Animals & Wildlife

The HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle is seen here with a rescued cat.

Big companies have announced changes in favor of animal welfare in the past few months, as Ringling Brothers retired its circus elephants, and Walmart became the most recent corporation to shift towards cage-free eggs. Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, explains how consumers can influence business decisions. He joins us to talk about his new book, “The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers Are Transforming the Lives of Animals,” and about other current animal welfare issues.

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Dungeness crabs

The California Fish and Game Commission voted Thursday to postpone the recreational Dungeness crab fishing season off the coast of San Francisco due to high levels of toxins found in the crustaceans. Officials say the toxins found in tested crabs pose a significant health risk, causing vomiting and diarrhea and even memory loss or death in severe cases. A decision on whether to close commercial crab fishing is expected within a week. We’ll discuss the problem, which stems from red algae bloom in the ocean.

Naruto the Macaque's selfie

The crested black macaque monkey who took his grinning self-portrait is now the subject of a federal lawsuit filed in San Francisco this week. The animal rights group PETA argues that the macaque, named Naruto, should be declared the author and owner of his photographs, which were taken during a 2011 trip to Indonesia by British nature photographer David Slater. We discuss the lawsuit’s chance of success, and the movement to apply legal concepts of personhood to animals.

Rescued baby sea lion

Scientists report that an algae bloom spreading from California to Alaska is poisoning marine life and has quickly become one of the most toxic blooms they’ve ever seen. Abnormally warm water temperatures are allowing the bloom, which produces a dangerous neurotoxin, to grow quickly — up to 40 miles wide in some parts. Crab fisheries and the anchovy market have already been affected. We’ll talk to scientists who are tracking the toxic bloom about its impact on marine life and humans.

Tule Elk graze at Point Reyes National Seashore

Animal rights activists and local farmers are at an impasse over how to manage a local population of Tule Elk. Originally native to the area, the animals were hunted to near-extinction and disappeared entirely from the Bay Area until their reintroduction at Point Reyes National Seashore in the 1970s. Under pressure from the drought, nearly half the enclosed herd has died off in the past two years. The activists say not enough is being done to preserve the Tule Elk, while ranchers say the free-ranging animals are drinking water needed for cattle.

The recent Santa Barbara oil spill, which released 21,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific, underscored the vulnerability of our waterways and marine life. But oil is only one of the many threats facing the world’s beleaguered oceans. Plastic garbage is another growing problem, with millions of metric tons of it ending up in the oceans each year. On World Oceans Day, we’ll discuss these and other marine pollution challenges, as well as possible solutions.

Honeybees in Florida

Seven million acres of bee habitat will be restored over the next five years in an effort by the federal government to reverse the decline of the United States’ honeybee population. The matter is urgent: beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies in 2014 according to a federal report. The plan also calls for investing more money in research. But some environmentalists say bolder action is needed, including restrictions on pesticides that studies have linked to honeybee colony collapse disorder. We’ll discuss President Obama’s plan as well as the impact the drought is having on the state’s bees.

People inspect a dead humpback whale in Pacifica May 05, 2015

A decapitated whale washed up on a Point Reyes beach on Tuesday, the apparent victim of a killer whale. It’s the eleventh dead whale found on Northern California beaches since mid-April. Scientists are investigating various causes, from boat collisions to changing ocean patterns that drive the whales closer to shore. We’ll discuss the recent whale deaths and what may be causing them.

Isabella Rossellini

Isabella Rossellini was born into Hollywood royalty, the daughter of “Casablanca” star Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini. She followed her own parents into the film business, starring in both Italian and American films, perhaps most notably David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet.” The actress and former Lancome spokesmodel joins us to talk about her career, her video series on the mating habits of animals and her wildlife conservation work.

Helen Macdonald

British author, poet and naturalist Helen Macdonald’s new book is a memoir about her father’s unexpected and sudden death. It’s also a detailed look at how she learned to overcome her grief by training a goshawk, a bird with a reputation as “murderous, difficult to tame, sulky, fractious and foreign.” Macdonald joins us to talk about her acclaimed book, “H is for Hawk.”

California sea lions

For the past three winters, starving California sea lion pups have been beaching themselves along the California coast. This year, the die-offs have occurred earlier and in higher numbers, increasing concerns about the impacts of rising ocean temperatures and a depleted fish population. We’ll discuss the scope of the problem and the rescue efforts underway.

M. Sanjayan

In an age of climate change and other environmental threats, the relationship between humans and the natural world seems more fragile than ever. Shot in 29 countries, the upcoming PBS series “Earth, A New Wild” shines a spotlight on the close and complex links between people and wildlife. We’ll talk to the host of the program, conservation scientist M. Sanjayan.



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A package of foie gras from Canada.

Last week, a federal district judge struck down California’s ban on the sale of foie gras, ruling that the ban conflicted with federal law. As restaurants rush to put the delicacy back on their menus and the state considers whether to appeal, we discuss the implications of the ruling. What will it mean for diners, farmers and overall animal welfare?

Cattle graze on grass in Tomales, California.

Does beef get a bad rap? Red meat has been associated with heart disease, among other health problems, and critics point to the environmental toll taken by industrial beef production. Nicolette Hahn Niman, a longtime vegetarian, wouldn’t disagree. But in her new book “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production,” the environmental lawyer and Bolinas-based cattle rancher lays out the case for grass-fed beef, which she says is actually nutritious and sustainable.


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