Over the next three years, the Canadian government will allow the legal slaughter of nearly 1,000,000 baby seals, 95 percent of whom are only 12 days to 12 months old.
In 2002, sealers killed at least 30,000 more seals than they were legally allowed. The Canadian government responded not by punishing the hunters, but by increasing the legal quotas. It has now approved the massive slaughter of 975,000 harp seals over a three year period.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) stated: "The Canadian government has proven time and again that it is more interested in promoting a commercial seal hunt (a massive slaughter that is nothing like the traditional hunts of the past) than in the humane treatment of seals."
During a previous seal hunt in 2001, an independent panel of veterinarians estimated that up to 40% of the seals examined had been skinned alive while they were still conscious.
The HSUS, along with other animal protection organizations from around the world, took out a full page ad in last Friday’s New York Times, asking readers to contact Canadian officials and express their opposition to the government-sanctioned killings.
The ad was part of the "Protect Seals: Do Something" campaign, initiated by the HSUS in June.
Efforts to inform the public about the seal hunts will be ongoing over the next few years. The groups hope to raise at least $3 million to finance more advertising and a letter and e-mail writing effort targeting the Canadian government, to express opposition to the seal hunt, in addition to a Web site (www.protectseals.org) to further educate the public about the reality of seal hunts.
Other groups involved in the educational efforts include the Animal Protection Institute (API), the Bellerive Foundation, the Born Free Foundation, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the International Wildlife Coalition (IWC), The Fund for Animals, Respect for Animals, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and three branches of Humane Society International.
Together, these groups have tens of millions of members and supporters worldwide.
"This unites the global animal welfare community in the strongest possible opposition to the needless and inhumane killing of Canadian seals," said John W. Grandy, Ph.D., HSUS senior vice president for wildlife and habitat protection.
"We intend to use the power of our collective voice to expose the Canadian government’s callous disregard for the lives of these innocent creatures," he said. "The slaughter must end."
The Canadian government provides millions of dollars in subsidies to the sealing industry.
"In fact, there is little about the sealing industry that is self-sustaining," said David Phillips, executive director of Earth Island Institute’s Marine Mammal Project.
Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals, commented, "For a country of Canada’s stature and reputation to be associated with this cruelty is truly monumental."
"Does Canada really expect people to vacation there if this hunt continues?" Markarian asked.