Commentary, News
Kieran Shanahan discusses conservation hunting with CBS News. (

Kieran Shanahan discusses conservation hunting with CBS News. (

[This post has been updated with the photo that appears at the bottom.] CBS ran a story last night on the national evening news on the ongoing reaction to the poaching death of a lion known as Cecil in Zimbabwe. The story prominently featured a veteran pursuer of African big game from the United States who described himself as a “conservation hunter.” The hunter in question: Governor McCrory’s former Secretary of Public Safety, current East Carolina University Trustee and long-time conservative activist Kieran Shanahan.

Shanahan, who appeared in the story with the head of an animal he’d apparently killed mounted as a trophy on the wall of his office, told CBS he was “sickened” by poaching he’s seen and claimed to hunt only non-endangered animals under circumstances blessed by relevant African governments.

A Humane Society official, however, refuted Shanahan’s claim about the usefulness of such hunting later in the story:

“But Wayne Pacelle, who is president of the Humane Society of the U.S., said trophy hunters target some of the biggest, most magnificent animals,

which is bad for species health. Creatures that are killed cannot reproduce and pass on their genes to future generations.

‘We don’t see any rationale to kill animals just as a head-hunting exercise,’ Pacelle said. ‘It’s pointless. It’s one thing to kill animals for food. It’s another to kill them just for their heads.'”

Several commenters to the story have also weighed in to dispute Shanahan’s claims. Read More

Image: Citizens Against Ag-Gag Legislation Facebook page

Image: Citizens Against Ag-Gag Legislation Facebook page

[Update: The veto override motion on House Bill 405 passed the House today by a vote of 79-36 and the Senate by a vote of 32-15]. One of the most unfortunate developments at the North Carolina General Assembly in recent years has been the GOP majority’s affinity for shutting down debate. Though things have improved in the House somewhat since the departure of Thom Tillis, Republican leaders (many of whom complained mightily about the same practices while they were in the minority) have all too often turned to the cheap and lazy solution of limiting debate and public comment, pushing things through on voice votes (e.g. Senator Bob Rucho’s recently shameful performance) and/or using procedural bureaucracy to “table” amendments, rule them  “out of order” or to prevent them from even being offered in the first place.

Of course, the excuse that’s often advanced for the use of such tactics is that “everyone already knows how they’re going to vote” on XYZ bill and therefore, additional debate is just a “waste of time.”

If ever there was a bill that demonstrates the emptiness of such an excuse, however, it has to be the controversial “Ag gag” bill that Governor McCrory recently vetoed. When the measure first passed the House by a huge margin a few weeks ago during a rush of legislation, it received relatively little attention and was perceived as simply being about the issue of animal abuse. Since that time, however, things have changed — most notably that more and more people have actually read the proposal and begun to envision scenarios in which it would have a negative or even dangerous potential impact.

Now, today, as the House prepares to consider overriding the Governor’s veto, there is vastly more public attention and all sorts of problems that had not previously been considered are “on the table.” Moreover, numerous important groups that had simply missed the bill — from the AARP to disabled vets — are against it.

The veto may still be overridden and the proposal may well become law, but there can be little doubt that the state will be better off going forward for having had a much more thorough debate and for having a great deal more scrutiny on the issue.  Let’s hope fervently that the experieince teaches some important people a lesson about how democracy works best.


State lawmakers sent the so-called “Ag gag” bill on to Governor McCrory today. As was explained at some length in this space a few weeks ago, this troubling proposal is targeted at activists who have exposed horrific abuses of animals in agricultural facilities but it raises other concerns that go beyond those circumstances:

“Crafting a statute that protects legitimate property rights when they are competing against the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees and the flow of information in a free society is an enormously complex and difficult proposition. Perhaps there is some reasonable point at which the two competing interests are properly balanced, but then again, perhaps such a balancing point really doesn’t exist. Let’s hope, at a minimum, that sponsors of the bill continue to fine tune the language with an eye toward finding that point and that, if they can’t do so, they opt for language that errs on the side of free speech. The current version isn’t there yet.”

Worker advocates at the North Carolina AFL-CIO issued the following statement today in response to the bill’s passage:

“North Carolina shouldn’t treat workers trying to expose criminal activity by their employers like criminals themselves, but House Bill 405 comes close to doing just that. If Governor McCrory signs this misguided bill into law, employers in our state will be able to sue their workers for having exposed criminal activity on the job. Senators even rejected an amendment that would have allowed those workers to use proof their employer broke the law as a defense in court. It seems lawmakers are more interested in protecting unscrupulous employers than the health and safety of our workforce or of the public at-large. HB 405 is as extreme as it is overbroad, and we call on Gov. McCrory to veto this dangerous legislation.”

Let’s hope that, if nothing else, the Governor’s well-known affection for animals leads him to do more than simply rubber stamp this troubling proposal.


Puppy millsFew developments are surprising these days in the through-the-looking glass world of the North Carolina General Assembly, but the recent developments surrounding “puppy mills” legislation takes a very large cake.

As was reported last week in multiple places, one of the North Carolina Senate’s most powerful members, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, issued a statement in which he said that the Senate would not move legislation on this subject in 2014 because of its objection to the “tactics” of bill supporters — specifically the fact that a supporter meeting with Senator Bill Rabon openly recorded the Senator’s inflammatory comments on the subject and then made them public.

This was apparently not an idle threat by Apodaca. Yesterday, N.C. Policy Watch obtained an email sent by another lawmaker (Senator Bill Cook of Beaufort County) to a concerned constituent in which he recited Apodaca’s threat verbatim (see the bottom of this post for the full text). Read More


Ann McCroryProbably something like: “Don’t you ever send me over there again!” Or maybe, “There are some seriously troubled souls in that place!”

As you’re probably already aware, the North Carolina House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill this afternoon championed by the Governor’s wife, Ann McCrory, to enact some modest new regulations of so-called “puppy mills.” It was a bipartisan bill that passed  101-14.

Notwithstanding the First Lady’s support and presence in the chamber, however, at least a couple of members felt compelled to reveal their darker sides when it comes to the treatment of animals.  This is from a story on Read More