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News: Did Humans Colonize the World by Boat?
Research suggests our ancestors traveled the oceans 70,000 years ago
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« Reply #75 on: June 01, 2009, 04:43:18 pm »

                                        Arctic indigenous people cling to polar bear hunt

March 20, 2009

– Hunting polar bears has been banned since 1973 but the Arctic's indigenous peoples are exempt out of respect for their ancestral traditions, despite scientists' objections over how the quotas are divided.

"When I was a child, it was forbidden to speak our language, to do things like dancing because missionaries said we were worshipping the devils," said Charles Johnson, an Inuit from the small town of Nome, Alaska.

"We need to keep our traditions alive. That includes regaining our language, regaining our culture and polar bear hunting is part of that," he said on the sidelines of a follow-up meeting in the Norwegian town of Tromsoe on a 1973 polar bear conservation agreement.

Signed by the five Arctic states that have polar bears -- Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States -- the pact bans the hunt except in rare cases.

Article 3 of the agreement stipulates that "any contracting party may allow the taking of polar bears when such taking is carried out ... by local people using traditional methods in the exercise of their traditional rights."

Indigenous people consider the practice essential to their survival even though the bear accounts for only a small part of their diet and despite the fact that the species is under threat from climate change.

In Canada, which is home to two-thirds of the world's polar bears, part of the hunting quotas go to sports hunting by wealthy tourists.

"Subsistence is not just about nutrition. It is also about economic subsistence for the community," said Virginia Poter, the director general of the Canadian Wildlife Service.

A 10-day hunting expedition with a guide can bring in up to 30,000 Canadian dollars (24,400 US dollars, 18,000 euros) to the local population, or 1.87 million Canadian dollars annually.

"And the meat and fat usually remain in the country," she said.

The situation in Alaska is very different, where sports hunting is not allowed.

"There's no money involved, it's all about sharing," said Taqulik Hepa, an Inuit from Barrow in northern Alaska.

"When a polar bear is harvested, an announcement is made in the community and people come to the hunter's house to share the meat. It goes in no time," she said.

Each year, some 700 bears are killed in Canada, Greenland and Alaska out of a total population of 20,000 to 25,000 -- a level that scientists generally deem sustainable.

But a bone of contention is how the quotas are divvied up between different polar bear populations.

In the winter of 2004, authorities in the Canadian territory of Nunavut sharply increased quotas in Baffin Bay located between Canada and Greenland, from 64 to 105 animals.

The decision was based on Inuit accounts of increasingly frequent bear sightings.

"Raising quotas was a mistake," said Canadian polar bear expert Ian Stirling.

"People reported seeing more polar bears and the interpretation was that there were more polar bears. But the truth is that it was probably linked to the melting of sea ice, which forced bears onto land," he told AFP.

Added to the Greenland Inuits' taking of about 100 bears from the same population, the Nunavut decision has endangered the survival of the species in the area, according to scientists who said a sustainable quota to be shared by the two countries was 93.

"The population I'm most concerned about is the one in Baffin Bay," Stirling said.   
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« Reply #76 on: June 01, 2009, 04:45:47 pm »

                                       Speedy Land Travelers Or Seagoing Sailors?

                                Temple Archaeologist Investigates Earliest Americans

(June 12, 1997)

— Were the first Americans coastal sailors or speedy bands of land-bound hunters? Once, most archaeologists agreed that ancient hunters raced southward over the Bering Land Bridge into Alaska, onto the Southern plains of Texas, and finally to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America, completing this enormous journey in about 1,300 years.

But, in response to recent discoveries of what seem to be older human artifacts in South America, the archaeology profession has prematurely jettisoned this theory for an alternative view based on theoretical sea travel, says Temple University anthropology professor Anthony Ranere.

“Mine is a somewhat unpopular position, but I think the bulk of the evidence still supports the late entry, fast movement model,” says Ranere. “According to the model that I prefer, people first crossed the Bering Strait Land Bridge into North America about 12,000 years ago.”

