Target: Leona Aglukkaq, Canadian Minister of the Environment and Minister for the Arctic Council
Goal: Save declining seal population by ending unsustainable culls
As the fall months draw closer, so does Canada’s annual seal hunting season, which sees tens of thousands of seals brutally butchered each year. In the past, seal culls have been a sustainable way of feeding and employing entire towns and villages, however, the population has been in decline since 2007, with pregnancy rates experiencing high variability. If the seal hunt keeps up its current pace, populations of Northwest Atlantic harp seals could face a extinction.
The seals are captured in the fall and winter months during their annual migration to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the waters surrounding Labrador and Northern Newfoundland. Here, they give birth to their pups on ice sheets before returning to the sea. Once caught, their skulls are beaten and bashed in efforts to kill them—this infamous and brutal practice is known as “seal clubbing.”
According to an independent council of Canadian veterinarians, 42 percent of the seals they inspected did not show enough signs of head trauma to be dead or even unconscious at the time that they were skinned. Furthermore, over 90 percent of the animals were found to be less than one year old.
Sealers will routinely drag conscious seals across the ice with long hooks, shoot them and leave them to bleed out, or skin them alive. Not only is the practice barbaric, but it is beginning to have a negative effect on Canadian seal populations when paired with other factors such as fewer, thinner ice floes on which pups spend their first weeks. Your signature will demand that the unsustainable Canadian seal hunt be canceled until the population has fully recovered.
Dear Leona Aglukkaq,
Canada’s seal hunt sees tens of thousands of seals killed each year, despite a declining population, irregular pregnancy rates, and fewer ice floes on which to care for pups. Without help from humans, the population is in danger of further decline in the coming years.
Not only is the hunt unsustainable in the long term, but it also promotes the barbaric treatment of young and adult seals. Sealers frequently shoot animals, leaving them to bleed out, or hook them with boat hooks and drag them across the ice before they are clubbed to death and sometimes even skinned alive.
Canada should work to show respect to the animals that have sustained entire indigenous villages for thousands of years, and more recently, entire coastal fishing towns. We, the undersigned, ask that the 2014-2015 seal cull be canceled in order to allow seal populations to fully recover.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Matthieu Godbout via Wikimedia Commons