International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

May 26, 2005 09:08 ET

World Wildlife Fund Canada Seal Meeting Called a Whitewash

Attention: City Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 26, 2005) - In alliance with: Environment Voters, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Animal Alliance of Canada, Animal Protection Institute, Canadian Alliance for Furbearing Animals, World Society for the Protection of Animals, Zoocheck Canada; Respect for Animals, RSPCA, MSPCA, Born Free, Vancouver Humane Society, Nova Scotia Humane Society, and the ASPCA.

A number of the world's largest animal welfare organizations are condemning a meeting funded by World Wildlife Fund-Canada (WWF-Canada), and being held in collaboration with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) that began in Halifax this morning.

In a letter sent earlier this week to veterinarians invited to participate in the meeting, fourteen animal welfare groups charged that the purpose of the meeting is not "to objectively assess hunting practices with respect to the Canadian harp seal population" - as stated in a draft agenda leaked to one of the groups earlier this month - but rather to whitewash the cruelty concerns associated with Canada's commercial seal hunt.

The Ad Hoc Meeting of Veterinarians to Assess Humane Practices of the Canadian Harp Seal Hunt runs from 26 - 28 May at the Casino Nova Scotia Hotel in Halifax. The participants will hear presentations from a number of DFO employees, and the sealing industry. No animal welfare organizations or their staff veterinarians have been invited to participate.

Dr. David Lavigne, Science Advisor to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said, "There is nothing that this group of veterinarians will be able to tell WWF and DFO about killing seals that they don't already know. Meetings of 'experts' such as this have been orchestrated by the Canadian government for decades. History tells us that the veterinarians are being exploited for their propaganda value by DFO. I am surprised that WWF-Canada is risking its scientific credibility by helping them in this way."

Liz White, Director of the Animal Alliance of Canada, said, "This meeting is a gross violation of WWF - Canada's published code of Advocacy with Excellence. WWF claims it is non-ideological, yet only seal hunt proponents will be giving information to the veterinarians. WWF claims it bases its advocacy on the best scientific advice available, yet they've excluded those with the best knowledge of humane hunting practices. WWF says it recognizes that issues have a wide range of stakeholders, yet it is keeping out groups who represent the majority opinion on the cruelty of the seal hunt. WWF says it stays within its area of expertise, yet it is sponsoring a meeting on an issue that it has ignored in the past, an issue in which it has no expertise or experience. Why is WWF-Canada sponsoring an event whose obvious political purpose is to whitewash the seal hunt?"

Rebecca Aldworth, Director of Canadian Wildlife Issues for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said, "It is inexcusable for the WWF-Canada to sponsor a meeting on humane aspects of the commercial seal hunt with the very government department tasked with promoting and defending the sealing industry. For them to neglect to involve the very people who have most consistently documented and observed the seal hunt over the past decade shows a clear bias. If they hope to become a credible voice for conservation, WWF-Canada has no choice but to withdraw its sponsorship from this politically-motivated meeting."

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/For further information: Contact:

David Lavigne, Science Advisor, IFAW
519-767-1948

Steven Best, Founding Director, Environment Voters
519-925-3440

Rebecca Aldworth, Director, Canadian Wildlife Issues, Humane Society of the United States
514-395-2914; Cell 514-575-6797

Liz White, Director, Animal Alliance of Canada
416-462-9541, ext. 23; Cell 416-809-4371

In Halifax, contact Rob Sinclair, IFAW Campaigner
416-891-8918

Note to Editors: IFAW video and stills available through Chris Cutter (ccutter@ifaw.org);
HSUS video and stills available at ftp://hsus3.org (Username: hsusftp; Password: RxmtYUJ8)
/ IN: ENVIRONMENT

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