Much to the dismay of animal lovers around the globe, Canada just started up its annual seal hunt again. Sadly, in just the past 11 days, hunters have already killed over 30,000 baby seals in eastern Canada – and they plan to kill a lot more.
Seal hunting does take place in Canada year-round, but Springtime is the hunters favorite season to go hunting for them. See, in the spring the babies are born and hunters like to kill them when they are young in order to harvest their silvery grey coats for use in things like fur coats and clothing items.
This year, the hunt began last week, and according to Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International, it will continue until mid-May or even June.
Aldworth has spent the past 18 years documenting Canada’s horrifying seal hunts. She finds every year that Spring is the most challenging time of year for her.
Warning: Graphic images below.
“For me, it’s the knowledge of how much those baby seals are suffering,” Aldworth told The Dodo. “Every year, I witnessed wounded seals left to crawl through their own blood, conscious seals impaled on boat hooks, dragged across the ice and cut open; and wounded seals escaping beneath the water’s surface, where they die slowly and painfully.”
Perhaps the most devastating aspect of this entire thing, even beyond the fact that they kill the babies, is that the babies are utterly helpless and alone. Their mothers only nurse them for 12 days. After that, they are left alone on the ice to survive on their reserves of milk while slowly learning how to swim and fish.
When the hunters come after them, they are entirely alone and utterly defenseless. They shoot the baby seals with guns, beat them with clubs and poles, and stab then with sharp picks.
In 2017, hunters killed 80,000 seals during Canada’s commercial hunting season. This year it’s looking like they will reach a similar number, as well.
DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE
As if the unthinkable cruelty wasn’t enough, the hunt doesn’t make any financial sense for the Canadian Government, either.
“This annual hunt exists only because tax dollars are used to subsidize the killing, whether through loans and grants to processing companies, funds for market development, or free Coast Guard support at the hunt,” Aldworth said. “In fact, the Canadian government spends millions more dollars facilitating this senseless slaughter than the revenue it generates.”
Experts are worried that the hunts combined with the seals continually losing their habitat will hurt their numbers as a species, but the government, so far, refuses to budge.
“Harp seals are ice-breeding marine mammals, and they rely on sea ice to give birth to and nurse their pups,” Aldworth said. “Climate change is fast destroying the seals’ sea ice habitat, and the Canadian government has documented unusually high mortality in seal pups as a result. While we cannot immediately mitigate the impacts of climate change on harp seals, a responsible government can — and should — end commercial sealing.”
Sadly, that’s not all. Not only is the Canadia government refusing to budge on the current laws, but it is also considering lifting a ban on new commercial licenses. Doing so would release even more hunters into the wild after those poor defenseless babies.
HOPE AND HELP
However, in amongst all this horror, there is a glimmer of hope, and here’s where you can help. More and more there are countries around the globe banning items made from seal fur. If you don’t live in one of those areas, you can help by not purchasing anything made using seal fur
“We have convinced more than 37 nations to close their borders to products of commercial seal hunts,” Aldworth said. “This has had a direct and significant impact on the Atlantic Canadian commercial sealing industry, with sealer participation in the hunt and seal kill levels plummeting.”
Secondly, even if you don’t live in Canada, you can help them fight this hunt there, anyway.
“People can contact the Canadian government to tell them to maintain the freeze on new commercial sealing licenses and end the commercial seal hunt for good,” Aldworth said.
To learn more about how you can help end Canada’s barbaric seal hunts, visit HSI’s website by clicking here.