Bald Eagles

Let the Bald Eagles Fly
by Gabor Hardy

Today there are plans underway in Onondaga County, state of New York, to build a pathway around the perimeter of Onondaga Lake which is in Syracuse, New York. Much has been constructed and the end is near. However, there is a twist to this story. Basically, this pathway is designed for leisure, exercise, relaxation and overall enjoyment of people everywhere who wish to visit the shores of this wonderful lake. However, there is a barrier to this story that is supposed to have a happy ending. It involves the final completion of a secondary trail that goes onto Murphy’s island – an appendage of Onondaga Lake. This small (one half mile or two) trail is scheduled for construction starting in late spring of 2019.

The problem with these plans is the fact that the proposed trail will be going directly through the habitat or roost area of the bald eagles (there are as many as 35). Eagles are known to have a greater fear of the human form than they have for cars, trains, or airplanes.

Various perspectives are offered; these perspectives translate into many pro and con positions.

Some pro positions are:

A) The freedom of individuals to roam where they want supersedes the needs of bald eagles
B) We need this trail for the benefit of bikers and runners
C) Bald Eagles are tough birds and will adjust
D) No great danger because the trail will be closed for a few months out of the year when the Bald Eagles are roosting
E) We need this trail in order to complete our plan for a pathway leading all around the lake

Con positions:

A) The eagles will permanently leave this area due to human disturbance
B) Murphy’s island is polluted, so why build on it?
C) Even if you close the trail human beings will venture on the pathways – thus creating more expense by hiring security guards
D) Practically all bird experts agree that the pathway is way too close to the Eagle roost
E) Building an observation platform will satisfy those who come to look at Bald Eagles, yet far enough away so that they will not be scared away.
F) Constant disturbance of the Bald Eagles will deplete their reservoir of energy resulting in loss of body weight

There is an important consideration that is often overlooked in discourses concerning animals. It is that animals do not speak, read, or write English or any other human language. We (human people) stand in for their feelings, concerns, and needs. What becomes rather important then – are authentic voices. By an “authentic” voice I mean those individual humans who spend their lives studying the life cycles of these magnificent birds. It is to the “experts” that the legislature, ecological groups, and all other parties who have a vested interest in this trail should look to for answers. It makes sense to give priority to the experts in the field of eagle behavior because most of us have not had the time or the knowledge to study these birds and hear their language.

So, why is this not done? Very often the opinions of experts are ignored, disputed, or taken out of context. Too often the lure of wealth obscures clear thinking as well. If we establish the common ground that bald eagles are worthy of protection, that bald eagles are an endangered species (at least here in Onondaga county), or that Bald Eagles are a distinct asset to this region – then why not err on the side of caution? This county can build a viewing platform or simply not build a trail at all. These two courses of action are a small price to pay because the payoff is significant: the eagles will continue to make their home by the shores of Onondaga Lake.

Bald Eagles are wild creatures. As such, I have no doubt that, if asked, they would say that they prefer solitude and undisturbed areas where they can live and breed. Their habitats at one time encompassed practically the whole USA. Over the years the areas where Bald Eagles can roost has dwindled significantly. Is it not our responsibility … even our moral obligation to give these Bald Eagles a haven of rest? This county should NOT build a trail on Murphy’s Island but should proceed with plans to build a viewing station at the end of the Creekwalk. The viewing station would be close enough to Murphy’s Island to observe the eagles but far enough away to avoid disturbing them. Is it not time to defer to the needs of our wild brethren?

This article was provided by Linda DeStefano and written by Gabor Hardy. Gabor is a member of the board of People for Animal Rights. PAR is one of the organizations helping Save the Bald Eagles of Onondaga Lake. If you want more information about PAR, contact us at PO Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358 or by email at peope4animalrightscny@gmail.com or call us at (315)488-PURR (7877) 08 a.m.-10 p.m. Go to our website at peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org.

