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March 21, 2012

Commercial Seal Hunt Opens March 22

HSI/Canada calls for cancellation of slaughter as climate change devastates seals’ sea ice habitat

Humane Society International/Canada

MONTREAL – With seal populations devastated by yet another year of poor sea ice formation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Humane Society International/Canada is calling on the Canadian government to immediately cancel the 2012 commercial seal slaughter. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has confirmed the commercial seal hunt will open in the Gulf of St. Lawrence half an hour before dawn on March 22, 2012.

“The HSI Protect Seals team recently returned from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where we observed some of the worst sea ice conditions on record,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “Instead of solid pack ice, we saw open water and fragile broken floes. What sea ice there was has melted very quickly and today, virtually no sea-ice remains in the Gulf. It is likely there has been massive seal pup mortality as a result of these conditions, yet unbelievably, the Canadian government is authorizing sealers to kill the few surviving seal pups.”

Harp seals, the primary targets of the commercial seal hunt, are ice dependent animals and rely on the sea ice to give birth to and nurse their pups. In recent years, sea ice cover has declined significantly off Canada’s east coast, and very high seal pup mortality has been recorded in key seal whelping areas, as a result the Canadian government expects this trend to continue.

Independent scientists warn that recklessly high seal kill levels authorized by the Canadian government, coupled with the effects of climate change, pose a serious threat to the survival of seal populations.

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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 11 million members and constituents globally—On the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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