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April 11, 2011

Seal Slaughter Bloodies the Ice

Baby seals are dying in Canada

Humane Society International

  • Canada's seal slaughter is spilling blood on the ice. Frank Loftus/HSUS

by Rebecca Aldworth

Today, half an hour before dawn, Canada's baby seal slaughter opened off the coast of Newfoundland.

We're flying over sealing boats now. Here, where just yesterday baby seals basked in the sun, a relentless and bloody slaughter is ongoing. The blood covers the ice floes and trails through the water, grim evidence of this killing that the world condemns.

Below us, a baby seal plays happily, blissfully unaware of the sealing boat bearing down on her. Too soon, sensing danger, she looks up and sees the sealer aiming his gun at her. A shot rings out, and she thrashes on the ice. The boat slowly pulls into position and, apparently without bothering to see if she is unconscious, the sealer impales her on a metal hook and drags her onto the boat.

This is the grim reality of a slaughter that turns the beautiful harp seal nursery into a bloodbath.

Pledge to boycott Canadian seafood in 2011.

From a thousand feet in the air, we film as one by one the innocent pups are slain for their skins. By law we are prevented from intervening. Our only defense for these baby seals is the cameras we operate—for the images we film are bringing this slaughter to an end.

This is my thirteenth year observing the seal hunt. And this year, something is different.

A dying ritual

For even as we hover over the sealing boats, our hearts breaking as we film unspeakable cruelty, it is apparent the slaughter is coming to an 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.

The European Union has already saved over half a million baby seals from a horrible fate with their compassionate decision to ban trade in seal products. Hundreds of thousands more may be spared this year.

But while so many baby seals will live, for the ones who don't, the progress we are making is meaningless. And that is why we cannot stop—not for a moment—until Canada ends the commercial seal slaughter forever.

Now is the time to compel the Canadian government to put a final end to this senseless killing. If you have not already done so, please take action for the seals.

Together, we can make sure this is the last baby seal slaughter we ever have to witness.

Rebecca Aldworth is Director of Humane Society International Canada (HSI Canada).

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