WSPA supporters prompt action on reindeer cruelty

WSPA’s recent campaign documenting shocking mistreatment in Swedish and Finnish reindeer husbandry has generated action from supporters on a huge scale. 

Thanks to impressive action from WSPA supporters over our footage exposing the suffering inflicted on huge herds of reindeer as they are rounded up, transported and slaughtered for their meat in Sweden and Finland, authorities have been prompted to act.

Following the release of our investigation findings which have so far prompted 65,000 WSPA supporters worldwide and others to object, WSPA has received a positive response from the Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs Eskil Erlandsson welcoming our important work for animals.

The Minister confirmed that the use of slaughter methods which are against Swedish welfare law was unacceptable. He welcomed further debate about reindeer welfare, and stated that Sweden would continue to work for better animal welfare both domestically and regionally.

Campaign garners widespread support and coverage

Subsequently Roger Petterson, Country Director for WSPA Sweden has been in extensive talks with the Swedish Ministry for Rural Affairs, and is in the process of securing a meeting with the Nordic Council of Ministers.

“WSPA thanks the more than 65,000 supporters from all over Scandinavia and from countries from Brazil to New Zealand who signed our letter calling for existing legislation and a regional declaration which protects the welfare of these animals to be upheld. The issue generated a massive reaction from those viewing the footage on WSPA’s websites worldwide and in print and television news both locally and internationally, leading to support from the political, scientific and welfare sectors. The more signatures we can present, the more likely that concrete action will have to be taken ” said Petterson.

“As our investigation has shown, the entry of commercial players has intensified what was an exclusive right for the Sami population, into an industry where operators are in violation of existing legislation. This cannot be allowed to continue in this way, and I’m hopeful that we can make progress to change the situation of the reindeer for the better.”

Key official and scientific backing

Several experts and scientist have supported WSPA’s criticism of the poor handling, transportation and slaughter methods documented. , The scientists at the University of Uppsala are now seeking to conduct further study which should lead to an animal welfare programme for reindeers in Sweden.

In addition, the senior representative at the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten, an area where much of the footage was filmed, also agreed with WSPA’s criticisms that the transport practises caused the reindeer stress.

Our investigation confirmed that reindeers are sometimes are slaughtered by a knife in the neck with no prior stunning, already forbidden by law in Sweden, but still in practice. WSPA’s investigation prompted the Norrbotten official to call for reindeer owners to be informed that this practice is contrary to Swedish animal welfare law.  In addition, the National Union of the Swedish Sami People has said the method will be suppressed immediately.

If you haven’t done so already, you can still take action to help end the suffering. The more signatures we have, the more likely still that authorities will be forced to take action.  Write to the Nordic Council of Ministers, an inter-parliamentary forum for cooperation in the Nordic countries, calling on them to uphold existing animal welfare laws in both Sweden and Finland, and the Växjö Declaration of 2008.This Declaration stated the Council’s support for the belief that animals are sentient beings with their own intrinsic value and that they should be respected as such.

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