Speak out now to save elephants
MONTREAL—Seventeen renowned Canadian artists and scientists have signed an open letter calling on the Canadian government to take urgent action to prohibit elephant ivory trade. In the past century, the African elephant population, which is currently listed as critically endangered/endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, has declined by 96%, with leading scientists warning the population could be lost altogether within the next few decades in the absence of global intervention to disincentivize poachers.
On July 23, 2021, The Canadian government launched a public consultation to hear feedback on proposed measures to restrict or end elephant ivory trade.
Robert Bateman, renowned Canadian artist and conservationist, stated: “The survival of African elephants hinges on the actions of the global community, and progressive nations like Canada have a responsibility to act accordingly. I am joining countless Canadians in calling on the Canadian government to act now and ban elephant ivory trade. I commend the government for launching a public consultation and encourage all concerned Canadians to take this critically important opportunity to speak up.”
Michael Bernard, deputy director of Humane Society International/Canada, stated: “Canada is at a crossroads and the actions we take now to protect African elephants will be remembered for generations to come. In keeping with its commitments to preserve global biodiversity and end human-induced extinctions, the Canadian government has launched a crucial public consultation. We urge all Canadians to participate and make clear that only a robust national ban on elephant ivory trade can truly help us end the senseless killing of African elephants.”
Tessa Vanderkop, vice president of Elephanatics, stated: “Tens of thousands of African elephants are killed every year to fill the global demand for elephant ivory. The world community is taking action, and more than 620,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Canadian government to ban elephant ivory trade as a matter of urgency. We encourage all Canadians to take part in the consultation and make their voices heard for African elephants.”
The full list of notable Canadians who have signed onto the open letter urging the government to take action and ban elephant ivory trade includes: Bif Naked, musician; Bryan Adams, O.C., musician; Cristina Mittermeier, photographer, biologist; Edward Burtynsky, photographer; Georges Laraque, commentator, former athlete; Dr. Harvey Locke, conservationist; Jennifer Baichwal, filmmaker; Professor John Bemrose, Victoria College, University of Toronto; Dr. John England, O.C., F.R.S.C., professor emeritus, earth and atmospheric sciences; Dr. Martin Sharpe – earth scientist; Nicholas de Pencier, filmmaker; Paul Nicklen, photojournalist, marine biologist; Dr. Peter Abrams, F.R.S.C., professor emeritus, ecology & evolutionary biology; Robert Bateman, C.M., O.B.C., artist; Shelton Dupreez, filmmaker; Tzeporah Berman, environmental activist; and William Shatner, O.C., actor.
More information regarding the consultation and how to participate can be found here.
- Studies indicate between 25,000 and 50,000 African elephants have been poached annually in recent decades, and even the lowest estimate exceeds the elephant birth rate, thereby posing a direct threat to these populations.
- In March of 2021, the International Union for Conservation of Nature updated the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and declared the African forest elephant to be Critically Endangered and the African savanna elephant to be Endangered.
- In 2016, delegates to the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)agreed in a resolution recommending that, “all Parties and non-Parties in whose jurisdiction there is a legal domestic market for ivory that is contributing to poaching or illegal trade, take all necessary legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to close their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory as a matter of urgency.” Repeated government seizures of elephant ivory in Canada are irrefutable evidence of illegal ivory trade in this nation and likely represent a fraction of existing illegal trade.
- The African Elephant Coalition, comprised of 32 African nations (including 29 elephant range states) states, “any supply of ivory, including that within otherwise legal domestic markets, inherently increases the risk to elephant populations and local communities, due to the opportunity it creates for the laundering of illegal ivory under the guise of legality.”
- Canada’s top trading partners, including the United States, China and the United Kingdom have closed their elephant ivory markets in response to declining elephant populations.
- In addition to elephant ivory trade, Canada allows the import of elephant tusks and parts from trophy hunts. Approximately 300 African elephant tusks—representing 150 elephants—were legally imported into Canada from 2010-2018.
- 94% of Canadians support an elephant ivory trade ban (Insights West, 2020) and a public petition calling for a Canadian ban on elephant ivory trade has amassed over 600,000 signatures.
Media Contact: Michael Bernard: 613-371-5170; firstname.lastname@example.org.
MONTREAL—Canada Goose has today announced that it will end the use of all fur in its products. The brand will end the purchase of fur by the end of 2021 and end manufacturing products with fur by the end of 2022.
