Sunday, April 30, 2006

People for the Ethical Treatment of People

Variation on a joke making the rounds

If more celebrities acted to stop tradegies like famine, the poorest and the richest would win. It does not matter if you like George Clooney or not, he did appeal to a crowd in Washington Sunday, to help the suffering refugees of Darfur in Sudan, Africa. Five countries in the Horn of Africa region of Africa have been stricken with genocide, famine, war, and malnutrition for years, and millions continue to die as a result. At a rally in Washington, high-profile speakers spoke to about 10,000 people bringing attention to the critical humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Sen. Barack Obama said, "If we care, the world will care. If we act, then the world will follow."

If Pam Anderson had used the media and even the Junos to bring attention to this inhumanity, then that could have brought in needed milions to get food, medicine and shelter for Africa's suffering. Instead, she chose to use her fame, time and energy to put an end to a humane and legal seal fishery, that helps feed and clothe 1000's of Canadians. The actions of celebs like Anderson have no doubt fattened the bank accounts of Animal Rights Activists(ARAs) groups. It's too bad that the image of a baby refugee does not stir the same outcry as a baby seal does. But that's not surprising because groups like PETA believe that animals have the very same rights as humans.

In our society a large measure of success is the accumulation of material things, or the means to acquire them. Many of us do give alright, but largely to ourselves. Success is not popularly associated with giving to or caring for others. That's why it is important for more influential people to set examples by showing the value of giving to people who have nothing. While ARAs take in tens of millions from people, they hardly spend any of it on animal shelters. I wonder how much of the revenue they get comes from donations sent during the seal hunt protests. Here is a sample of how some groups stand financially:

ARA GroupTax Year EndingIncomeYr End Net Worth
HSUSDec. 31, 2004$70,599,418$111,021,299
PETAJuly 31, 2004$28,926,924$11,479,793
SIERRA CLUBDec. 31, 2004$91,843,759$53,339,819
SSCSDec. 31, 2003$350,215$3,049,373

I do not know how much of the income is from seal protest fundraising, but with Paul Watson now on the Sierra Club's board of directors, more money will be funneled to other ARAs. It's too bad that people donated money to unnecessary seal protest crusades, when they could have spent it to help the poor and starving. This crisis is a real, daily, and urgent. Celebrities like Bono, Bob Geldof and others have made the celebrity a value added commodity because of their contributions to end world hunger. But more famous people can do their part to keep the hunger and poverty issues foremost in people's minds.

McCartney could have used his Larry King time to plead for help for the poor. His crusade against land mines was great, but now it is time to add another shirt to his on stage wardrobe, and promote the ethical treatment of desperate suffering people.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Reply to Anti-Sealer + Proof of ARA Ulterior Motives

This blog is in response to an Anti-Sealing reader who commented on my postings about the seal hunt. I will present the anonymous reader comments first, then my reply. Sorry, but there is a quirk with the apostrophes here which I am trying to work out.
(There is an audio clip further down in .ram format.
Click Click here to download Real Player free, if you need to download if you need it)

(Reader Comment)
You people are quite funny. Referring to a 1985 Report - over 20 years old - to justify the commercial seal hunt of today. I'm sorry, but that's so desperately clutching at straws that it would be hilarious were not the situation so sad. I've read all the government Reports in justification of the slaughter, and if you can't see the discrepancies then I feel sorry for your chronic case of tunnel-vision.

Contrary to your opinion, there are actually some AR activists who get both sides of the story, research from every angle in order to be able to put forth a valid argument.

You accuse AR activists of not knowing what they're talking about, but I'm seeing here the same old arguments and observations that are incorrect. We're only interested in saving the "cute" animals? Slaughterhouses are just as bad? Celebrities are only in it for the money? Change the record, please.

I'm sorry if you don't like it, but we WILL stop the commercial seal slaughter. Sealers will be forced to consider and accept one of the numerous viable employment alternatives that have been suggested to them over the last 20 years. Perhaps instead of breeding generation after generation of fishermen/sealers to live in alleged poverty while working in a failing industry, they will stop claiming there are no alternatives and will accept what has been suggested to them numerous times -- there ARE alternatives to slaughtering seals for a living.

We're not looking to put anyone out of work or into bankruptcy. There have been employment alternatives suggested, none of which have even been considered by government or sealers. Research that, and you'll see that I'm right.

We don't want to save the seal at the expense of the human. There is a 'win-win' situation if you people would only consider it.
- Anonymous Comment

(My Reply)

Dear Sir or Madame:

Thank you for your comment. I will take this opportunity to discuss the issue in further detail. I have read considerably on animal rights activists (ARAs) and the seal hunt itself, including Reports of the Canadian Veterinarian Medical Association, & Independent Veterinarians Working Group, and more. They were referenced in other blogs including the one you commented from. I knew The Royal Commission Report on Sealing was a significant study, especially after speaking with a DFO scientist who recommended it because of its relevance for today. Many things have not changed since the report first came out. For example, the sealing methods used are the same, except now, 90% of seals are killed using rifles, and white coats are no longer allowed to be killed. Even at that time, the method using the hakapik was considered very efficient. The methods were and are still considered humane, as much and perhaps even more so than methods used in abbatoirs (see Royal Commission blog below). Since you made light of an important report because of its age, let me provide you with more recent studies which approve of the hunt and methods used. Here are some key excerpts and links to the documents to read for yourself:

  • From the Canadian Veterinary Journal, in a study called Animal welfare and the harp seal hunt in Atlantic Canada (Sept., 2002)

    Much attention has been given over the years to animal welfare issues surrounding the seal hunt in Atlantic Canada. However, very little information is available on this subject in the scientific literature. This article reports the results of observations made by representatives of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association at the hunt in recent years and compares them with observations made by members of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The conclusion is that the large majority of seals taken during this hunt (at best, 98% in work reported here) are killed in an acceptably humane manner. However, the small proportion of animals that are not killed effectively justifies continued attention to this hunt on the part of the veterinary profession.

    (Thanks to blogger skylarkd for sending me that link)

  • From the Canadian Veterinarians Medical Association Report (2005)
    The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) accepts the hunting of seals only if carried out in a humane and sustainable manner.

    Young harp seals, approximately 3-4 weeks old, account for 90% or more of the commercial catch in Canadian waters. These animals have particularly thin skulls that can be completely crushed by one or a few strong blows with a hakapik (a long club). Therefore, the CVMA considers this a rapid, efficient, and humane means of killing young seals if conducted properly.

  • From A Report of the Independent Veterinarians Working Group on the Canadian Harp Seal Hunt (August, 2005)
    While striking a seal with a hakapik or club is a crude act, and one unlikely to be witnessed by observers without emotion, it is a humane way to render a seal unconscious or dead when carried out correctly by a trained and skilled individual according to the suggested guidelines. (p. 9)

    The Group notes that the Canadian harp seal hunt is professional and highly regulated by comparison with seal hunts in Greenland and the North Atlantic. It has the potential to serve as a model to improve humane practice and reduce seal suffering within the other hunts. (p. 23)
  • On Seal Pup Populations
    From the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans web site:
    According to a 2004 survey, the Northwest Atlantic harp seal population is now estimated at approximately 5.8 million animals, nearly triple what it was in the 1970s.
  • As many people are aware, animals including seals have a nervous reflex that occurs after stunning and death. Seals have a response called a “swimming reflex”. The Malouf Commission (1987) cited on the DFO Myths & Realities website, clarifies this and states that this reflex is misconceived by observers, (and misinterpreted by ARA’s) as being skinned alive.

  • Also, for your information, the seals harvested in the Atlantic hunt have very thin skulls and are easily stunned to a state of irreversible unconsciousness where no pain can be felt. In the Gulf seal fishery, until recently three blows from a hakapik were required. Some sealers still do this, but they can tell by feeling the broken skull that both brain hemispheres have been sufficiently damaged (a cracked egg feel), or they perform the “blinking eye” test, or they can determine through the impact of the feel and sound, that the animal is unconscious. At the Front, where 90% of seals are taken, bullets are very effective, as marksmen accuracy is very high. I have personally spoken with a DFO scientist who reinforced information I have just described.

    Reason for Writing on the 1985 Royal Commission Report, or any Valid Seal Hunt Study

    One of the reasons for taking key excerpts from the Royal Commission Report was to highlight the fact that despite considerable scientific evidence, academic analysis, and ethical arguments in favor of the hunt, ARA's ignore credible reports that validates the hunt – past and present. Another reason is that it’s so comprehensive. It allowed people from many fields of expertise to contribute to the report, and welcomed the input from all concerned parties, including the anti-sealing activists. It also provides important information that is not always presented, e.g., the social, cultural and economic importance of the seal hunt to people and communities. Finally, this document is not online, so people who want solid information can get some key information starting from this blog site.

    Next, I will correct some things you said in your comments. First, I did not say anywhere in my writing that ARA’s are only interested in cute animals. I am aware of ARA protests and methods used in other parts of the world. However, these groups are extremely interested in the white seal pup image. As Brian Davies put it in 1970, I see the seal issue as representing a showdown for wildlife. These animals are symbolic.. (p. 72 of the 1985 Royal Commission Report).

    Davies knew how to use the media effectively to evoke public emotions, reactions and donations. Paul Watson, a disciple of Davies, has also mastered media manipulation.
    I mean no offence, but he uses it to lure uninformed and unsuspecting people into believing in a cause which is based on fabrications, PR stunts, exaggerated and twisted scientific data. The formula of using the cute seal does not mean that ARA’s only protest the seal hunt, it simply means that this is a very big fundraiser for the ARA cousins, PETA, HSUS, SSCS and other kin

    This is not just my own analysis. Listen to the words of Paul Watson himself as he answers questions from CBC Radio’s Barbara Frum in 1978. In the interview he blatantly admits that the seal hunt is an easy way to get money rolling in, even though the harp seal is not even an endangered species. He says that there is no way to raise money based on California’s endangered species. This is a pretty telling audiotape, and true to this day. There is a preamble for two minutes or more before the interview.
    here to play audio.

    Below is a short segment of the interview:

    Click here to read the whole text of the interview.

    Barbara Frum: Mr. Watson, how easy is it to raise money against the hunt?

    Watson: The seal hunt has always turned a profit for the Greenpeace Foundation. And then other organizations like IFAW, API, Fund for Animals, also make a profit off the seal hunt

    Barbara Frum: You suggesting that they fight for seals rather than other animals because it's easy, or easier to raise money that way, or because it's a profit maker for them?

    Watson: Well it's definitely because it's easier to make money and because it's easier to make a profit because there are over a thousand animals on the endangered species list, and the harp seal isn't one of them

    Barbara Frum: Did anyone in Greenpeace ever express that aloud, that it was easy to make some hay on the seal hunt so let's get into that?