Ziggy Stardust

by Gabor Hardy

A meow worth a thousand words
A paw swipe in the dark
So dumb creatures leave their mark
within solitary hearts

A dingy white kitten arrived one day, yellow eyes blazing
Appearing in a patch of snow, torn fur, and ribs outline
His ears were bleeding with one torn paw

We, in curious wonder, opened up our hearts
willing him to remain

This polished cat, destined to roam
Assured and undefeated, down vacant streets
Backyard alleys and slanted rooftops are the places where he ruled
Like some lord of the hunt, ready to pounce
upon a mice or rat which had strayed across his path

We always thought that every night, he would come home
However, he was on loan
From some Transcendent Being
the Creator of his wild heart

We never dreamed of a time of goodbye,
When a high jump and a soaring heart would
greet us no more, as the days and weeks drift by

Note from Linda DeStefano, President, People for Animal Rights: We urge you to keep your cat inside where she/he will be safe. In this case, the cat was half-wild and a decision was made that he wouldn’t adjust to indoor living. There are many other cases in which a feral (half-wild) cat does adjust well; I had a beloved one who I rescued from outdoors; with patience, she became a happy, affectionate indoor cat.

People for Animal Rights can be reached at P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, people4animalrightscny@gmail.com, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., Our website is peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org.

Ezekiel… a Poem

by Eileen
Provided by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

Warm, sultry summer day
Sitting pensively in my old back yard
Thinking how my life has traveled through many changes
Good, bad, amazing, Melba toast
Always grateful that I have ridden the waves
And kept my head above the rising tides.

Lost in thought, I felt a presence…
A winged presence in the sky
Looking across the field, soaring towards me
His flight was headed towards songs I softly sang.

Coincidence or gift of the divine
A beautiful creature floating to me, as if deliberate
Ezekiel was the name I gave him….
Ezekiel was his name.

I sang to him as he swirled around my head
Music, melody, he seemed to absorb the sound
This became my amazing communication with a raptor.

Most people do not understand
Only those who saw it happen
This has happened twice, this event of mystery and joy.

I sang to him, to the open field
He came to me, soared to me once again
This time, swirling around my head seven times while I sang my song of love for nature to him.

I held my arms to the sky, myself swirling, singing
As he danced with me…..

How this happened,
This unusual bond of creature and human
From a world beyond, I do not know.

I call Ezekiel with my song
He will return again
People ask if I fear that he will hurt me as he flies close to me
I answer… I am more afraid of you…

Linda DeStefano is President of People for Animal Rights. For more information about animal rights or to connect with Linda, contact People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., people4animalrightscny@gmail.com or peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org.

Radioactive: Dogs, Cats and Wildlife

by Linda DeStefano
Translated by Rob English

When nuclear disasters occur, not only people but also nearby animals are contaminated with radioactivity. This has been observed in Chernobyl and in Fukushima. In 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) exploded, contaminating a vast area with radioactivity. Emergency responders died. About 50,000 people evacuated, and most never returned home because the contamination is long-lasting. What of the animals who could not evacuate? Some of the abandoned dogs and cats survived and reproduced. Their descendants are helped today by Clean Futures Fund. The Fund provides veterinary care to these animals and adopts out the dogs, removing radioactive particles from their fur and from inside their bodies. Luckily, most of the dogs live in parts of the zone that are less contaminated – unlike the wild animals that populate the area – perhaps because dogs stay near humans who feed them. Also unlike the wild animals, the dogs do not exhibit any obvious abnormalities. Among the negative impacts for Chernobyl wildlife are tumors, infertility, smaller brains and dwindling populations. Whereas migratory wild animals may spread genetic damage to unaffected populations through breeding, the dogs are evaluated for DNA damage, and are spayed or neutered before being transported to their new homes.

But what about the plants and the wild animals? Organic matter in forests around Chernobyl are taking years or even decades longer than normal to decay. There are reduced population sizes and genetic abnormalities among birds, bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, spiders, and mammals in highly radioactive parts of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Birds are showing an increase in sterility, albinism and cataracts, with abnormal sperm in barn swallows up to 10 times higher for Chernobyl birds as compared to sperm from males living in control areas.

Another nuclear disaster occurred in Fukushima, Japan in March, 2011. After an earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants had meltdowns and explosions, contaminating a wide area of land and the Pacific Ocean. About 47,000 people evacuated initially and more later. At least one kind man chose to stay behind to care for the abandoned farm animals. In studying the effects of the contamination, Dr. Timothy Mousseau and his team found that animals and microbes living in contaminated areas are failing to thrive.

Upstate nuclear power plants with the same design as those that failed in Japan could also have meltdowns and explosions because a severe ice storm could make the backup generators useless. Even without a disaster, the nuclear facilities have regular releases of radioactivity and create toxic waste that will last hundreds of thousands of years. And the water they take from Lake Ontario goes through grilles which kill fish. The hot water which is returned to the Lake is also a problem for the animals living in the water.

