The Russians lead on seals
UPDATE! Here is an editorial comment by the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Sheryl Fink:
Re: 'Putin enters seal hunt debate,' Peter Worthington, March 16.
I greatly enjoyed Peter Worthington's column.
Russia's announcement truly demonstrates that the Canadian government now stands almost completely alone in its insistence that commercial sealing is anything more than an inhumane and unnecessary slaughter for fur coats. No country seems to enjoy killing seals as much as Canada. Public opinion in this country has remained fairly consistently opposed to commercial sealing, and there are indications that more than a few savvy fishermen have caught on as well. Eventually, the markets for seal fur will disappear. Seal fur is not used to make necessary products, and even within the fur trade it is recognized as a "niche" market. But the feds are like a dog with a bone on this one, insistent on throwing away our tax dollars to try to keep this industry alive even when it is apparent that it makes no economic sense to do so. Putin is right -- sealing should have been banned long ago.
INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE
Re-posted from the Times Colonist March 13, 2009 (Victoria, BC)
When today's Russia, hardly a model of heightened sensitivities, decides its seal hunt is too barbaric to continue, the end is near for Canada's sealers.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the ban on killing very young seals would be extended to all of the animals. It's a "bloody industry," he said, and the hunt should have been banned long ago.
Canada's government still defends the hunt on the ice off the Atlantic coast. There are lots of seals, hunters in a poor part of the country need the money and it's not much more cruel than a typical slaughterhouse, the government says.
There's great debate about the economic impact, but it's likely somewhere in the $7 million range.
Clubbing animals to death on the ice might be humane, but it doesn't look it. The 2008 regulations were amended to require sealers to slit the arteries under the seals' flippers after clubbing them; that was to avoid any risk they would be skinned alive, but it highlights the grisly nature of the hunt.
It's galling for hunters from Newfoundland and the Magdalen Islands to be lectured by pop stars and politicians who have never witnessed the hunt about something they have done all their lives. And they have been the victim of misleading campaigns against the seal hunt.
But now the European Union is considering a ban on seal fur, a change Canada is lobbying against. The publicity itself means markets will dwindle. Prices are expected to be low this year. And now Russia, with its gangs and crimes and assassinated journalists, has decided the seal hunt is inhumane and must be banned.
There comes a time when a traditional practice becomes too great a liability to continue. For the Canadian seal hunt, that time is now. The hunt, by most standards, is cruel. The potential damage to Canada's image and economy is significant.
Help the sealers, by all means. But don't let Russia set a higher standard for humane treatment of animals.
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