Witnesses Report One of the Cruelest Seal Hunts Yet

Despite the EU’s ban on seal products and outrage from around the globe, the Canadian government continues to try and push seal products into non-existent markets and has approved the highest quota ever for killing harp, gray and hooded seals at 468, 200.

The government continues to insist that the hunt is economically necessary. Sealers need to make a living, right? They depend on this for their very survival, right? They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t really need to, right? Maybe some of them, but not Dwight Spence of Port au Choix on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula. He has a different reason.

According to Dwight, “You’re only just going at it for the sport and try to kill off some of the seals, that’s around, to get rid of some.”

Unfortunately, there have been far worse quotes from sealers than that, but thanks for the fodder Dwight! So even though the Gulf of St. Lawrence is having some of the worst ice conditions on record due to climate change, and the seals are being left with less ice, which they need to give birth and care for pups on, sealers continue to kill pups not out of necessity, but just for the fun of it.

Yet for some reason, the government also likes to call it a “humane” hunt. There are regulations in place regarding how seals are to be killed, after all.

Sealers are supposed to be following guidelines to make the slaughter humane. Marine Mammal Regulations require a three-step process that includes striking or shooting a pup, checking to make sure that their skulls are crushed and then cutting two axillary arteries under their front flippers to bleed them out. Sealers are also required to wait at least an entire minute to ensure that the seals are actually dead before skinning them.

Violations of these Marine Mammal Regulations have been cited on numerous occasions in the past. However, this year, eyewitnesses who have had the misfortune of having to watch this massacre firsthand to document the brutality taking place have returned deeming this one of the cruelest slaughters to take place yet.

While watching a ship come towards two pups, Sheryl Fink, Director of International Fund For Animal Welfare‘s Seal Program said that, “We expected the pups to be crushed under the hull. Then we watched in horror as one of the men on the boat reached down and jabbed the live pup with his long handled gaff. The frightened pup whirled and snapped at the gaff, trying to bite at it in self defense. But she didn’t stand a chance. With another swing, the sealer slammed the steel hook into the little pup’s face, and lifted her up into the boat. There was absolutely no question as to what we were seeing: here was a live, conscious, seal pup being brutally hooked through her eye socket and lifted into a boat.”

Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of the Humane Society International had a similar experience.

“This is the worst killing I’ve observed yet,” she said. “Seals would be shot in the neck, back or jaw and show directed movements (raising its head, crying out, crawling) and the sealer would not shoot again.”

Footage was also captured of pups being killed and left on the ice, which is also illegal, and of sealers killing young hooded seals, which is also currently illegal.

Worse even was that what would be considered a voluntary movement was seen among at least one pile of what should have been dead bodies in a boat. 

“The 2011 seal harvest is on-going and potential violations are under investigation,” said a spokesman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). 

While the government also claims it’s not subsidizing this cruelty, it’s paying for ice breakers, Coast Guard services and DFO salaries, in addition to spending millions on marketing efforts and attempts to promote international trade, which includes a recent attempt to try to open a market in China.

Please pass on Canadian seafood and sign IFAW’s petition telling Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper that enough is enough. It’s time to put an end to an already dying industry. 

To find out more about the problems with this years hunt, see footage and learn about ways to help, visit the Humane Society International  and Sheryl Fink’s blog

Related Stories: 

Canada’s Cruel Seal Hunt Begins (Video Tribute)

Canada’s Annual Seal Hunt Begins, Kill Quota Increased

Historic Victory for Seals!


Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/richardchild/2358201565/


W. C
W. C4 months ago

Thank you for the information.

William C
William C4 months ago

Terrible, thanks for caring.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Barbara U.
Barbara U6 years ago

I agree that you can't condemn a whole country for what a few Canadians do and what thier government allows. I'm sure thier politicians are beholding to Big Business, just like some of our puppet lawmakers here in the U.S. I know there are many folks in Cananda that hate this practice and wish it would stop.

Coleen P: You are all over the place. Not sure of your point. We are no-longer hunter gatherers, we don't need to wear fur or hunt for our food anymore. We have grocery stores. I'm well aware that people eat meat and what happens to domestic animals in slaughter houses and it aint pretty and I don't like it. But the difference is that seals are wild animals, not domestic animals breed for human consumption. I've never heard of anyone eating seal, except maybe native or more primative cultures, but they take what they need and don't exploit it for money like modern cultures do. Like Native Americans for instance lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years until the Europeans arrived and drove Bison, Wolves, and many, many other creatures to the brink of extinction - apples and oranges.

I'm not sure how killing hornets relates to killing seals, again comparing apples and oranges. I don't think seals have stingers. I can see killing a nest in a playground, but one in the woods should be left alone as far as I'm concerned.

Seals are cute for sure with those big beautiful eyes for sure, but most would agree that this cruel behavior is not necessary

Barbara U.
Barbara U6 years ago

This is the most vile of human behavior, I could hardly stand to read the article. As long as I can remember, animal welfare groups have been trying to stop this seal hunt. I was getting literature on this way back in the 1970's and it seems that hardly anything has changed.

Some things are priceless, like the lives of these innocent creatures. These seal murderers can get a job elsewhere, the seals can't.

What worries me the most is if Canada is able to market seal parts in China- these creatures will go the same way as the Tiger, Rhino, Asiatic Bears, and Sharks. I recently read an article about the Chineese using seal penises and testes for thier traditional medicine, which has no medical basis what-so-ever. The ignorance of the Asian Culture as far as thier traditional medicine goes is responsible for the decline, suffering, and extenction of many creatures.

If Canada finds a market for Seal parts in China, I dread what will happen to these beautiful, intelligent, creatures.

Humans really suck sometimes....

Catrina Webb
Catrina Webb6 years ago

not that long ago animals called killer whales or Orcas kept the seal population down, then humans killed the Orcas to near extinction for various unacceptable reasons, then today say that they also need to kill large numbers of seals?
Why not just reintroduce killer whales and help their numbers grow?
Oh, wait... the government doesn't get any money doing that... I forgot.

Erlinda Bocar Kantor

I think the Canadian government should be informed that the international community is totally against their policy on seal hunting. It has so many other natural resources that it can do without proceeds from a dying industry. I commend Care2 for being involved.

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

Where can we find a petition to send to the Canadian Gov't?

Racquelle Pilon
Racquelle Pilon6 years ago

@colleen prinssen
Seriously, what IS your point???