MEXICO CITY—Mica and Lalo, a restaurant and agroecological market, has committed to exclusively sourcing eggs from cage-free hens and pork from producers who do not confine mother pigs to crates throughout its supply chain by the end of 2021. With this announcement, Mica y Lalo joins the growing list of more than 200 companies around the world, like Bimbo, Barilla and McDonald’s, among others, that have pledged to include only cage-free eggs and pork in their supply chains.
Micaela Patiño, owner of Mica and Lalo, said: “Regardless of which link we belong to in the food chain: producer, supplier, processor, cook or consumer, the decisions we make are not isolated. We must take responsibility for our actions and inform ourselves of the impact they have. We can no longer blindfold ourselves or let others act. The congruence of our saying with our actions will be the basis of the change we want to see.”
Arianna Torres, of Humane Society International/ Mexico, said: “We congratulate Mica and Lalo for adopting this important commitment, where they prioritize the welfare conditions of farm animals and in this way contribute not only to guaranteed freedom of movement for laying hens and pregnant sows, but also provide their consumers with food in harmony with nature.”
This commitment improves the lives of tens of thousands of laying hens in Mexico. The country’s conventional industrial production systems often confine chickens for their entire lives in tiny cages made of wire. The cages are so small that the chickens cannot even fully stretch their wings. Common sense and science agree that restraining animals for virtually their entire lives causes significant physical pain and stress.
More and more companies are adopting responsible consumption policies. HSI will continue working with Mica and Lalo and other companies to remove animal cruelty from their supply chains.
Media contact: Laura Bravo, Mexico: 555-456-1476; firstname.lastname@example.org
Humane Society International / Mexico
MEXICO CITY—La Hacienda San Andrés, a XVI hacienda, has committed to sourcing exclusively cage-free eggs throughout its egg supply chain by the end 2021. The hotel made this decision because of animal welfare concerns with caging systems and to emphasize sustainable, responsible sourcing.
Chef and partner of Hacienda San Andrés, Marco Margain, said: “We are committed to our consumers to provide only eggs from cage-free birds. With this we reaffirm our social responsibility and maintain the highest standards for our clients regarding animal welfare.”
Arianna Torres, from HSI/Mexico, said: “We congratulate Hacienda San Andrés gourmet hotel for deciding to serve only cage-free eggs. More and more companies are adopting responsible consumption policies, and we will continue working with Hacienda San Andrés and other companies in favor of farm animal welfare.”
With this commitment, Hacienda San Andrés joins the list of more than 200 companies in Mexico and around the world, including Grupo Bimbo, CMR Restaurants, Grupo Alsea, Toks Restaurants, Barilla and many others, that have committed to source produced in systems that provide freedom from intensive confinement.
Mexico is one of the largest egg consumer countries in the world, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and more than 99% of laying are confined in an area smaller than a sheet of letter-size paper, where they cannot express their natural behavior, causing physical and psychological suffering.
Media contact: Laura Bravo, Mexico: 555-456-1476; email@example.com
Consumers worldwide support banning cosmetic tests on animals and stronger labeling requirements
Humane Society International / Global
Since helping to make the European Union the world’s largest cruelty-free beauty market, we and our partners have been striving to ban cosmetic testing on animals in the world’s largest and most influential beauty markets. We couldn’t do it without the backing of millions of caring citizens worldwide–the consumers who choose to shop cruelty-free, and the voters who hold politicians accountable for enacting laws that spare animals from needless suffering in the name of beauty.
Over years of campaigning, we’ve conducted public opinion surveys in numerous countries, and time after time, our results show that one ingredient consumers don’t want in their cosmetics is animal suffering.
