April 16, 2011
Most Seals Are Only Weeks Old When They Die
by Rebecca Aldworth
Sealers try to tell the world that baby seals are not killed in Canada anymore. But our video evidence shows exactly how young the targets of this slaughter really are. My heart breaks as I see first-hand the unimaginable suffering these babies endure.
By law in Canada, sealers cannot trade in the skins of newborn harp seals whose white coats are still fully intact. But at just 12 days old, those baby seals begin to shed their white coats. And as soon as that first molt begins, they can be legally slaughtered.
Canadian government reports clearly show that 97 percent of the seals killed each year are younger than three months of age. In fact, most are one month old or less when they die.
That's right—they are clubbed, shot, gaffed, and cut open when they are just a few short weeks of age. To claim that these animals are not babies is a cynical ploy by an industry that knows the horror the public feels about the slaughter.
A few short weeks of life
Out here on the ice, the youth and vulnerability of these baby seals is unmistakable. They are awkward and ungainly on the ice floes and so young that many have not taken their first swim. They have no escape from the so-called hunters. We filmed it this week, as we do every year we come here.
I can't think of another commercial slaughter, anywhere in the world, where the targets are so young and entirely helpless. To me, there is something so profoundly cowardly about killing the defenseless young of a species—many of whom have not yet even eaten their first solid meal.
Sealers and their apologists call it a hunt. Our video shows it to be a slaughter, and that's what the rest of the world knows it to be.
Out here on the ice floes, the baby seals do not stand a chance.
That's why we're out there this year, as I have been for a dozen years before. The world needs to see what happens.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for standing with us as we expose the cruelty of Canada's commercial seal slaughter to the world. Thank you too for your vital work to help bring the misery here to an end. With your support, we will ensure that baby seals will never again have to endure this kind of suffering.
Rebecca Aldworth is executive director of Humane Society International Canada (HSI Canada).