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Sealing and hypocrisy

Dear Editor, So once again the World Trade Organization (WTO) has made the news by upholding the European Union (EU) ban on seal products, because they're saying seal hunting can involve clubbing seals on the head, causing unavoidable pain and distress.

First off, they’re all as uneducated as those attention-seekers in town a while ago offering paltry sums of cash to the sealers. Do they not understand clubbing is illegal, has been for so many years and is no longer practiced? In fact, the hunt has been inspected by international authorities, and has been deemed humane. I guess they’re not aware of that.

Now, ignoring the fact above and chalking it up to a supreme level of ignorance, let’s look at some EU member countries and their “less-than-humane” habits.

Let’s look at a situation that should be familiar to Newfoundland, especially those in St. John’s from many years ago when the Portuguese White Fleet frequented the docks. Those sailors were on ship for months at a time, presumably living on little else but fish. So upon docking in St. John’s, the sight of the pigeons on the waterfront intensified their hunger for meat.

How to catch a pigeon? Well, you soak bread in wine or port, throw it onto the dock until several of the small fowl had eaten enough to become severely inebriated, too much so to walk (dare I say stagger?) away. They’re now easy prey for the sailors, who could walk up to the birds, grab them and wring their necks.

Now let’s visit France, where songbirds are a delicacy. How to catch a song bird? Well, reports say once you have one, it’s easy. You cover a tree with small mesh netting, take your pretty little songbird, and burn it’s eyes out with a hot poker and place it inside the netting. The screams of agony from the poor sightless animal attract others of the same species, who become entangled in the nets, only to meet their demise on a gastronome’s plate. Illegal by the EU, but by some reports, a practice still revered in a few social circles, and in private.

Now, let’s travel to Spain. Ah yes, the gentle people of Español. Aren’t they the people who enjoy, support and promote bull fighting? And yes, a member of the EU who supports a ban on seal products because it causes “unavoidable pain and distress." What important fact that permits this am I missing?

Now, staying in Spain, let’s visit the plight of the poor Galgos Españoles, or Spanish Greyhound. These gentle poor unfortunates are bred for hunting, where their life starts in a dark and filthy shed in conditions that would make a North American puppy mill tame by comparison, from an over-bred bitch. They’re given barely enough food for proper sustenance and kept extremely hungry to accentuate their hunting drive.

Once the hunt is done, some of the Spaniards kill their dogs rather than feed and care for the animals until the next hunting season. Some face a mercifully quick death with maybe a bullet to the head. Some of the cruel hunters like to hang the animals by their necks from a tree with a rope just long enough so their back paws just barely touch the ground. (Think about that for a minute.) Others will tie the dog to a tree on a short rope and jam a stick in it’s mouth so it’s held open, and the dog dies a slow and painful death from thirst and hunger.

Please note I’m not accusing ALL members of the EU of cruelty, and these are just four examples that occur in three of the 28 member countries. I’m sure there are more I don’t know about (and maybe don’t want to know about), and I’m also sure there are countries that absolutely abhor practices as I’ve outlined here.

However, maybe the WTO should get educated on sealing practices, and maybe the EU should look at their own back yards before asking us to clean up ours.

Jamie O'Flaherty

Bay Roberts

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