Canada kicks off annual hunt for baby seals

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Charlottetown, Canada
Canada’s annual hunt for baby seals began today according to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare www.ifaw.org). Over the next several weeks up to 319,500 baby seals will be killed for their fur. Canada’s annual seal hunt is the largest marine mammal hunt in the world with a three-year kill quota of almost one million seals. Last year, according to statistics provided by the Canadian government, 365,971 seals were killed and 96.6% of those were less than 3 months old. Seals are skinned for their pelts and then sold to fur distributors to feed the demand of the fashion industry.
“Many people mistakenly think Canada stopped hunting baby seals decades ago,” said Fred O’Regan, IFAW’s president and CEO. “But the size of Canada’s modern, commercial hunt is bigger now than it has been in 50 years.”

Each spring the entire Northwest Atlantic harp seal population migrates to the East Coast of Newfoundland to mate, give birth and nurse their young. In one of nature’s great wildlife spectacles, thousands of seals are born on the pristine ice floes off eastern Canada in early March.

The hunt begins in late March when the seal pups are weaned from their mother and begin to moult. Seal pups may be legally killed once they begin to moult their fluffy white coats, usually at 12-14 days old.

IFAW is the only organization in the world to consistently observe and document the hunt each year. For the last 36 years IFAW has brought media and government officials from around the world to view the hunt firsthand. This year, European parliamentarians and media from around the globe are observing the hunt with IFAW’s help.

The international community is appalled by the cruelty of Cananda’s hunt for baby seals. In opposition, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands are creating legislation to ban seal products and the U.S. and the European Council are creating resolutions condemning the hunt. In the U.S. seals and other marine mammals have been protected from hunting since 1972 under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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Experts

Dr. Ralf (Perry) Sonntag, Country Director, Germany
Country Director, Germany
Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union