However, older artifacts thought to date to 12,500 years ago have been found in Monte Verde, Chile. How could archaeologists explain these finds? By proposing that ancient travelers boated down the North American West Coast 25,000 or more years ago. “They could hardly have left Alaska any other way during the period from 25,000 to 12,000 years ago since a massive continental ice cap covered the entire upper half of North America, forming a barrier to overland movement,” says Ranere.

But Ranere points out that many other sites, once thought to be much older than the 12,000 years before present entry date, have been discredited one by one due to errors in dating. Only Monte Verde stands unchallenged. “If some flaw in the dating of Monte Verde is eventually discovered, which leads to a revision of its antiquity to say, 10,500 years before present, then the late entry model again makes sense,” says Ranere.

Ranere argues that, given the amount of game available, once on the North American continent, bands of hunters would have been able to move rapidly into new and strange areas without having to wait generations to gain intimate knowledge of the plants in different climates.

“Spear points are not root grubbing tools, they’re for killing game, and no specialized plant processing tools have yet to be identified in these early sites,” adds Ranere.

Ranere’s own painstaking field work at La Mula-West along the central Pacific coast of Panama backs up his claims. He has recovered spear points manufactured with the same technology as early spear points from North America.

“La Mula-West is essentially a workshop for manufacturing stone tools. In order to gear up for hunting, ancient people had to stop near sources of jasper, flint, obsidian, or other suitable rock types, and make large numbers of spear points. Since many points were broken in the manufacturing process, a large amount of workshop debris is left behind for us to analyze. So, if a lot of time had elapsed between occupation of sites in North America and our site in Panama, you would expect to see an evolution of technology, instead of the identical technology we found,” says Ranere.

The spear points could be quite deadly weapons. “There is some evidence that ancient people used an additional section of wood called a spear thrower to extend the length of their arms, allowing them to really hurl these spears 70 to 80 meters with some accuracy,” notes Ranere.

Ranere will take seven students along when he returns to central Panama this summer. This time, he is looking for remains of early crops that early hunters and gatherers added to their diet between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago.

Ranere presented his views in April at the meeting of the Society of American Archaeology in Nashville.


Adapted from materials provided by Temple University.
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 MLA Temple University (1997, June 12). Speedy Land Travelers Or Seagoing Sailors? Temple Archaeologist Investigates Earliest Americans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from­ /releases/1997/06/970612101335.htm
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« Reply #77 on: June 01, 2009, 04:48:12 pm »

                                       New Ideas About Human Migration From Asia To Americas

(Oct. 29, 2007)

— Questions about human migration from Asia to the Americas have perplexed anthropologists for decades, but as scenarios about the peopling of the New World come and go, the big questions have remained. Do the ancestors of Native Americans derive from only a small number of “founders” who trekked to the Americas via the Bering land bridge? How did their migration to the New World proceed? What, if anything, did the climate have to do with their migration? And what took them so long?

A team of 21 researchers, led by Ripan Malhi, a geneticist in the department of anthropology at the University of Illinois, has a new set of ideas. One is a striking hypothesis that seems to map the peopling process during the pioneering phase and well beyond, and at the same time show that there was much more genetic diversity in the founder population than was previously thought.

“Our phylogeographic analysis of a new mitochondrial genome dataset allows us to draw several conclusions,” the authors wrote.

“First, before spreading across the Americas, the ancestral population paused in Beringia long enough for specific mutations to accumulate that separate the New World founder lineages from their Asian sister-clades.” (A clade is a group of mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs ) that share a recent common ancestor, Malhi said. Sister-clades would include two groups of mtDNAs that each share a recent common ancestor and the common ancestor for each clade is closely related.)

Or, to express this first conclusion another way, the ancestors of Native Americans who first left Siberia for greener pastures perhaps as much as 30,000 years ago, came to a standstill on Beringia – a landmass that existed during the last glacial maximum that extended from Northeastern Siberia to Western Alaska, including the Bering land bridge – and they were isolated there long enough – as much as 15,000 years – to maturate and differentiate themselves genetically from their Asian sisters.

