Right now, the annual Canadian seal hunt is taking place off the coast of Newfoundland. Animal welfare organizations call it, “the largest marine mammal slaughter in the world” and this year many are worried about the future of the species.
Even with a ban on seal products in Europe and worldwide protests, the Canadian government has approved the highest quota ever for killing harp, gray and hooded seals to — 468,200 animals.
Their reason for increasing the quota is to support coastal families who rely on the hunt to make a large percent of their living from selling the seal pelts.
Animal organizations like Humane Society International Canada and the International Fund for Animal Welfare disagree and say that most of the hunters do not make money from the hunt because the price of the seal skins are going down.
Meanwhile these organizations are very concerned about the future of the seals. Between nature and the hunters there is a “potentially devastating impact on the species.”
The past winter was particularly warm and the large masses of sea ice that are home to the seals are much smaller. This means that more seal pups were born closer together, leaving them more vulnerable to hunters.
It also means there is less area for the baby seals to hide when they sense danger. Adult seals under attack would normally jump from the ice into the water, but the pups are too young to be strong swimmers, so their dilemma is to be slaughtered on the ice or drown in the ocean. It is an extremely sad situation.
Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International Canada is documenting the hunt for cruelty violations. This is the thirteenth year she has observed the devastation, but she is seeing something different from her helicopter perch.
“For even as we hover over the sealing boats, our hearts breaking as we film unspeakable cruelty, it is apparent that one day soon, this slaughter will end. Prices for seal fur remain very low this year, and most sealers say it is not worth their while to kill seals. So in an area where normally hundreds of sealing boats operate, we see only a few.”
Aldworth and her team filmed a touching video of a baby seal basking in the sun, one day before the hunt started. It is a wonderful tribute to lives of the seals and why this cruel slaughter must end.
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