Baby Seal Clubbing: One Canadian Outraged, Angry, Saddened, and Ashamed

Adorable baby Harp seal
Adorable baby Harp seal | Source

No one can watch a documentary or see photographs of Baby Seal Clubbing without flinching in distaste and cringing with sorrow. Cruelty to Animals in any form whatsoever sickens me. It outrages me that it continues. It angers me that any human being can justify it for any reason. I am ashamed being a Canadian that my glorious country and my brothers and sisters on the east coast of Canada still participate in this “slaughter”.

If even 2% of baby seals that are "harvested" by clubbing, face a painful death, it should be banned!

There has to be a better way to kill seals so that "harvesting" them for their fur (for shame), their skin, and their oil so east coast and native Canadians can live, becomes an acceptable farming technique.

Understand me: I do not suggest that we have to ban the harvesting of seals. No. I am saying that we must cease killing seals in the manner we now use.

baby seal
baby seal | Source

Although Not Mollified, I Have a Better-Informed Understanding of Why it Continues

I have found out why this “slaughter” continues every year in the St. Lawrence River and off the coast of two of Canada’s eastern provinces. At least, how the Department of Fisheries and Oceans justifies this “harvest”.

See: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Go to Fisheries > Seals and Sealing in Canada > Frequently Asked Questions about Canada’s Seal Harvest

And I have found out what the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) reports on the annual seal hunt. Although I am aware that the Canadian government funds the CBC, I do make the further assumption that CBC reporting practices are as unbiased as possible. This is a 2009 story but it is interesting.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2009/05/05/f-seal-hunt.html

Go to External Links:
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/index-eng.htm and http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?pubmedid=12240525

And see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seal_hunting


What I have Learned

  • Seal “hunting” continues to be allowed in Northern and Eastern Canada as a way of supporting native Canadians (Inuit Canadians) and as a way of helping to support those people from smaller communities in Eastern Canada where seal products provide 30% to 35% of their annual earnings.
  • Seal ‘hunting” is tightly regulated by issuing only so many licences and only to those who need to make a living from seal “hunting”.
  • The seal “hunt” or “harvest” is overseen on a 24/7 basis by Canadian authorities. And the seal “harvest” is also watched very closely by Canadian veterinary groups that attempt to ensure the “3-step-process” for harvesting seals is closely followed.
  • The beautiful, so cute 10-day old baby seals, the ones that are so white with big eyes, can no longer be “harvested”. They have been banned for a number of years now. Baby seals can not be touched until they have moulted and have left the mother (no longer need the mother’s nurturing). Although, at this time, I understand they are only six weeks to 2 months old.
  • Older “baby” seals are not as attractive to those who buy the fur.
  • Seals provide useful products as well as fur: meat, skin and oil. The oil is bought predominantly by Americans for its Omega 3 value. The fur and skins are bought mostly by Norwegians. The meat is bought mostly by Asians for pet food.
  • This “harvesting” of seals is not pushing them into the endangered category. Nor is this “harvesting” helping to restore the cod fish levels.
  • Because of global warming, ice flows (where the babies are born) are not found in the old locations. Seals must travel further north to deliver their offspring.
  • 75% of the Canadian public is outraged by the seal “harvest” and want it banned completely.
  • I agree with 75% of the Canadian public.


Baby Seal too young for harvesting.
Baby Seal too young for harvesting.

Cruelty to Animals

The issue of cruelty to animals is still very much a part of the seal “harvest” in Canada. And, so it should be. Although efforts are being made to ensure the “harvesting” of seals is accomplished in the most humane ways possible, the reality is that about 2% of seals “harvested” are not yet dead when they reach the boats.

Can we tolerate a 2% rate of cruelty to animals?

The issue of the Canadian “harvesting” of seals is fired up by the use of the incredibly cute pictures of white baby seals.

Is it wrong for animal rights activists to continue to use this image when white furred baby seals can no longer be “harvested”? Would you stop using this (extremely poignant) image in the fight to protect animal rights?


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Comments 17 comments

BabyCheetah profile image

BabyCheetah 5 years ago from Melbourne

I'm too scared to read her article I think. I don't like the fact that this is allowed to even continue.

