Tracking Canada’s horse slaughter trade from Alberta to Japan

'Breakway' by Robert Spaith was previously situated in the Domestic Terminal Building, but now graces the Arrivals Level in the new terminal. Image source: Calgary International Airport.
‘Breakway’ by Robert Spaith was previously situated in the Domestic Terminal Building, but now graces the Arrivals Level in the new terminal. Image source: Calgary International Airport.

HORSE SLAUGHTER. Source Article: VICE. By Anna Brooks (June 15, 2017) — Walking through the Calgary International Airport, you’ll pass a bronze statue of wild horses running.

Entitled “Breakaway,” the immortalized horses were intended to be a metaphor for Calgary’s spirit and strength.

But there’s another story of horses at the Calgary airport, a story some veterinarians are calling a “huge animal welfare issue.”

For years, animal advocacy groups like the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) have opposed the transport of live draft horses to Japan for slaughter. In Canada, alongside Mexico and parts of Europe, this practice is legal, unlike countries like the US where horse slaughterhouses are banned.

According to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents obtained by the CHDC and provided to VICE, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) banned shipping draft horses—a breed that can weigh more than a thousand pounds. Canadian Horse Defence Coalition image.
According to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents obtained by the CHDC and provided to VICE, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) banned shipping draft horses—a breed that can weigh more than a thousand pounds. Canadian Horse Defence Coalition image.

Horse meat is a delicacy in Japan, and places like Kumamoto specialize in fresh dishes like basashi—horse sashimi. Horse oil is also a sought after beauty product in Hokkaido, where it’s used to treat wrinkles, acne, and sunburns.

Slaughtering and selling horse meat has been outlawed in the US, whereas in Canada, there are four active federal slaughterhouses producing horse meat for human consumption—two of which are in Alberta.

While most of Canada’s horse meat is exported to countries around the world, horse meat is still locally available, especially in Quebec.

While groups like the CHDC had hoped to see horse exports decline over the years, recent data from Statistics Canada show 1,350 live horses exported as a commodity to Japan between January and March 2017, a batch valued at more than $2.6 million.

The number of live horses shipped from Canada to Japan has dropped since January, but prices per horse have increased; according to Statistics Canada, the average price per horse in February 2017 was $1,451, compared to March’s average of $4,136.

Read full article for more »

Take Action Canada

Prime Minister

Contact the Canadian Prime Minister and include in your personal message that (1) you are opposed to the live shipment of horses for the purpose of slaughter for human consumption and (2) to please see that existing regulations against the live transport of draft horses are enforced.

Health Minister

Contact the Health Minister who oversees the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and politely deliver the same message as above.

Please share everywhere. Let’s do this in numbers on behalf of these horses. Thank you.

Related Reading

Horses are still being shipped live from Canada to Japan to make specialty sashimi; Tuesday’s Horse; April 2017

Vet seeks reproductive alternative to cull of Alberta wild horses

Wild Horse Alberta Canada. Tooth and Claw Photography.

KATHRYN McMACKIN reporting for the Cochrane Eagle reports:

“As the debate continues surrounding the government-appointed wild horse cull in Alberta, one veterinarian has been researching a more sustainable solution to manage the free-ranging horse population: a safe method of contraception.

“Dr. Judith Samson-French is no stranger to utilizing contraception as a management tool — she’s used it for years to control the feral dog population on First Nations communities. Through the Dogs With No Names project, she’s found success by administering a contraceptive implant in female dogs that renders them infertile.

“A similar method can be used for wild horses, she said.

“Jay Kirkpatrick is the director of the Science and Conservation Centre at ZooMontana in Billings, Mont. The centre develops and distributes wildlife contraceptives — including porcine zona pellucida (PZP).

“Kirkpatrick said the PZP injection has been used, with much success, in horses for 27 years.

    ‘The beauty of this particular contraceptive is that it doesn’t disrupt cycling or the horses’ behaviours, which is very important for the herd,” said Kirkpatrick. “It’s the only known contraceptive that does not interfere with the endocrine system.’ ”

Where have we heard this before? Oh, yes. The US Department of Interior agency, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), also favors this method, so they say.

The very big problem is that the BLM has promised time and again over the years that this reproductive alternative – darting wild mares with the PZP contraceptive – would be done in place of roundups. That has not happened.

Instead the BLM reportedly has been using contraceptives in addition to the aggressive roundups of thousands of wild horses decimating and in some cases eliminating entire herds, leaving empty herd management areas on public lands for federally contracted ranchers to graze their cattle, mining companies to mine, pipeline companies to lay pipeline . . . and so on it goes.

