IFAW Condemns Demand to Reopen Whitecoat Hunt

Friday, 25 April, 2014
Toronto, Canada

Seal hunters from the Magdalen Islands, Quebec, are asking that the nearly 30-year old ban on the commercial hunting of whitecoat harp seals (nursing pups) be lifted.

According to a report published April 20th in the Montréal newspaper Le Soleil, Gil Thériault, Director of the Magdalen Islands Seal Hunters Association, claims that “it was a mistake” to stop the hunting of whitecoats in 1987. In an April 25th follow-up story, sealers argue that the whitecoat hunt should be permitted to allow them easier access to seal pups.

Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director at IFAW Canada, says “I am alarmed by the sealers’ desire to return to slaughtering whitecoat baby seals. Such a move would mean a return to the internationally condemned practice of slaughtering nursing animals that are only a few days old, while their mothers watch. This practice is so abhorrent that I expect any resumption of the whitecoat hunt would lead to massive international public outcry, and further damage Canada’s economy and international reputation.”

The majority (98%) of seals currently hunted in Canada’s commercial hunt are between 3 weeks and 3 months of age.

Polling conducted by Environics research indicates that 71% of Canadians would prefer to protect seals up to a year old.[1]

Note: IFAW does not, and has never, campaigned against the Inuit seal hunt, or the personal hunting of seals for food by anyone.

[1] Environics Research. 2012. Attitudes Towards the Seal Hunt: National Survey. June 2012. Available on request.


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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Sheryl Fink, Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations