American Idol Finalists Condemn the Canadian Seal Slaughter

The Humane Society of the United States says it has recruited all 12 American Idol finalists to join its year-long campaign against Canadian seal-hunting.

The Humane Society reports that the 12 young singers have signed a letter < http://www.cnsnews.com//ViewCulture.asp?Page=Culturearchive200405CUL20040526c.html > urging fashion designer Donatella Versace to stop using real seal fur in her designs.

In addition, the Humane Society said all 12 finalists have been photographed wearing black polo shirts bearing the phrase, "Club Sandwiches, Not Seals."

Canada opened its annual seal hunt in April, allowing its largest cull in 50 years, the BBC reported. The Canadian government will permit more than 350,000 seals to be killed this season -- close to a million over three years.

Canada justifies the hunt on both ecological and economic grounds, saying that the seal population is exploding to the point where it is depleting the codfish population - a threat to commercial fisheries, the government says. The Humane Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are among the many groups that reject that argument.

Animal welfare and marine conservation groups say close to one million baby seals -- from 12 days to 12 weeks old -- will be clubbed and shot to death in Canada over the next three years. Based on reports from observers, activists say some of the baby seals will be skinned while still alive.

Other celebrities who oppose the cruel slaughter of harp seals are Martin Sheen, Richard Dean Anderson, William Shatner, Pierce Brosnan, Sean Penn, Kim Bassinger, Paris Hilton, Shannon Elizabeth, Christina Applegate, Nicole Richie and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys.

A resolution currently pending in the U.S. Senate also condemns Canada 's seal hunt. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the measure earlier this month and sent it to the full Senate.

The resolution, introduced in November 2003, urges "the Government of Canada to end the commercial seal hunt... Whereas the persistence of this cruel and needless commercial hunt is inconsistent with the well-earned international reputation of Canada ...."

The Humane Society of the United States launched a national advertising campaign last year, urging Americans to boycott Canada and Canadian products to protest the annual East Coast seal hunt.

"Tell the Canadian government you won't travel to Canada until it ends this senseless and barbaric killing," said advertisements run by the Humane Society. The Humane Society said the ads were part of its campaign to "end the Canadian seal hunt once and for all."

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society intends to send it's flagship the Farley Mowat to intervene against the Canadian Seal slaughter in March 2005.


Letter to Donatella Versace
May 26, 2004

(Editor's note: What follows is a letter signed by the 12 American Idol finalists, urging fashion designer Donatella Versace to stop using seal fur in her designs. The letter was written by the Humane Society of the United States , which enlisted the support of the young American Idol finalists.)

Dear Donatella Versace:

I am writing to ask you to discontinue using real seal fur in your clothing designs. I recently learned about your use of seal fur and I am appealing to you to please learn more about the issue and why it is totally unacceptable.

For the past year, The Humane Society of the United States , the largest animal protection organization in the U.S. , has been actively campaigning to end the brutal annual seal hunt in Canada . It is the largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals on the planet that will kill close to 1 million baby seals over the next three years. The Canadian government's own figures show that 96.6 percent of the reported 286,238 seals killed during the 2002-2003 hunt were between 12 days to 12 weeks old. These seals were beaten to death with a club or shot.

An alarming number of the seals are skinned while alive and conscious. Recently, an independent, international team of veterinarians observed the hunt, and examined the corpses of skinned seals. They found evidence that up to 40 percent of seals were skinned while still able to feel pain. An observer of this year's hunt watched as a baby seal that had been clubbed suddenly woke up in a pile of dead seals. Obviously suffering, the baby seal cried and cried for about 45 minutes - the observer appealed to the sealers to put her out of her misery but no one did.

I join millions of people who are appalled by the brutality and unsustainability of this pointless hunt. Even the Canadian government admits that the seals are not responsible for the region's crashing fish populations, which have been devastated by many years of industrial fishing. This is a commercial hunt for fur, pure and simple. You can learn more at protectseals.org. By using seal fur in your designs, you are endorsing the seal hunt. I simply can not wear Versace until I can be assured there is no seal fur in your collections.

Please join the Humane Society of the United States by ending your use of seal fur.

[Signed by 12 American Idol finalists: Fantasia Barrino, Diana DeGarmo, Amy Adams, Camile Velasco, George Huff, Jasmine Trias, Jennifer Hudson, John Stevens, Jon Peter Lewis, La Toya Johnson, Leah Labelle and Matthew Rogers.]

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