Yet again, and not for the first time, PETA has launched a badly researched campaign without being in full possession of the facts – the only thing they managed to get right was the fact that at Annah Stretton we do sell New Zealand possum fur products. With obviously limited research on the topic, they have decided that the possum fur business in New Zealand is inhumane, cruel and unnecessary.
While acknowledging that possums are a pest, PETA says that their culling in New Zealand barely makes a difference to overall numbers. The possum population is ‘guestimated’ to be around 48 million – but this figure has been stated to be as low as 30 million, and as high as 75 million by various experts. As possums are not likely to be filling in their census forms any time soon, we can only go on expert opinion. However many there are out there, what we do know is collectively they devour thousands of tonnes of vegetation every night, along with native birds and their eggs. So any downward trend in possum numbers has to be a good thing.
While completely eradicating possums in New Zealand is a far-fetched dream, culling them creates a multi-million dollar input into the economy, and a by-product (the fur.) We should be so proud of the fact that New Zealand has created a market for this waste, and a whole industry has sprung up around possum fur.
By attacking someone such as Annah Stretton, who has such a high public profile, PETA gain media coverage for their cause. In fact they admit on their own webpage, that they prefer to make their protests ‘controversial’ as this does increase media coverage and public awareness. But is this the right method for a group trying to get recognition for what is undoubtedly a good cause – the protection of animals. The other two major players in this arena, SAFE and the SPCA, don’t seem to resort to these tactics. PETA has become almost infamous for its shocking advertisements – and they seem to thrive on causing controversy. As a world-wide organisation, they could and should be applauded for their basic principles, but often their controversial methods of raising awareness overshadows any benefits.
Yesterday in Christchurch three protestors turned up – there were far more representatives of the media, obviously lured by the promise of ‘sexy’ (read half naked) demonstrators. PETA should stand back and take a long hard look at their methods, because theirs is a great cause but they are marginalising it by their childish and immature antics, and the naiveté of their representatives.
At Annah Stretton only New Zealand possum furs are sold in our stores and they are ethically and humanely eradicated as part of a controlled killing program to protect our environment. We abhor cruelty to animals in any way, and we are comfortable in our knowledge that we take no part at all in acts of brutality towards possums, we simply work with a by-product of this eradication.