Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#BtC4Animals Bear Baiting

I live in Maine.  On the fourth day of November we will be asked to vote on a referendum banning bear baiting.

Here’s the exact language: “Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research.”

The animal advocate in me says YES YES YES oh heck YES!, but the blogger in me wonders why the Maine Game Wardens and Biologists are saying vote no. So I went into this hoping to find some bit of logical sense in all this for the opposition, to educate myself and maybe learn something.

Before delving into all of that, let me share with you something. There are currently only twelve states that allow bear baiting. Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Maine is the only state in the union that allows all three methods that they are trying to ban in this vote, baiting, trapping and using dogs.

So, to find out why I should "Vote No on One" I went to savemainesbearhunt.com. I have been extremely unhappy with the "No on One" campaign commercials in general, using a lot of fear and intimidation, implying that without bear baiting, bears will be coming up and mauling your children in your backyard


There have also been commericals implying that there will be nothing that can be done if these bears do come up into your neighborhood and are aggressive.. (except the question says you can to protect property or for public safety) (interestingly enough the No on One camp does not have it's commercials on it's website but the Yes on One does.  There are some really good ones on there, but this is an exercise in why I should vote no.)

So again, why do they oppose this?

Reading "savemainesbearhunt.org" (do you find that name as irritating as I do? You can still hunt bears, you just won't be able to bait them or trap them or use hounds to hunt them) They are saying that with out these 'reliable" methods of hunting, the cull of the population would go down. That it is very hard to hunt a bear with out these methods, and with an increased population you will have increased aggression in the population as they go in search of food. A quote from that website: "Consider: A year ago, hunters shot 2,845 bears in Maine. Of those bears, at least 2,633 — a whopping 93 percent of the total harvest — were shot using the methods that may be banned come November." *  Well considering these methods are legal, and cheap and easy, who wouldn't use them?? I don't think that is much of an argument.

However, reading their own website and reading the history of bear hunting, one has to wonder what the biologists and game wardens are thinking. Currently the cull is below management levels they themselves set and the population is increasing anyway. The history of bear hunting is that we used to do it twice a year, now we currently only allow it once a year. If hunting bears is so hard and getting rid of baiting would make it that much harder, why do we not allow increased time for hunts? Why are there still caps of two bears per hunter? Couldn't better management of the population occur with a fair hunt if done right?

Another reason they say we should allow baiting and trapping is because it allows for a 'cleaner kill'. I can't really fault that reasoning. Apparently a running bear is kinda hard to hit and can cause a hunter to wound the animal and not outright kill it. When this happens with a deer, it is not hard to imagine the hunter tracking the deer through the woods to either claim his deer or finish it off and then claim it. With a bear you run the risk of running into an injured bear being mauled. Okay, point to the baiting, but it also seems to be more fair to allow the bear the chance of getting away. If you want a bear sitting still when you shoot it, set up near a berry bush, or somewhere else a bear would naturally forage for food.

Interestingly enough, the Vote No on One camp admits there are no statistics on how many bears eat at traps and are never killed. They do claim that bear population isn't influenced by baiting, but I can't see how they can possibly claim that. There is a nice chart on this video showing the population waxing and waning, but would it go lower if there weren't millions of pounds of food put in the woods to 'feed the bears'? I don't know about you, but I grew up on Yogi Bear and learned from a very early age not to feed the bears. Feeding bears gets them used to people and gets them used to coming around populated areas.. They bait bears in the same area year after year, making the bears used to being able to find easy food.

So tell me again why are we baiting bears?

While looking for videos of the commercials playing on our airways on youtube, I came across this video of a fisher cat at a bait station. So how many other animals are we feeding, because no one is required to take the food up when they aren't watching it. And if you didn't know, fisher cats also prey on house cats.

Now I should probably tell you I am not a hunter (you have probably guessed that anyway) and I really abhor the idea and the practice of hunting, but I do fully accept that unless we cull the herd, the population will explode past the point of the land being able to sustain the animals and they will suffer and starve. They will also encroach on to land that is 'occupied by people' and become a nuisance (even though they were here first) and harm will most likely come to either a person or the bear. I also accept that if the hunter is going to use the animal for which he hunts and not discard it to simply display a trophy on a wall (or a rug on the floor) that the kill has a purpose. The meat can feed a family and keep a cow or a pack of chickens from being killed. Trophy hunters are abhorrent to me.

There have been other states that have banned baiting. According to one of the Yes on One commercials, when they have banned baiting in other states they were able to maintain a stable bear population.

So, voting no on one will make it easier for people to hunt by making the bears come to the people, and hopefully allowing for a cleaner shot, and they won't have to take fifteen days to find a bear to shoot.  *sarcasm on* oh yes, let us vote no on one *sarcasm off*

I really was open to finding an actual reason why we should continue to allow baiting, using dogs and traps to maintain the bear population. I don't think it would have changed my mind in voting no, but I was hoping there was something other than 'it is easier' as a reason.

(I know I'm late on BtC, but I wanted to blog about this, and it took a while to do all the reading and catch the commercial I wanted to share)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sponsored Post - Pet Feedster Automated Pet Feeder For Cats

I was contacted at the end of last month by Caroline Park of Winoe Corporation asking if I would be interested in reviewing the Pet Feedster Automated Pet Feeder. Since I am a raw household, The Crew didn't have much use for it, but with the foster kittens eating anything and everything donated to them through the shelter, I thought it would be great for them. After a bit of back and forth she sent me one and I went to set it up the night it arrived.

