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April 21, 2009

Seal Slaughter Cruelty Continues in Canada

HSI Documents Suffering, Apparent Violations of Marine Mammal Regulations at 2009 Seal Kill

Humane Society International

OTTAWA — On Tuesday, Humane Society International/Canada released new footage from Canada's 2009 commercial seal kill at a press conference with Senator Mac Harb, the first Canadian parliamentarian to introduce a bill to end the seal hunt. Observers documented numerous cases of extreme cruelty, including apparent violations of Canada's Marine Mammal Regulations.

"The cruelty we filmed this year proves that the slaughter is as cruel and inhumane it has always been," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of HSI Canada. "We filmed seals being shot repeatedly in open water, seals cut open as they appeared to respond to pain, injured seals left to suffer on the ice, and wounded seals allowed to escape beneath the water's surface where they endure a slow and painful death. It's time the Canadian government ends this cruelty by buying back the sealing licenses."

Veterinary experts have repeatedly concluded Canada's commercial seal hunt is inherently inhumane because of the environmental conditions in which it operates and the speed at which the killing must be conducted.

"Despite its best efforts, the Canadian government simply cannot regulate a commercial activity that is carried out in such dangerous conditions in such a short time frame," said Senator Harb. "The derby style of the commercial hunt means it will never be humane, and given the economic realities of the cost of the hunt and the lack of markets for luxury seal fur, it will never be profitable either. I have witnessed with my own eyes the dangerous conditions and the shocking brutality of the hunt. The majority of Canadians want the commercial seal hunt stopped for good."

Overwhelming opposition to commercial seal slaughter has led many countries around the world to end their trade in seal products. Pelt prices in Canada have plummeted this year to $15 CAD because of the lack of demand — a decline of 86 percent since 2006. Despite substantial government subsidies, sealing contributes less than one half of one percent of the Gross Domestic Product of Newfoundland and Labrador, and less than 2 percent of the landed value of Newfoundland's fishery. Sealers are commercial fishermen who earn, on average, well under 5 percent of their annual incomes from killing seals.

Video and stills are available for media to download.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International — one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally — on the web at hsicanada.ca.

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