Report by Nexus Research for Humane Research Australia and HSI, May 2013
85% opposed the use of animal testing for development of cosmetics
81% supported Australia following the European example by banning the sale of cosmetics tested on animals
Report by Datafolha for HSI, August 2019
76% consider a “no animal testing” claim to be an important or very important factor when purchasing cosmetic products
63% support a federal law to ban on animal testing for cosmetics
73% believe that cosmetic products should not contain new ingredients tested on animals following adoption of a national animal testing ban
Report by Insights West for Animal Alliance of Canada and HSI, July & September 2019
87% of Canadians support a ban on animal testing for cosmetics
71% include cruelty-free and/or no animal testing claims to be important factors when deciding which cosmetics to purchase
90% believe cosmetic products should be labeled if they contain ingredients that have been tested on animals after the practice has been banned in Canada
Report by Inside Research for ONG Te Protejo and HSI, September 2019
70% of respondents reported that they were aware that cosmetic animal testing was carried out on animals
72% agree with banning cosmetics animal testing
73% believe that the Chilean government needs to do more to address the issue of cruel cosmetic animal testing
Report by Parametría for HSI, October 2019
78% of surveyed citizens stated that a claim not to test on animals was an important factor in deciding which cosmetic product to buy
54% agreed that Mexico should implement a ban on using animals in cosmetics testing
66% believed that all cosmetic products that have been tested on animals should be labeled as such after a ban on cosmetics animal testing has been passed
Report by Dashboard Consulting, March 2021
90% support a ban on using animals for cosmetics testing
86% support a ban on the sale of cosmetics that have been animal-tested, no matter where the testing takes place
86% identified a cruelty-free claim to be an important factor when deciding to purchase cosmetic products
Report by You N Me for HSI, March 2013
70% were supportive or very supportive of a Korean ban on testing of cosmetic ingredients and finished products on animals
65% recognized that animal tests cause pain and suffering and that this is unnecessary, especially when thousands of safe ingredients already exist and are available on the market
Report by Ipsos for HSI, November 2019
87% of citizens of countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) would support instituting laws against animal testing in the region
89% affirmed that a cruelty-free claim was an important factor in making purchasing decisions
Report by Lake Research Partners for HSUS, March 2013
68% of voters know that animals are used to test the safety of cosmetics
70% of voters say that they would feel safer, or as safe, if non-animal methods were used to test the safety of a cosmetic instead of animal testing
62% believe that testing cosmetics on animals should be illegal, with support crossing partisan, demographic and geographic lines
Humane Society International
SÃO PAULO—Casa Santa Luzia, a traditional high-end supermarket in the city of São Paulo, announced it will sell exclusively cage-free eggs by 2023.
This commitment comes after many years of working with Humane Society International and other animal protection organizations. HSI will continue to work with the company in Brazil during the implementation of this policy.
Ianê Almeida, animal welfare specialist for HSI Farm Animals in Brazil, said: “We congratulate Casa Santa Luzia for adopting a full 100% cage-free egg commitment, and we look forward to continuing to work with the company and its egg suppliers on the implementation of this policy. This decision sends a clear message to the egg industry that the future of egg production is cage-free in Brazil.”
This commitment will improve the lives of thousands of egg-laying hens. Egg-laying hens in Brazil are typically confined for their whole lives in wire cages so small that they cannot even fully stretch their wings. Cage-free production systems typically offer hens higher levels of welfare, allowing the birds to express more of their natural behavior, including ground scratching and pecking, laying their eggs in nests, perching and fully spreading their wings. HSI works together with the food industry in Brazil and worldwide to help ensure a successful transition to these higher animal welfare production systems through farm tours, technical workshops on cage-free systems and the exchange of best practices.
Casa Santa Luzia joins the growing list of supermarkets in Brazil, including the four largest, that have committed to selling exclusively cage-free eggs in the country: Carrefour, Walmart (Grupo Big), GPA and Cencosud.
BRUSSELS—At an online event on the revision of the EU Environmental Crime Directive—organised in collaboration with MEPs for Wildlife—Humane Society International/Europe and International Fund for Animal Welfare issued a call for wildlife crime to be recognised as a serious criminal activity.
Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for HSI/Europe, said:
“Tragically, wildlife trafficking is often seen as a low-risk and highly profitable activity which makes it highly attractive to transnational organised crime networks, especially those with smuggling capabilities. Many law enforcement agencies treat wildlife trafficking and other forms of wildlife crime as a low priority and many EU Member States still only invoke relatively weak penalties. In its EU Biodiversity Strategy, the European Commission committed to reviewing the current Environmental Crime Directive. It is high time that wildlife crime is recognised as a serious criminal activity that should be heavily penalised.”
Eleonora Panella, senior campaigner at IFAW EU, added:
“It is vital that there is far better cooperation between EU Member States when it comes to tackling transnational crimes, particularly when environmental crimes, specifically wildlife trafficking, converge with other forms of organised crime, such as money-laundering, narcotics and terrorism. Wildlife crime is highly damaging to biodiversity and the survival of species, yet criminals regard illegal wildlife trade as being relatively low-risk and high income generating because of the lack of severe penalties and low chances of being apprehended or prosecuted. The European Commission needs to take action to make sure that wildlife crime does not pay.”
