February 28, 2021

The storm Filomena also affected animals confined to farms and animals that live in the wild.

The other day I turned on the television and there was a man crying in the middle of a snowy landscape; White mountains in the background, ice-covered bushes and stones all around and, just to the left of the plane, an empty pen. The man was a farmer and, desolate, recounted how most of their The animals had died due to the fact that the trucks that supplied water and food to the cattle farms in the area had not been able to arrive for several days due to the storm: a feeling of helplessness that was easily accessible for those of us who at that moment were on the other side of the road. screen and not on a snow-isolated farm. Like that man. Like the cows that that man fed before sending to the slaughterhouse, but now, because of Filomena, they were no longer in the fold.

Double victims, thousands of lives in captivity have suffered the effects of a climatic event whose devastation has turned out to be inversely proportional to the importance of individuals for the system. Thus, the less important, the more damaged. At the time of publication of this article, the Union of Unions of Farmers and Ranchers declares that it still does not have any official data on the number of animals considered “farm” that have died and that, in fact, as they pass the days will continue to die as a result of the storm Filomena. In parallel, UGAMA (Union of Farmers and Ranchers of Madrid) denounces in a statement issued through its website that “many agricultural and livestock facilities have been destroyed and roofs have sunk due to the weight of the snow, leaving trapped many cattle and putting them in serious danger, some buried under rubble. ”

This is what happened in a warehouse in Villaseca de la Sagra (Toledo), whose roof collapsed imprisoning 400 sheep, of which at least 100 died on the spot and only half managed to survive after several hours of agony. Emergency services did not arrive in time despite the size of the tragedy. Despite the calls for help from the farmer; who, shortly after, spoke thus in the newspaper ABC: “I estimate that I will lose almost a million euros and I will have to rebuild everything.” Would more lives have been saved if, considering the animals as full-fledged individuals rather than as economic assets, the roads through which the farm was accessed had been cleared with greater urgency and speed? If instead of a single unit of firemen would have attended a more numerous device?

A catastrophe of similar magnitude has taken place in the El Uno cattle ranch, located in the Finca el Maquilón (Guadalajara), where 100 bulls, cows and calves have died frozen. The victims were already in deplorable conditions before the Greater Nevada: the owner of the farm, José María López, had made it known that “his animals were starving!” not being able to afford the expenses to cover their most basic needs after the suspension of the bullfighting season due to the coronavirus. The rancher demanded government aid to, in the near future, continue to profit from the suffering of others. But nature, without warning and causing him to lose money, decided to end the agony of the poor beings it exploited.

The cold and snowfalls are killing the most oppressed animals, and not only because most of them are being held in remote, poor and poorly communicated facilities, but also (and above all) because they exist for and to satisfy a capitalist interest to the that the least concern, farmers’ tears aside, are animal rights. In fact, the capitalist interest does not care about the tears of the farmers either. There is a fact that may contribute to understanding many things and that is that Agroseguro has confirmed that all the damages caused by storm Filomena will be covered by the Spanish Combined Agrarian Insurance system: “Among the coverages it offers include damages due to snowfall, wind and frost, both on the crops and on the facilities. ”

For its part, the General Directorate of Animal Rights of the Government issued a release warning of the situation, and with some recommendations addressed to the authorities, although it is more focused on the collection and protection centers and animals in street and / or urban situations than those that subsist on farms.

Luis Ferreirim, head of the Greenpeace Agriculture campaign, insists that “science urges us to act in all sectors to reduce global warming, but the agricultural sector is almost absent from all climate policies, both state and international. Filomena reminds us once again that food is a strategic sector and, for our good and that of all the species with whom we share a home, a change of model and a firm commitment to agroecology is essential “. For the organization, “it is not possible to continue nurturing a productive and consumer model that destroys the foundations of the food sector, mortgages its future and that of all living beings. The European recovery funds are an opportunity to initiate a true ecological transition in the sector agriculture and definitively abandon destructive industrial agriculture and livestock “.

And what about free animals?

According to Ecologists in Action, there are three consequences of Filomena that are endangering the survival of free animals that live in natural environments: the intense cold, which affects especially warm-blooded species, such as mammals and birds, “because that it implies consuming more energy to maintain its basal temperature, since the differential with the environment is greater and the insulation capacity of hair and feathers is diminished “; the thick layers of snow, “which make it difficult for herbivorous and insectivorous animals to reach food, since trees, shrubs or the ground remain hidden, and it is almost impossible to browse or locate seeds and small invertebrates, and that also they affect predators due to poor visibility “; and finally, frosts, “which are lengthening the duration of the cold episode, and by hardening add difficulties to the location of food, which can no longer be reached even by digging.”

Based on this, the group has submitted a formal request to the Castilla-La Mancha Department of Sustainable Development for the hunting activity to be suspended: “In these conditions, adding pressure factors, such as hunting, would aggravate Filomena’s impact on fauna severely. Especially if we consider that animals, already weakened, have much less chance of fleeing from a hunter’s weapon in snowy or icy terrain “, warns Ecologists in Action.

Meanwhile, in shelters for the continuity of cruelty, such as Jara and Sedal, they tell magical stories of committed mountaineers who save deer trapped in the snow with one hand and with the other emphasize that “although they are not hunters, they confess to be in favor of the hunting activity as a management and conservation method “. Or they report (read in the newspaper Caza y Safaris) that “all this is generating great concern among the hunting community, since it is evident that this situation will have negative effects on wild populations of birds and mammals.” As if, after the storm, the world needed more men crying in the middle of snowy landscapes.


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