Baby harp seals like this one are often victims of the commercial seal hunt in Canada. This weekend, LHS senior Kerry Bartholomae is holding a can and bottle drive to raise awareness and funds for IFAW, an organization that seeks to end the barbaric practice.
continued According to IFAW’s website, the worst part of the seal hunts isn’t the wholesale slaughter of seals; it’s the manner in which they’re killed. During the hunts, seal pups, most too young to escape, are either shot or hit with a spiked wooden club called a hakapik. Humane killing is put on the back burner and, instead, the speed of the hunt is made a priority. Sometimes as many as 150,000 baby seals are killed in two days. And with speed at such a high priority, many are left wounded; when rifles are shot from moving boats at escaping seals or when the animals are chased across the ice pans with hunters swinging their hakapiks, it is unlikely a seal will be stunned effectively with a single blow or shot. Instead, animals are left wounded and terrified, lingering on the ice in pain, suffering and distress. Some seals are struck and lost.
The barbaric practice continues along Canada’s East Coast, though international pressure to end it grows; in August 2010, the European Parliament and Council of the European Union’s ban of the trade in commercial seal products went into effect. The ban prohibits the importation, exportation, and sale of all commercial harp and hooded seal products in the European Union, and marked an enormous triumph in the battle to end the cruel and unnecessary slaughter of seals. Another major victory was won in fall of 2011 when the largest market for seal products slammed shut after the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Russian Federation banned the import and export of harp seal skins. According to the Government of Canada, Russia imported 90 percent of Canada's seal pelts.
“Today, Canada’s commercial seal hunt costs more to support than it earns. Fewer hunters are participating, and commercial sealing appears to be in steady decline,” IFAW’s website said. “But until Canada’s commercial seal hunt ends forever, we will fight against it: documenting its cruelty, presenting our evidence to the authorities, researching, educating, lobbying for legislative change and working to shut down markets for seal products.”