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ANIMALS

EXPLAINED: Why a plan to shoot deer at this Basel City cemetery is causing a storm

A plan to shoot several deer who live in a cemetery just a few kilometres from the centre of Basel is causing a stir in Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: Why a plan to shoot deer at this Basel City cemetery is causing a storm
One of the deer at Basel's Hörnli Cemetery. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

In May 2020, cantonal police in Basel City approved a request from city gardeners to cull several deer who live at the canton’s Hörnli Cemetery (Friedhof am Hörnli). 

Animal rights advocates have challenged the request, saying the deer should be protected. 

The cull has been suspended after an appeal was made to the Justice and Security Department of Basel City. 

The deer have lived at the cemetery – Switzerland’s largest – since it was built in 1926, although city records indicate that the deer population was “manageable” in the early days. 

The population has increased in recent years from 15 to 25.

The cemetery spans 54 hectares with space for 60,000 graves and is situated just metres from the Swiss-German border. 

Deer snacking on flowers at Basel's Hörnli Cemetery. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

‘A culinary paradise’ 

Advocates of the cull plan have said it is necessary for the ‘conservation’ of the cemetery. 

They argue the deer destroy gardens at the cemetery, leading to additional costs for maintenance. 

The risk of diseases its also increased due to the animal’s close proximity. 

In a plan more reminiscent of a spy thriller than a conservation effort, the ‘targeted kill’ is set to take place after dark which “should be done with silencers out of consideration for the peace and quiet of the grave and the adjacent living quarters.”

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung reports that the cemetery is a “culinary paradise” for the deer “with its variety of flowers and other plants”. 

‘Killing innocent animals just for eating flowers’

The animal advocates who launched the appeal gathered 18,000 signatures to suspend the effort. Among the supporters is French actress Brigitte Bardot, who wrote to the cantonal authorities demanding that the deer be protected. 

Fondation Franz Weber, which has been previously successful with animal protection efforts in the canton, has criticised the cull plan for “killing innocent animals just for eating flowers”. 

Private hunting is banned “as a matter of practice” in cemeteries all across Switzerland, said cantonal authorities. 

Switzerland is set to go to the polls in a referendum on hunting practices in September of 2020, although this is not related to the decision on the deer in the cemetery. 

 

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ANIMALS

PETA offers cash to ban Pamplona’s famous running of the bulls forever

With the news last week that the Spanish city of Pamplona in Navarra has been forced to cancel its bull running fiesta for the second year running due to the Covid crisis, animal rights activists have seized on the opportunity to call for it to be banned permanently.

PETA offers cash to ban Pamplona’s famous running of the bulls forever
A shot from the encierro on July 7th 2019. Photo: AFP

PETA are writing to the mayor of Pamplona with the offer of €298,000 if the Navarran city ceases the use of bulls during their fiesta altogether.

“People around the world, including in Spain, say it’s past time the torment and slaughter of animals for human entertainment were stopped,” says PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk in her appeal to Pamplona mayor, Enrique Maya.

“Now is the moment to be on the right side of history. We hope you will accept our offer and allow Pamplona to reinvent itself for the enjoyment of all.”

Each morning during the eight day festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, which bursts into celebration at midday on July 6th, six fighting bulls and six steers are released to run through the narrow streets of the old town to the bullring where the bulls are killed in the evening corridas.

Hundreds run alongside the animals in the morning dash which often results in gorings, and injuries from being stomped on after runners lose their footing in the crowds.

The festival, which was made world famous by Ernest Hemingway, who set his 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” during San Fermin, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the party each year.

The festival, which sees Pamplona’s population swell from just under 200,000 to more than a million, is estimated to bring an annual boost of €74 million to Pamplona businesses, according to an association of fighting bull breeders.

PETA’s offer is the latest in a long campaign to ban what it calls “Pamplona’s annual bloodbath”.

Together with Spanish groupAnimaNaturalis, the activists stage peaceful protests ahead of the start of the festival year.

The city’s former mayor, Joseba Asirón, supported the protests, describing them as “fair and honest”.

Speaking to reporters about the groups’ calls to remove bull runs from the festival, he said, “[T]his is a debate that sooner or later we will have to put on the table. For a very simple reason, and that is that basing the festival on the suffering of a living being, in the 21st century, is something that, at best, we have to rethink.”

Since the pandemic began festivals across Spain have been cancelled but corridas were allowed last summer with limited occupancy and with social distancing and Covid-19 measures in place.

But although Spain’s bullfighting lobby is strong, there is a general trend away from it.

In a poll published in 2019 by online newspaper El Español, over 56 percent of Spaniards said they were against bullfighting, while only 24.7 were in favour. Some 18.9 percent said they were indifferent.

Support was significantly higher among conservative voters, it showed.

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