Bison killed for a film being shot in Alberta

The American Human Association is investigating the deaths of four bison killed for a film being shot in Alberta entitled The Solutrean.alberta bison killed

The American Humane Association is investigating after four bison were reportedly killed for use in a film being shot in Alberta.

The American Humane Association is responsible for the certification stating that “no animals were harmed in the making of this film.” The animals’ deaths wouldn’t be newsworthy if they’d died for any purpose apart from a film production.

The bison wrangler

The owner of the bison, John Scott, responded to reporters by saying “I’m a bison producer and I have the right to sell my bison wherever I want.”

And Mr. Scott is correct. The animals were shot and butchered at the ranch. This likely makes them illegal for sale as meat, but doesn’t seem to have any impact on whether they can be used on a film set. Mr. Scott has already provided animals for movies – one of his animals is on prominent display in the Oscar-winning film The Revenant. He also wrangled ants, horses, bison and wild boar for the production. Scott also provided the animals for Lord of the Rings, which notably did not receive the American Humane Society’s certification.

So far as we know, the meat was a prop, provided by someone with extensive film experience.

The lines we draw

If you think about it, it’s kind of strange we have these certifications on films anyway. Nearly every film that uses horses requires they be placed in danger for action scenes. Even if these stunts don’t lead to the death or disability of the animals, it’s pretty hard to believe they aren’t  “harmed.”

And of course, there’s the thousands of animals killed to feed the film crew over the course of production. But of course they don’t count.

Neither do animal carcasses used as film props. Probably because they come from the grocery store and no-one witnessed their deaths.

We often draw arbitrary lines when it comes to the treatment of animals. These distinctions are usually based on how we feel. Animal abuse upsets us, but the death of an animal offscreen is completely acceptable, as long as we don’t know too much about it.

An inconvenient truth

Roland Lines, communications manager for the Alberta SPCA, confided to the CBC that while they were “philosophically” opposed to slaughtering the bison, their owner likely had not violated the law. Nonetheless, he voiced his opinion that “the large majority of Albertans would be outraged to know that something like this was happening.”

Really? Outraged? Bison is an incredibly popular item on menus here in Alberta. Bison burgers are served at nearly every restaurant – exactly how is that morally superior than killing animals for a film production? I doubt it matters much to the bison.

If Albertans are indeed offended by these animals’ deaths, I am confused.

It’s quite simple: if you believe Bison are beautiful animals that shouldn’t be used as film props, your first step should probably be to stop eating them.

What do you think? Join the conversation!

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