Canada’s Annual Seal Hunt Continues, Despite Dwindling Popularity

Every year, the pristine white show of Canada’s glacial coasts are tainted with the blood of defenseless animals. Hundreds of thousands of Canada’s seals are killed in barbaric seal hunts, in which hunters beat helpless baby seals to death with clubs called hakapiks, or shoot them from boats.

Baby seals are helpless and have no way to escape from the sealers’ clubs and guns. Seals can be killed as soon as they lose their iconic white fur at just a few weeks of age, and most are between 3 weeks and 3 months old when they are killed.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the seals are killed primarily for their pelts, which are used in the fur and oil industries. However, the fishermen who perform these hunts make on average just one-twentieth of their incomes from seal hunting, National Geographic reports.

The Canadian seal industry is far less lucrative today than it was years ago. In 2016, sealing generated only $1.6 million in sales, down from $34 million in 2006, according to Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans. That year, 5,600 sealers participated in the hunt; now there may be no more than a few hundred.

As IFAW reports, the number of seals hunted has been in steep decline over the past 15 years. In the early 2000s, sealers regularly killed around a third of a million seals a year. The COVID pandemic drove down numbers from the 2020 seal hunt substantially. Only 440 seals were reported killed in Newfoundland during the entire 2020 commercial hunt, the lowest year for the hunt on record.

“We are so close to ending this,” Staci McLennan, IFAW’s EU Director, told the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “We continue to urge the government of Canada to stop supporting this dying industry and heed the public outcry to bring an end to the seal hunt once and for all.”

Despite protests, Canada continues to host the seal hunt, endorsing a disappearing industry that many nations around the world consider superfluous and barbaric.

This year, the seals are also facing threats from climate change. The ice that they need to breed and grow up is at a record low. In spite of the unprecedented ice conditions, hunters will arrive at seal breeding sites with clubs and guns in hand, and begin to ruthlessly murder these beautiful creatures. They simply kill as many seals as they wish, including mothers and their pups. If a mother has been killed by an attack, but her pup has managed to survive, it’s likely he still will not survive as the loss of his mother means he must now find food on his own.

Canada’s government has done nothing to combat this terrible cruelty. In fact, not only does the government help sponsor the hunts, writes Andrew Linzey in Michigan State University’s Animal Legal & Historical Center, it also subsidizes and promotes them.

Meanwhile, buzz around the need for seal products is merely marketing from the fishing industry, tricking the public into thinking the hunts are necessary. The truth is that demand for seal products is declining, there is little commercial demand for seal meat, which is often discarded on the ice, and seal hunting is not a desperately-needed livelihood.

The sealing industry survives only with the Canadian government‘s financial support, but it doesn’t have to. Click below and tell the Canadian Prime Minister to put an end to the seal massacre once and for all.

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