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April 10, 2013

Tragedy and Hope at Canada's Seal Slaughter

Live on the Ice

  • The blood of thousands of baby seals is being spilled. Frank Loftus/HSUS

Canada's 2013 slaughter of baby seals began this week. The HSUS's Protect Seals team was grounded by weather today, but the killing continued.

by Rebecca Aldworth

There are always days like this at the seal slaughter—when freezing rain and fog keep our helicopters on the ground while the sealing boats continue to devastate the harp seal nursery.

It is heartbreaking to know that the killing is happening with no witnesses. But even as I write this, the weather is clearing, and our pilot says we’ll likely be back out tomorrow.

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Tragedy, hope

Yesterday, 4,450 baby seals were reportedly killed off Newfoundland’s coasts. It is unthinkable that so many innocent, weeks-old pups were beaten and shot just for their fur in a single day. At the same time, it speaks volumes that in previous years, more than 140,000 seals died in less than 48 hours.

The prices for seal fur remain low because the world has turned its back on the trade in products of this cruel slaughter. The only reason the killing continues is because the Newfoundland government provided a massive loan—$3.6 million of artificial life support—to keep the seal hunt going for another year.

They did so because they believe the European Union ban on seal products will be overturned through Canada’s challenge at the World Trade Organization. They are stockpiling skins now in the belief that they will be able to sell them a few months or years in the future. But they are wrong.

Images of pain

The Canadian government’s main argument at the WTO is that the seal hunt is now humane, that everything has changed, and so there is no need to ban the trade. The horrors we are filming show otherwise.

Thank you for staying with us as we continue to bear witness to Canada’s commercial seal slaughter.

Rebecca Aldworth is director of Canadian Wildlife Issues for The Humane Society of the United States.

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