Great hub though, really moving :(


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Maralexa...this is why I value your friendship..you GET IT! And, with all the information, in depth study, examples and quotes (none of which are convincing excuses to continue this heinous behavior of young or very young seals), etc. you've presented an excellent argument against this practice. Completely comprehensive! (is that being redundant?) Thank you so much. I didn't peruse all the information because it is too difficult to deal w/for me..I know about this...)

My answer: No! 2% is 2% too much.

I agree with the 75%....so where is the Government in this...isn't that a majority of the constituency? doesn't government REPRESENT this voting bloc? My sarcasm because, sadly, these atrocities (across the board and on so many levels involving so many types of animals) continue on and on and on and on! Frustration!

Images used to teach others about a cruelty beyond understanding..are necesssary for the shock value..to cause people to begin to question thus, change!

Educational, informative, thoughtful and thought provoking...


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I have seen this on TV but never knew that it was regulated and permitted. I still think it's cruel, but at least there are some laws and supervision. Maybe in the future they can use a more Humane way of killing these poor animals. You included a lot of well-researched information and I am voting up and sharing! Great Hub!

JSMatthew~


Dina G profile image

Dina G 5 years ago from New York

This is a great hub and I totally agree with J.S. still think it's cruel and there must be a more humane way of killing the seals. It just makes me sick to think of the poor things suffering,slowly bleeding to death.


carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg

It is without a doubt cruelty at its highest and also senseless. Very good commentary on this subject. Its something that makes you want to turn away, so hard to look at the videos, pictures without hurting inside. Thanks so much for sharing!


MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

This breaks my heart. I have asked the same question so many times. Why can't they find a more humane way to kill seals - if they really have to (which I still don't understand...what gives them this right?). In our neighbouring country, Namibia - each year thousands of seals are clubbed to death along the coast. I can't understand it. The sound, the look in their eyes. How the hell do people do that and live with themselves? I get so angry when I read about this. People aren't doing enough about this. If only someone in a position of power could make the changes. Please - put them to sleep if you HAVE to. But DON'T club them to death. It's cruel, it's inhumane and it's times like this when I wish that the world would just end. It's sickening. Thanks for bringing this up. I'm going to share and voted up - interesting and useful. Thank you!


nanderson500 profile image

nanderson500 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

I don't think they should ever be killed for their fur, or really any reason other than food. Yeah it seems like the 2% needs to be reduced to zero. Voted up, interesting, and shared.


benisan85745 profile image

benisan85745 4 years ago from Tucson, AZ.

I cannot imagine what kind of person can literally bat a defenseless creature to death, and not have some kind of regret or remorse for what he gets paid to do. I am in no way a P.E.T.A. member or an "activist" of some sort, but I do defend these poor animals if the topic comes up in conversation(s). For the same reason, I can't stand to see or hear of a defenseless child being beaten at school for no reason, is the way I feel about animals being murdered for whatever gain the person benefits from it's death.

I think that ever sense I saw the documentary film "The Cove", in which famed animal trainer Richard O'Barry help create "Flipper", and slowly watch his animals die from being captive "slaves". What he documented on the Japanese capturing and killing thousands upon thousands of dolphins in Taiji, Wakayama, in the Higashimuro District, is beyond anything I could have though occurred, or maybe I didn't want to know was happening. I am not sure Maralexa, if this will ever end in our time, but I know that something has to be done.

Awesome Hub!

Ka'imi'loa


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hi MelChi. Thanks for your heart-felt comments. This was a very difficult hub for me to write. I continue to feel (as it appears you do too) exactly what I said in the title: Outraged, Angy, Saddened, and Ashamed that my country would continue to allow this to occur.

I have learned since writing this that:

1. using the instrument to "club" them is the most humane method of killing these mammals if done correctly.

2. the beautiful white harp seals can not be harvested (killed) because they are too young.

3. this method of killing the seals is monitored extremely closely.

4. extremely rarely do the seals "suffer.'

5. no one is allowed to touch the seals unless they have an annual license.

And I have learned a number of other things that make it important for me to do an update of this hub.

MelChi, this is one of my important missions - to learn the truth about this and determine if it can end. Thank you so much for spurring me on to do another hub.

