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April 10, 2012

Watching Seal Pups Die

Determined to stop the slaughter

Humane Society International/Canada

  • We can only watch as seal pups suffer and die. Frank Loftus

by Rebecca Aldworth

I'm flying over the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence, where sealers are clubbing and shooting every baby seal they can find.

There are few words to describe the feelings of frustration and helplessness that overcome me when we film this slaughter. We hover, 1000 feet in the air, bearing witness to horrible suffering through monitors. I watch as the sealers aim their rifles, wishing with everything in me that we could warn the unsuspecting pups lolling on the ice meters away. But we can't. Instead, our cameras roll as the gunshot rings out, as the wounded baby seal thrashes around in agony and terror, as the sealer jumps onto the ice and runs towards the injured animal, club raised high.

Out here, the only defense these seals have is our cameras, and the outrage that Canadians and people the world over feel at the images we record.

The world is against this slaughter

The good news is that global opposition has come very close to ending the cruelty. This year, the sealing industry complained loudly that we had successfully closed markets for seal products and no one was prepared to buy seal skins. But then, at the last moment, the government intervened and provided millions of dollars in financing to a company to buy the skins just so they can be stockpiled.

Our only consolation is the knowledge that this kind of subsidy cannot be maintained in the longer term. And in many ways, this subsidy is a clear sign that the sealing industry is doomed, and it is on life support only because of a government-funded respirator.

Give today to help save seals.

Now, our work continues to ensure that this is the case. With the images of the 2012 seal slaughter in hand, we will convince more nations to ban trade in seal products. We will inspire more companies to join our Protect Seals seafood boycott. And we will persuade more government officials to work with sealers and their communities to implement a sealing industry buyout.

We need your help more than ever to bring this senseless killing to an end. Please stand with Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States as we work to make Canada's commercial seal slaughter history. Donate and take action today.

Rebecca Aldworth is executive director of HSI/Canada.

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