Bardot bear plea triggers backlash in Greenland

24th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

COPENHAGEN, Jan 23 (AFP) - A call by France's former screen goddess Brigitte Bardot to halt proposed polar bear hunts in Greenland has touched off an angry backlash in the vast Danish dependency.

COPENHAGEN, Jan 23 (AFP) - A call by France's former screen goddess Brigitte Bardot to halt proposed polar bear hunts in Greenland has touched off an angry backlash in the vast Danish dependency.

Bardot, an ardent animal rights activist, wrote in an open letter to Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, protesting plans to allow rich tourists to shoot the bears and keep their pelts as souvenirs.

But the president of Greenland's association of fishermen and hunters, Leif Fontaine, said the appeal could "not be taken seriously" and showed "a total ignorance of reality" about the great north.

The local government is hoping that bear hunts will prop up the economy in a population of 56,000 beset by unemployment and alcoholism.

Bardot, 71, wrote that she had "been fighting for years to stop the ice shelf being stained with the blood of thousands of seals shamelessly exterminated in Canada and Norway."

"Your country also seems to want to leave its stamp on the ice shelf by causing the blood of these innocent bears to flow, bears whose survival is already threatened by global warming," she said.

On the last point, Fontaine agreed with her in a telephone interview with AFP. Global warming was threatening the bears by depriving them of food such as seals, walruses and narwhales in the world's largest island, he said.

"The species surely is not threatened with extinction by the rifle shots of Greenland hunters that live in harmony with nature, but with those who are responsible for pollution and global warming," he said.

Fontaine urged the local government to conduct publicity campaigns abroad, since Bardot's appeal "shows clearly that there is a great need for information about our way of life."

Greenland's minister of fishing and hunting is to present a bill containing the bear hunting plans to parliament in the spring session, officials said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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