This Thing Called Courage

Thursday, February 07, 2008

End the Seal Hunt Once and For All


ONCE AGAIN, concerned people around the world are gearing up for the annual fight to protect seal pups from the clubbing, harpooning, hook-impaling, and drowning-by-netting slaughter that occurs in March. Hundreds of thousands of young pups, some only a few weeks old, are slaughtered in Canada alone. For one reason: fashion. This is one of those cases in which I feel human beings do not deserve the beauty of this created world. It makes me ashamed of my race.


This year the European Union is considering a total ban on the use of seal products-- if this happens, it will be a devasting blow to the hunt, and may end it altogether. They are taking comments from people around the world-- please go to http://www.hsus.org/about_us/humane_society_international_hsi/seal_trade_ban.html


to make your voice heard-- they WILL listen to people's comments. Paul McCarthy is leading the drive to ensure enough people register their disgust at this barbaric and inhumane practice. You can also take the pledge to boycott Canadian fish products until the Canadian government finally ends this horror.


The following is taken from the blog of Rebecca Aldworth, from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), who try to document the hunt each year. This is from last year's hunt; there is also a video you can watch there-- click on the link. You'll need a very strong stomach to get through it. But watch it anyway, for the sake of the seals-- and then please take action.


Savagery of the Hunt Horrifies Our Team
Words almost fail me right now. What the ProtectSeals team witnessed at the seal hunt yesterday was more than we could bear. So many baby seals, just a few weeks of age and only beginning to moult their white coats, were shot and wounded and left to suffer in agony.

One seal tried desperately to crawl away, leaving a sickening trail of blood behind her on the ice (watch our video footage). For agonizing moments, we watched from our helicopter as she slowly dragged herself toward the water. Finally, the sealers reached the still-struggling pup. Without missing a beat, they impaled her on a steel hook, dragged her across the ice, and pulled her up onto their boat. A sealer threw her body onto a pile of about 50 dead and dying seals, then casually reached for a club and smashed her skull.
Another seal pup that had been shot but not killed was hooked and dragged across the ice while still conscious. The pup was tossed callously onto a pile of dead seals in a boat. Moments later, we saw the seal pup moving amidst the carcasses.
April 10, 2007/© The HSUS
One wounded seal struggled as she was stabbed with a boat hook. Seeing that she was still alive, the sealer stopped and clubbed her ineffectively with a wooden pole - an illegal weapon.
Yet another seal was shot and injured but, as blood poured from him, managed to make it to the edge of the ice, where he disappeared into the water. Though a part of me cheered inside when he evaded the hunters, I know all too well that he will almost surely bleed to death slowly - just one of the countless thousands of wounded seals who endure this fate each year.
There were almost no instances where the sealers obeyed the Marine Mammal Regulations, which require them to check to see if the seals are dead before hooking, dragging and skinning the animals. Nearly all of the seals we observed showed responses to pain as the sealers stabbed their steel hooks through the jaws, skulls and flippers of the pups, and dragged the animals across the ice.
These were the Newfoundland seal hunters, who claim their methods of hunting are far more humane than those used by Magdalen Islanders (map). But this is a lie. While I have seen a lot of brutal killing throughout my nine years of monitoring this hunt, yesterday's images were among the worst I can remember. The sealers knew they were being filmed, but didn't even attempt to obey regulations. And, as usual, there were no government enforcement officers in sight.
April 10, 2007/© The HSUS
We are all in shock right now, trying very hard to deal with the savagery we witnessed. After all, this is a hunt that my government has the gall to describe as "98 percent humane."
It is said that you cannot wake a man who is only pretending to be asleep, and I can't think of a more fitting statement for the government representatives who continue to defend this slaughter. Every year that we film these gruesome images, we provide our footage to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. They see the same thing we do. Still, they choose to promote this brutality and then attempt to cover it up by blocking legal observation.
The Canadian government is about to fail - and fail badly - in its mission to defend the indefensible. As angry and horrified as I am right now, I know that the scenes we witnessed and filmed today are irrefutable proof that Canada's commercial seal hunt is inherently inhumane.
Today we will return to the scene of these crimes, to gather more evidence that will help shut down this brutality forever.
Posted on April 11, 2007 at 10:41 AM

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