Rebecca Aldworth, Humane Society International/Canada’s executive director, responds: “We applaud Canada Goose for taking this compassionate and fashion-forward decision to end its relationship with fur. This is an historic moment in the fight to end cruel fur fashion. Canada Goose’s trademark parka jackets with coyote fur trim can now be replaced with fur-free garments that symbolise sustainable, cruelty-free fashion fit for the twenty first century consumer. This is a major step forward for animal protection and also a sign of changing consumer habits. Clearly, the future of fashion is fur free.”
Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: email@example.com
MONTREAL—Holt Renfrew has announced an impressive suite of new sustainability commitments, joining the rapidly growing collection of retailers and fashion labels who are opting for sustainably and ethically sourced materials.
Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, stated:
“Holt Renfrew’s progressive suite of sustainability commitments, including ending the sale of animal fur and exotic animal skins, is a tremendous step forward for animal protection and also a sign of changing consumer habits. Today’s consumers are increasingly informed and motivated to ensure that their purchases are cruelty-free and sustainable. We commend Holt Renfrew for these progressive commitments and the company’s leadership role in reflecting compassion in fashion. Clearly, the future of fashion is fur free.”
Media Contact: Michael Bernard, HSI/Canada, deputy director: 613-371-5170; firstname.lastname@example.org
MONTREAL—Sodexo Canada and Humane Society International/Canada are excited to announce a new development in their national partnership: Sodexo Canada has signed onto the Forward Food Pledge, committing to transition 20% of its protein purchases across Canada to plant-based. To achieve this goal, HSI/Canada is supporting Sodexo Canada by providing culinary trainings, recipes, and menu development to Sodexo’s culinary team across Canada.
“Health and wellness are at the heart of our diverse food offer and increases awareness to improving animal welfare. Together with Humane Society International/Canada we have refreshed our strategy to bring our teams the tools they need through training and engagement, data analysis and responsible sourcing strategies to achieve our commitment to reducing emissions and providing increased healthy and delicious plant-based menu offerings,” says Davide Del Brocco, Sustainability Manager at Sodexo Canada.
“Our Love of Food program incorporates the creativity of our chefs and the resources of our Corporate Responsibility team directly into the menu development process. This synergy with HSI/Canada’s Forward Food program enables us to achieve our mutual goals of creating menus that speak to the needs of Canadians and drive sustainable business practices,” says Kyle Mason, Sodexo Canada’s senior manager of culinary development.
Riana Topan, campaign manager for HSI/Canada, says, “We are delighted to be partnering with Sodexo to increase their plant-based and plant-forward menu options, which will save an estimated 510,000 animals each year, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, improve the health of their clients and meet Canadians’ unprecedented demand for delicious, environmentally and animal-friendly food choices. Sodexo is setting a meaningful example for the foodservice industry in Canada by taking the Forward Food Pledge for every one of its accounts that serve food and working to reduce its use of animal proteins by 20% over the next two years.”
This transformative target and milestone make the foodservice industry in Canada more compassionate, sustainable, and nutritious.
VANCOUVER—In the wake of a 3rd outbreak of COVID-19 on a factory mink fur farm in British Columbia, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), concerned infectious disease specialists, the BC SPCA, the Fur-Bearers, and Humane Society International/Canada are calling on the BC Government to act now to end fur farming.
Over the past year, more than 400 outbreaks of COVID-19—and mutations of the virus—have occurred on factory fur farms globally, with many nations taking decisive action to stop fur farming in their jurisdictions.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC stated, “We are renewing our call for an end to fur farming in BC. This industry not only goes against Indigenous values of wildlife stewardship and conservation, but also has proven to be an unmanageable threat to public health. The unnecessary and deeply troubling suffering minks are subjected to — lifelong confinement in cramped and filthy cages — only promotes the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections.”
Dr. Jan Hajek, infectious diseases specialist at Vancouver General Hospital stated: “Clearly the measures put in place by the BC Government have failed to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks on large mink breeding facilities. Given the very real threat of viral mutations and the transmission of virus between animals and people in these facilities, the BC Government should now act decisively, prohibit and end industrial fur farming in the interest of public health and animal welfare, and provide mink breeders with financial assistance and support to transition out of this industry.”
Dr. Sara Dubois, BC SPCA Chief Scientific Officer, said “Having been on BC fur farms and seen the conditions firsthand, I can attest that the practice is inherently inhumane and subjects animals wild in nature to treatment that no BC resident would tolerate. Fur farming exists in direct opposition to the values of British Columbians and the continuation of this industry would present unacceptable outcomes for both animals and people.”
