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TV chef Anthony Bourdain backs seal clubbing, challenges Humane Society

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Food and Drink,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Television,Animals,Humane Society

Celebrity TV chef Anthony Bourdain has joined with some Canadians to back baby seal clubbing, challenging the Humane Society of the United States and dozens of award-winning chefs who support the group’s effort to ban the practice.

The sometimes abrasive Bourdain entered the fight via Twitter, condemning the Humane Society's petition and the group Chefs for Seals, tweeting: “To hold the entire Canadian seafood industry hostage over sustainable, absolutely necessary tribal practice is ill considered.”

The annual baby-seal killing is always a controversial issue, more so now that the Washington-based Humane Society has added some 6,000 supporters to its petition.

Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle, however, said that group isn’t fighting the practice by Inuit natives who hunt seals for food and clothing, but instead the much larger commercial killing of about 100,000 a year by fur traders selling pelts overseas.

"Not an ounce of the meat from these [commercially-hunted] seals is consumed, and not a single pelt is sold in Canada. This is the farthest thing from subsistence hunt," he told Secrets, rejecting a popular defense of the hunts.

Debating this issue this week on Canadian TV, Pacelle said that Bourdain is confusing the issues when defending seal clubbing Canada-wide, but then referencing the tribal practice of the Inuits.

“He confused the because he’s obviously unfamiliar with the terms,” said Pacelle.

Bourdain’s tweets prompted a firestorm of criticism, even though the famous chef has spent time with the Inuits and even ate seal.

The chefs who support the Humane Society pledge not to buy items from Canada until the larger, non-Inuit seal hunts end.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.