It is important to quickly move from these dangerous, expensive nuclear facilities in our backyard to energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal). Gov. Cuomo is keeping the Fitzpatrick nuclear facility in Oswego open by forcing all ratepayers to subsidize it. That money could instead be used for moving more quickly toward clean energy, which would create more jobs.

Information about transition to a green economy can be found at Allianceforagreeneconomy.org

Linda DeStefano is President of People for Animal Rights. For more information about animal rights or to connect with Linda, contact People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., people4animalrightscny@gmail.com or peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org

How Wildlife Prepares for Winter in CNY

How Wildlife Prepares for Winter in CNY
by Collette Charbonneau
Provided by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

As the summer glow fades until next year, the warm colors of fall begin to appear. Soon, blankets of snow will cover the ground, the trees, and also our cars. As you shuffle from one building to the next, from one heated room to another, do you ever stop to wonder what is happening outside your window?

While you may not hear as many birds at 5am this time of year, those who have chosen to stick around and brave the temperature drop are still out there, hunkering down at night and waking up to a chilly, snowy froth above their heads each morning. They worked hard in the spring to build their nests and raise a new generation. But, most abandon their nests by fall, preferring to create a new nest the following Spring. They must now find ways to survive the winter and often have to get creative with finding an unoccupied bed for the night.

Cardinals are one common winter bird here in Central New York. The male’s bright red color is a welcome sight against the snowy backdrop. Like most birds, they do not sleep in nests during winter months. Walk outside, early in the morning, on a winter’s day and you might find a cardinal sitting deep in an evergreen tree. (These are the trees that keep their green needles all year long). This is the preferred winter home for cardinals.

Leave out your birdfeeder in the winter, well-stocked with sunflower seeds or a mix of seeds from a bag of local songbird food, and you just might see a cardinal, blue jay, or other winter resident in your yard. It is harder for them to find food in the winter so leaving food out for them all year is a good idea. Note: do not do this if you live in an area where black bears have been spotted. This will encourage them to leave their dens early (they can smell the food), which makes it nearly impossible for them to resume their deep sleep until Spring.

So what are those nests we see high in the treetops in the middle of winter? Let me give you a hint… think of the most common mammal seen in rural, suburb, and city neighborhoods.

Squirrels are the opposite of birds. They prefer to sleep in nests in the winter so they can get some relief against the cold, windy nights. They do not use these nests in the spring or summer. In early Spring, squirrel nests are sometimes destroyed by their creators or birds will swoop in and take what they need to make their nests.

Other mammals, including deer, mice, chipmunks, foxes, skunks, and opossums also need to find shelter (dens and burrows provide protection from wind, snow, and ice) and food in the winter. Giving them your patience, and plenty of space, will help ensure they get what they need too. Planting native bushes, shrubs, and nut-producing trees (oak, walnut, hickory, beech) can provide food for these animals too.

While taking steps to help wildlife in the winter shouldn’t turn into a feeding frenzy in your yard, if you are concerned, talk to your local town board or community association about creating a community garden/wildlife-friendly zone where the animals can safely gather foods and find shelter. I encourage you to look out your window, or step out onto the sidewalk one winter’s day, and look at all the wildlife around you. Winter is a time of rest, survival, quiet beauty, and perseverance that will be colorfully rewarded within just a few months.

Collette is on the board of People for Animal Rights (PAR). You can contact PAR at P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.,
people4animalrightscny@gmail.com and peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org

EATING YOU ALIVE

Film reviewed by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group organized a showing of EATING YOU ALIVE so I went to see what it was about. This excellent film held my attention because it included many personal stories. Several people told how they or a loved one was very ill with a chronic disease – some even to the point of being told they would die soon. Most received no useful advice from their physicians so had to discover on their own that a plant-based, whole foods diet could literally save them. This film was very upbeat because it had so many happy endings. For example, his doctor told an elderly man he would die in a month or so from cancer and that the doctor could do anything for him. After a year on a plant-based, whole foods diet, the man recovered and walked into the office of the astonished doctor.

Besides these recovery stories, several physicians, vegan chefs, a pharmacist, an actor and others were interviewed. They spoke about the lack of nutrition education in medical school, the seductive power of food ads, the scarcity of preventive medicine in the U.S. and the restorative power of healthy food. Chefs provided a few recipes.

