Seal Slaughter, Stockpiles, and Subsidies: Canada’s Dirty Secret

Every year, commercial sealers descend on Canadian ice floes to slaughter tens of thousands of baby harp seals. Some will be shot to death, while others will have their skulls crushed with hakapiks—hooked clubs with piercing metal tips. The seals’ skin will be torn off and their bodies thrown onto piles to rot on the ice.

Baby seals are helpless and have no way to escape from the sealers’ clubs and guns. Seals can be killed as soon as they lose their iconic white fur at just a few weeks of age, and most are between 3 weeks and 3 months old when they are killed.

The sealing industry survives only with the Canadian government‘s financial support. PETA and kind people all over the world have spoken out against the slaughter, and we’re making great progress: Many countries, including Russia, the U.S., and those in the European Union, have banned seal-derived products. Even China, which was once presumed to be an untapped market for sealskin, seal meat, and seal oil, has not shown much interest in buying the cruelly obtained products.

Ten years ago, sealers killed about 350,000 seals, but in 2015, that number dropped to 35,000—the lowest in two decades. Fewer than 1,000 sealers have participated in the slaughter in recent years because of a lack of markets for seal products. The slaughter also costs millions of dollars more to support than it earns, and seal-fur processors admit that they are stockpiling pelts because they can’t sell them.

The commercial slaughter accounts for the overwhelming majority of seals killed in Canada and is separate from Inuit subsistence hunts. But the Canadian government frequently hides behind native people in a dishonest attempt to justify the commercial slaughter.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a progressive who is supportive of many social-justice issues. Please urge everyone you know to contact him to ask that he extend his compassion to seals by ending federal subsidies of the commercial slaughter.

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