A horde of 150 photographers and newsmen mobbed French actress Brigitte Bardot when she arrived in Strasbourg in eastern France on Tuesday (24 January) for a Council of Europe debate on seal hunting and wildlife protection.
A horde of 150 photographers and newsmen mobbed French actress Brigitte Bardot when she arrived in Strasbourg in eastern France on Tuesday (24 January) for a Council of Europe debate on seal hunting and wildlife protection. Council members applauded and waved as the 43-year-old actress, an active supporter of wildlife protection, made her way through the melee at the entrance of the Palais de l'Europe, the ornate permanent home of the 20-nation council. Its members later called on their government to stop hunting harp seals. The council headquarters, which was opened last year, usually has a more decorous tone than the visit of one of the world's leading cinema personalities could possibly achieve. The milling circus of media people revived memories of 20 years ago, when Brigitte Bardot had won renown, and a certain notoriety, as the 'Sex Kitten' of the screen. The actress, however, is widely accepted as genuine campaigner for endangered wildlife, notably seals. Last year, she went to Canada to protest against seal hunting there and appealed to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to stop it for one year. Afterwards, Brigitte Bardot held a news conference with Frau Marga Hubinek, an Austrian MP, who also condemns slaughtering seals. Frau Hubinek and presented the report to the commission of the Council of Europe. In it, she had claimed that seals were sometimes cut up while still alive. Madamoiselle Bardot told newsmen she had been alerted about what was happening to seals in Canada by photographs she had been three years ago in French magazines. After seeing these, she had decided to do something about it, because she considered it was cruel and unjust to exterminate baby seals for no worthwhile social reason. Madamoiselle Bardot thought it was very peculiar that Canada had voted to spend several million dollars to organise a conference on the survival of the major cities of Europe, yet its leaders felt free to allow seal hunting to continue. She believed it was significant that the Council of Europe had decided, at the same time, to vote positively in dealing with another very important problem. Its members wanted to stamp out seal hunting; they saw fit to try to protect the species.
A letter that Mr. Trudeau had written to Mile. Bardot on 19 January was released in Strasbourg on Tuesday. In it, he refused to ban seal-hunting in Canada, which does not belong to the Council of Europe. He said the hunting relieved a great deal of poverty, was carried out humanely, and did not endanger the species. His letter said the seals felt no pain during the traditional method of slaughter - a sharp blow to the head. The council's recommendation to stop seal hunting had two major aims: to half all hunting for harp seals for two years while quotas ensuring their survival were worked out, and to enforce humane killing methods. The motion adopted by the council's assembly called on all governments, whether members or not, to ratify the Washington Convention, which covers international trade in threatened species of wildlife, and to increase measures to wipe out marine pollution, an important factor in the decline of the world's seal population.