May 28, 2012
Animal rights lawyer Lesli Bisgould. Photo:
The slaughter of kangaroos in Australia is going largely unnoticed
when compared with Canada's widely condemned annual seal hunt, a
prominent Canadian animal rights lawyer says.
Lesli Bisgould is embarking on a 12-stop tour of Australia, hosted by
animal protection institute Voiceless, to highlight the plight of
Voiceless says that the annual hunt of Australia's kangaroos is the
world's largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife, with almost
90 million lawfully killed in the past 20 years.
By comparison, Canada's harp seals are hunted in the world's largest
commercial slaughter of marine mammals, with almost 4 million killed
lawfully in the past two decades.
This year, Voiceless will explore
legal comparisons between the two hunts and the lessons Australia can learn
from its Canadian counterpart in the 2012 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture
Series, starting in Sydney on Wednesday.
Seals and kangaroos are both
slaughtered away from the public eye and many suffer for long periods of
time before death, Voiceless says.
Ms Bisgould will share her legal
insights and experiences of the seal hunt while local speakers will provide
a legal perspective on the commercial hunting of kangaroos.
two countries holding such similar records, the presentations will also
explore the legal parameters of the hunts and what the public can do.
Bisgould was the first lawyer in Canada to specialise in animal rights, she
wrote the first Canadian text on the subject and has lectured widely
throughout Canada and the US.
She has challenged the Canadian
government, questioning its justifications of the hunt.
co-counsel in two lengthy court cases. The first challenged the sale of seal
penises as they contain a controlled substance, testosterone.
second challenged the Canadian government's efforts to thwart observation of
the hunt by independent observers. She claimed that the government did not
want observers to document accurate images of the horrors of the hunt, which
contradicted the government's own assertions about it.
has a part to play in animal protection. If we look at images of the seal
and kangaroo hunts and we are uncomfortable with them, we are each
responsible for holding our governments to account," she said.
"Canada and Australia share startling similarities, with legislation that
overlooks the reality of what's happening on the ground and fails to protect
our native animals from terrible suffering."
Joining her in the Law
Lecture Series are a collection of Australia's prominent legal minds
including chairman of the Barristers Animal Welfare Panel Graeme McEwen, Dr
Melissa Perry, QC, and lawyer and research fellow with think tank for
kangaroos THINKK, Keely Boom.
The Law Lecture Series will be held at
12 venues around the country, including the University of Sydney, Arnold
Bloch Leibler (Sydney), Bond University (Gold Coast), Allens Arthur Robinson
(Perth), Australian National University (Canberra), Clayton Utz (Brisbane),
Griffith University (Brisbane), Murdoch University (Perth), Flinders
University (Adelaide), University of Melbourne, Corrs Chambers Westgarth
(Melbourne) and the University of Tasmania (Hobart).