Lesley Fox, executive director of the Fur-Bearers, said “Despite repeated calls for the BC Government to stop restocking of fur farms in the wake of COVID-19 outbreaks, no action was taken. This latest outbreak is a direct consequence of government catering to industry interests at the expense animal welfare, public health, and the BC economy. The BC Government must act now to shut down this industry for good.”
Kelly Butler, HSI/Canada wildlife campaigner, stated “The world community is taking urgent action to end fur farming because it is inherently inhumane, environmentally destructive, and poses a grave public health risk. More than 20 countries have already stopped fur farming within their jurisdictions and the BC Government must follow the lead of these nations and end this cruel, high risk, outdated and needless industry.”
Dec. 2020: COVID outbreak occurs on a BC fur farm.
Dec. 2020: COVID outbreak occurs on a second BC fur farm, at least 200 mink dead.
Jan. 2021: The Fur-Bearers, HSI/Canada, BC SPCA and infectious disease expert meet with BC Agriculture Minister and government officials and again call on BC government to end fur farming.
Jan. 2021: 1,000 mink culled on BC fur farm after outbreak.
March 2021: Breeding resumes in BC despite previous COVID outbreaks.
April 2021: Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls for a moratorium on fur farming in the province.
April 2021: Infectious disease experts and BC doctors appeal to Ministry of Health about spillover risks.
- Over 20 countries have stopped fur farming, including Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
- British Columbia currently has 11 fur farms in operation. 10 mink farms, 1 chinchilla farm. All mink farms are located in the Fraser Valley.
- Since 2014, British Columbians have provided at least $6.5 million dollars in subsidies through the AgriStability benefits to B.C. fur farmers.
- A 2020 poll conducted by BC public opinion firm Research Co., found that 85% of the population of BC are opposed to killing animals for their fur.
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation For Animal Health (OIE), and the Word Health Organization (WHO) published a risk assessment for fur farms: SARS-CoV-2 in animals used for fur farming: GLEWS+ risk assessment. The risk assessment identified Canada has having a “very likely” likelihood of introduction and spread of SARS-CoV-2 within fur farms, and a “likely” likelihood of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from fur farms to susceptible wildlife populations.
Media contact: Michael Bernard, Deputy Director, HSI/Canada: 613.371.5170, email@example.com
MONTREAL—Iconic Italian fashion designer Valentino is the latest major fashion house to drop fur from its collections and shut down its fur subsidiary, Valentino Polar. The company’s fur-free policy is part of its efforts to redefine and reinvigorate the brand, which will phase out fur by the end of the year. Humane Society International, which together with the Humane Society of the United States met with Valentino in 2019 to discuss its fur policy, welcomes the announcement.
According to Jacopo Venturini, CEO of Valentino: “The fur-free stance is perfectly in-line with the values of our company. We are moving full-steam ahead in the research for alternative materials in view of a greater attention to the environment for the upcoming collections.”
Kelly Butler, wildlife campaigner for Humane Society International/Canada, said: “HSI/Canada congratulates Valentino for joining the growing list of leading fashion companies that understand that consumers want nothing to do with animal cruelty. The commercial slaughter of wild animals for their fur has no place in the 21st century and brands and retailers should align their policy with consumers’ values if they want to remain successful in a world that cares about animals and their wellbeing.”
This announcement follows other recent fur-free announcements by Saks Fifth Avenue, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga. Valentino joins a rapidly expanding group of fashion designers dropping fur, including Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry and Chanel.
Media contact: Michael Bernard, Deputy Director, HSI/Canada: 613.371.5170, firstname.lastname@example.org
SEOUL—Korean animal protection groups have joined forces with Humane Society International/Korea to save 50 dogs from being euthanized on a dog meat farm in Yongin city after the facility was closed down by the authorities. The dogs were found by the rescuers locked up in barren metal cages without water or proper food, after the four farmers running the farm had moved off the property following a demolition order by local officials. The farm had been operating in breach of the national Animal Protection Act. HSI/Korea, LIFE, KoreanK9Rescue and Yongin Animal Care Association stepped in and worked together with the local authorities to save the dogs so that the structures could be demolished. These rescued dogs, along with dozens rescued from previous operations, are currently being cared for in South Korea, but will soon be sent to Canada and the United States for further assessment, veterinary care, rehabilitation and eventually adoption.
Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s campaign manager, said “These dogs really needed our help because they would have been euthanized by the authorities without a rescue plan. We knew we had to act fast to save them, so it was wonderful that HSI, LIFE, KK9K and YACA all worked so well together as a team to get these dogs out. These efforts show how much passion there is in South Korea to end the dog meat industry. These dogs were in a pitiful state, skinny and frightened and existing in terrible conditions. It was shocking to see the slaughter area on site too with abandoned electrocution equipment and knives. I am horrified to think how many dogs lost their lives there. The sooner we can end the dog meat industry, the sooner we can see an end to such pitiful scenes of animal suffering.”
Ewa Demianowicz, senior campaign manager for HSI/Canada, said: “We are happy to help our colleagues in South Korea end the cruel dog meat trade by welcoming the dogs rescued from these horrible facilities at our emergency shelter near Montreal. HSI/Canada will provide veterinary and behavioural care for these dogs and will, seek loving adoptive families for them. These dogs have endured tremendous suffering and our team is thrilled to be bringing them to safety and helping them recover from their physical and psychological trauma.”
In-Seob Sim, president of LIFE, said: “It has been 30 years since the Animal Protection Act was established in Korea, however still so many animals are not protected properly. Government officials should make and implement policies to ban the slaughter of dogs for food. We should no longer subject this misery on future generations of dogs.”
Hyun Yu Kim, founder of KoreanK9Rescue, said: “It is significant that all these dogs are being given the chance of a new life instead of being euthanized or killed at the slaughter house. However, there are still countless dogs out there bred for meat who are still suffering. We are calling for urgent action from the government to introduce laws to ban the dog meat trade and protect dogs like these.”
Miyeon Ki, Yongin Animal Care Association, said: “I am overwhelmed by this life-saving mission for the 50 dogs who have escaped first the crisis of brutal slaughter for dog meat and then the threat of death by euthanasia, but have dramatically found a chance to live again. I think the effort to save lives in any difficult situation is the faith of animal rescue group.”
Yang-Jin Cho, Animal Protection Division, Yongin city said: “The city officials really felt bad for these dogs and hoped that something could be arranged to give the dogs the best chance. So we are really happy that these animal groups were able to help and give the dogs a future.”
Humane Society International/Korea, which has closed down 17 dog meat farms in the country, is campaigning for legislation in South Korea to end the dog meat trade. A recent opinion poll commissioned by HSI/Korea and conducted by Nielsen shows growing support for a ban on the dog meat trade, with nearly 84% of South Koreans saying they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% supporting a legislative ban on the trade. To date, HSI/Canada has sheltered and found homes for over 500 dogs coming from these dog meat farm closures.
Nielsen online research conducted August/September 2020. Total sample size 1,000 people across six major cities in South Korea (Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan) weighted and representative of South Korean adults (aged 18+).
Media Contact: Ewa Demianowicz: 514-575-3499; email@example.com
MONTREAL—The World Health Organization has published its report, WHO-convened Global Study of the Origins of SARS-CoV-2, and identified fur farming as an area of interest in the search for the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The joint WHO-China study suggests that wild animals intensively bred on farms for fur fashion and other purposes could have become infected at the farms and then been transported to a wildlife wet market where the outbreak began.
Market traders in China display, sell and butcher a variety of wild and domestic animal species including mink, raccoon dogs and foxes, which are known to be susceptible to SARS viruses. Millions of these animals are farmed for fur in China and other regions, including Canada.
The report states that introduction through an intermediary host is considered to be “likely to very likely” as a possible pathway of emergence. One of the specific recommendations in the report calls for surveys for SARSr-CoVs in farmed wildlife that have the potential to be infected, including “those bred for fur such as mink and raccoon dogs in farms in China, in South-East Asia, and in other regions.” The report further noted “SARS-CoV-2 adapts relatively rapidly in susceptible animals (such as mink). The increasing number of animals shown to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 includes animals that are farmed in sufficient densities to allow potential for enzootic circulation.”
In 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available), over 1.7 million mink and over 2300 foxes were killed on Canadian fur farms. To date, there have been two COVID-19 outbreaks on factory fur farms in Canada, both occurring at mink farms in British Columbia.
Kelly Butler, wildlife campaign manager at Humane Society International/Canada, said: “We are calling on the BC government to take immediate action to end factory fur farming in British Columbia. These facilities cause horrendous animal suffering and were opposed by the vast majority of people in BC before they were exposed as reservoirs for COVID-19. Countries the world over are closing their factory fur farms in response to the grave public health and animal welfare threats they present. There is simply no excuse for the BC government to turn a blind eye to these tangible threats and allow these inhumane, dangerous and economically nonviable fur factories to continue to operate.”
