21st December 2012
Wolves die to provide novelty reindeer meat to UK stores
POSH department store, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason, and bargain basement supermarket, Lidl, are all offering reindeer meat to customers this Christmas. Animal welfare group Viva!, however, has accused them of being responsible for the slaughter of wild animals across Europe and Siberia simply to keep their shelves stocked.
Wolves, Wolverines , lynxes  and even bears with cubs  are shot in Sweden to protect the reindeer industry. Wolf populations in reindeer herding areas have been decimated and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has admitted that wolverines and wolves are seriously endangered  yet allowed hunts in 2010 and 2011. It led to a legal challenge from the European Commission . Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason are selling reindeer pâté from London company Edible sourced from Sweden .
Currently there are only an estimated 200 wolves left in Sweden  and Scandinavian activists claim that wolves natural migration routes have been closed which could leading to inbreeding and eventual extinction.
Large predators are also under threat from hunting in reindeer-herding areas of Finland and Norway, where they are simply not tolerated .
Cecilia Mille, International Affairs Manager of Djurens Rätt, Sweden, Scandinavias largest animal rights organisation, says: Large predators are hunted and killed in Sweden to protect the reindeer industry. Wolves are most exposed, and the entire reindeer grazing area are kept free from them - that covers more than half the country. Lynx, wolverines and bears are also victims of the reindeer industry. Popularising reindeer meat in Britain will make the situation even worse.
Sami Säynevirta, of the Finnish Nature League adds: Poaching of wolves is a big problem all over Finland but the northern part of the country, which is dedicated to reindeer herding, is a killing zone for wolves under permits granted by government. The price of reindeer meat is that wolves get shot.
Lidl source reindeer meat from Siberia  where again wolves, wolverines and foxes, are shot. In some areas of Siberia wolves are increasingly seen as a pests that need to be eliminated and hunting is encouraged, with financial incentives from the authorities  in some parts. Intensive grazing of reindeer herds has also been blamed for habitat loss .
Viva! asserts that popularising reindeer meat in Britain is a threat to wild animals and could lead to more large predators being exterminated in the wild, significantly reducing biodiversity.
Viva! have in the past highlighted welfare concerns of increasingly intensive reindeer herding across Scandinavia and Siberia, with helicopters, motorcycles and snowmobiles often replacing tradition herding methods . This and lassoing cause extreme stress in the animals. They can become so distraught that their muscles waste away and this, combined with long journey time to slaughter which can be in excess of 1,000 km , is a serious insult to their welfare. Reindeer also frequently suffer painful mutilations, such as earmarking and castration, without anaesthesia .
Viva! campaigns manager, Justin Kerswell, says: Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason offer reindeer pâté to customers with more money than ethics. Whereas Lidl effectively declare: why let a tight budget get in the way of killing animals across the planet for a novelty thrill?
Apart from the significant welfare issues around industrialised reindeer production, you can now add the systematic destruction of large numbers of wild animals, such as wolves. You have to wonder how long it will be before Lidl, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason offer up wolf steaks or bear chunks in their never-ending quest to serve up wildlife?
We have written to both stores calling on them to withdraw sales of reindeer meat with immediate effect. Of course, all meat eating is linked to suffering and we call on consumers to have a cruelty-free, veggie Christmas this year.
Notes to editor
More on Viva!s campaigns can be found at www.viva.org.uk. Or phone 0117 944 1000 or email email@example.com.
Find out more about the Finish Nature Leagues campaign to save the wolf at http://www.salakaadotseis.fi/ . There is a petition here.
More information about Djurens Rätt (Animal Rights Sweden) http://www.djurensratt.se/
 Wolverines hunted in Sweden, Swedish Carnivore Association (28/10/2012) http://www.rovdjur.se/viewNavMenu.do?menuID=4&oid=3943
 Lynxes and other large predators hunted in Sweden each year in part to protect livestock, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency http://www.swedishepa.se/In-English/Start/Nature-conservation-and-wildlife/The-large-predators/Large-predators-and-hunting/
 Bears hunted in Sweden (some with cubs), Swedish Carnivore Association (31/05/2012) http://www.rovdjur.se/viewNavMenu.do?menuID=9&oid=3739
wolverine and wolf remain seriously endangered" Swedish Environmental Protection Agency http://www.swedishepa.se/In-English/Start/Nature-conservation-and-wildlife/The-large-predators/
 "Wolves are kept out of northern Sweden in order to protect the nation's reindeer herds but the restriction has cut off the packs from mating with other wolves in Finland and Russia. As a result, Sweden's wolves are severely inbred and are in need of new bloodlines." Month-long Swedish wolf hunt challenged by EU, The Christian Science Monitor, January 29 2011 http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/month-long-swedish-wolf-hunt-challenged-eu
 Wolf hunting in Sweden during the winters of 2010 and 2011 was reported to the European Court, and the European Commission has criticised Sweden for issuing hunting licenses without having a plan of action for protecting and preserving the Scandinavian wolf tribe. The Swedish Environment Agency says that no licences will be issued to shoot wolves this winter (2012), but Environment Minister Lena Ek has not confirmed this and said that it was dependent on
ongoing assessments by the European Commission in Brussels. EU criticism could stop wolf-hunting licenses in Sweden, Alaska Dispatch, 11 October 2012 http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/eu-criticism-could-stop-wolf-hunting-licenses-sweden
 Harvey Nichols advertise reindeer meat on their website and is available in store: http://www.harveynichols.com/food-wine/categories/groceries/pantry/s346140-edible-reindeer-pate-29746.html
Fortnum & Mason list reindeer meat here: http://www.fortnumandmason.com/p-8230-edible-tinned-reindeer-pate.aspx
 The wolf hunting weakens the wolf population. The Swedish licensed wolf hunt is claimed to be part of an official Swedish wolf conservation policy. However, conservation researchers, the public, and EU Environment Commissioner Potočnik have criticised that the Swedish government now pursues with yet another large-scale wolf hunt, which started this weekend. Thousands of hunters have been permitted to hunt 20 out of a population of about 200 wolves. So far, 16 wolves have been killed or shot at. Nature Conservation Sweden, 18 January, 2011 http://www.naturskyddsforeningen.se/in-english/swedish-wolf-hunting/
 Decisions have been made that determine areas in which these predators will be tolerated and areas where they will be excluded, largely on the basis of the presence of freely ranging domestic livestock and Saami reindeer. In the exclusion zones in Norway, targeted hunts are held to kill individual large carnivores or groups of them regardless of the status of the species. No wolves have been permitted to reestablish in the Saami reindeer herding areas, which lie north of approximately 63° N. Climate change and terrestrial wildlife management in the Fennoscandian North, International Artic Science Committee, Updated 7 May, 2012
 Lidl selling reindeer meat: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyworrall/8164759025/
 Möngün-Taiga (Tyva, republic in south-central Siberia, Russia): "... virtually all people said that wolves should actively hunted. They are perceived as pests and a threat to livestock that needs to be eliminated." Altai (Southern Siberia): [hunters agree] ... wolves should be hunted by specialized hunters and preferably eliminated altogether. Local perspectives on hunting and poaching, Research report for WWF Russia Altai-Saian Ecoregion http://www.wwf.ru/data/altay/halemba-donahoesaefinalreport.pdf
In Chukotka (in the northern part of the Russian Far East where reindeer herding is common) around 400 wolves are shot each year (from a population of 3,000). There are calls for this to increase to 70 per cent (information from Eduard Zdor, The Association of Traditional Marine Mammal Hunters of Chukotka (ATMMHC)). Yury Gafarov is a biologist working as a wildlife manager in the Directorate for the Protection of Wildlife and Protected Areas in the Amur region of Russia. In an email sent to Viva! he says: In the Amur region the government stimulates the killing of wolves by rewarding hunters. In the northern areas where reindeer herding is practiced the reward can be three times that given in the south (20,000 roubles v. 7,000). Representatives of the indigenous peoples ask and demand that the regional government allow them to use traps, snares and poison in the fight against wolves that attack their reindeer herds. From this year it is allowed to shoot them only. (emails on request)
 "Intensive reindeer husbandry, control of large predators, incidental subsistence hunting, Arctic fox trapping" [that has led to] "Decline in wolves, wolverines, and foxes" in Nenetsky Okrug,Yamal, Gydan (Siberia) http://www.camelclimatechange.org/articles/view/151235/
 Siberian use of snowmobiles to herd: The Reindeer People by Piers Vitebsky: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=CqevpWQT3RAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=reindeer+people&hl=en&ei=qb3bTMaMC8qzhAen-Pj-Dw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=slaughter&f=false)
 The following is Swedish not Siberian research, but its findings would be hold true: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1410727
Claes Rehbinder and Jann Hau
Division of Comparative Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
"During the past 40 years, the traditional intensive methods of herding relatively tame animals have been replaced by extensive methods involving motor vehicles such as snowmobiles and motorcycles, as well as helicopters for herding almost wild animals (1). New directives concerning hygienic standards in Sweden have resulted in the closing of small local abattoirs and transport of the reindeer by truck over long distances (sometimes more than 1000 km) for slaughter.
The quality of reindeer meat deteriorates after stress (2). Some handling methods, such as the traditional lasso technique for sorting, cause considerable physical and mental stress, leading to depletion of muscle glycogen (3). The increasing stress associated with herding, corralling, and physical restraint of less and less tame animals results in lesions and elevated blood cortisol concentrations (4). With increased concern about compromised well-being of the reindeer (5), there is a need for objective measures of stress and animal welfare."
 There are about 260 000 reindeer in Sweden. They are subjected to great stress at slaughter and transport, and for painful procedures as earmarking and castration without anaesthesia. In the winter of 2010-2011 56,338 reindeer were slaughtered in Sweden. Reindeer facts, Djurens Rätt (Animal Rights Sweden) http://www.djurensratt.se/vara-fragor/djur-i-livsmedelsindustrin/renar