Sunday, April 27, 2008

Seal hunt protest lives on propaganda

Editorial - The St. Catharines Standard - Friday, April 25, 2008

Each year it's the same thing: A parade of wealthy celebrities swoop down on Canada's East coast and accuse Canadian sealers of being big meanies.

This year Farley Mowat himself has joined the fight and is campaigning hard for a European ban on all seal products, which would effectively kill the hunt.

The images are potent - defenceless animals, grim-faced sealers wielding wickedly sharp gaffs.

Check out "seal hunt" on a Google image search and you'll see what we mean. The Google seals are cute as a button - like every child's dream of a favourite puppy.

Here's the problem: They aren't real. They're propaganda.

Oh, the photos are real enough. But these seals, the little white baby harps, haven't been hunted in Canada for a generation. That was banned in the 1980s. Only adults are harvested now. We use the word harvest deliberately, because this actually is a harvest, not a hunt.

The animals are shot on the ice, killed - either with a second bullet or with a gaff - and skinned.

That doesn't sound very appealing, does it? For most of us, it isn't. We like our meat, our fish, our poultry, for certain. But we don't ever have to see it slaughtered or harvested. That happens in the privacy of an abattoir.

But funnily enough, Farley Mowat isn't calling for a European ban on beef cattle or pig farming. Why is that?

Here's why: There is a double standard, driven purely by sentiment, that allows activists to set the harp seal apart from other animals that we harvest for food or pelts.

They get away with this because seals look more like human beings than do steers, pigs, chickens, or trout.

That, and that alone, explains why culling seals is controversial.

The truth? Harp seals are not endangered - not even close. The Canadian herd is estimated at 5.5 million - three times what it was in the 1970s. The spring cull has been repeatedly investigated and found to be humane, by the Canadian Medical Veterinary Association, among others. There is nothing wrong with the seal hunt.

"Killing animals en masse simply to make a profit is totally abhorrent," says Farley Mowat.

Really? Then protest trout farming, Mowat. Go to Alberta and picket a cattle ranch - see how far you get.

But please, leave the sealers of Newfoundland and Labrador alone. They're working to earn an honest living.

How You Can Help

Contrary to the above absurity, baby seals are still slaughtered. It's just that the sealers can't kill them when their coats are white - they have to wait about 12 days when the seals begin to moult and their fur turns grey - then it's okay to kill them.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), approximately 8 of 10 seals are pups between 12 days and 12 weeks of age.

Please write to The Standard: and let the paper know how you feel about the "honest living" of slaughtering baby seals.

No comments: