The annual seal hunt off the East coast stirs up a great deal of hysteria amongst the various animal rights groups each spring. More accurately it probably brings joy to their hearts as this is a great fund raising event for them.
Back in the days of the Brigitte Bardot photo-ops they locked onto photos of the appealing seal pups with their glistening white coat and enormous eyes as the fundraising icon for their anti-sealing campaigns. When the killing of seal pups, or white coats was stopped in 1987 the anti-sealing activists appeared to have lost their best fundraising image. But to read the lamentations from animal rights spokespersons today, reported faithfully by the media, the sealers are still killing those photogenic little ‘white coats’.
“Just three days ago, we stood on the ice floes with beautiful baby seals still covered in white fur,” said Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society of the United States.
“It is heartbreaking that the commercial seal hunt has begun and these pups are being brutally clubbed, shot and skinned to produce fashion items nobody needs.”
It is difficult to believe that Ms. Aldworth really believes this rhetoric and is unaware that these pups are no longer being killed by the sealers. More probably, she can clearly hear the sound of donation money rolling in every time she intones the words ‘white coats’ and ‘clubbed’ in the same sentence.
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador certainly recognized that the animal rights groups were playing fast and loose with the facts back in 2005, when they sent out a press release trying to set the record straight.
“White coats” have not been harvested since 1987, but there is evidence that they are being exploited by the anti-sealing interest groups who profit from Eastern Canada’s seal harvest.
It has long been recognized in Newfoundland and Labrador that the white coat (which references a harp seal’s white fur that molts away after approximately three weeks) is a critical component to some lobbyists’ fundraising campaigns. A harvesting and trading ban of white coats has existed under Marine Mammal Regulations since 1987. However, some political action committees appear to rely on the donations that are generated in response to their blatant promotion of such images.
“We respect even extremist groups’ right to disagree with Newfoundland and Labrador’s cultural, historical, and economic links with the seal harvest,” says Trevor Taylor, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “But many anti-seal groups must come clean. They purposely promote the more appealing image of white coats, which have not been harvested for almost two decades. It’s time that they stopped exploiting these seals for their own fundraising purposes.”
Where they got it wrong was they thought that the campaign was against the killing of the pups. But the campaign was, and is, about stopping the seal hunt completely and animal rights groups, in their religious fervour, will use any means within their grasp, fair or foul, to achieve that goal.
And if it means using misleading statements and emotional issues that no longer exist, then so be it.
To loosely paraphrase Barry Goldwater, “extremism in the defense of an animal rights agenda is no vice”.
Thanks to Small Dead Animals for this pointer, although SDA’s focus was that in our time of climate change the sealers were having trouble getting to the seal herds due to thick ice.