The event, which was hosted by Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans and included high-level speakers, such as Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol and Jorge Rios, chief of the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime, considered the issue of whether wildlife crime should be recognised as a serious criminal activity that should be heavily penalised, especially in the context of transnational organised crime.
Other panelists included:
Wouter van Ballegooij, legal and policy officer on criminal law for the Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers
Francesca Carlsson, legal officer for the European Environmental Bureau
Daan van Uhm, criminologist for the Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology, Utrecht University
Mário Kern and Ondrej Koporec, Department for Detection of Hazardous Substances and Environmental Crime, Criminal Police Bureau, Slovakia
José Antonio Alfaro Moreno, team leader for the European Serious and Organised Crime Centre, EU Organised Crime Unit, Europol
Real fur has no place in modern luxury fashion; the future is fur-free.
Humane Society International / United Kingdom
LONDON—Prime Minister Boris Johnson has received a letter from eight of Britain’s top fur-free fashion designers and retailers, urging him to make the UK the first country in the world to ban fur sales.
Designers Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hamnett, ERDEM, Shrimps, Christopher Raeburn and Helen Moore plus luxury fashion department store Selfridges are backing Humane Society International’s #FurFreeBritain campaign and say that they are proud to support the fur-free movement.
Fur farming was banned in Britain almost two decades ago in 2003 as it was deemed too cruel an industry to support. But since then, Britain has imported more than £800 million worth of fur from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where animals suffer miserable lives on fur farms, and from North America where animals such as coyotes are also cruelly trapped in the wild using leg hold traps banned in the UK.
Despite animal fur still being imported into the country, the number of British designers and retailers rejecting real fur continues to grow. Not only does the use of real fur contradict the ethical trajectory of many fashion companies, but it reflects consumer sentiment over many years, with a recent poll showing 93% of British citizens reject the wearing of real fur.
The designers’ letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson reads: “fashion, driven by consumers and enabled by innovation, is evolving to make animal fur obsolete, as more and more luxury fashion designers and high street retailers eliminate it from their collections. Our fur-free policies are informed by the beliefs and expectations of the majority of UK consumers, who reject animal fur on ethical grounds. We are proud to support the growing fur-free movement as we know that the majority of British consumers want fashion items without fur. We acknowledge and welcome Humane Society International’s #FurFreeBritain campaign.”
Recent years have seen a tremendous growth in the number of fashion designers dropping real animal fur from their collections. Some of the world’s best-known fashion labels that have adopted fur-free policies include Armani, Hugo Boss, Prada Group (Prada, Miu Miu, Church’s), Burberry, Versace, Gucci, Chanel, Coach, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Diane von Furstenberg, Columbia Sportswear, Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, Timberland, The North Face, Zara, Nordstrom, Macy’s and Bloomindale’s.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, says: “By proudly flying the flag for fur free fashion, these iconic British fashion designers have their finger on the pulse. They refuse to put cruelty on the catwalk because they know there is nothing glamorous about mentally deprived foxes, anally electrocuted raccoon dogs, COVID-19 infected mink and wild trapped coyotes shot in the head. The vast majority of British consumers reject fur, and as the revolting cruelty of fur is exposed, a global decline in demand for fur fashion has sent this industry into a downward spiral. Killing animals for fashion does not reflect brand Britain, even her Majesty the Queen has stopped buying new fur. So it’s time for our government to consign the fur trade to the history books where it belongs and ban the sale of fur.”
Daniella Vega, director of sustainability at Selfridges, says: “As a luxury fashion retailer we’re proud of our long-standing no fur policy which has been in place for more than fifteen years. Our customers care about animal welfare and we are committed to providing ethical and sustainable products. There are many alternative materials for brands and designers to use; the future is fur-free and we support a ban on the sale of fur in the UK.”
Helen Moore, founder and director of Helen Moore, says: “We’re a British business dedicated to designing and making gorgeous luxury faux fur products in the Devon countryside. We pride ourselves on producing affordable luxury clothing and homewares without compromising our ethics, that’s why we will never use real animal fur. We believe that it is unjust and unnecessary to cause suffering to animals just so their fur can be used in fashion. We’re delighted to see more and more designers and retailers around the globe are turning their backs on real animal fur and opting for beautiful luxury alternatives instead. We are proud to support Humane Society International/UK’s Fur Free Britain campaign and we urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban the sale of real animal fur”.
