Baby seals drown from melting ice as Canada hunt begins
By Grist (Grist) - April 9, 2007
Pop an antidepressant before reading this: Canada has reduced this year’s quota for its annual harp seal hunt by 20 percent, to a mere 270,000 — not because of pressure from conservationists and animal activists, but because thousands of baby seals have already fallen through melting ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and drowned. Global warming strikes again! In some areas, the pup mortality rate may be reaching 100 percent — before the hunters even arrive. “The pups can’t swim for very long. They need stable ice,” says a Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesperson. Only two (out of about 40) hunting boats set sail into the southern gulf at the start of hunting season on Monday. “There weren’t many seals there to hunt,” says the spokesperson. The baby seals are clubbed or shot, then sold for their prized white fur and seal oil. One Newfoundlander says the locals “need the seal hunt to make ends meet.” Activists say the hunters often flout the government quota, and are demanding that Canada terminate a hunt they call cruel.