So dear citizens of Canada, we recommend you take a very hard look at what is happening in the US before you jump on the contraceptive bandwagon for wild horse population control. You may find that this “reproductive alternative” will continue along with the culls, not in place of them.

By the way, if you look up the definition of cull, it says:

1. a selective slaughter of wild animals; 2. reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter; and 3. send (an inferior or surplus animal on a farm) to be slaughtered.

At the end of McMackin’s report she states:

“Wild horse capture permits began being distributed by the province mid-January. Once captured, the horses become property of the licence holder, who may keep or sell the horses”.

McMackin does not mention the grisly prospect that can easily occur with the sale of these horses, namely slaughter.

McMackin ends with the quote:

“‘The government is running out of options for these horses,” said Samson-French.'”

Ah, yes.

Featured image from Tooth and Claw Photography. See more >>

Capture of wild horses in Alberta likely to meet 10% of target

Cross-posted from The Global Post

Photo: Wild Horses of Alberta Society
Photo: Wild Horses of Alberta Society

CALGARY — Alberta is likely to fall well short of its goal to reduce its wild horse population by almost 200 animals when permits expire at the end of the week.

Two licences were issued by the government to capture up to 196 feral horses in the central Alberta area around Sundre. One of the licence-holders says the actual number will probably be around 20.

The permits are in effect until March 1.

“The maximum number of feral horses that can be captured is still 196. I’m not aware of an intention to extend the capture season at this point,” Carrie Sancartier, a spokeswoman for Alberta Environment, said in an email Wednesday.

“I’ve just caught a few so far,” said Bryn Thiessen, 54, who runs Helmer Creek Ranch near Sundre and has one of the licences. “I haven’t had time and I won’t do a poor job for the horses’ sake and everybody else’s.

“I can’t foresee reaching the goal given the shortened capture season and the fact that nobody else has bothered. Other guys who have trapped in the past didn’t bother applying.”

Thiessen said he’s managed to bring in three horses so far and the other permit-holder, a friend of his, has captured a dozen.

The government says the feral horse population is continuing to balloon and numbers need to be balanced to accommodate the grazing needs of cattle and wildlife.

Alberta Environment says the number of horses in the Sundre area increased to 980 last year from 778 the year before. The department is confident about the count, which is done at the same time every year by helicopter.

The horses are descendants of domestic animals used in logging and mining operations in the early 1900s.

The plan to reduce the population has drawn the ire of animal rights activists who worry that many of the horses are destined for slaughterhouses or will die during the roundup.

RCMP said three women and two men involved in an ongoing protest were arrested Tuesday for mischief. They have been released on the promise to stay away from the wild horse capture site and are to appear in Didsbury provincial court on March 31.

“The five individuals were warned by officers a few moments prior to entering the immediate site area that they would be committing mischief were they to proceed,” Sgt. Josee Valiquette wrote in a release Wednesday.

“The individuals proceeded to the site despite the warning and were subsequently arrested.”

The names of the five protesters have not been released. Continue reading >>

Canadian MP Atamanenko joins protesters calling for an end to horse slaughter

Alex Atamanenko MP Alberta Protest. Image by Gavin Young.
Alex Atamanenko MP Alberta Protest. Image by Gavin Young.
B.C. New Democrat MP Alex Atamanenko speaks beneath a Stop Slaughtering Us billboard in Calgary on Monday. Atamanenko is the author of Bill C-322 which would prohibit horse slaughter for human consumption. Image by Gavin Young.

Canadian Flag

THANDI FLETCHER, reporting for the Calgary Herald writes:

CALGARY — With the backdrop of a billboard reading “Stop Slaughtering Us,” a crowd of demonstrators led by a New Democrat MP gathered Monday in Calgary calling for an end to the slaughtering of horses for human consumption.

But horse meat industry experts are calling the campaign an unfair attack that appeals to emotion while ignoring the “science” that deems horse meat safe to be eaten by humans.

On Monday, more than a dozen horse advocates crowded a grass patch beside Memorial Drive and Barlow Trail S.E. for the unveiling of a billboard that shows a picture of two horses beside the heading, “Stop Slaughtering Us.”

The protesters were supporting Bill C-322, a private member’s bill introduced by B.C. MP Alex Atamanenko in October.

The bill seeks to end the import and export of horses for slaughter for human consumption.