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February 3, 2010

Is Baby Seal Bashing Canada's New Olympic Sport?

Humane Society International/Canada

Humane Society International/Canada condemns the joint decision by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Nova Scotia government to allow a commercial slaughter of baby seals on Hay Island, part of the protected Scaterie Island wilderness area. The DFO will allow 2,220 seals to be slaughtered beginning on or around Feb. 8, just days before the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“With the Winter Olympics opening on February 12, the eyes of the world are on Canada,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “If the seal slaughter goes ahead on Hay Island, Humane Society International will be there to document it. The world community will be horrified to see baby seals beaten to death with wooden bats in a nature reserve; this is not the image Canada should be projecting to the world.”

In 2008, Humane Society International/Canada filmed and photographed as sealers herded baby seals into groups, then clubbed moulted pups and cut them open with box cutters just inches away from newborn pups and their mothers.

Record low prices for seal fur in 2009 convinced sealers to forgo the seal slaughter on Hay Island, with the exception of 200 pups that were killed to provide samples to a Newfoundland furrier. While early indications are that prices for seal fur will again be low in 2010, a number of sealers have indicated interest in clubbing the baby seals on Hay Island.

A boycott of Canadian seafood products was launched in 2005 in the United States and in 2009 in Europe to pressure the Canadian government to end the commercial seal slaughter. To date, more than 5,500 establishments and 650,000 individuals have pledged to avoid some or all Canadian seafood until the seal slaughter is stopped for good. Nova Scotia’s recent public support of commercial sealing will likely encourage many more companies to boycott Nova Scotia seafood.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International — one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than eleven million members and constituents globally — on the web at hsi.org.

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