A bombshell piece in The New York Times, citing a study from the journal Science, has revealed that “the number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by 3 billion, or 29 percent, over the past half-century.”
These shocking numbers have bird conservationists around the country stunned and alarmed. The president of the National Audubon Society called it “a full-blown crisis.” And it truly is.
But the headline, article, and conservationists alike are silent on an equally great – if not greater – mass tragedy facing America’s birds. You see, while the number of wild bird populations have plummeted since 1970, the number of birds on factory farms have skyrocketed. In fact, if we’re looking at the total number of birds in just the US, even with the devastating decline of wildlife, we’re actually at 3 to 4 billion more birds.
According to data from the United Nations, the number of chickens slaughtered in North America in 1970 was around 3.4 billion birds. Today, that number has nearly tripled to over 9 billion killed every year in the U.S. alone. If you factor in those numbers, the total bird population in the United States has actually dramatically increased, rather than decreased.
And those animals – chickens raised for meat – are arguably the most abused animals on the planet. Who mourns for them? In the United States, there are literally no federal protections for chickens on factory and they’re also exempt from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
Chickens today represent the most populous species of birds on Earth, with around 20 billion alive at any given time. That’s three chickens for every human on the planet.
Undercover footage from multiple investigations by activists has exposed the deplorable conditions these animals are forced to endure before they’re violently slaughtered for meat.
Due to genetic manipulation, chickens grow so fast their bones break under the weight of their unnaturally large bodies; many suffer heart attacks. Birds are kicked, tossed, and thrown by workers. And in the end, they’re brutally killed by having their throats slit. Many birds miss the kill blade and are boiled alive in defeathering tanks – the USDA estimates that up to a million animals die this way. One can barely fathom a more painful death.
Let me be clear: I’m not writing this to diminish the plight of wild birds, or say we shouldn’t care. Quite the contrary: I’m saying we should care about all birds.
So while scientists and conservationists look for solutions on how to solve this shattering crisis facing wildlife, all of us have an opportunity to help the billions of birds locked away in sheds and slaughterhouses across America suffering for our appetites. We can choose not to eat them. Period.