Saturday, April 29, 2017

The 'beat' goes on

 Welcome, new friends and readers. And welcome back, friends and readers from my earlier blogs – most recently, the one appearing on the website of the Animal Protection League of NJ (aplnj.org/blog).

Last year, after long and proud affiliation with APLNJ, I proposed writing a blog about animals that would be accessible via the organization’s website. 

A dozen posts later, it seemed desirable to streamline the system, which has involved two of us besides the web developer. I had produced my first blog (AnimalBeat, 2009-2012) by myself, so why not do the same now, I thought – and save taking up the time of another very busy APL person to publish it. 

And so, here’s AnimalBeat II, with a title still suggesting my total focus: animals! It comes to you via APLNJ, as a kind of extra, complementing the animal advocacy that APL is all about.  It’s the best of both worlds, as I see it. Now, Angi Metler, the organization's co-founder and executive director, can attend to the myriad other things she handles, without having to work in time to work on publishing my blog!

Here goes  . . .     

Domesticated and wild animals have experienced numerous changes for the better since I began writing about Kingdom Animalia. A post eight years ago railed against the circus, with its captive involuntary animal performers, coming to Trenton. And today, Ringling Bros. is almost out of business!  But there’s still plenty to do on behalf of animals.

Humans still kill elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns; regard feral, or community, cats (a human-caused phenomenon) as deserving of death; think some animals exist to test human drugs on; trophy-hunt wild animals in sanctuaries and black bears in NJ; breed and raise animals only to slaughter and eat them. In short, they still subscribe to an archaic and self-serving belief that humans have dominion over all the animals on earth.
   
As just the latest infuriating example of that attitude, some people still say, “What can be more fun than to spend an afternoon shooting the little rodents?” That’s what a Montana office seeker said recently of his plan to take Donald Trump Jr. hunting prairie dogs when he visited.
  
. . . as the black bears emerge

Hibernation: For winter-weary humans, it’s an appealing idea. Even for those who’d love to sleep in every morning when they must get up, hibernation sounds like nirvana. Bears are among the animals (including raccoons, woodchucks, chipmunks and hedgehogs) who actually get to hibernate.

Here in New Jersey, we’re forced to focus most on our black bears during the abhorrent “bear-hunt season” that our current governor has made a routine fall-winter trophy event. (Here’s to imminent political change!)  Right now, though, we’re in the middle of a happier season for bears: spring, when they come out of hibernation and slowly build back up.

Conserving energy while their food supply was limited, bears have slept for months without eating, drinking, urinating, defecating or exercising. They emerge from their dens in April, in what’s been called “walking hibernation” – lethargic, not traveling far or eating much. Their metabolism gradually returns to normal as habitats start greening up and new grass, herbs and leaves promote slow weight gains.
   
June’s the month when bears seriously start fattening up for winter, even as they seek out females without cubs because it’s also mating season. And so the cycle begins again.

Till next time. . . !