Are baby seals still being killed in Canada? Why are seals clubbed to death in Canada? When did the Canadian seal hunt end for killing the white seal pups? What is the Canadian Seal hunt? When are seals hunted in Canada? What countries have seal hunts? Learn more about the annual seal hunts and why seals are killed.
Canada has a bad reputation for clubbing baby seals to death. Although many people think the annual seal hunt has stopped, it has not, and continues every spring.
Years ago pictures of newborn white baby seals being clubbed to death and skinned in front of their mothers were enough to end the slaughter of newborns, however pups between the ages of 2 weeks (after they shed their white coat) and 3 months old are still being clubbed to death. The ban for killing of the younger seals was enacted in 1987.
This year, 2011-2012 the Canadian government has set a quota of 400,000 seals. The native Inuit people were allowed an additional 10,000. Seal hunts take place in other countries too, Namibia, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Russia.
Canada's seal hunt extends from November 15 to May 15, however most killing is done in March and April. It has been reported that 95% of the slaughtered animals are under 3 months of age.
In Canada it is largely the harp seal which is hunted, however hooded seals and a few gray seals, are also killed. In Namibia the hunt takes place from July to November and it is the Cape fur seals which are hunted.
Seal hunting is not new, the Inuit people have been hunting seals for thousands of years, however at that time the goal was to use the animals as food, for their oil, and for fur, nothing was wasted.
Typically seals are shot, but as regulations state they cannot be skinned until they are dead, so they are often clubbed in the forehead to crush their skull ensuring that they are dead prior to having their throat cut and being skinned.
In the past the seal hunt was largely driven by the high price for seal pelts, as they were worth over $100 at one time, since then the prices have fallen and it has even been reported that the Canadian government now subsidizes the seal hunt with tax payer dollars.
The seal pelts from the Canadian seal hunt are mostly sold to Norway, however other countries, such as Germany, Greenland, and China, also purchase pelts. Some of the meat is sold to Taiwan or China, where it is largely used as pet food. Seal oil capsules (often marketed as a fish oil) have been sold in Costco stores as a health supplement.
The real fuel behind the seal hunt is no longer the pelts since they are now worth less than $20. It is generally felt that the seal hunt is to reduce the numbers of seals so that they do not interfere with cod stocks (fishing). Most northern countries deny these claims but Namibia admits the seals are slaughter to conserve fish stocks for human consumption.