Each year, the Canadian government allows hunters to murder hundreds of thousands of baby harp seals. The 2014 seal hunt quota set by Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, allowed for the slaughter of 400,000 harp seals and in 2015 it was 468,000 seals. During the slaughter, baby seals face a torturous and prolonged death, while their desperate mothers look on helplessly. The hope was that when Stephen Harper left as Prime Minister in 2015 this evil practice would be brought to an end, but his replacement, Justin Trudeau, appears keen to continue the slaughter.
The sealers shoot at the seals, bludgeon them and using metal-hook–tipped clubs drag the seals—who are often still conscious—across the ice. More than 98 percent of seals killed in Canada’s annual slaughter are less than three months of age or younger. The baby seals are helpless and have no way to escape from the sealers’ clubs. Many have not yet learned how to swim or eaten their first solid meals. Leading veterinary experts now state that Canada’s commercial slaughter is inherently inhumane.
The sealers toss the dead and dying seals into heaps and leave their carcasses to rot on the ice floes – because there is no market for seal meat. Canada claims the market for seal fur is still booming but more than 30 nations have chosen to end their trade in products of commercial seal slaughters.
Scientists warn that reckless kill levels authorized by the Canadian government, paired with the impacts of climate change on the ice dependent harp seals, could pose a threat to the survival of harp seal populations.
A Washington Post article on the seal slaughter described it this way:
“a seal appearing to gasp for air, blood running from its nose as it lies on an ice floe. Not far away, a sealer sharpens his knife blade. The seal seems to be thrashing as its fur is sliced from its torso.”
The Christian Science Monitor wrote:
“The few terrified survivors, left to crawl through the carnage. The shouted obscenities and threats from the sealers, gunfire cracking ominously in the distance. The pitiful cries of the pups; the repellent thuds of clubs raining down on soft skulls. Sealers’ laughter echoing across the ice floes.”