    Watson: Well, a lot of people have done that. See the thing is the seal is very easy to exploit as an image. We have posters, we have buttons, we have shirts, all of which portray the head of a baby seal with the tears coming out of its eyes. Baby seals are always crying because — its — they're always — the salt tears keep their eyes from freezing. But they have this image — they're baby animals, they're beautiful, and because of that ...

    People like Brian Davies and Paul Watson have been successful in the last 35 years in creating in the social milieu, a negative associated meaning with the term seal hunt. Over the years, and now more than ever, key negative words are used to equate sealers, Newfoundland, Newfoundlanders, and sealing with being barbaric, murderous, greedy, cruel, nazi-like, and even demented, not unlike the image of killers in slasher movies like Friday the 13th. And more obviously, the idea of clubbing a seal is not described as being an efficient method of killing, as researchers repeatedly say, but rather it is equated with something that is old-fashioned, backward, uneducated, and outdated. It seems to play to people’s insecurities about how others view Canada.

    It is conceivable that a celebrity like McCartney could actually say what experts tell us. People’s perception of sealers using a hakapik could really be reversed if an informed celebrity told it like it is. Imagine McCartney saying, I want everyone to know that even though it may look brutal, this method of sealing is very humane and quick. Then celebrity media could be used for factual information.

    Getting back to your comments, I suggested that celebrities are often misinformed and used, or simply ignorant, but they do function to attract wide attention and big cash for big payrolls. In the case of the McCartneys either this was true or they shamelessly projected an uncivilized and false image of a civilized people. But why wouldn’t PETA and other ARA’s use them to draw attention? It does increase viewers and it acts like an infomercial when the celebrities direct viewers to a web site and phone number to make donations. CNN itself is actually a window into peoples’ fixation with celebrities. For almost two years, CNN itself could very well have been called the Scott & Laci Peterson Station, or the OJ Station in 1995-96. The president of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk said about PETA’s publicity methods,
    PETA's publicity formula -- eighty percent outrage, ten percent each of celebrity and truth.
    (The New Yorker, 2003)

    If you still don’t think celebrities are used to bring in the goods, then consider this sample of the Larry King show with the McCartneys and Premier Danny Williams:

    H. MCCARTNEY: And, if you go onto you can see exactly what goes on and click on to say if you support the ban of this seal hunt, so and any help there donation wise can really help push this forward.

    It was obvious to anyone watching, that the Larry King show of was a one hour PETA advertisement. At least the first half hour of the show was devoted to Heather & Paul McCartney’s plea to the public to help and stop the seal hunt by visiting an HSUS sponsored website, and calling a number to donate. Preceding commercials, there were at least two video clips where Paul, and Heather appealled to the public to donate:

    (from the transcript of The Larry King Live show of March 3, 2006)


    P. MCCARTNEY: In about three weeks time these baby seals are due to be clubbed to death or shot in what's known as the seal hunt. For many years, people have been trying to have this brutal practice stopped but we are out here to see if we can lend our voice to this campaign and maybe get it stopped once and for all.


    H. MCCARTNEY: Sadly, you won't be able to stop these beautiful baby seals around us being bludgeoned to death in the next few weeks but hopefully we could if we all join together and put pressure on the Canadian government to do what is just humane and stop this seal hunt, hopefully this would be the last seal hunt.

    By the way, this is a snapshot of PETA’s income statement, a subject for another blog in itself.


    These are your words, not mine: slaughterhouses are just as bad. My point in mentioning a worker’s experience in a slaughterhouse was to reiterate what reports like those mentioned above say, i.e., that the seal fishery is as humane as regular animal slaughter. Also, the point is that any animal industry done on a white background will create a distasteful image anytime. Billions of people like to eat chicken, turkey, beef and pork, but no one wants to see a Discovery channel show of How it’s Made about how meat is harvested. For ARA’s to continually show blood soaked snow images is actually insulting to viewer’s intelligence. People know what killing animals involve. I don’t think that there are many out there who believe cattle all just pass peacefully away. Having said that, like any Canadian, I want to take comfort in knowing that an industry in my province is humane and is continually being checked and regulated like all other animal industries. That’s why I have inquired about the hunt, and referenced the above studies.

    Finally, it is not necessary to suggest alternate industries, as the seal fishery is humane, efficient, and contrary to what you call failing, quite successful and self-sustaining. Your use of the statement “there ARE alternatives” is just another piece of PR communications psychology, which infers to the public that, Newfoundland’s rationale for justifying the seal hunt is because we don’t think there are alternatives. Again, this is using the public’s lack of attention to and ignorance of the issue, to falsely present a situation which does not exist, thus, tricking the public. The PR used by ARA’s have gotten sophisticated enough to use this sneaky technique. A similar tactic is used when activists spokes people say that “seals did not cause the cod fish collapse.” Again, that type of statement is proclaimed to infer that Newfoundlanders exclusively blame seals for the total collapse of the cod. As Newfoundlanders & Labradorians and other educated people know, there are many factors in the cod collapse, including foreign overfishing, water temperature change, and possibly including to some degree, predators like seals.

    With respect reader, I’m sure you and many others sincerely have animal welfare in mind. There are plenty of places in the world where real inhumane treatment of animals take place daily. However, the ice fields off Newfoundland and Labrador are not included with them. In spite of healthy seal populations, and approval from experts and international organizations who consider the hunt humane, ARA’s still refute those findings. They will not let go of the seal hunt because it is still, as Paul Watson said, an easy way to raise money. Please consider the evidence presented here and consider carrying out animal welfare work with a more respected and honest organization.

    Just for your information, there are at least 8 boat tour and whale watching ventures in northern NL coastal areas where the seal hunt takes place.

    Also see the Department of Fisheries & Oceans website to learn more about the Myths & Realities of the Seal.
  • Friday, April 21, 2006

    How to Save on Oil & Gas Costs

    If record high oil prices are giving you gas, then you're not alone.

    At $74 US a barrel today, consumers are being financially wounded. Unfortunately, we don't have many practical alternatives when it comes to cars. But it makes one wonder why it's taking so long to get other real energy options going in our society. Could it possibly be that President Bush may have some oil connections, and they are fuelling the "dependence" on oil? Well, you powerful oil execs, presidents, sheiks, "you have contributed to an earthly mess, slick!" Regular people have too, but mainly because we are not given much choice to power our vehicles. There is next to nothing in infrastructure for other forms of energy. The hybrids are a start, but the extra amount you pay for the vehicle hardly makes it worthwhile. So what can we do? Here are some common sense things to help us consumers, consume less:

  • For the best home heating oil prices, phone around to ask their price. Last week I went through the yellow pages and phoned local companies. There was a .07 difference between highest & lowest per litre. That can save you lots.
  • Energy efficient heat dishes can save plenty on furnace oil costs. From personal experience it costs a little more on the electric bill, but you can really save on oil.
  • Don't forget to turn the thermastat down when you're away from home for a long time, like at work.
  • Turn down your temperature during sleep times.

    Here are suggestions on saving money on gas prices:

    1. Always keep your car tuned up and in good repair. We've all seen cars driving down the road that leak gas -- what a waste! A poorly tuned car can use up to 25% more gas.

    2. Avoid buying higher octane gas than your car requires. Higher octane gas is more expensive, and if your car doesn't need it, you're wasting money.

    3. Keep your tires properly inflated. This can make a huge difference in your gas mileage -- up to 6% loss for every single pound your tire is under-inflated. Check your tire pressure frequently, especially if your tires have a tendency to lose pressure.

    4. Consider getting steel-belted radial tires, since they can pay for themselves over time. They can increase gas mileage up to 10%.

    5. Remove snow tires after the winter season, since they require more fuel.

    6. Don't carry unnecessary items in your car. Every 250 extra pounds eats up an extra mile per gallon. Another good reason to clean out the trunk...

    7. You might want to buy your gas at the stations that at least give you some points or "money" back, e.g., Esso, Canadian Tire.

    8. Save money with self-service whenever possible. And pay cash if there is an extra charge to use a credit card.

    9. Don't let your car idle, either when you warm it up or when you are at a standstill. If you're going to be standing for more than a minute, running your engine wastes more gas than restarting the engine. Don't use your remote starter in the summer, no need - it drinks more gas unnecessarily.

    10. Buy gas when it's cooler during the day (like the early morning or at night) to reduce gas evaporation.

    11. This surprises a lot of people, but don't over-fill your gas tank. You don't want the gas to slosh out or evaporate.

    12. This is probably obvious -- but slow down. Most cars are less efficient at higher speeds. You'll save 2 miles per gallon driving 55 mph rather than 65 mph. That adds up.

    13. Another obvious suggestion is to drive less. Combine errands, carpool, and plot out your route beforehand to avoid backtracking whenever possible.

    14. Develop good driving habits. For example, accelerate gently, maintain a steady speed rather than speeding up and slowing down, and avoid slamming on the brakes.

    15. Keep your windows closed when driving on the highway. Open windows can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 10%. In stop-and-go traffic, open the windows and turn off the air conditioning to save money.

    16. Rent fuel-efficient cars when you travel. Research and find reasonably priced places to buy gas before you leave, especially if you'll be driving a lot.
    Finally, here's a bonus tip:

    17. Consider buying a car that gets better gas mileage when you choose your next car. This can save you a great deal of money over time.

    18. Compare cars for best gas mileage.

    19. Walk or ride your bike more to work, or just simply to be healthier. When warm weather finally arrives, take advantage of the outdoors.

    20. Remember, demand drives up prices, so the less demand we as a population have, then prices won't be continually gushing skyward. Using local store logic, if a product is not selling so much, it goes on sale.

    It's up to each individual to do whatever they choose, but when many people demand oil and gas less, it will affect profits of oil companies, and prices at the pump.
    Finally we can also do our part to lobby government to facilitate or promote other forms of energy development - and that's not being crude.
  • Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    1985 Royal Commission Report on Sealing Validates Seal Hunt: Limiting Access to Activists is the Best Protection for Sealers

    When the most credible academic source of information like the 1985 Royal Commission Report won't stop the anti-sealing protests of animal rights activists, then nothing will, except perhaps, like Norway does, banning them from the hunt entirely. Since the seal hunt was first scrutinized in the mid 1960's, it has had to ensure that the hunt was carried out with the most efficient humane methods, and management program. As a Newfoundlander who wants objective validation of the seal hunt, I want to know that people who are best qualified, i.e., veterinarians, scientists, professionals in philosophy and law, have analyzed all sides of the issue, and then gave it an approval. Therefore, I think it is worthwhile to present important excerpts from the Report of the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada (1985). The Commission made up of international members, wrote a very comprehensive report on seals and sealing in Canada. Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientists still view this report as still being very relevant as many facts presented have not changed.

    Among the topics covered, the Royal Commission Report gives an overview of Canadian Seals, and a history of sealing; examines public concerns about sealing; addresses ethical questions regarding the killing of animals including seals; analyzes the economic, social and cultural issues involved; and scrutinizes the biological issues, including methods of killing seals.

    To appreciate what an objective, valid and comprehensive report this is, I will first list how the Commission gathered its information, what sources were used, and who the members of the Royal Commission were. After, I will present key excerpts and concluding statements on key topics.
    Sources of Information
    (p. 3-9, vol. 1)
    Public Submissions
    Public submissions either as written briefs or in personal presentations to the Commission;
    Studies undertaken by expert consultants engaged by the Commission to examine particular topics;
    Information and opinion provided by experts in particular fields at the request of the Commission;
    Published scientific and technical literature;
    Personal knowledge, experience and research of Commission and staff

    Public Hearings
    There were 10 public hearings in international cities. They are: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, London, St. John’s, Kangiqsujuaq, Pangnirtung and Holman. A total of 156 witnesses gave oral testimony on these occasions.

    Written Submissions
    The Royal Commission also received a total of 137 written briefs. The sources of written briefs and oral testimony included sealers; the sealing industry; the fishing and fish-processing industries; the fur industry; representation of the aboriginal peoples; conservation, animal-welfare and animal-rights groups; veterinarians; academics in such fields as biology, economics, sociology, nutrition, philosophy and law; local development groups; elected representatives; government departments; representatives of foreign governments; and concerned individuals.

    Specific Information was frequently unavailable from witnesses, thus, the Royal Commission retained a number of consultants to carry out special studies in its behalf.

    Expert Inquiries
    The Royal Commission has also drawn heavily on the help and advice of people who had particular knowledge and skills in matters with which it was concerned. This help, which has been readily given, has ranged from the provision of basic facts to discussion of complex scientific issues, and even to review the preliminary drafts of technical sections of its Report.

    Members of the Royal Commisson

    Chairman: The Honorable Albert H. Malouf, Justice, Court of Appeal of Quebec.

    Other Commissioners:
    Dr. K. Radway Allen of Sydney, Australia. Formerly Chief of the Division of Fisheries and Oceanography, CSIRO, Cronulla. He has been involved for many years in research of the population dynamics and management of marine mammals.

    Dr. Russell L. Barsh of Seattle, U.S. He taught law and public policy at the University of Washington until 1984.

    Dr. John A. Gulland of Cambridge, England. At the time of this report, he was Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Environmental Technology, Imperial College, London.

    Professor Ian McAllister of Halifax, Canada. At the time of this report, he was
    Professor of Economics, Dalhousie University.

    Dr. Wilfred Templeman of St. John’s, Canada. Formerly Director of the Biological Station, Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans.

    Dr. Patrick A. Geistdoerfer. At the time of this report, he was responsible for research in marine biology at the Centre National de Recherche, Paris, France.


    The Royal Commission’s Summary on Humaneness of the Seal Hunt
    (Keep in mind this was in reference to seals including white coat seal pups at the time, i.e., early 1980's. As many of us know, 90% of seals hunted today are killed by rifle, but even back in the 1980's the method using a hakapik was condoned by the Commission.)
    "From the perspective of the victim, the clubbing of seal pups involves little if any suffering when done "properly". The kill itself is virtually painless, as the animal is rendered instantly unconscious. Virtually no stress occurs prior to the kill, and there is little evidence of stress to the mother seal or to other seals when the pup is clubbed."
    (p. 193, vol. 2)

    The Royal Commission’s Summary on Methods of killing seals:

    "Clubbing of harp seals is as humane as, or more humane than, the methods used in slaughterhouses when both methods are carried out properly. The frequency of improper killing appears to be generally lower for harp seals than for the majority of animals in the slaughterhouses inspected.
    Overall, the clubbing of harp seals by sealers from the large vessels appears to be as humane as, or more humane than, the killing methods practised in most slaughterhouses.

    "Some observers, familiar with slaughterhouse operations, who have assessed the humaneness of the harp seal hunt, have similiarly considered it to be as humane as, or more humane than, the killing of food animals in slaughterhouses (Hughes, 1967; MacLeod, 1967; Jones, 1968; Platt, 1970; Jotham, 1978; Taylor, 1979). "
    (p. 53, vol.3)

    (Because images of a whitecoat seal pup evokes such an emotional reaction in people, animal rights groups disrespectfully dupe the public by continuing to play video footage of a type of hunt that has been illegal for 20 years. Even though academics consider the hunt humane, activists ignore this and still pursue insidious methods to trick the public. They use old film footage, abusive and insulting language, and completely alter facts. Most shamelessly, they have used professional video editing companies such as Paradore Communications in the U.S. to edit an already staged scenario (8 years ago, an IFAW film crew posed as representatives of a sports hunter magazine in the U.S. to set up a sealer who was eventually charged by the courts for alleged cruelty).

    On Methods of Killing Seals

    "The Royal Commission believes it is appropriate to compare the information about seals with the information available on slaughtering domestic animals in abattoirs and hunting.

    Mechanical Stunning may be carried out by means of a penetrating captive-bolt stunner, a non-penetrating captive-bolt stunner, or a gun shot (Grandin, 1980a)… Essentially these operations provided no objective methods of testing that determined when an animal was improperly stunned. Instead a slaughterman would rely upon his professional experience to determine when an animal should be stunned a second time.

