Canadian Hunt for Seal Pups Draws International Criticism

Friday, 24 March, 2006
Charlottetown, Canada
Canada’s annual hunt for harp seal pups will begin tomorrow, according to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare

Canada has allowed nearly a million seals to be killed over the past three years, the largest hunt of marine mammals in the world. This year’s government quota is 325,000 seals, one of the highest since the hunt began.

Canada’s seal hunt occurs annually, in the spring, when hundreds of thousands of seal pups are killed during several days of intense hunting.

The hunt draws international criticism due to its brutality and waste. Seals are hunted primarily for their pelts, which are used in the fashion industry.

This is a hunt for seal pups. Last year, according to statistics provided by the Canadian government, 329,829 seals were killed, and 98% of them were less than 3 months old. Experts agree that the size of the hunt coupled with environmental uncertainty due to climate change is putting the harp seal population at serious risk.

“This is a cruel hunt for products that nobody needs,” said Fred O’Regan, IFAW’s president and CEO. “Canada is better than this. It’s time for the new Canadian government to shut down the seal hunt.”

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 normally begins in late March when the seal pups are weaned from their mothers and have started  to moult. Seal pups may be legally killed as soon as they begin to moult their fluffy white natal coats, usually at about 14 days old.

The international community is appalled by the cruelty of Canada’s baby seal hunt. This year Italy and Mexico passed legislation to ban the importation of seal products. Belgium, UK and the Netherlands are all considering legislation to ban seal products. The U.S. also prohibits the importation of seal products.

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