Every year from mid-March to May, Canada holds the largest marine mammal slaughter in North America known as the seal hunt. This annual event is not for conservation purposes due to an exploding over population of harp seals or to provide sustenance to Canada’s population. The reason behind the killing of thousands of baby seals is fashion.
Since 2011, over 287,000 baby seals were killed for their fur which is used to make coats and related products. The people who participate in the seal hunt are known as sealers and use an instrument called hakapik, which is essentially a spike attached to a pole, to bludgeon the animal without damaging the fur. They also use guns to shoot the animal to death. However, studies have shown that 98% of the slaughtered seals were younger than 3 months old, 82% of the baby seals are not killed with the first shot and an astonishing 67% of the animals are not tested for death or unconsciousness before being skinned.
Global outrage toward the seal hunt has been increasing since 2009 when the European Union (EU) prohibited the trade of all commercial seal products. Since then, many other nations issued similar bans. At this time, according to the Humane Society website, “more than 35 countries (banned) products of commercial seal hunts, including the United States, the 28-nation EU, Russia and Taiwan”. In addition, nearly 80% of Canadian citizens agree with the ban.
Despite the alarming results showing how inhumane the seal hunt is and the dwindling global demand for seal products, the Canadian Government continues to provide subsidies to keep the seal hunt alive as well as establishing huge quotas of 400,000 allowed kills per season since 2011. At this time, a quota has not been announced for 2016.
If you would like to help raise awareness and put an end to the Canadian seal hunt, there is a way to do so in the comfort of your own home courtesy of social media. On Facebook, there is a community event page called Tweet Storm to End the Canadian Seal Hunt. This page will provide you with regularly updated “tweet sheets” that you can add to your Twitter feed. You will also find links to online petitions that you can sign and share to your Facebook wall as well as additional information about the seal hunt and similar advocacy causes.
In addition to social media, there are several organisations dedicated to putting an end to the seal hunt and raising global awareness. According to their website, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been working to end the Canadian Seal Hunt for over 40 years. Both The Humane Society International and Humane Society of the United States offers information on their websites that can be used to help promote awareness. There is also an app called Protect Seals, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, that can be downloaded to your smartphone. A website called harpseals.org also offers a wealth of information about the seal hunt including history, statistics and ways to help protect the harp seals.