Open Season on Seals

Harp seal pups face added stress from loss of their ice habitat as a result of global warming.
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The season for the Canadian seal slaughter has started up again. Despite the European Union vote to end the sale of seal products and the U.S. Senate's unanimously passed U.S. Senate Resolution 84 in 2009, which declared an end to the annual harp seal slaughter, Canada continues to support the slaughter, which has resulted in one million seals killed in the past five years alone.

The seals killed during the March through April period are used for their furs (despite a slumping market), and for seal oil which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Often times, sealers will hook live seals in the eye, cheek or mouth to avoid damaging the fur, then drag the seals across the ice. Others are brutally clubbed to death or shot. The Canadian government has actually increased the allotted quota for seals that can be killed this year, to 330,000, due to rising seal populations. But Frank Pinhorn, executive director of the Canadian Sealers Association, told the Associated Press he expects just 50-60,000 to actually be "harvested."

Global warming is a factor, too. The harp seal's ice habitat is fast melting, and will likely result in a high seal pup mortality this year, according to the Humane Society.

Initiatives to end the seal hunt on the part of the Humane Society include boycotting Canadian seafood products until the hunt is ended, and making a pledge to do something pro-Canada if the country ends its commercial hunt, from buying a lifetime supply of maple syrup to posting a video in which the pledger sings "O Canada."

SOURCES: Associated Press; Humane Society of the United States:; < a href="http://www.peta.org/">People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.