Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Clubbing of Seals


What Is 'Seal Clubbing"?

You may have heard it already, but one of the largest subjects being talked about in the news or by all animal activists is the clubbing of seals. The clubbing of seals is where men (sometimes women) go out to the seals habitat and kill them by clubbing them to death. Seal hunting, or sealing, is done for the profit of the seals' pelts, blubber, and meat.

Why Do They Club?

Clubbing the seal is a safe and easy to preserve the seal's valuable pelt. The hunters don't want to damage the pelt because doing so would result in being paid less. They get money for every dead seal they bring in. Federal laws in Canada give a sealer three ways to hunt his prey. He can shoot a seal with a rifle or shotgun (provided it's above a minimum caliber or gauge); he can break its head with a blunt club something like a baseball bat that must be at least 2 feet long; or he can smash in its brains with something called a hakapik. A hakapik is a 4 or 5 foot wooden pole with a bent, metal spike affixed to the end.

The hunter will most likely use a hakapik or club if at all possible. That's because with these weapons, it's much easier to aim a blow directly at the seal pup's head. One swing from a hakapik will usually kill a pup right away.

By law, you have to keep clubbing the seal in the forehead until you know for sure that it's dead. Sealers are supposed to "palpate" a pup's skull after they've clubbed it, to feel the caved-in bone beneath the skin and blubber,or they can perform the "blink reflex" test, which consists of touching the seal's eyeball. If it blinks, you've got to club it again because that means it is still alive. Very few hunters actually perfome these tests because they say they can feel the skull collaps as they make contact with their clubs.

Where Is Clubbing Done?

The hunt for these seals is practiced in five different countries. Canada is where most of the worlds seal hunting takes place but it is done in Greenland, Namibia, Norway, and Russia.

The United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Croatia and Mexico have already banned the import of seal products. And the European Union is currently considering a comprehensive ban on seal product trade. This move, many believe, could put the end of Canada's commercial seal hunt.

How Many Are Killed?

Like i said, over 1 million seals have been killed just in the past four years. The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) set the "total allowable catch" (TAC) of harp seals at 270,000 per year. The men are supposed to only kill that amount per year during that hunting season. The hunters literally compete against each other for quotas, killing as many seals as quickly as possible before the region's quota is reached.

The Brutal Truth

In the past years, The HSUS(Humane Society of the United States) has consistently filmed hunters beating seals repeatedly on the jaw, the face and the body failing to render the animals unconscious (which by law are required to). Veterinary studies have confirmed that hunters often fail to crush the skulls of the seals they club, instead striking them in other areas such as the jaw failing to ensure unconsciousness, let alone death.

When the hunting is started, the hunters are unable to get close enough to club them on their boat, so long-range shooting, shooting from moving boats, and shooting at seals in the water often occurs. What happens is the hunters usually fail at killing them, leaving the wounded seal to suffer in agony for extend periods of time. The hunters on boats have a difficult time getting to the injured seal though the thick, broken ice, who are often still conscious and suffering from their wounds.

When the ice has broken, the hunters are unable to get onto the ice to test the seal for unconsciousness. Instead, hunters frequently lean over the sides of their boats, impale the seal with a gaff (a long wooden pole with a steel hook at the end), and drag them onto the boat completely skipping the unconsciousness test and bleeding process. The HSUS has documented this on countless occasions.

I am going to attach a video of the actually fotage fillmed in this killing. If you don't think you can handle watching this abuse, i advise you not to watch.


Jennifer said...

That is so sad! I took an oceanography course and they had a section on this. Its really pathetic, but none of the laws are enforced nearly enough as they should be.

Kelly said...

I don't understand how these people can not feel bad torturing these animals to death. If they would even think about how awful this is maybe there would be a few less people killing this poor innocent animals.

Elliot said...

This is hideous. These people don't even need to be punished. I think anyone would be scarred for life that does this and that would be punishment enough.