The images in the following program are very sensitive and may be as disturbing to viewers as they were to us. However, we have to show the truth about animal cruelty.
Cherished viewers, welcome to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants on Supreme Master Television. Today on Stop Animal Cruelty we will examine the horrific practice of seal butchering. This profit-driven slaughter involves the killing of three main types of seals, the Grey Seal, the Hooded Seal and the Harp Seal.
Harp Seal butchering is by far the largest annual massacre of wild mammals in the world. Between 2005 and 2009 more than a million Harp Seal pups were brutally murdered for their fur. With their large eyes and white, fluffy coats, Harp Seals epitomize innocence and natural beauty.
These beautiful mammals can live for up to 35 years and grow up to 1.9 meters in length. While swimming underwater, they are able to submerge themselves for 15 minutes at a time. Female Harp Seals can reproduce once a year and are deeply caring, protective mothers. Females normally gather in certain areas to give birth to their snow white pups. During the spring, thousands can be seen crawling and wriggling on the ice.
Harp Seal butchering is conducted in two phases, the first of which begins in mid-March at the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada’s Quebec province. The second occurs in April at what is called “The Front” on ice floes north of the province of Newfoundland, Canada.
What awaits the innocent, adorable Harp Seal pups each year defies belief. During the St. Lawrence killings sealers use snowmobiles or trucks to reach the baby seals. In a blood-filled frenzy the so-called hunters stun as many babies as possible and then place them in piles as they go on to search for more. The immensely brutal method of stunning involves hitting the babies over the head with wooden clubs or implements known as a “hakapiks,” which are wooden clubs with sharp metal spikes mounted on one end. Another common method of stunning is kicking the young seals in the face.
During this time the pups that have been attacked experience severe, agonizing pain and utter bewilderment. Many of the innocent creatures have blood pouring from their noses and mouths as they flap around in a futile attempt to escape. The sealers finally return to savagely kill the infants by smashing and caving in their skulls with hakapiks.
Next Mr. Michael Alvarez-Toye, spokesperson for the Calgary Animal Rights Coalition in Canada, gives further details about this senseless cruelty.
Mr. Alvarez (m):
Obviously we are not talking about a hunt; this is not where there is any chance of these animals escaping. The slaughter takes place at the time when the adult seals come onto the ice to give birth to their babies.
So, they are at their most vulnerable and their most unlikely opportunity to escape the clutches of these human slaughterers and murderers. You have the minimal number of regulations in place to try and promote this being even remotely humane.
Up until recently the vast majority of killings took place with what’s known as a hakapik, a club with a hook at the end, where the so-called fisherman-hunter would break the skull of each seal and while they were still alive start skinning them, dragging them across the ice floes.
Those having the misfortune, I suppose, of escaping with just an injury of course will wind up drowning. It is such a horrendous, inhumane, barbaric process that takes place.
The sealer’s motive is pure greed as they are paid per seal skinned. Thus their one and only goal is speedy killing. They rip the fur from the seals’ tiny bodies by violently slicing open and skinning them with knives. A cut is made from the jaw to the bottom of the belly so that the coat can be pulled off. Often the baby seals are still alive and conscious during this horrific experience. Some try to escape and others try to feebly paw away the knife but to no avail.
In 2001 an independent international veterinary panel conducted a study showing that 42% of Harp Seal pups were skinned while fully conscious.
Here is John Carmody, a vegan and the founder and director of ARAN – Animal Rights Action Network Ireland. This is a vegan based group working to end all forms of animal cruelty and to speak out for the rights of animals. The organization has an active campaign against seal butchering.
Babies just 13 and 14 days old are being skinned after one’s fully conscious. And choking on their own blood, and it’s all just to supply an international fur trade.
The following is an eyewitness account of the brutality and violence involved in seal butchering by Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International Canada. (http://www.hsus.org/marine_mammals/marine_mammals_news/live_from_ice_032408.html)
One scene today was truly devastating; we flew over an ice pan with three seal pups huddled together. These three seal pups obviously sensed danger nearby. Two of them are shot. One’s just been hit. One’s fallen into the water. The seal that’s in the water is bleeding; it’s visible from a thousand feet in the air. The other seal, I think, has escaped without being shot. The seal that’s on the ice that’s been shot is writhing in agony. The seal pup in the water is still bleeding.
