Annual General Meeting - October 16, 2003

The meeting was called to order at 7:45 p.m. by President Hans Schmid. The weather was very wet. Subsequently, only 8 people attended. As before, the AGM minutes of last year were published in our Spring 2003 newsletter. A copy of our financial statement was circulated for our members' information.

Hans gave a brief report on the activities of the year. In Spring of 2003 a representative of Red Wheel/ Weiser Publishers in the USA asked Hans to possibly write a book review on the newly published, excellent book "STILLNESS: Daily Gifts of Solitude", by Richard Mahler. Due to time constraints this review took until July and was appreciated by both, the publishers and the author. It is posted on our website and was also printed in our Fall 2003 newsletter. After calculating our planned expenditures for the summer and fall of 2003, our board decided to purchase up to 100 copies of the book and donate them to B.C. public libraries, as we did with other books before.

On June 18th Hans was interviewed on Icicle Networks Radio's show "The Environmental Variety Hour" in California. He suggested to the host to make a positive contribution and frequently announce: "Please keep the volume at room-level, in consideration of your neighbours."

The October/November 2003 issue of Canadian Gardening magazine carried the article "Sound & Fury: The landscape trade is uneasy as city councils attempt to deal with excessive noise issues", by Lorraine Johnson. Hans provided Lorraine with good information to use in that article. We also provide a lot of information and advice to people who contact us in the course of the year by telephone, mail and e-mail.

Our planned Legal Assistance Fund was set up with the help of a lawyer and is now ready. Both, the information and the application form will soon be posted on our website or can be obtained from us.

Vice-President Roy Silverson conducted the election of the board for the new fiscal year (May 1st - Apr. 31st ) which was elected by acclamation as follows:

Alice Fedorenko, Brenda Laing, Hans Schmid, Ilse Schnirch, Roy Silverson.

Hans introduced our speaker, Dr. Daniel Weary, professor of animal welfare at UBC, who spoke on the topic of the effects of noise on animals on modern industrial farms. One million animals are used for research purposes annually. While this cannot be stopped, the department strives to improve their living conditions.

Dr. Weary projected slides with frequency spectrogrammes (pitch-time curve), below 1 kHz, of specific animal sounds. The first example demonstrated the voice of a mother saw nursing; the milk flow lasts only about 10 seconds. The second example was about the sounds of piglets establishing teat access. The third example shows the sound curve of piglets when separated from their mother and siblings or crying for help. If noise on the farm like, for instance ventilator noise, drowns out the animals' voices, important signals may be missed. Consequently, some of them could become isolated or miss meals.

Signals reflect the animals' state. Calls can mean begging, distress, alarm etc. They may be informative or uninformative. An absence of signals could be a response to pain or the presence of danger (a predator in the wild). Signalling can come with a cost - the animal becomes vulnerable. It is also used to establish positions and attain privileges: dominant roosters do the crowing, and hens will mate with the dominant male. A signal of need requires a listener who may derive a benefit by responding. Signallers vary in need for the response. Signallers in greater need signal more.

The sound of a calf's response to separation was demonstrated. Cows respond more to calf calls than to white noise. Calves and cows recognise each other's voice. Late separation of calf and cow results in improved weight gain for the calf, due to better milk supply. The calf calls when it wants milk. It calls very few times but increases strongly around 6 a.m. to feed and socialise. The signaller's and listener's response is as with other animals mentioned above.

continued on page 8 . . .

Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Spring 2004
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