A very brief segment showed the horrific abuse of animals raised for food. Another brief segment told of the environmental damage caused by animal agriculture, such as the methane emissions from cows.

For more information, read HOW NOT TO DIE by Michael Greger, M.D. It also is helpful to try out a new way of eating (or stick with it once you’ve tried it) by eating with others.

Consider joining Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group. Contact Marybeth Fishman, mfishman4282@gmail.com or call (315) 729-7338. You can find the group on Facebook, Instagram, and on the Meetup.com website.

Also contact Linda DeStefano at People for Animal Rights, P.O.Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or people4animalrightscny@gmail.com or see our website at peopleforanimalrightgsofcny.org Ask for a sample of our newsletter, our membership brochure, and/or recipes. I also can make a copy for you of the 16 page report from Kaiser-Permanente (a large Health Maintenance Organization) called “The Plant-based Diet: A Healthier Way to Eat.” The HMO can save money by preventing health problems in their patients so this tells me that they think a plant-based diet really is good preventative medicine.

Genius Olympiad at SUNY Oswego

by Miguel Balbuena

On June 13 I served as a judge at the Genius Olympiad, held at the State University of New York at Oswego. The Genius Olympiad is an annual competition that this year drew more than a thousand participants, from over 70 countries belonging to six continents, most of whom presented projects in six broad categories: business, robotics, science, visual art, music and creative writing.

In order to pinpoint their application area to this olympiad, students submitting proposals had to be aware that some of these categories had subdivisions. For instance, the category business was broken down into entrepreneurship, and social responsibility; the category science into environmental quality, ecology and biodiversity, resources and energy, human ecology, and innovation; the category visual art into photography, short film, poster design, and satirical illustration, and; the category music into solo performance, group performance, and singer, and; the category creative writing into short story, essay and poetry.

Due to my strong background as a Renaissance man, i.e., a polymath or omnivore, I met the eligibility criteria to be a judge in any of the fields stated above, except robotics, about which I don’t know anything about. I chose to evaluate short film because it was the field that first stuck out when I read the judging application. I thought it would be fun to see how current students managed to express their ideas in the video format.

The contest rules said that these intellectual games were “open to all international and U.S. students studying in grades eight through twelve (or the equivalent),” from 12 year-olds on up. In addition, these rules required an adult supervisor per underage student. Finally, they allowed students to bring other guests.

Before attending this program, I had never been to SUNY Oswego. I have three friends who graduated from this institution of higher learning but they never went into great detail about their lives while studying there. One of them, my former housemate Joe Niles, confided to me that he felt isolated there. That was the extent of my prior knowledge about SUNY Oswego. Somehow, a notion had crept into my brain. It was that this university was a small one at a windswept location on Lake Ontario southern shore. But, on the aforementioned pivotal June date, as soon as I set foot on its campus, I was hit in the face by reality. Although I was right in that it was lakeside, it turned out that was situated on a sprawling
690-acre campus.

The Olympic Games took place in the Marano Campus Center, the school’s version of a student union facility. This center is the largest of the 46 buildings on campus. By itself, this particular building was bigger in square footage than whole colleges such as Crouse Hospital School in Syracuse, for example.

The judging sessions ran from nine thirty in the morning to three thirty in the afternoon with only an hour intermission to get past large long lines of people hungry for lunch, at the Cooper Dining Hall. Thus, time was at a premium, which meant that I wasn’t able to visit buildings other the Marano Center and Cooper Hall. Besides, it began raining hard. Both the center and hall impressed me as having being constructed having practicality in mind rather than aesthetics.

Upon arrival to my final destination, I found sheer pandemonium at the Marano Center. It was swirling with students, chaperones, guests, judges, administrative staff and visitors from the general public, to the point that it was even hard to walk down the hallways. Fortunately, I made it in one piece to the sport arena within the center, where I had to check in and pick up the judging forms and guidelines as well as my credential as a judge, which will allow me to get ahead of the line for the complimentary lunch in view that I had to rush back to participate in the afternoon film screening session. But there was a mix-up. The staff member in charge had given me the science forms instead of the short film ones. Finally, I was told by this staff person to go to an auditorium upstairs to retrieve the correct forms.

It was certainly a high honor for me to have been able to watch and assess films from countries as diverse as Albania, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam. But, at the same time, it was a hectic experience as the roughly 50 videos of eight-minute length apiece run at a breakneck pace with just a few seconds of break between them.

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).