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April 12, 2013

Scenes of Suffering from Canada's Seal Slaughter

Humane Society International/Canada

  • The slaughter continues, and if not for us the world wouldn't see the young lives being snuffed out. Frank Loftus/HSUS

Canada's 2013 slaughter of baby seals began last week. HSI's Rebecca Aldworth is there to bear witness to the bloodshed, and this is her latest report from the ice.

by Rebecca Aldworth

One thousand feet below our helicopter, five baby seals are lying together peacefully on an ice pan, unaware of the sealing vessel bearing down on them.

But from the air, we can see the gunner raise his rifle and shoot a first seal and then a second. With the first seal still moving, a third desperately tries to hide under an ice formation, but it offers no protection. Another shot rings out and a fourth seal is hit. The baby seal trying to hide is shot next, but he too is only wounded.

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The final seal is left for agonizingly long, surrounded by his dead and dying friends, and I can only imagine the terror a weeks-old baby seal would feel in this moment. As the boat approaches, he tries to crawl away, but a sealer jumps onto the ice and clubs him again and again, then does the same to the others. Within seconds, the men are tossing the dead seals like garbage onto their gore-spattered deck. All that is left of the beautiful scene that was there is the blood of the baby seals staining the ice.

Proceeding, we see another baby seal lying on an ice pan. A shot rings out and just misses him, and he looks around in confusion. Another shot sounds, missing him again. Then a final shot and he is hit. He goes into the water thrashing in agony. A sealer arrives and fishes around with his gaff. He can't hook the seal pup so he grabs the injured, defenseless animal by the flipper and hauls him onto the ice, then clubs him repeatedly.

One escapes; one doesn't

On another pan, two seals lie happily in the sun until a bullet blasts into one of them. The other crawls around on the ice, clearly frightened. He bravely dives into the water. Though he can't yet swim very well, he is fleeing for his life and, wonderfully, he gets away. Meanwhile, the first seal, wounded, slides into the ocean as blood pours out of him, turning the water around him crimson. The sealers arrive and gaff him by the hind flipper onto the boat, then cut him open.

This is Canada's commercial seal hunt, which the Canadian government tries to claim is humane.

What they have to realize is that most Canadians—and the rest of the world—don’t see it that way. We remain horrified by the suffering of these baby seals, and we don’t accept that animals should be treated in this way to produce fur coats no one needs. That is why we must be here, to show the world the suffering and death of Canada’s commercial seal slaughter.

Rebecca Aldworth is executive director of HSI/Canada.

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