Thanks to those who took the time to comment on our inquiry as to how you felt about the inclusion of handicrafts with sea otter fur by native peoples in our upcoming art show. The comments were thoughtful, and it sounds like the majority of you are against the idea because you feel to include the pieces would be to condone their fabrication. I am including the comments made on our facebook page as well as the blog for consideration.
I certainly agree that we would have to be comfortable with the legalities and the ethics of this before we include any pieces, and hearing your thoughts helped.
From the conservation point of view, the occasional take of otters from the Alaska population (which is substantially larger than our California population) has no impact on the ecosystem, and is not a contributing factor to the need for legal protections. Native peoples who used all parts of nature for subsistence for years have been constantly marginalized by the same forces that are threatening otters up there–oil exploration and extraction, and over-fishing with increasingly industrialized equipment. If youwant to address population issues, the impact of continuing native traditions is nothing compared to the impact of wide-scale resource extraction, so that’s where we should focus our conservation efforts.
That says nothing about the individual animals though–and many of you objected to the use of otter furs and pelts based on a belief that it is cruel to kill otters period, but especially for the purposes of craft. Carolyn summed it up nicely: “I understand, mentally, about cultural traditions, but understanding often doesn’t equate to acceptance on an emotional level.” Well said. Arguably there are certain species that we have agreed should not be slaughtered for food, fur, or any other purpose. We all draw the line differently.
For the record, we have not received any submissions that include sea otter fur–just an initial query as to whether we would consider them or not. The issue likely won’t arise this time around–but it’s good to consider all the same.
Thank you for sharing your opinion on this issue, and please continue to post your comments! We really like to know what you think.