Saturday, April 12, 2008

Animal activists often hurt their own causes

The Niagara Falls Review - Thursday, April 10, 2008

Posted By Diotte, Kerry

I love critters as much as most people. I've grown up with cats and dogs and hamsters - and treasured them all.

Having been raised in northern Ontario where we owned a cabin (or camp, as it was called there), I also hunted grouse at an early age. I've since lost my love of that and now prefer to photograph wildlife rather than see it dead on my plate.

Stories of animal abuse make me feel sick to my stomach. I truly admire people in the field of animal welfare who try to improve the lot of our feathered and furry friends.

What I don't understand, though, is why some animal advocates become so strident in their cause that there's a backlash and they wind up crippling their case.

Most people were rightly saddened to read news about the recent drowning deaths of four Quebec sealers from Iles-de-la Madeleine. They drowned when their disabled boat was being towed and it capsized.

But hard-core animal rights activists were actually rejoicing, not unlike religious extremists who cheer terrorist attacks that kill innocent people.

Sun Media received a few letters from animal rights types expressing their outright joy that seal hunters died.

I'm not a big fan of seeing seals killed, but it's been a way of life for people on the East Coast and in the North for generations.

Anti-sealing protesters have, over the years, forced slightly more humane hunting practices, at the least.

Certainly there's more need for improvement, since seals are still clubbed to death on the ice. New regulations require hunters to also slit their arteries in the process.

People can't help but view the clubbing to death of any animal as brutal. Can you imagine the uproar if cows, pigs and sheep were killed that way? It's not the most humane way of harvesting animals. But radical animal rights people tend to sabotage their own causes by expressing outrageous beliefs and using questionable tactics to try to win their cause. Witness the recent comments of Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

As friends and family mourned the deaths of the Quebec sealers, Watson told the media he considered the killing of young seals "a greater tragedy."

Watson made those comments after hearing quotes from a sealer who said he felt helpless watching the trawler capsize that led to the death of the four hunters.

Watson, who obviously has little tact, heart or common sense, chose this particular time to send out his abrasive and cruel comments via a news release.

"I can't think of anything that defines helplessness and fear more than a seal pup on the ice that can't swim or escape as it is approached by some cigarette-smoking ape with a club," Watson said.

"These men are sadistic baby killers and that might offend some people but it is the unvarnished truth - they are vicious killers who are now pleading for sympathy because some of their own died while engaged in a viciously brutal activity."

Those comments even made the head of Canada's Green party resign from the advisory board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

It all goes to show that if you want a better world for animals, you shouldn't act like an untamed one yourself. People listen to reasonable arguments and campaigns. But most tune out wild-eyed radicals.

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