“Second, founding haplotypes or lineages are uniformly distributed across North and South America instead of exhibiting a nested structure from north to south. Thus, after the Beringian standstill, the initial North to South migration was likely a swift pioneering process, not a gradual diffusion.”

The DNA data also suggest a lot more to-ing and fro-ing than has been suspected of populations during the past 30,000 years in Northeast Asia and North America. The analysis of the dataset shows that after the initial peopling of Beringia, there were a series of back migrations to Northeast Asia as well as forward migrations to the Americas from Beringia, thus “more recent bi-directional gene flow between Siberia and the North American Arctic.”

To investigate the pioneering phase in the Americas, Malhi and his team, a group of geneticists from around the world, pooled their genomic datasets and then analyzed 623 complete mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) from the Americas and Asia, including 20 new complete mtDNAs from the Americas and seven from Asia. The sequence data was used to direct high-resolution genotyping from 20 American and 26 Asian populations. Mitochondrial DNA, that is, DNA found in organelles, rather than in the cell nucleus, is considered to be of separate evolutionary origin, and is inherited from only one parent – the female.

The team identified three new sub-clades that incorporate nearly all of Native American haplogroup C mtDNAs – all of them widely distributed in the New World, but absent in Asia; and they defined two additional founder groups, “which differ by several mutations from the Asian-derived ancestral clades.”

What puzzled them originally was the disconnect between recent archaeological datings. New evidence places Homo sapiens at the Yana Rhinoceros Horn Site in Siberia – as likely a departure point for the migrants as any in the region – as early as 30,000 years before the present, but the earliest archaeological site at the southern end of South America is dated to only 15,000 years ago.

“These archaeological dates suggested two likely scenarios,” the authors wrote: Either the ancestors of Native Americans peopled Beringia before the Last Glacial Maximum, but remained locally isolated – likely because of ecological barriers – until entering the Americas 15,000 years before the present (the Beringian incubation model, BIM); or the ancestors of Native Americans did not reach Beringia until just before 15,000 years before the present, and then moved continuously on into the Americas, being recently derived from a larger parent Asian population (direct colonization model, DCM).

Thus, for this study the team set out to test the two hypotheses: one, that Native Americans’ ancestors moved directly from Northeast Asia to the Americas; the other, that Native American ancestors were isolated from other Northeast Asian populations for a significant period of time before moving rapidly into the Americas all the way down to Tierra del Fuego.

“Our data supports the second hypothesis: The ancestors of Native Americans peopled Beringia before the Last Glacial Maximum, but remained locally isolated until entering the Americas at 15,000 years before the present.”

The team’s findings appear in a recent issue of the Public Library of Science in an article titled, “Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders.”


Adapted from materials provided by University of Illinois.
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 MLA University of Illinois (2007, October 29). New Ideas About Human Migration From Asia To Americas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from­ /releases/2007/10/071025160653.htm
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« Reply #78 on: June 01, 2009, 04:49:30 pm »

The U-M study, which analyzed genetic data from 29 Native American populations, suggests a Siberian origin is much more likely than a South Asian or Polynesian origin.

University of Michigan)
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« Reply #79 on: June 01, 2009, 04:50:28 pm »

                          Gene Study Supports Single Main Migration Across Bering Strait

(Nov. 28, 2007)

— Did a relatively small number of people from Siberia who trekked across a Bering Strait land bridge some 12,000 years ago give rise to the native peoples of North and South America?

Or did the ancestors of today's native peoples come from other parts of Asia or Polynesia, arriving multiple times at several places on the two continents, by sea as well as by land, in successive migrations that began as early as 30,000 years ago?

The questions -- featured on magazine covers and TV specials -- have agitated anthropologists, archaeologists and others for decades.

University of Michigan scientists, working with an international team of geneticists and anthropologists, have produced new genetic evidence that's likely to hearten proponents of the land bridge theory. The study, published online in PLoS Genetics, is one of the most comprehensive analyses so far among efforts to use genetic data to shed light on the topic.

