Canadian officials announced yesterday that the harp seal hunt will go on, albeit with a lowered quota of 270,000. Animal activists say that the hunt is not only cruel, it imperils a species already in decline due to melting sea ice. Seal pups are particularly vulnerable to global warming-thinned ice sheets, as they are not strong enough to swim. Additionally, mother seals require sea ice to give birth and nurse.
Mike Hammill, a Canadian Fisheries Department spokesman, said that 90 to 100% of seal pups in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, where 20 percent of the hunt takes place, may die this year because of melting ice conditions. The Humane Society's Rebecca Aldworth agrees. "The entire seal population has been essentially swept out into the Atlantic," she told the AP. "We looked for those hundreds of thousands of pups and we found just three surviving." The hunt has no official starting date yet, though it has begun later and later every year because of melting ice and delayed pup births. Hunters aren't happy with the lowered quota, nor are they happy with the way animal activists portray them. "They've [activists] said publicly that we are barbarians and we massacre seals," Jean-Claude Lapierre, head of Magdalen Islands' seal hunter's association, told Reuters. "Our reputation has been sullied across the planet."
Hunters contend that the hunt provides essential money for native peoples. It's a humane operation, they say, and clubbing the seas is the best way to kill them. It's unknown if these hunters have other ways of making income, but unfortunately for them, a grown man clubbing a small, furry animal to death isn't exactly a p.r.-worthy picture. If the hunter's want a better image, maybe they should start finding cleaner, if less profitable, ways to kill the animals. They shoot seals, don't they?