Canada’s shame: tusked whale slaughter condemned

IN recent weeks Canada has once again brought shame upon itself.

Its inhumane slaughter of more than 500 Narwhals (tusked whales) has shown the country to be willing to perpetrate unnecessary and very cruel suffering on the mammals that inhabit its territorial waters.

The Canadian government allows the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal cubs on its east coast each year.

The Narwhal is a tusked whale that inhabits Arctic waters.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Narwhal on its ‘red list’ of threatened species. The slaughter of more than 500 of these remarkable whales must be considered a very serious event.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean allows the Inuit people of its northern territories to harvest a number of Narwhals each year for sustenance purposes.

This is a traditional harvest and provides the Inuit people with food for the long winter months.

Although still morally questionable, this limited harvest for survival purposes may be considered acceptable when properly monitored and enforced. What is completely unacceptable however is the disgraceful slaughter recently.

A few weeks ago an estimated 500-plus Narwhals became trapped in ice on the north shore of Baffin Island. Increasing levels of ice meant the whales were running out of ice-free water where they could surface to breathe.

That was when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Humane Society of Canada and the Inuit people became involved.

The Humane Society offered to pay the Inuit people to keep these breathing holes open while the Canadian government sent one of its many icebreakers to free the whales.

The government however instead extended an invitation to the Inuit people to shoot the whales.

It argued that the noise of the icebreaker would be too stressful for the whales and opted instead to let them die in a hail of bullets and in a sea of blood, hardly stress-free.

International scientific and veterinary authorities agree that the shooting of any large mammal, including whales, is cruel and rarely swift. The killing of these whales also went completely unmonitored by any government or veterinary officials.

So Canada is quiet willing to send icebreakers to its eastern ice floes each year, at huge public expense, to assist seal-hunters but will not send one to at least attempt to free these whales, opting instead to abandon them and allow them to be shot.

I would admit that the humane euthanasia of these whales may well have been the best course of action to prevent their drowning under the ice but only after all other reasonable avenues had been exhausted.

These extremely sad events against sentient, intelligent animals once again demonstrate the Canadian government’s complete disregard for the welfare of its wildlife, a human trait that is becoming all too common.

Our respect for life and living things must be upheld whether they are covered in skin, fur, blubber or hair.

Sadly, as the dominant species on the planet I think we are as far away from that situation as we have ever been.

Dan Lettice

Great William O’Brien Street

Cork

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