    Manual Stunning. Lambs and young calves may be rendered unconscious by a blow to the head applied by manual means …Rowsell (1979b) reported on the clubbing of lambs with a steel bar at a Canadian packing plant.

    Electrical Stunning is used especially for pigs, but also for sheep.

    Carbon Dioxide Stunning is used primarily on pigs.
    (p. 47 - 50, vol. 3)

    On Ethical Considerations

    Several presentations to the Royal Commission stressed that the question of the acceptability of killing of seals should be treated as an ethical and moral issue. Two versions of the basic ethical argument against sealing were put forward:

    The absolutist view that killing of seals was in itself, regardless of cruelty or conservation considerations, wrong (e.g., Hamilton, 1985); and
    The judgemental view, that the interests of seals should be taken into account, and that killing of seals could be acceptable only if benefits to humanity from sealing exceeded the harm inflicted on the seals (e.g., Singer, 1985)

    Application of the absolutist viewpoint only to wild animals meets logical problems. To be consistent, any human act leading to the death or suffering of an animal should be opposed. As noted earlier, deliberate killing is only one element, and in most cases only a minor element, of humanity’s impact on the numbers and well-being of wild animals. Urbanization, clearing of forests, ploughing of grasslands for agriculture, and spraying to protect crops all have much more harmful effects on the ecosystem and the general welfare of animals than have properly controlled levels of hunting….

    Adoption of an absolutist attitude also implies as its logical extreme that animal rights always take precedence over human interests. Most upholders of animal rights would reject this concept.
    (p. 95-96, vol. 2)

    Should Seals be Killed?

    "If we are to accept the killing of hundreds of millions of animals for human consumption, which, in spite of legislation, involves a degree of physical suffering and mental trauma far in excess of that suffered by the seal, then it seems difficult to understand how the proper killing of seals can be considered unethical. (Hughes, 1985)
    (p. 191, vol. 2)

    "... it is also clear that by and large, those who would not immediately rule out all killing of animals as a matter of principle agree on certain limiting factors. These factors must be taken into account in determining whether a given operation that involves killing seals (or other animals) should be considered acceptable:

    • the degree of cruelity inflicted
    • the conservation of the seal stocks and the environment in which they live
    • the importance of sealing and the products of seal to those engaged in this activity, including the importance of any benefits to fishermen if culls of seals were undertaken to protect fishing interests.

    The first two points can be settled by reference to objective and verifiable facts, such as how much pain is inflicted, or what is the status of the stocks.

    Regarding the importance of sealing, many argue that the ultimate use of many sealskins to make luxury coats or other products which the wearer could well do without is an important consideration in determining whether seals should be killed. When judged only by such end uses much sealing can be seen as trivial and thus, from several viewpoints, unjustifiable. This seems a narrow view, for a broader view would take account of all those involved, from the seal hunter, to the processor, to the ultimate user.

    The actual amount of cash earned by all but the most economically successful sealer may appear small by the standards of the average Canadian per capita income, but for many sealers it is of great consequence. Moreover, when allowance is made for all the relevant factors - the value of the meat and skins consumed by the sealer and his family, the low average income in most areas in which sealing occurs, and the absense of alternative employment, especially during the sealing season - it is clear that sealing is very important, and that the cash returns grossly underrepresent the real economic and social importance of sealing to communities directly concerned. There may be exceptions but in general, if the serving of a significant practical purpose is a criterion of the justification for the killing of animals, most current forms of killing seals are equally justifiable or more so than most other occasions of human killing animals…

    In summary, therefore, consideration of the three factors identified earlier indicate that with some minor exceptions, sealing in Canada appears to avoid undue cruelty, not to threaten the stocks, and to serve important purposes.
    (p. 190-195, vol. 2)

    On The Anti-Sealing Movement

    "Protests about the seal hunt began in the 1960’s. Similar to today, protesters charged that too many seals were being harvested and claimed that this was endangering the species. Frequently, they charged that the killing was exceptionally cruel, and that pups were skinned alive. They claimed that it was wrong to kill helpless, nursing seal pups in front of their mothers, and that the mothers wept over the carcasses of their young; that sealers made very little money from the hunt; and that there was no need for the products of the hunt. These charges have been repeated throughout the history of the anti-sealing campaign.

    Anti-sealing material emphasizes the analogies between seals and humans, through use of words that are generally used of humans such as a “baby seal”, “murder”, “innocent”, or by attributing human properties to seals, for instance in ascribing tears to sadness. Tears are a normal biological function that keep the eyes of harp seals moist, and they are not related to grief. Some groups have so often charged that seals are skinned alive, or that mother seals weep over the bodies of their babies that many readers unquestionably accept these charges as facts.

    Some information handouts use emotional language to paint the sealers as the villains of the seal hunt. Amory (undated) stated:

    “He goes to meet, in a curious, friendly, playful way, the first human being he has ever see and is - by that same human - clubbed on the head and skinned on the spot - sometimes while he is still alive.

