The Harp Seal Incident
by Sue Beaulieu
On Wings June 1997 Vol 3:6
Remember those precious and cute snow white baby harp seals with their innocent big brown eyes? Remember how the evil hunters slaughtered them? Well, did you know that you were a victim of media manipulation? Did you know that you bought into the propaganda of one of the largest animal rights groups in the world?
In fact, Greenpeace exploited a myth of their own making -- the myth that seal hunters skin seals while they are still alive. A 1965 film, Les Phoques de la Banquise, by the Artek Film Company documented men clubbing harp seal pups with hakapiks, bleeding them out and skinning them. There was graphic footage of the animals’ bodies writhing in reflexive postmortem spasms. The film included a bloody scene of dead and bleeding pup seals on their bellies with their eyes wide open. Pup voices were dubbed onto the film to give the impression that the pups were still alive and conscious, writhing in their own blood. (In reality, the clubbed pups were killed quickly and humanely and left on their backs to bleed out. Their eyes were open like any animal that is killed by trauma.)
The most horrifying scene was saved for last, however. Here the viewers see a man with a knife cut open a live, conscious seal. A formal hearing on this incident was held in the Canadian House of Commons in 1969. Testimony under oath proved that the hunter in the film was hired by Artek to skin a live seal without first rendering it unconscious. Artek and Greenpeace wanted to make a dramatic point. They succeeded. The only animal abuse documented by this footage was perpetrated by the film makers themselves. Not only Greenpeace, but other groups such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare, exploited this hoax in order to spearhead their anti-sealing campaign and bring in much needed donations.
Icelandic journalist, Magnus Gudmundsson, did a video expose on the 1965 film. It is entitled Survival in the High North. Greenpeace’s revenues declined 25% after the release of this film. They had taken in $169 million the year before its release. Their Norwegian and Danish membership dropped from 15,000 to 35 members and Greenpeace International had to shut down its Norwegian operations because of this serious controversy. Why was it never aired on PBS, NOVA or the Discovery Channel?
Survival in the High North proved by computer imagery that Greenpeace falsified their visual propaganda. Such propaganda included a film wherein an alleged seal hunter tormented a mother seal by dragging its pup back and forth over the ice.
Disaster follows when wildlife management policy is based on ideology rather than science. Sealskin imports were banned in the United States and the European Community. This international market collapsed and the maritime people of the High North suffered severe economic hardship. The harp seal population more than tripled and a moratorium had to be placed on cod fishing since the seals depleted the cod population.
The harp seal incident was the beginning of the animal rights war on the fur industry. This war plays by the rules of the jungle and mankind is the target. Just like a hungry lion, Greepeace took down the isolated and politically weak sealers and destroyed their way of life. Beware, for the animal rights movement will use any lie and exploit any half-truth to further their agenda. They will skin you alive.
Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb. Trashing the Economy: How Runaway Environmentalism is Wrecking America. (Belevue, Washington: Free Enterprise Press, 1933)
Fishing News magazine; London. Greenpeace Falsified the Evidence. Tim Oliver. June 5, 1992.
Forbes magazine. The Not so Peaceful World of Greenpeace. L. Spencer, J. Bollwerk and R.C. Morais. November 11, 1991, pp. 174-180
Janice Stott Henke. Seal Wars! An American Viewpoint. (St. John's, Newfoundland: Breakwater, 1985)
Kathleen Marquardt. AnimalScam: The Beastly Abuse of Human Rights. (Washington: Regnery Publishing, Inc.) 1993, p. 13, 87-88
I decided to post this old article because with the AR movement, what goes around comes right back around. They will milk a good story for all it's worth and they don't let truth get in the way. Skinning live animals really brings in donations and so the stories are recycled over and over.
Just this morning, the topic came up again on an email list. Part of an interview from Phoque le Film was posted. He went with seal hunters and animal rights activists to learn more about seal hunting, AR style. Terrified, a seal, wounded by a gun shot, tried to escape. The frightened animal was yanked out of the water and allowed to suffer for 40 minutes just so HSUS could film it. Finally a sealer came along and put it out of its misery.
Nevertheless HSUS won an award for their video.
"April 30, 2009: English translation: Narration: ... but while she was addressing her message to the camera, the seal escaped to the water, probably terrified by these humans taking advantage of its agony. Instead of being put out of its misery, which would have been the compassionate thing to do, or left alone to die in peace, it was taken out of the water under the pretence of saving it. It therefore continued to agonize for a photo session that lasted a further 40 minutes, until a hunter came and put an end to its suffering.
Lepage (interviewer 0m52s): We dont like this...
Jomphe (0m54s): I was very happy that Radio-Canada had the courage to air this despite the legal manoeuvres around this very scene, they wanted to prevent us... they put the most powerful lawyers from the U.S., and probably from Canada as well...
Turcotte (1m12s): they are powerful, these anti-hunting committees, they are strong...?
Jomphe (1m17s): Yes, they are called animalistes [animal-welfare], a term coined [in French] by M. Louis-Gilles Francoeur [note: environmental issues journalist for Montreal newspaper Le Devoir] to make the difference between an environmentalist and an animaliste, which are animal protection extremists, they anthropomorphise and suggest that the animal is more important than humans. Whereas I looked at the topic from an ecological standpoint.
And in Germany, they have also had enough of such cruel propaganda. The German High Court found PeTA guilty of paying people to skin animals alive. The witness who committed this act for PeTA, a videographer, told the court that he didn't understand why they wanted it done that way, but he needed the money. This video was made in a third world country and the prosecutor found the man in the video who skinned of the animal.
The German High court also found PeTA's vet who had made the charges against the agricultural industry in Germany guilty of making false charges and in the verdict required PeTA to turn over all information about their videos and to list all person in their videos so they could be contacted to determine the facts presented in the videos. To date, PeTA has not turned over any videos or information. One has to conclude that all of their videos on skinning animals alive were paid for by PeTA and therefore do not represent the norm. These organizations cannot stand up to the scrutiny of the courts as now PeTA and HSUS are being sued under the RICO act for racketeering.
Both HSUS and PeTA send out releases without any real studies performed. The German High court found PeTA guilty of staging videos and causing animal abuse. For years the public has been subjected to images of animal abuse that have been manipulated and staged. Such images have been used to damage the reputations of legitimate businesses. Legal action was taken against Dr. Edmund Haferbeck of PeTA Germany and a Board member after showing faked videos. This material had the effect of discrediting the quality security system and its legitimate partners.“We are pleased about this very clear outcome of the lawsuit against Dr. Haferbeck”,commentates Dr. Walter Scheuerl, the QS’ attorney on their success. In a parallel procedure against PeTA Germany and a PeTA Board member, the chamber ruled that PeTA must provide proof regarding the origin of the photos and the film footage which PeTA has been using.
Click here for the original document in German
And so, next time you see AR propaganda like this, please realize that they manufacture a great deal of these stories and even create the animal cruelty they preach against! All in the name of ripping at our Heart$tring$ in order to pick our pocket$.