IFAW: Help Stop the Canadian Seal Hunt

February 13th, 2007 2:43 pm by Kelly Garbato

Via the International Fund for Animal Welfare:

Canada’s Seal Hunt: Cruel and Unnecessary

Our humanity is measured by how we care for the vulnerable among us. What is more vulnerable than a newborn seal pup, stranded helpless and alone on the ice? A baby seal can be legally killed once it molts its white fur, which usually begins at about 12 days of age. The small, unprotected newborn of any species should not be preyed upon, never mind bludgeoned with a club. Seals are routinely clubbed or shot and left to suffer on the ice, then dragged over the sides of boats with sharpened metal hooks. Few sealers are observed checking to see if a seal is still alive before they skin it.

The Canadian government claims that the hunt is market-driven and economically viable. The fact is that sealing is a very small enterprise, accounting for less than one percent of Newfoundland’s GDP and an average income of $1,000 per sealer per year. And significant amounts of money continue to be spent by Canada through hidden subsidies to promote the hunt abroad, as well as to develop new markets for seal products. The federal government has subsidized the commercial seal hunt in many ways over the years, from direct subsidies to sealers and their organizations, to tax exemptions and federally funded support services during the hunt, including Coast Guard ships and ice breakers. The market is driven … by Canada’s government itself.

The products of the hunt are an unnecessary luxury. Most of the harp seal carcasses (including the meat) are simply abandoned on the ice. This isn’t killing for food or survival, it’s killing for fashion. Despite years of research by the Canadian government trying to develop new seal products, the only economically valuable parts of the seal are the pelts of defenseless seal pups, a non-essential luxury product no one really needs. In many countries, this hunt would be completely illegal.

There is no economic or environmental reason to justify this hunt. It is driven by politics. World experts agree that the size of this hunt puts the harp seal population at risk and the increasingly high annual quota for hunting seals is regularly exceeded by sealers. More than a million harp seals have been killed over the past three years, yet the majority of Canadians oppose the commercial seal hunt as it exists today. This hunt isn’t about helping Newfoundlanders. It’s an unsustainable economic dead end that puts Canada’s international reputation and tourism industry at risk.

Over at StoptheSealHunt.com, IFAW outlines five ways you can help stop Canada’s seal hunt:

1) Write a Letter to Save a Seal

Canada’s commercial seal hunt is the only legal and government-sanctioned hunt in Canada that allows hunters to exclusively target baby animals – the overwhelming majority between 2 and 12 weeks old. Urge your representative to support US Senate Resolution 33 calling for an end to Canada’s commercial seal hunt before millions more baby seals die an unnecessary and cruel death.

2) Sign the Petition to Prime Minister Harper

The truth is the first victim of this year’s commercial seal hunt. Speaking on CNN’s Larry King Show, the Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador made some shocking and false statements about IFAW and the seal hunt. The public deserves a commitment to honesty and respect for the real facts about the killing of baby seals. Sign the petition urging Canada’s Prime Minister to tell the truth about what’s happening on the ice.

3) Make a Donation to Stop the Seal Hunt

Each spring IFAW brings international journalists and politicians to observe Canada’s commercial seal hunt, resulting in growing condemnation of the hunt around the world. Thanks in large part to IFAW’s efforts, legislation that will ban seal products is advancing in a number of countries, such as the Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. Ending the seal hunt requires a variety of effective measures carried out by effective organizations such as IFAW. Your contribution is needed to help us continue to document the cruelty occurring on the ice this spring and expose the truth.

4) Tell Others to Help Protect Baby Seals

It only takes a few seconds to spread the word about the cruelty of Canada’s seal hunt and our efforts to end it, yet the impact on the campaign is enormous. Please invite your friends, family, and colleagues to help save the seals.

5) Sign Up for Email Action Alerts

Find out the latest news about the seal hunt and our efforts to stop it, as well as other campaigns to protect and save animals around the world. You’ll be the first to see the newest videos of the hunt and read witness accounts of what’s happening out on the ice.

While searching for IFAW videos on YouTube, I found one pro-seal hunt propaganda piece that uses the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony in perhaps the most gruesome way imaginable.

“Yeah, maybe it’s a wee bit cruel to club and skin seal pups alive, all for a scrap o’ skin, but hey – life sux. Hate the game, not the playa!”

To which I say, fuck that noise.

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