    This sad, cruel episode is repeated over and over and over during the “hunt” by hundreds of Canadian and Norwegian sealers, who first kick away the mother, and then drive home their horrible message by bludgeoning the baby using a club, or the brutal spike-tipped hakapik.” (p. 70 - 71, vol. 2)

    Anti-sealing groups have been quite selective in their use of the information available about the hunt. This is not surprising in what is, in essense, a propaganda campaign, the object of which is to present a particular viewpoint as strongly as possible. For example, anti-sealing groups were selective in the information used to present their view of one of the most important issues, the humaneness of the killing. Of the more than 40 veterinarians, animal-welfare officers and biologists who have observed the hunt and assessed its humaneness, the anti-sealing groups have emphasized the observations of the only two veterinarians, Simpson and Jordan, who concluded that not only was the hunt inhumane, but also it could not be changed sufficiently to render it humane. (p. 73, vol. 2)

    (This report is so relevant to today's anti-sealing campaigns. In fact, the abusive and racit-type character assasination has only intensified. Here are some examples from the news section of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society: "the ignorantly-cruel seal killers have taken their boats into the Gulf in an effort to shoot every seal in sight... this barbaric ritualistic tradition of suffering and slaughter has begun")

    Why Seals

    A number of studies, such as those made by zoologist Desmond Morris and the Walt Disney interests in modifying the original form of Mickey Mouse, have investigated the attributes, explicit or implicit, that make an animal attractive. An attractive animal is well rounded, with big eyes, a large head and short limbs. Add dark eyes and white fur, and have the ideal animal. You also have the whitecoat pup. Further, add white ice, red blood and a sealer with a large club and a skinning knife, and you have a picture that will give rise to widespread public concern. It is this public concern that is one of the major factors in the sealing issue. It exists quite apart from any evidence concerning the state of stocks. It is also distinct from scientific evidence about the pain felt by the seal, the time taken for the animal to reach unconsciousness or death, or the intensity of the bonds between mother and pup. The concern is also strengthened by the perceived brutality of clubbing. It is serious because sealing, unlike, say, killing in a slaughterhouse, takes place in the open and potentially under the public eye and the eye of the television camera.

    Another source of a sealing problem, over and above objective concerns with conservation of the stocks or undue suffering, is the lack of knowledge of a large segment of the public, particularly in the towns, of what life in the wild is really like. It would be exaggerating to imply that men or women living in Montreal or Toronto believe that in nature no seal would ever suffer or be killed, but there does seem to be a lack of appreciation that violent death is an inseparable part of the natural system.

    (As seen in the next excerpt, the Royal Commission Report provides key biological information about seals, which exposes the so-called "mothers wept" description of how seal mothers react. Again, the animal rights people try to take advantage of the public's lack of knowledge, and send a false message.)

    Tear Production in Seals

    Mammals (and all terrestrial vertebrates) possess a number of glands that provide secretions to moisten the eyeball and, to some extent, to keep it aseptic. Two important glands continually secrete fluids to the eyes, which prevents dry eyes and serious problems from resulting. Humans possess a nasolachrymal duct or tear duct in the lower lid. This duct drains the constantly secreted fluids into the nasal cavity. Seals possess no nasolachrymal ducts… When seals are on land or on ice and their fur has dried out, tears can always be seen dribbling from their eyes, since even the normal lubricatory secretions, which in seals almost certainly comes mainly from the lachrymal glands, cannot be drained away. "

    Sealing studies don't get any more credible than the comprehensive 1985 Report of the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada. Of course other important reports since, e.g., the Independent Veterinarians's Report and the Canadian Veterinarian's Report, have validated the seal hunt. So it seems that no actual research will stop the protesters from disrupting the work of sealers, or stop them from the continuing character assasination of Newfoundlanders and other Canadians who derive economic, cultural and social value from the humane and legal seal hunt. The democratic right to free speech has been granted to animal rights groups since the 1960's. However, that right has been abused, and used to slander and disgracefully brand sealers as sadistic murderers. The time has come to keep people with malicious motives like this, far away from the seal hunt.

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Penn & Teller on PETA & Activists: Shows Extremism & Hyprocrisy

    A recent emailer to VOCM's BackTalk site sent in this link of the comedy team of Penn & Teller, who presents amazing video footage of PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, and other activists, actually saying the extreme things we read about.It shows the hyprocrisy of PETA, and proof of its financial support for convicted arsonist Rodney Coronado. Click Here

    (contains some offensive language)

    This appears to have been made in 2005.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    PETA-philes Have No Business Here

    When a major issue resonates with Newfoundlanders, we seem to come together in harmony to voice our passion. In the past 15 months, it has happened at least four times. First, when Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail decided to use Newfoundland as a punching bag during the Atlantic Accord flag flap, we punched back with 1000's of emails, letters, and phone calls giving her a piece of our collective minds. In a trend that looks like an annual event, a year later, Bill Lankhoff of the Toronto Sun, lashes out at Newfoundland and our olympic gold medal curling team. Then a true annual event/fundraiser, the seal hunt protest, Newfoundlanders show support for Danny William's defence of the seal hunt when on the Jerry Springer, I mean Larry King show with Heather & Paul. Now, an outcry has helped Costco reverse it's "business" decision to put seal oil capsules back on the shelf.