Now a sealer has hooked the seal pup in the water through the flipper. On the ice a sealer is clubbing the seal pup that was still conscious but wounded. The seal pup on the ice is being thrown into the boat, tossed like garbage onto other seal carcasses. The seal pup in the water is being hoisted on board the boat by the flipper and again tossed onto a pile of dead and dying seals.
And what is really shocking here is that the sealer doesn’t even stop to club this baby seal, to ensure that the seal is dead. He doesn’t check to see that she’s unconscious. He just cuts her open from top to bottom, slices her open. And then the carcass of the other seal pup is thrown overboard.
When we return, we will have more about the brutal massacre of Harp Seal pups. This is Stop Animal Cruelty on Supreme Master Television.
Mr. Alvarez (m):
And really, a seal’s life is not something that we have the right to interfere with. A seal exists for its own reasons within its own habitat, within its own world, and it is not our world to interfere in, to intrude upon and to destroy. And that is exactly what we are doing.
This is Stop Animal Cruelty on Supreme Master Television where we are discussing the appalling, massive annual slaughter of thousands of Harp Seal babies. The second phase of Harp Seal pup butchering also occurs on ice floes, but in this case the sealers use ice-breaking boats to gain access to Harp Seal nurseries.
As the boats pass by the pups the sealers shoot them with guns. The sealers aim for the head but more often than not miss and hit the body because both the ice and boat are moving, making a clear shot nearly impossible. The sealers normally fire only one shot because for every bullet hole in a pelt US$2 is deducted from the price paid. The sealers then jump out onto the ice to collect the innocent baby seals, which have their skulls bashed in if they are still alive.
Sometimes the helpless beings are still conscious when their eyes or jaws are impaled with metal hooks and they are dragged aboard the ships to be skinned.
Mr. Alvarez (m):
They started to introduce rifles and guns. Rifles, however, it’s a little costly to use bullets so not everyone uses them. They still use a hakapik; they still use the clubs. The footage, if a person sees them, is so disturbing; one finds it incomprehensible that a human can want only set out and chase down a baby and murder it by bashing its skull, its eyes extended from its skull, blood all over the place.
There is this great desensitizing of life towards life that takes place, a disconnect that really begs belief. In any case this is what happens: When they set a quota, say 275,000 seals this year, as an example, that’s not to say that 275,000 are killed; there is far more that get killed because what they do they tabulate the number of pelts or carcasses that are brought in.
Of course we are talking about those that don’t quite get killed and escape, that slipped under the water, slipped under the ice, and there are thousands of those.
Each year thousands of Hooded and Grey Seals are also butchered for their fur, the majority of which are female with a number being pregnant. As these pregnant mothers are pulled onboard a ship and skinned, they may spontaneously give birth. The pup falls out onto the deck and milk spews from the mother’s body.
The newborn pups are then mercilessly killed or thrown overboard onto the ice where they eventually die from starvation. The infant seals often cry over their loss and chase after the boats in an attempt to locate their beloved mothers.
Mr. Alvarez (m):
As a vegan I’m asking, as a person who reveres life, I’m asking, as someone who is a life, an individual, existing and coexisting on this planet with all other life forms, all other individuals, all other species, it’s contingent upon us, as members of this planet, as members of the species to stand up and say that enough is enough.
Those who engage in this say, as far as this being a necessity, this being a source of livelihood, a tradition, it isn’t. It’s just a horrible, horrible atrocity being perpetrated one by one on hundreds of thousands of seals and their babies. It’s time to end that.
It appears that the world is now acting to end the inhumane killing of these gentle beings. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently called seal butchering a “bloody industry” and made the following statement: “It is clear that [our hunt] should have been banned a long time ago.”
On March 18, 2009 Russia officially banned the hunting of baby seals. How do we keep the momentum going? To put a complete stop to this senseless carnage, please never buy clothing containing seal fur, eat seal meat or buy products such as supplements containing seal oil, which is obtained from seal pelts.
You can also petition your government to ban the importation of the previously mentioned items and not allow any type of participation in the seal trade. Also, please consider protecting all precious forms of life by adopting a compassionate, healthy plant-based diet.
For more about the Human Society of the United States, please visit www.hsus.org
For more about the international Fund for Animal Welfare, please visit www.ifaw.org