The researchers examined genetic variation at 678 key locations or markers in the DNA of present-day members of 29 Native American populations across North, Central and South America. They also analyzed data from two Siberian groups. The analysis shows:

o genetic diversity, as well as genetic similarity to the Siberian groups, decreases the farther a native population is from the Bering Strait -- adding to existing archaeological and genetic evidence that the ancestors of native North and South Americans came by the northwest route.

o a unique genetic variant is widespread in Native Americans across both American continents -- suggesting that the first humans in the Americas came in a single migration or multiple waves from a single source, not in waves of migrations from different sources. The variant, which is not part of a gene and has no biological function, has not been found in genetic studies of people elsewhere in the world except eastern Siberia.

The researchers say the variant likely occurred shortly prior to migration to the Americas, or immediately afterwards.

"We have reasonably clear genetic evidence that the most likely candidate for the source of Native American populations is somewhere in east Asia," says Noah A. Rosenberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of human genetics and assistant research professor of bioinformatics at the Center for Computational Medicine and Biology at the U-M Medical School and assistant research professor at the U-M Life Sciences Institute.

"If there were a large number of migrations, and most of the source groups didn't have the variant, then we would not see the widespread presence of the mutation in the Americas," he says.

Rosenberg has previously studied the same set of 678 genetic markers used in the new study in 50 populations around the world, to learn which populations are genetically similar and what migration patterns might explain the similarities. For North and South America, the current research breaks new ground by looking at a large number of native populations using a large number of markers.

The pattern the research uncovered -- that as the founding populations moved south from the Bering Strait, genetic diversity declined -- is what one would expect when migration is relatively recent, says Mattias Jakobsson, Ph.D., co-first author of the paper and a post-doctoral fellow in human genetics at the U-M Medical School and the U-M Center for Computational Medicine and Biology. There has not been time yet for mutations that typically occur over longer periods to diversify the gene pool.

In addition, the study's findings hint at supporting evidence for scholars who believe early inhabitants followed the coasts to spread south into South America, rather than moving in waves across the interior.

"Assuming a migration route along the coast provides a slightly better fit with the pattern we see in genetic diversity," Rosenberg says.

The study also found that:

•Populations in the Andes and Central America showed genetic similarities.
•Populations from western South America showed more genetic variation than populations from eastern South America.
•Among closely related populations, the ones more similar linguistically were also more similar genetically.

In addition to Rosenberg and Jakobsson, study authors include Cecil M. Lewis, Jr., former post-doctoral fellow in the U-M Department of Human Genetics, and 24 researchers at U.S., Canadian, British, Central and South American universities.


Adapted from materials provided by University of Michigan Health System, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
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 MLA University of Michigan Health System (2007, November 28). Gene Study Supports Single Main Migration Across Bering Strait. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from­ /releases/2007/11/071126170543.htm
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« Reply #80 on: June 01, 2009, 04:52:09 pm »

Maps depicting each phase of our three-step colonization model for the peopling of the Americas.


Kitchen A,

Miyamoto MM,

Mulligan CJ (2008) A Three-Stage Colonization Model for the Peopling of the Americas.
PLoS ONE 3(2): e1596. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001596)
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« Reply #81 on: June 01, 2009, 04:53:22 pm »

                    Thousands Of Humans Inhabited New World's Doorstep For 20,000 Years

(Feb. 13, 2008)

— The human journey from Asia to the New World was interrupted by a 20,000 -year layover in Beringia, a once-habitable region that today lies submerged under the icy waters of the Bering Strait. Furthermore, the New World was colonized by approximately 1,000 to 5,000 people - a substantially higher number than the 100 or fewer individuals of previous estimates.

The developments, to be reported by University of Florida Genetics Institute scientists in PloS One, help shape understanding of how the Americas came to be populated - not through a single expansion event that is put forth in most theories, but in three distinct stages separated by thousands of generations.

"Our model makes for a more interesting, complex scenario than the idea that humans diverged from Asians and expanded into the New World in a single event," said Connie Mulligan, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and assistant director of the UF Genetics Institute. "If you think about it, these people didn't know they were going to a new world. They were moving out of Asia and finally reached a landmass that was exposed because of lower sea levels during the last glacial maximum, but two major glaciers blocked their progress into the New World. So they basically stayed put for about 20,000 years. It wasn't paradise, but they survived. When the North American ice sheets started to melt and a passage into the New World opened, we think they left Beringia to go to a better place."

UF scientists analyzed DNA sequences from Native American, New World and Asian populations with the understanding that modern DNA is forged by an accumulation of events in the distant past, and merged their findings with data from existing archaeological, geological and paleoecological studies.

The result is a unified, interdisciplinary theory of the "peopling" of the New World, which shows a gradual migration and expansion of people from Asia through Siberia and into Beringia starting about 40,000 years ago; a long waiting period in Beringia where the population size remained relatively stable; and finally a rapid expansion into North America through Alaska or Canada about 15,000 years ago.

"This was the raw material, the original genetic source for all of the Americas," said Michael Miyamoto, Ph.D., a professor and associate chairman of zoology in UF's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "You can think of the people as a distinct group blocked by glaciers to the east. They had already been west, and had no reason to go back. They had entered this waiting stage and for 20,000 years, generations were passing and genetic differences were accumulating. By looking at the kinds and frequencies of these mutations in modern populations, we can get an idea of when the mutations arose and how many people were around to carry them."

Working with mitochondrial DNA - passed exclusively from mothers to their children - and nuclear DNA, which contains genes from both parents, UF scientists essentially added genetic information to what had been known about the archaeology, changes in climate and sea level, and geology of Beringia.

The result is a detailed scenario for the timing and scale of the initial migration to the Americas, more comparable to an exhaustive video picture rather than a single snapshot in time.

"Their technique of reading population history by using coalescence rates to analyze genetic data is very impressive - innovative anthropology and edge-of-the-seat population study," said Henry C. Harpending, Ph.D., a distinguished professor and endowed chairman of anthropology at the University of Utah and a member of the National Academy of Sciences who was not involved with the research. "The idea that people were stuck in Beringia for a long time is obvious in retrospect, but it has never been promulgated. But people were in that neighborhood before the last glacial maximum and didn't get into North America until after it. It's very plausible that a bunch of them were stuck there for thousands of years."

As for Beringia, sea levels rose about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago, submerging the land and creating the Bering Strait, which now separates North America from Siberia with more than 50 miles of open, frigid water.

"Our theory predicts much of the archeological evidence is underwater," said Andrew Kitchen, a Ph.D. candidate in the anthropology department at UF who participated in the research. "That may explain why scientists hadn't really considered a long-term occupation of Beringia."

UF researchers believe that their synthesis of a large number of different approaches into a unified theory will create a platform for scientists to further analyze genomic and non-genetic data as they become available.

Citation: Kitchen A, Miyamoto MM, Mulligan CJ (2008) A Three-Stage Colonization Model for the Peopling of the Americas. PLoS One 3(2): e1596. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001596


Adapted from materials provided by University of Florida.
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 MLA University of Florida (2008, February 13). Thousands Of Humans Inhabited New World's Doorstep For 20,000 Years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from­ /releases/2008/02/080213090524.htm
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« Reply #82 on: June 01, 2009, 04:54:34 pm »

                    Early Americans Arrived Thousands of Years Earlier Than Previously Believed

(Mar. 21, 2008)

— A team led by two Texas A&M University anthropologists now believes the first Americans came to this country 1,000 to 2,000 years earlier than the 13,500 years ago previously thought, which could shift historic timelines.

The team's findings are outlined in a review article in the journal Science entitled "The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans in the Americas," which synthesizes new data suggesting the migration from Alaska started about 15,000 years ago.

This theory is supported by not only archaeological evidence, but also from genetic evidence from living and ancient populations, says Ted Goebel, an anthropology professor at Texas A&M and associate director of Texas A&M's Center for the Study of the First Americans. He conducted the research with Michael R. Waters, a fellow anthropology professor at Texas A&M and director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans, and Dennis H. O'Rourke, an anthropology professor at the University of Utah.

Previous theories stated that the first migrants spread from Beringia to Tierra del Fuego over a few centuries about. Goebel says scientists have concluded that the peopling of America was a much more complex process.

The team focused primarily on molecular genetic, archaeological and human skeletal evidence to create a working model that explains the dispersal of modern humans across the New World.

Molecular geneticists have used refined method and an increasing sample of living populations and ancient remains to provide information on the Old World origins of the first Americans, the timing of their initial migration to the New World and the number of major dispersal events.

Archaeologists have found new sites and reinvestigated old ones using new methods to explain how early populations colonized North and South America.


Adapted from materials provided by Texas A&M University.
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 MLA Texas A&M University (2008, March 21). Early Americans Arrived Thousands of Years Earlier Than Previously Believed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from­ /releases/2008/03/080320120714.htm
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« Reply #83 on: June 01, 2009, 06:59:26 pm »

                                 Canada's governor shows solidarity with Inuit seal hunt

 Michel Comte
Wed May 27, 2009

– Canada's governor general gutted a seal slaughtered for her during an official Arctic trip and ate
a piece of its heart raw to show solidarity with embattled Inuit seal hunters.

Hundreds of Inuit gathered for a community feast in Rankin Inlet in Nunavut, the first stop on Governor General Michaelle Jean's trip to nine remote northern communities this week as Canada's head of state and representative of Queen Elizabeth II.

Jean knelt over the carcass of a freshly slaughtered seal and used a traditional ulu blade to cut through the flesh and slice off some meat. She then asked one of her hosts: "Could I try the heart?"

Jean said it was "absolutely delicious" and tasted "like sushi," according to images broadcast by CTV.

"And it's very rich in protein," she added.

As she wiped the blood off her fingers with a tissue, Jean explained her support for Canada's traditional Inuit seal hunt and trade, which some fear will be devastated by a European ban on seal products.

The European Parliament recently voted to endorse an EU ban on seal products in protest against commercial hunting methods.

Northern aboriginals are exempt from the ban, but they worry it will inevitably affect their livelihoods too when it takes effect in 2010.

Inuit leader Mary Simon applauded Jean for her support of the hunt.

"Once you destroy a market for one group, it is destroyed for all," Simon said in a statement.

Defense Minister Peter MacKay, who hails from Atlantic Canada, said ahead of a trip to monitor annual Arctic military exercises that he looked forward to some "delicious seal."

"I would encourage all Canadians to try some," he said.

Animal rights groups, however, were critical of Jean for appearing to also support Canada's commercial hunt.

The Canadian government maintains that the 350-year-old commercial hunt is crucial for some 6,000 North Atlantic fishermen who rely on it for up to 35 percent of their total annual income.

Animal rights groups, however, say it is barbaric and have waged an aggressive campaign in recent years to stop the annual hunt.

"I was deeply disappointed," said Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society. "I felt that (Jean's) actions were inappropriate given the controversy over commercial seal hunting.

"It's my hope that the governor general will clarify her actions and tell Canadians that her intent truly was to show solidarity with Inuit seal hunters and not with the commercial side of the industry.

"Nobody opposes subsistence hunting by Inuit people. We're opposed to the industrial-scale slaughter of seals," said Aldworth, echoed by Sheryl Fink, spokeswoman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Ottawa authorized the kill of 338,000 seals this year, insisting the hunt does not threaten the species.

But a slump in pelt prices has meant fewer hunters on ice floes off Canada's Atlantic coast. Fewer than 65,000 seals were expected to be killed, generating a mere 7,5 million Canadian dollars (6.4 million US) for sealers, a fisheries spokesman told AFP.
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« Reply #84 on: June 01, 2009, 07:07:19 pm »

                                                     Hypocrisy hard to swallow

                     Choose an EU nation and there's almost certainly a bloody stain on its flag

Calgary Sun
31st May 2009

As disgusting as it was to watch, Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean's snack of raw-and-bloody seal ventricle was a heart-warming moment for those of us sick and tired of European hypocrisy over Canada's seal hunt.

