, ‘humane’ methods besides the expense involved. They usually take longer to accomplish that just allowing hunting to control the populations. Additionally, to be carried out successfully, there is a need to ensure these animals don’t create or agitate a problem at the receiving end. If there is no natural predator, they could overpopulate and cause problems there, They could quickly wipe out the food source, in which case many will die. And, they could overpower another species in the area, making that other species endangered or extinct.
Currently, there are few brick and mortar wildlife rehabilitation centers in New York State, such as the Wild Bird Fund in Manhattan. Would you support funding initiatives to expand New York State’s capacity for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation?
YES / NO
Additional Comments: I would support any bill that encouraged non-profits and individuals and companies to create additional wildlife and bird habitats and would support any bill that removed barriers for them to do so. I would oppose the use of any state funds to accomplish the task.
8. Legal Rights for Animals
In 2018, in a decision denying a habeas corpus claim brought on behalf of two chimpanzees who had been kept for decades in small cages in a warehouse, Justice Eugene M. Fahey of the New York Court of Appeals issued a concurring opinion stating the following:
“To treat a chimpanzee as if he or she had no right to liberty protected by habeas corpus is to regard the chimpanzee as entirely lacking independent worth, as a mere resource for human use, a thing the value of which consists exclusively in its usefulness to others…. While it may be arguable that a chimpanzee is not a “person,” there is no doubt that it is not merely a thing.
Do you believe that any animals should have an individual legal right to bodily liberty, and if so, would you support legislation that establishes such a right?
Additional Comments: A chimpanzee is not a human, and it is not a thing. It is an animal. All animals can form bonds with human beings. The most common human/creature bonds are formed with birds, cats and dogs, horses, lions, elephants, farm animals, even goldfish and porpoise, to name a few. The treatment such animals receive should be appropriate for the needs of the animal. One should recognize that those needs, at certain times and in certain cases, are limited by the needs and resources of the owners of the animal. I would not support a law that puts the animal on par with humans or gives them legal rights, no matter the severity of the charges against the human. I believe neglect, unkempt housing, abuse, and torture for the sake of enjoyment are below the expectations of society and thus would be activities that I would support laws governing.