    Newfoundlanders are a very passionate and thoughtful people, but when our image is intentionally being slandered by malicious people, then we defend and demand justice. The vibe that an issue strikes is palpable in the general populace. Even though we do not have a large population in our province the passion of the protest is high, and shows that we do as a whole have alot of power. Many people, about 3000 signed online petitions, supported a boycott of Costco if the seal oil capsules were not put back on the shelves. So we can make a difference. Paul Watson's gang, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), are ripping mad about this because they claimed to have directly influenced Costco in their decision. My condolences Paul, but it seems that Costco does not want, or no longer wants, to be associated with a lying bunch of media manipulating PETA-philes. SSCS, the Humane Society of the U.S. & PETA, have used false statements, used celebrities, and used a racist type of slander to attempt to paint Newfoundlanders like the sadistic hillbillies from the movie Deliverance. ..."Costco has decided that they would rather support men who viciously club helpless baby seals... ". Here's another example of image-eliciting words used by Watson's group: "... the ignorantly-cruel seal killers have taken their boats into the Gulf in an effort to shoot every seal in sight...".

    Apparantly messages like these do influence some "civil" people. One reader, mdalton, sent MacLean's this online message: "I think the seal hunt is barbaric and inhumane. It seems that a small group of people with a lack of intelligence feel that clubbing seals or spiking them over the head is a rewarding way to make money."

    Well mdalton, you have to understand that the seal hunters are in a bit of a dilemma. They likely grew up working in an industry, fishing or sealing, that required a specific navigational intuitiveness, and a physical aptitude to work in a physical occupation. Thus, they may be currently “under-educated” for the modern age we live in. On the other hand, because of their education levels, they are over-qualified to be a seal hunt protester, which truly requires ignorance, a deceptive and uncivil personality. However, with some brainwashing lessons from the sensei himself, Paul Watson, I’m sure they can learn to lie about facts, and be prejudice towards people.

    A recent caller to Bill Rowe's Backtalk show, could listen no more to what anti-sealing protestors had to say. She described working in a cattle slaughterhouse elsewhere in Canada, and said that the seal fishery was as humane, if not more, than animal slaughter in regular abbatoirs. Describing it as never a pretty business, "I was up to my knees in blood every day ... if you do the same thing to a cow on the ice, and it will look ten times worse." So people involved in animal rights really ought to take their protest to places that really do need to implement humane practises, and while they're there, stop using lies to raise money. Just go there and try and be constructive. As long as groups like PETA fabricate facts about Newfoundland and its people, there will never be a place for them here.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Costco Seal Oil Removal: Coincidence or Politically Influenced

    Costco regularly pulls items of the shelf that don't sell well, but why choose this time to take down seal omega3 oil capsules? They were approached by one of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's (SSCS) volunteers, Stephen Thompson of Vancouver, just recently, so it is a bit suspicious that they would not wait till all the media hype surrounding the hunt, died down. If there were no other information connecting Costco or its board of directors to such an interest, then I would not question it. But Paul Watson's web site infers that the action of their people is what influenced Costco to remove the capsules.
    "After discussions with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Costco's senior management team have decided to remove seal oil capsules from the shelves of their St. John's location"
    - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society website news
    There is another reason that Costco could have purposely timed the removal of the capsules to coincide with the annual seal protest hype. Stephen Thompson's sell may not have been hard since
    "Jim Sinegal, co-founder of Costco, and a prominent US Democrat supporter, has donated to the campaigns of active seal hunt opponents Edward Kennedy, Maria Cantwell, Barbara Boxer, Christopher Dodd and Patty Murray - therefore, an action like this would contribute to the cause of anti-seal political representatives. Democratic Senator Carl Levin has already supported a Canadian seafood boycott."
    - (See Sen. Carl Levin on Resolution 33 from the HSUS web site)
    In addition, Jeff Brotman, co-founder of Costco and also a prominent US Democrat supporter, has in the past donated to Sen. Carl Levin (behind Senate Resolution 33 condemning the Canadian seal hunt as cruel) and also Patty Murray. These senators have political connections to the Costco board of directors.

    So these connections alone make you think that removing the seal omega3 oil capsules, when the animal rights activists would be doing one of their most popular fundraising drives, i.e., protesting the seal hunt, was more than just coincidence. I am sure that from a business point of view, Costco has every right to remove any product they deem to be not worth the trouble keeping. However, the political affiliations mentioned above makes me doubt that the timing of this move is purely coincidental, but rather politically influenced. If this is actually the case, then Costco should know that in time to come Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) group will eventually betray Costco's trust. Costco may not know it but the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's mission is to stop fishing, period. So that includes many other fish species and products. PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S. want stores like Costco to get rid of all meat, fish, leather, and animal derived products.

    It would be ironic if Costco is supporting extremist people like Watson, Ingrid Newkirk of PETA, and dangerous offenders like, Dr. Jerry Vlasak - extremists that hate people and businesses that sell meat, fish, and leather, or labs that use animals to find cures. This is one of many shocking quotes from Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA, that is typical of their extremist views:
    "Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it.
    - Ingrid Newkirk, President, PETA (Vogue, September, 1989).
    There is a greater chance that Pamela Anderson will be given an oscar for playing Mother Teresa in her next movie, than Costco ever getting rid of all it's fish, meat and leather products. But animal rights groups could eventually turn on them to do just that. So for now it looks like Costco is a friend of animal rights groups, but they are really the enemy.

    Like other Newfoundlanders I want our seal hunt to be as humane as it can be, so any constructive suggestions from credible and valid organizations like the Candian Veterinary Medical Association and the Independent Veteranarian's Working Group on the Canadian Seal Hunt to improve it should be heeded. Like any other animal industry this one has the potential to grow by using seals for a variety of meat and oil products. Since the 1960's regulations have been continually updated to improve the methods and efficiency of the hunt, so Newfoundlanders can take some comfort in knowing that, and hopefully stores like Costco will too.