What's this?
Iz this for sitting?
kittens added for size
 oh who am I kidding, I couldn't get a photo without kittens unless I took it outside
Hopper large enough to fit one whole kitten
(or 10lbs of food, which ever gets in there first)

The item came mostly assembled. The feeding tray fits snugly over two tabs to hold it securely in the front. The tabs also extend down to the ground so you can screw it down if you feel the need. I was pretty sure the kittens couldn't knock this over (and they tried really REALLY hard) since it weighs seven pounds empty

One of the selling points on this feeder is that it is ant proof. There is a tray on the bottom that this fits on to and you can fill it with some water and vinegar to prevent the ants from walking up into the machine. Another selling point is that it holds up to 10 lbs of food. While I'm not a fan of you leaving your pets alone for long periods of time, there are other reasons to put 10 lbs of food into an automated feeder (like not wanting to fill it every day, or not wanting to store the bag of food).

This unit is programmable to dispense food up to five times per day. You do that by programming three settings, the time (in military time so no worrying about am/pm), the time you want the food to dispense, and then how much food. You do that all with just three buttons

Just added the optional shoot protector to keep cat paws from reaching up into the machine
the timer and controls
Programming does not require a masters degree, but it does need some manual dexterity and some patience. I was disappointed the controls were on the front of the machine and not the top, as I thought it would have been a heck of a lot easier if it was, but hopefully you aren't going to have to do this too often. This machine can run on either your standard electrical outlet or 6 D batteries (which should last you for six months). You would probably want to do both, because a simple power outage will wipe the memory and you will need to reprogram it all over again. :(

At first I had it dispensing the full amount of food in one program, but I thought that wouldn't be much fun for the kittens, so I cut it down in thirds and had it dispense at 1 am, 11 am and 3 pm. Since the unit does not have a sensor, it will not know when it overflows, so I was trying to be conservative. I normally give the kittens canned food at 8 am and 8 pm. I gave them enough canned food to cover them through the first day and left to see how it would work. Sadly, I forgot to turn the webcam back on that night, so I didn't get to capture the first feeding with it, but they had heard it go off when I was in there and it didn't frighten them at all. When I went and fed them in the morning it was obvious they had been nomming on the food. I was able to capture this the next morning at the 11 am feeding.

You can hear it isn't the quietest thing on the planet, but that can also be a positive because it can 'call' to your pets to let them know it is feeding time. When my Em was suffering from cancer, I got her a magnetic cat door and installed it in one of the bathroom doors so she could go in and nibble on food throughout the day without the other chowhound cats eating all on her. Well the sound of the magnetic door unlocking called to all of the other cats in the house to follow her in.. which was both amusing and frustrating.. but I am getting off track. The sound can be of help.

One nice thing about this product is it's adjustability. There are so many different types of kibble on the market from 3/16 to 3/4 inch sized kibble. This product has the ability to adjust for that and lets you set that manually on the auger inside.

A few not so good things, the power cord was very thin. A lot of cats are cord chewers, and a cord that thin simply begs to be chewed on. You can run it on batteries only, but those are very expensive to replace every six months, and yet are really are kind of necessary because unplugging the unit for more than two seconds wipes everything out of the program. I suppose if you live in a community where you never ever lose power, that would be one thing. It might have been good if they had two separate battery options, one for the timer to save the program in case of a power outage and one to run the machine, but that is me dreaming. I would also really would have liked the programming panel to be on the top of the machine. There are probably mechanical reasons why it is where it is, but in order to program it I had to lay it on the side to get the right pressure on the buttons and see what the display was reading. Since the power cord is a simple insert (like your laptop cord) into the machine, I was fearful of it being knocked out when programming and again when re-positioning it on the ground. If I had the D batteries on hand (not included in the unit) it would have been a little less concerning to me, but really, this is a minor issue (even though I feel like I'm harping on it).

The device worked very well, the kittens were not afraid of it, and it was nice to know they were not going to run out of dry food, and if they got on a kick and ate it all, it would only be a few hours before they would get more. If you have a kitty (or dog) that needs small regular meals and you feed dry food, this might be a really nice addition to your home.

I am unsure if I am going to be keeping this around for the kittens. The footprint of the device is a little larger than I really have room for in this set up. The unit is 17 1/2” high, 13” wide, and 18” from front to back including the food bowl. If I had the batteries for it (or were willing to invest 10-12 dollars for it) I could set it up wherever I wanted in that room, but at the moment we are confined to just two places near an outlet. Then there is the thinness of the cord and the love of kittens to chew such things. But the biggest reason I think I might rehome this is because I think this would be an awesome thing for the shelter to have for their feral cat population. Because it can run without a power source, they could put it in their feral barn, but I haven't decided yet.

After I formed my opinions, I went over to Amazon and read the reviews. They have almost universally glowing reviews. There were a few unhappy customers, but the company replied to all of them offering to help out. One less than five star review even said the designer of the product talked to them about the issue. Talk about your good customer service. Very few products can make every single person happy, so a few not so good reviews in this particular case were nothing to distract from this product.

Another consideration is the price. At over $200, this isn't something you pick up on a whim. There is a year warranty on it, and the company stands behind it's product, so if this is something you are in the market for, I would recommend you take a second look at this one.

(bonus kitten video - it has nothing to do with the product, but I love watching Pan attack Happy Bear's eyes)

This post is the result of the company furnishing me with a Pet Feedster free of charge, but the opinions are all my own.

*edited to add that Caroline contacted me after reading my review and wanted you to know the programming should remain in the device if unplugged.  That was not my experience, but she asked that I share with you that this is how it is designed to work. Maybe the programmed times remain, as I did not reprogram it because I did my unplug experiment the night before the kittens were to go back to the shelter and were supposed to not be getting food after midnight anyway, but the clock definitely reset to zero.

(also edited a few spelling errors that spell check didn't catch for me last night)