Sincerely, Marilyn. (Maralexa)


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

nanderson500, thanks so much for your comments. You can be sure that I agree with your comments and the sentiments you express.

Fortunately, it is getting harder and harder to hunt the seals because the seals must go further north to find solid ice to whelp their pups. So fewer and fewer hunters are involved in the hunt each year.

The "harvesting" of the pups can be done only with the proper equipment and the hunter must ensure the pups are dead before loading them on the boat

There are only so many licenses issued to native Canadians and to legitimate and experienced hunters. The investment they must make in gear and boats to find the whelping grounds is enormous.

The global markets are becoming smaller for seal fur but not yet for seal meat.

As I mentioned to MelChi, above, I will be writing a follow-up hub to this one as soon as I can. It means a great deal to me.

I am not trying to excuse the Canadian government for continuing to harvest seals. At the same time, I am appalled that this practice might still be inhumane and perhaps unnecessary.

Thank you so much for your comments. Sincerely, Marilyn. (Maralexa)


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

benisan85745 91 - thank you for your very strong comments. I understand how you, too, can be amazed and discouraged with such needless lack of caring for creatures who share our planet.

When mammal and animals are captured for our entertainment/education it seems to me they should be cared for exceptionally well, even released if possible to avoid their slow death.

But when animals are deliberately harmed (like in bull-fighting) or needlessly slaughtered for trophies (polar bears) or "harvested" for their fur (baby harp seals) I am sickened and angered.

I may not be able to do anything directly but I sure can try to understand the issues and write about them in a way that may influence someone who can do something directly.

As I mentioned above to nanderson500 and to Melchi, I am definitely writing a follow-up hub on this issue.

Thank you for your motivating comments. Sincerely, Marilyn. (Maralexa)


bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 3 years ago from Spain

Hi Maralexa. I didn´t follow any of the links on this hub as I know I would find them too upsetting. You have set out some good facts here and have tried to keep as neutral as possible too. My own view is that maybe sometimes there is an argument for culling of certain species ( or have I been brainwashed into acceptance) but it´s usually old or sick animals that are targeted, not the very young, so this doesn´t make any sense. I fail to see too how clubbing young seals can be the most effective and humane way to kill them either, surely if this has to be done, a better, quicker and less brutal way must exist.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

bac2basics - thank you for your wise comments. This is a huge issue for many people, but the whole story is not being told.

Baby harp seal clubbing is still the most humane way to kill seals other than using a gun. It kills them instantly, and the hunter must check immediately to ensure that the seal is dead. This process is heavily monitored.

Killing of seals as young as in the first picture has been COMPLETELY banned. Has been for a number of years. Humane societies continue to use this type of "adorable" picture because it garners more feed-back and outrage.

Climate change has meant much less ice in areas where harp seals have whelped previously. So the seals are now having to travel farther north to find firm ice to birth their young. This makes it much more difficult for hunters to get to them. It is a very dangerous job.

Canada is in the process of establishing mammal sanctuaries across Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut (3 Canadian territories above Canada's 10 provinces). Although mostly for the polar bear, these mammal sanctuaries may help the seals as well. The main food for polar bears is seal, though, so seals may be "culled" this way.

Your comments have pushed me ;) to write an update to this hub.

Thank you sincerely. Marilyn


Sundance 23 months ago

This was so helpful and easy! Do you have any arceltis on rehab?


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 23 months ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hi Sundance. I'm sorry but I don't understand your question. Thanks for reading my hub and taking the time to comment.

Cheers, Marilyn


Anitra 23 months ago

That's a posting full of inhgsit!


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 23 months ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

We should not just react with outrage over seal harvesting until we know the facts. The killing of the seals is no longer an issue - it is being handled humanely.

If we are concerned about cruelty to animals we might consider looking to how other animals are killed so we can have a piece of meat or an egg. Cattle and chickens may not be as "cute" as a baby seal but they are animals too. And the process of keeping and killing them that we allow is disgraceful.

Seal harvesting is being handled well. Changes have been made in the process allowed and controlled well by Canadian authorities.

Global warming is driving the seals further north to mate and birth their young. They are further away from harvesters making it harder for them to get to the seals.

We need to know ALL the facts before we react.

Thanks for your comments, Anitra. I really appreciate them.

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