More than 1,500 brands have signed up to the Fur Free Retailer scheme. The most recent brand to do so was adidas, joining the likes of H&M, Jack Wolfskin, Lacoste, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Mulberry, Next, The North Face and Zara.
More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and rabbit – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for fur.
Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals for fur including mink and foxes, France committed to phase out mink farms by 2025, and the Irish government made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.
Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming, and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government just announced its support for a ban on fur farms.
In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. Legislators in Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts have introduced fur sales ban proposals. A bill introduced in Washington State would ban the production of fur.
Mink on more than 420 mink fur farms across 11 countries have been found to be infected with COVID-19, leading to mass culls in several countries. The potential for zoonotic disease spread, and for mink fur farms in particular to act as reservoirs for coronaviruses, incubating pathogens transmissible to humans, is another compelling reason for governments around the world to call time on fur, by banning farming and sales.
Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager: Lroode@hsi.org; +27 713601104
Campaigners report multiple violations to Chinese authorities incl. lack of COVID-19 disease control despite transmission risks
Humane Society International / United Kingdom
LONDON—Disturbing video evidence of extreme animal suffering on multiple fur farms in China has been released by Humane Society International as part of its #FurFreeBritain campaign calling on the UK government to ban the sale of fur imported from countries overseas including China, Finland, Poland and Italy. In 2019 the UK imported £55,928,562 of fur from other countries despite having banned fur farming on animal cruelty grounds 20 years ago, a double standard that HSI hopes to see an end.
The investigations took place at 13 fur farms between November 2020 – December 2020 and reveal breaches of many of China’s fur farming regulations on animal housing, welfare, slaughter and epidemic control, with a disturbing admission from one farmer that the meat from slaughtered fur animals is being sold to local restaurants for human consumption by unsuspecting diners. On another farm, raccoon dogs were filmed being so ineptly electrocuted that experts say they will have been rendered paralysed but still conscious while experiencing a slow, agonising death from cardiac arrest. Rows of foxes were also filmed repetitively spinning and pacing in their tiny, barren, wire cages, the classic symptoms of mental decline from environmental deprivation.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “This is the sickening reality of life and death for animals on fur farms, a million miles from the glamorous image the fur trade tries to portray. It is heartbreaking to know that the first and only time these raccoon dogs see the world outside of their cage is the moment they are wrenched from it with the agony of a high voltage electric shock paralysing their bodies. In addition to the cramped conditions, our investigators also witnessed an almost total lack of disease control and health protection measures on fur farms, which is extremely worrying considering that mink, raccoon dogs and foxes are all capable of contracting coronaviruses. The UK imports millions of pounds worth of fur from China as well as many other countries, and there is absolutely nothing to stop fur from farms just like those we filmed at from being sold in UK shops and webstores.”
On several fur farms, raccoon dogs were seen being electrocuted using a double-spiked lance attached to a high voltage battery. One by one the animals are seen stabbed with the lance in random parts of the body, delivering an agonising electric shock that paralyses but doesn’t instantly kill them because the incorrect method used doesn’t pass through the brain.
Professor Alastair MacMillan, HSI’s veterinary adviser, said: “The animals in this video are being subjected to violent and chaotic electrocution in the body and not in the brain, which means they are highly likely to have experienced several minutes of extreme physical pain and suffering, like heart attack symptoms. Instead of instant death, they are likely to have been immobilised by the electric shocks but remain conscious and feel the intense pain of electrocution.”
Despite HSI’s investigation taking place during the global pandemic, none of the fur farms followed basic biosecurity measures, with disease control regulations routinely ignored. Contrary to Chinese regulations, none of the farms had disinfection stations at entry and exit points, and visitors were allowed to come and go without being asked to observe any COVID-19 safety precautions. In light of at least 422 outbreaks of COVID-19 on 289 mink fur farms in 11 different countries in Europe and North America since April 2020, and raccoon dogs and foxes also being capable of contracting coronaviruses, the lack of adherence to safety measures is extremely concerning. HSI has provided its investigation evidence to the Chinese authorities, both in Beijing and in London.
China is home to the largest fur producing industry in the world, rearing 14 million foxes, 13.5 million raccoon dogs and 11.6 million mink in 2019 including for export overseas to countries including the United Kingdom. In 2019 the UK imported £5.3 million of fur from China alone, and over the past five years (for which full HMRC data is available 2015 – 2019) the UK imported £25.5 million of fur from China. The top five fur exporting countries to the UK in 2019 were Italy, France, China, Turkey and the United States.
Senior government insiders recently confirmed that a fur import ban is “definitely” coming down the line, citing links between mink farms and the spread of COVID-19, as well as the cruel conditions on farms.
Despite the horrific cruelty found at these particular farms, ample evidence demonstrates that animal suffering is an inherent consequence of the global fur industry regardless of the country. HSI’s Claire Bass said: “Although this investigation took place in China, similarly distressing scenes of mentally ill animals being kept in small, barren, factory-farm style cages can also be seen in fur farms across Europe and North America. Factory farming animals for fur inherently results in appalling suffering and an unacceptable public health risk. The UK Government can’t close fur farms overseas, of course, but it can stop the UK providing a market for fur, so we welcome signs that the government is serious about banning fur sales. Such a ban would send a clear message that we won’t be trading in animal cruelty for the sake of frivolous, outdated and unnecessary fashion accessories.”
Recent exposés on fur farms around the world include:
POLAND: Cannibalism, self-aggression, open wounds and paralysis on mink fur farm in Poland. (Open Cages, Sept 2020). Foxes abandoned and left to starve to death on a fur farm, even cannibalising each other. (Open Cages, Oct 2020)
FRANCE: Graphic animal suffering including mink exhibiting mentally disturbed stereotypical behaviour, mink with injured eyes and tails, animals with paralysed and even necrotic legs, and skin diseases. (One Voice, Aug 2020)
NETHERLANDS: Mink being roughly yanked out of their cages by the tail or hind leg, and thrown from a distance into the mobile gas chamber, in breach of EU regulations. (Animal Rights, Nov 2020)
ITALY: Widespread violations of SARS-CoV-2 biosecurity measures on mink fur farms. (LAV, Nov 2020)
FINLAND: Dead mink and foxes, animals suffering from untreated wounds including a live mink whose head was partially cannibalised by cage mates. (HSI and Oikeutta eläimille, Oct 2019)
CANADA: A mink farm in Ontario has been charged with 14 counts of animal cruelty following a year-long investigation that documented animals with open, untreated wounds and infections. (LCA, May 2018)
Humane Society International is calling on the UK government to end the double standard of allowing the sale of fur from overseas despite the UK having banned fur farming nearly two decades ago. A YouGov poll shows that 93% of Brits refuse to wear fur and 72% support a fur sales ban.
Campaigners report multiple violations to Chinese authorities including lack of COVID-19 biosecurity measures despite transmission risks
Humane Society International
WASHINGTON— Disturbing video evidence of extreme animal suffering on multiple fur farms in China has been released by Humane Society International as part of its global campaign to end the fur trade and expose the suffering of animals on fur farms around the world. Every year in the United States, millions of animals are bred on fur factory farms or caught in cruel traps in the wild. China is the top producer of fur in the world and the number one exporter of fur apparel into the U.S.
The investigations took place at 13 fur farms between November and December last year. They reveal breaches of many of China’s fur farming regulations on animal housing, welfare, slaughter and epidemic control, with a disturbing admission from one farmer that the meat from slaughtered fur animals is being sold to local restaurants for human consumption by unsuspecting diners. On another farm, raccoon dogs were filmed being so ineptly electrocuted that experts say they will have been rendered paralyzed but still conscious while experiencing slow, agonizing deaths from cardiac arrest. Foxes in rows of cages were also filmed repetitively spinning and pacing in their tiny, barren, wire cages, the classic symptoms of mental decline from environmental deprivation.
“Animals on fur farms live in a world of constant fear and suffering, and this latest investigation is further evidence of that,” said Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States and president of Humane Society International. “It’s hard to imagine that anyone still stands by this cruelty in the name of fashion. There is nothing glamorous about electrocuting animals to death. Fur farms have no place in a modern society, and it is essential that we end the fur trade for good.”
On several fur farms, raccoon dogs were seen being electrocuted using a double-spiked lance attached to a high voltage battery. One by one the animals are seen being stabbed with the lance in random parts of the body, delivering an agonizing electric shock that paralyzes but doesn’t instantly kill them because this incorrect method doesn’t pass electricity through the brain.
“The animals in this video are being subjected to violent and chaotic electrocution in the body and not in the brain, which means they are highly likely to have experienced several minutes of extreme physical pain and suffering, like heart attack symptoms,” said Professor Alastair MacMillan, HSI’s veterinary adviser. “Instead of instant death, they are likely to have been immobilized by the electric shocks but remain conscious and feel the intense pain of electrocution.”
Despite HSI’s investigation taking place during the global pandemic, none of the fur farms followed basic biosecurity measures, with disease control regulations routinely ignored. Contrary to Chinese regulations, none of the farms had disinfecting stations at entry and exit points, and visitors were allowed to come and go without being asked to observe any COVID-19 safety precautions. In light of outbreaks of COVID-19 on at least 422 mink fur farms in 11 different countries in Europe and North America, and raccoon dogs and foxes also being capable of contracting coronaviruses, the lack of adherence to safety measures is extremely concerning. HSI has provided its investigation evidence to the Chinese authorities, both in Beijing and in London.
China is home to the largest fur producing industry in the world, rearing 14 million foxes, 13.5 million raccoon dogs and 11.6 million mink in 2019. In 2020, the U.S. imported $89 million worth of fur apparel, including $16 million from China – a significant drop from 2019 when the U.S. imported $145 million of fur apparel, including $33 million from China.
Despite the horrific cruelty found at these particular farms, ample evidence demonstrates that animal suffering is an inherent consequence of the global fur industry regardless of the country.
“Sadly, fur farms in the United States are just as unregulated as the ones found in this investigation with many of the same standards like barren cages and death by electrocution,” said PJ Smith, fashion policy director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The fur industry has done everything possible to shield public eyes from the harsh realities behind a fur-trimmed coat, and in the age of transparency, it’s no wonder the industry is on steady decline. Now is the time to end the trade for good.”
Humane Society International is calling on governments around the world to ban fur farming and end the fur trade. A 2020 Research Co. poll shows that 71% of Americans oppose killing animals for fur.
Record low sea ice cover, ongoing pandemic are urgent reasons to suspend the slaughter
Humane Society International / Canada
MONTREAL—In the wake of the lowest sea ice formation in recorded history off of Canada’s East Coast, Humane Society International/Canada is urging the Canadian government to stop the commercial seal hunt. Canadian government scientists anticipate mass mortality of newborn seal pups as their sea ice habitat melts before they are strong enough to survive in open water. Furthermore, allowing hundreds of sealers to operate in cramped conditions on sealing vessels during a global pandemic presents a clear threat to public health.
“Climate change is causing rapid deterioration of the sea ice cover off of Canada’s East Coast. For the ice breeding seals who are the targets of the commercial seal hunt, it is a disaster,” stated Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada and a first-hand observer of Canada’s commercial seal hunt for eighteen years. “No responsible government would allow the few pups who survive these unprecedented ice conditions to be slaughtered just to produce fashion items. Moreover, no responsible health authority would allow this senseless, shameful hunt to proceed during a global pandemic. We are calling on the Canadian government to do the right and responsible thing and stop the 2021 commercial seal slaughter in Atlantic Canada.”
Canadian government scientists clearly state that the sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off of Newfoundland will continue to deteriorate, and that the resulting mass mortality of pups will have a severe impact on the harp seal population. A precautionary approach to wildlife management clearly precludes commercial hunting of an ice dependent species whose ice habitat is quickly vanishing.
Notably, climate change makes commercial seal killing methods even more inhumane. Veterinary studies have strongly emphasized the severe suffering that results from shooting seals in or near open water, given the high wounding rates documented in the Canadian seal hunt, and the ability of wounded seals to escape beneath the water’s surface (where they die slowly and are not retrieved). As ice conditions deteriorate, almost all commercial sealing will happen in these conditions. Moreover, when seals are shot in open water or on ice too fragile for a sealer to stand on, they are retrieved with gaffs (long wooden poles with metal hooks) without the sealers first being able to physically confirm death. This results in many seals being impaled, while conscious, on metal hooks and hoisted onto bloody boat decks before they are beaten to death.
If the Canadian government refuses to stop the slaughter for good, at the very least, commercial sealing should be suspended in 2021. Failing even this basic precautionary measure, the Canadian government must, at a bare minimum, issue variance orders to:
Cancel all quotas allocated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region given the exceptionally high pup mortality that will occur in the region
Delay the opening date of the Newfoundland hunt given poor ice conditions will likely delay birthing (as was evidenced in 2011, another year with poor sea ice conditions)
Prohibit the killing of moulting newborn seals (ragged jackets) to prevent mass slaughter of these exceptionally young pups (as was documented in 2011)
Prohibit shooting and clubbing of seals in or near open water as a measure to reduce the number of struck and lost animals during the slaughter
Prohibit gaffing or hooking of animals without prior physical confirmation of death.