Dr Peter Li, China policy expert at Humane Society International, said: “The WHO report provides a stark and sobering warning about the devastating public health risks of exploiting wild animals in unsanitary, overcrowded and inhumane factory farm systems be that bamboo rats and badgers for human consumption, pangolins for traditional medicine, or raccoon dogs and mink for fur fashion. Cramming millions of animals together in these abusive industries creates a perfect petri dish for pandemics, and unless we ban farming for fur and the wildlife trade, we will continue to play Russian roulette with global public safety.”
- Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been documented on at least 422 mink fur farms in 11 different countries in Europe and North America since April 2020, including Canada (2 farms), Denmark (290 farms), France (1 farm), Greece (23 farms), Italy (2 farms), Lithuania (2 farms), Netherlands (69 farms), Poland (1 farm), Spain (4 farms), Sweden (13 farms) and the United States (16 farms).
- The few fur farms operating in BC exist solely to produce fashion items. They provide negligible employment, damage local environments, pose a significant public health risk and consume millions of tax dollars in government handouts.
- In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, just under 270 000 mink were killed on fur farms in BC.
- 85 percent of British Columbians oppose the killing of wild animals for fur (Research Co, 2020 ).
- In 2014, a British Columbia fur farm was the subject of an investigation by the BC SPCA that uncovered deplorable conditions and egregious neglect and animal suffering. Many animals were missing limbs, digits and ears, and one animal—mysteriously paralyzed—had to be euthanized on site.
- Numerous BC scientists have called on the BC government to take action on fur farming.
Media contact: Michael Bernard, deputy director of Humane Society International/Canada: firstname.lastname@example.org; 613.371.5170
MONTREAL—In the wake of the lowest sea ice formation in recorded history off of Canada’s East Coast, Humane Society International/Canada is urging the Canadian government to stop the commercial seal hunt. Canadian government scientists anticipate mass mortality of newborn seal pups as their sea ice habitat melts before they are strong enough to survive in open water. Furthermore, allowing hundreds of sealers to operate in cramped conditions on sealing vessels during a global pandemic presents a clear threat to public health.
“Climate change is causing rapid deterioration of the sea ice cover off of Canada’s East Coast. For the ice breeding seals who are the targets of the commercial seal hunt, it is a disaster,” stated Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada and a first-hand observer of Canada’s commercial seal hunt for eighteen years. “No responsible government would allow the few pups who survive these unprecedented ice conditions to be slaughtered just to produce fashion items. Moreover, no responsible health authority would allow this senseless, shameful hunt to proceed during a global pandemic. We are calling on the Canadian government to do the right and responsible thing and stop the 2021 commercial seal slaughter in Atlantic Canada.”
Canadian government scientists clearly state that the sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off of Newfoundland will continue to deteriorate, and that the resulting mass mortality of pups will have a severe impact on the harp seal population. A precautionary approach to wildlife management clearly precludes commercial hunting of an ice dependent species whose ice habitat is quickly vanishing.
Notably, climate change makes commercial seal killing methods even more inhumane. Veterinary studies have strongly emphasized the severe suffering that results from shooting seals in or near open water, given the high wounding rates documented in the Canadian seal hunt, and the ability of wounded seals to escape beneath the water’s surface (where they die slowly and are not retrieved). As ice conditions deteriorate, almost all commercial sealing will happen in these conditions. Moreover, when seals are shot in open water or on ice too fragile for a sealer to stand on, they are retrieved with gaffs (long wooden poles with metal hooks) without the sealers first being able to physically confirm death. This results in many seals being impaled, while conscious, on metal hooks and hoisted onto bloody boat decks before they are beaten to death.
If the Canadian government refuses to stop the slaughter for good, at the very least, commercial sealing should be suspended in 2021. Failing even this basic precautionary measure, the Canadian government must, at a bare minimum, issue variance orders to:
- Cancel all quotas allocated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region given the exceptionally high pup mortality that will occur in the region
- Delay the opening date of the Newfoundland hunt given poor ice conditions will likely delay birthing (as was evidenced in 2011, another year with poor sea ice conditions)
- Prohibit the killing of moulting newborn seals (ragged jackets) to prevent mass slaughter of these exceptionally young pups (as was documented in 2011)
- Prohibit shooting and clubbing of seals in or near open water as a measure to reduce the number of struck and lost animals during the slaughter
- Prohibit gaffing or hooking of animals without prior physical confirmation of death.
Media Contact: Michael Bernard, Deputy Director, HSI/Canada: 613.371.5170; email@example.com