Any foreign politician slamming Canada's traditional seal harvest as barbaric, while approving the consumption of roast beef and foie gras by the bucketful, is either woefully ignorant or a two-faced fraud looking for votes.

Our heroic Governor General, by eating raw seal heart, did more to support a traditional source of food and income for Canada's northern communities than a thousand angry speeches could ever manage.

Not that the critics will listen.

The European Parliament, which earlier this month voted to ban the import of seal products from Canada, is filled with politicians willing to point fingers, while ignoring the cruelty under their own upturned noses.

Choose a European nation, and there's almost certainly a bloody stain on its flag, often worse than a hunt that's no more barbaric than what takes place in countless European slaughterhouses on a daily basis.

Behold, the hypocrisy of the European Union.

Let's start with France, and that fois gras their gourmands are so proud of, despite the hideous method used to produce it.

The French slurp back more than 19,000 tonnes of what translates to "fat liver" every year -- it's a pasty meat produced by force-feeding birds through a tube until their internal organs are bloated.

Cruel describes what the French do to geese and ducks, but it barely touches the savage blood sports enjoyed by European countries like Spain and Portugal, which also condemn Canada's seal hunt.

There, in front of leering audiences, bullfighting takes place -- if you can consider the slow and sadistic blood-letting of a frightened animal a fight, instead of a slaughter.

Perhaps Canada should hold the seal hunt inside a stadium, call it a sport and sell tickets.

Claiming the kill as a game would be sure to impress EU countries like Ireland, France and Italy, where fun pursuits like fox hunting and hare coursing take place.

In each case, the terrified target animal is chased by dogs, until it caught and torn to pieces.

Canada, take note.

Let dogs run down and rip apart the seals, instead of the traditional swift dispatch with a club: apparently, it's not cruel to kill animals when a pedigreed hound is involved.

Or Canada could call the seal-slaughter a "trophy hunt," thereby getting the Teutonic European countries on side with the fur harvest.

Austria, last year, boasted 1,053,000 animals stalked and shot, including deer, birds and wild boars, while German hunters continue to flock to Canada with rifles and skinning knives, all in the name of recreation.

Bulgaria might be applauded for finally banning dancing bears, but that country's animal cruelty laws are non-existent.

They oppose clubbing seals, but shrug over the brutal abuse of dogs and cats at home.

Greece, at least, ends the suffering of its domestic strays with mass poisoning, or so it's been reported by animal rights activists who've watched cats dying by the dozen.

Great Britain, having banned the fox hunt, is still no utopia of righteousness when it comes to animals.

The Royal Guard, including the soldiers outside of Buckingham Palace, still wear bearskin hats, each requiring the death of a Canadian black bear.

Norway must be mentioned for the annual harpooning of more than a thousand mike whales, which suffer painful and fear-ridden deaths at the end of a barbed spear.

Saving the most gruesome example for last, we have Denmark, a truly rotten place when it comes to cruelty.

Every year, Denmark's Faroe Islanders use motorboats to herd nearly 2,000 dolphins into a shallow bay.

There, hunters wade out and attack the animals with metal hooks, while using knives to skin the still-living dolphins, which thrash about the blood-red bay in dying terror.

Add in the meat-consuming culture which dominates Europe, and what you have is a group of countries soaked in blood and ignorance.

Canada's Governor General won't change a thing by nibbling raw seal heart as a symbol of support, but she will make such sanctimonious hypocrisy a little easier for Canadians to stomach.

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« Reply #85 on: June 01, 2009, 07:08:53 pm »

There's a simple, and scientific, way to determine which animals are hunted and killed:

If it's cute, then leave it alone.

If it's ugly, Bon Appétit.

Seals, dolphins, and bunnies? No.

Cows, pigs, and fish? Yes.
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