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.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ottawa to pay struggling pork producers $50 million to kill 150,000 pigs by fall

THE CANADIAN PRESS - April 14, 2008

By John Cotter

EDMONTON - In what is being called an unprecedented move, the federal government will pay Canadian pork producers $50 million to kill off 150,000 of their pigs by the fall as the industry teeters on the brink of economic collapse.

The animals are being destroyed at slaughter plants and on pig farms in a bid to cull the swine breeding herd by 10 per cent.

Most of the meat is to be used for pet food or otherwise disposed of, but up to 25 per cent of it will be made available to Canadian food banks.

"The value that the market is providing to hog farmers for their breeding animals has fallen to virtually nothing," said Martin Rice, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council on Monday.

"It is due to the economic collapse of the industry. These are farms that families have spent decades building up. We cannot see relief coming. It is agonizing for them. It takes a toll."

Producers are weighed down by the cumulative impact of low prices, increasing feeds costs and the high value of the loonie. They are also facing new country-of-origin labelling rules for meat products in the United States that are to go into effect later this year.

Canada's 10,000 pork producers are mainly in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

Farmers who wish to take part in the cull can apply for federal compensation payments until the end of August. Those who qualify for payments must agree to kill off an entire breeding barn of pigs and not to restock the barn for three years. The program is retroactive to November 2007 and farmers have until this November to complete the cull.

The council estimates that about 50,000 pigs have already been destroyed, with about 100,000 more to come by the fall.

To ensure that the animals are treated in a humane way, producers are being encouraged to ship their pigs to approved slaughter plants. Producers who live in areas without plants will be asked to ship their animals to a province with such a facility.

But there is nothing to prevent producers from killing the animals on their farms themselves.

"We want to minimize the amount of on-farm euthanizing," Rice said. "Before we would approve that application we would need to know how it was going to be done - that it was going to be done humanely and in an environmentally sound way."

Rice said the U.S. government's decision to require country-of-origin labelling on meat products has made a bad situation even worse.

Producers are dealing with American companies that don't want to buy Canadian hogs or meat products after years of doing business because they aren't sure how consumers will respond to such labels. The situation is squeezing the hope out of the Canadian industry, which exports much of what it produces to the United States.

"They cannot look forward to a rebound in their market," Rice said.

But as pork producers suffer through the downturn, more than 670 food banks across Canada hope to benefit from the swine cull.

The Canadian Association of Food Banks is working with the pork council to come up with a plan to distribute some of the meat to the 720,000 Canadians who depend on food banks each month.

"We are pleased that the government is allowing some of the product within this program to come to the food bank community," said Katharine Schmidt, executive director of the Canadian Association of Food Banks in Toronto. "We are working as hard as we can to see how much we can actually get into the hands of those who need it most.

"One of the food groups that food banks are always in need of is protein."

A distribution plan is being organized by industry groups and food banks on a province-by-province basis, she added.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gary Ritz has said that Ottawa will help Canada's pork sector "bring itself in line with market realities." Ritz was not available for comment on Monday.

Clare Schlegel, a hog farmer near New Hamburg, Ont., said it is heartbreaking to risk losing a farm that he and his family have spent decades building up. But now there are factors such as the price of feed going up because of the expanding biofuel industry around the world.

Competition from cheaper imported pork is also trimming the meat from his bottom line.

"We wonder ourselves why prices aren't better," Schlegel said. "The market is the market, but still, in human terms, you want to see good food put to good use. In my 30 years, I never dreamed we would be at the point where we are."

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.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Garden Brothers Circus cancelled

Low ticket sales reason for Peoria Civic Center event

HOI 19 - Thursday, April 10, 2008

PEORIA -- The Garden Brothers Circus, scheduled for Tuesday, April 29, at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Peoria Civic Center Arena, has been canceled due to low ticket sales.

All tickets purchased online or charged by phone will be automatically refunded. Tickets obtained through the box office or Ticketmaster outlets will be refunded at the point of purchase.

There are no plans to reschedule this event.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

PETA hopes to stop Shrine Circus show coming to the city

Thunder Bay's Source - Friday, April 4, 2008
What bills itself as the 'Greatest Show on Earth' is expected to draw some protest when it stops in the city next month.

A local group is planning to take part in a national PETA campaign against the Shrine Circus and the use of animals in their shows and so far, over 120 members have joined a local Facebook group to 'fight the circus'. The Thunder Bay chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says its planning a protest calling for a ban on the use of animals in such shows.

Organizer Kelsi Bellin says she only expects numbers to increase and she along with a group of friends are planning to stop the local event that has been coming to town for generations.

She said on Friday ''we want to abolish all animal circus acts, there doesn't need to be animals in the circus.''

However Shriner Andy Anderson, also known as Wrinkles the Clown, says he has never seen the animals harmed in any way and Anderson has been clowning since 1948. He's not taking the group seriously adding there is no truth to what they are saying.

Anderson says every animal involved in the circus is treated with respect and is cared for so they can travel and perform.

Anderson says the circus has veterinarians that travel with them and animals are an important part of the show. The local stop has raised more than $80,000 each year for the Shriner's hospital for children.

The animal rights group will hold their protest outside of the Fort William Gardens on May 24 and 25 to coincide with the show.

Friday, April 4, 2008

'Saving the earth one bite at a time'

The Quinnipiac Chronicle - March 26, 2008


Although only a couple of years ago it seemed near impossible for vegans to maintain a healthy lifestyle, today many supermarkets and restaurants give vegans many tasteful options that allow them to maintain their own personal lifestyles.

A vegan is an individual whose diet omits any direct animal products, such as meat, and also omits any animal by products such as milk and eggs. Although it seems impossible to form a healthy diet around these limitations, Web sites such as show individuals how simple it is to maintain a vegan lifestyle.

This Web site's mission statement advocates vegan lifestyles as a way to show compassion to all kinds of animals by saving them from factory farms and death. Although some vegans may not agree with this reason, this Web site allows individuals to explore alternate options to all types of foods.

The Web site is divided into different groups with separate links. One link is entitled "For Your Grocery Cart." This link gives a list of all common animal and animal by products that make up a non-vegan's diet. One can click on these products and receive a list of alternative options and brands to the food product shown.

Even better, all of these alternative options are sold regularly in grocery stores, making it easy for individuals to maintain a vegan lifestyle. For example a vegan can substitute hamburgers with "veggie burgers" such as Bocca brand veggie burgers. Soy ice cream and cheese slices can also be used to replace dairy products. Although many vegetarians, or vegan hopefuls, feel as though vegetarian or vegan diets cannot provide an adequate amount of protein, they are highly mistaken. A diet that consists of beans, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables can offer a sufficient amount of protein needed in any diet.

An excessive amount of protein consumed in non-vegetarian diets, researchers say, may even be harmful and cause kidney stones, heart disease and even some cancers.

Vegetarian or vegan diets have a multitude of benefits from saving the lives of animals to an increased healthier lifestyle. With the supermarkets stacking shelves and freezers with veggie burgers and tofu hot dogs it is easy to maintain a healthy vegan lifestyle while still enjoying the food one loves.