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Phoenix to Australia: Save the sheep!

Sept. 13, 2007 at 8:42 PM

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Actor and PETA supporter Joaquin Phoenix has asked Australia’s agriculture minister to take measures to protect the continent’s sheep.

The "Walk the Line" and “Signs” star has faxed a letter to Peter McGauran, urging him to end live sheep exports and prevent the Australian wool industry from engaging in a procedure on lambs called "mulesing." The technique is crude and painful, and is meant as a cheap was of reducing maggot infestation, PETA said in a statement.

"I used to think that wool came from animals who were merely sheared and allowed to live fairly decent lives," Phoenix wrote in the letter. "I was shocked to learn from my friends at PETA that Australian farmers cut huge chunks of skin and flesh from lambs' backsides without any painkillers."

The Australian Wool and Sheep Industry Taskforce said on its Web site it would be "exceptionally cruel" not to mules sheep in Australia. The wool industry lobbying organization said a ban on mulesing would kill up to 3 million sheep in years when conditions are hot and wet, and conducive to flystrike.

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