Harp Seal Pup - iStockphoto

Harp Seal Pup - iStockphoto

I wrote this post last year at the onset of the big seal hunt. The hunt and the issues surrounding it are still the same except that this year, the Canadian government has actually increased the quota of seal pups that will slaughtered — from 280,000 to 388,000. On a related but more positive note, in 2009, the EU also joined the US in banning seal product imports.

From March 2009:

The unavoidable reality of working with (or caring about) animals is witnessing the things we humans sometimes do to those animals. Years ago, when I first learned of this hunt, I thought it would soon be obsolete — that the horrifying images which left me sleepless would equally shock the world.

But every year, the Canadian seal hunt continues. And this year, with the instant access of Twitter, I was reminded on the eve of the slaughter, from committed voices on ice, documenting the tragic scene and asking the rest of us to view this hunt in its brutal reality.

I find it one of the most egregious actions humans perpetrate against animal kind — for its methodolgy and its scope. In the context of the Canadian seal hunt, baby seals are clubbed to death by the thousands in the sanctuary of their nurseries — in front of other seals and pups — leaving puddles and trails of blood across the ice. The Humane Society (HSUS) is documenting time on the ice, bearing witness to and broadcasting the atrocities inherent in this annual butchering of seals for fur. The Canadian government is permitting the killing of 280,000 seals this year, in this controversial commercial practice.

The hunt has been shown to be inordinately cruel to the baby seals. I’ll spare you the graphic depictions. But they are practices you can read about at the Humane Society and Sea Shepherd pages below. If you can muster the courage to look, I feel it’s important to understand just why the objection to this hunt is so strong. There’s often no more powerful a call to action than in sweeping back that cloak and seeing an action for what it is. If you can’t do it, or have done it enough, forget this part. But at least have a read about what the HSUS, Sea Shepherd and other marine mammal protection groups are doing — those who see and broadcast firsthand from the site of the hunt.

The Humane Society promotes a boycott of Canadian seafood products to press the government for a humane end to this commercial seal hunt/slaughter. According to HSUS, Canadian seafood exports to the United States contribute $2.4 billion annually to the Canadian economy. (You can see a province-by-province breakdown here from the Canadian fisheries site). It’s a far more important source of income to sealers’ than is the sale of pelts.

Some additional links for a bigger view of the hunt and its beneficiaries: