This Thing Called Courage

Monday, March 23, 2009

Annual Seal Pup Slaughter Begins Today

(This also came in today, from the Humane Society of the United States, announcing the beginning of the annual slaughter of baby seals for their pelts. Makes one ashamed to be human, it does.)
It began at 5:48 Eastern time this morning. The sealers stormed into the once-peaceful seal nursery with their hakapiks raised. Within a matter of seconds, defenseless baby seals were clubbed and their blood spilled onto the ice. This year the Canadian government will allow commercial sealers to slaughter 280,000 seals for their fur.
Please, make a donation now of whatever you can afford to help end the cruel seal hunt once and for all.Because of the previous support of hundreds of thousands of compassionate people like you, there is a ray of hope amidst the horror.The European Union will consider banning its trade in seal products in a few weeks. But the fishing industry and the Canadian government are lobbying furiously to fight the ban. Just last week, Russia announced it would halt the killing of baby seals. It's clear the world community is condemning such killing -- increasingly Canada stands alone in defending the slaughter.That's why it's crucial that we're here now, so we can broadcast the truth to the countries in the European Union and ask them to help us bring these atrocities to an end. Please help sustain our work on the ice -- together we'll raise our voices over the din of those who profit from the slaughter.Thank you for standing with us -- having so many of you behind us at home makes all the difference.I look forward to the day when seals will be safe from the hunt.
Rebecca Aldworth
Director of Canadian Wildlife Issues
The Humane Society of the United States
And here is Reuters' take on the issue:
OTTAWA - Canadians armed with rifles and clubs ventured on to ice floes off the Atlantic coast on Monday to start the annual harp seal hunt, an event that opponents say is totally unjustified.
Ottawa announced on Friday night that hunters will be allowed to kill 280,000 young harp seals out of a herd of 5.5 million, slightly more than the 275,000 limit set last year.
Protesters say the hunt is unsustainable and unnecessary, given that the price for pelts is falling and the European Union is moving closer to a ban on the import of seal products.
"I think it's outrageous that at a time when we're seeing up to 100 percent mortality in seal pups born in key whelping areas, the Canadian government thinks it's appropriate to assign one of the highest quotas we've seen in recent years," said Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society of the United States.
"As I say every year that we get high quotas like this, the last time that Canada allowed this many seals to be killed, nearly two-thirds of the harp seal population disappeared in the space of about a decade," she told Reuters.
Although most animals are shot, some are killed by blows from large spiked clubs, called hakapiks. Animal rights groups often use graphic and bloody pictures of the clubbing as part of their campaign to halt the hunt altogether.
The initial stage of the hunt takes place off the Madeleine Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and is usually the focus of intense media interest. Most seals are killed later, off the cost of Newfoundland.
The seals are hunted for their fur, meat and oil, which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
Two years ago the hunt was badly disrupted by a scarcity of the sea ice that the seals give birth on.
Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said Ottawa would defend the seal hunt, which she said was a significant source of income in many small, isolated coastal communities.
"Our management decisions for the hunt take into account this fact as well as the advice of scientists to ensure the seal population is maintained," she said in he statement issued late on Friday.
Sheryl Fink of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said the real reason for the hunt was local politics in Eastern Canada, where Shea is from.
"For the past two years we've seen saturated markets for seal fur, and pelt prices are now the lowest in recent memory," Fink said in a statement.
"If this is a market-based hunt, as the government claims, the quota for this year should be zero ... our government is insistent on keeping Canada stuck in the dark ages."
Russia said last week it had banned the hunting of baby harp seals, weeks after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called it a "bloody industry".
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


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