Kari
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
05-May-2011
I have been reading that one of the more recent pleas to stop the seal hunt is based on climate change...mother seals are meant to give birth on the ice floes, but according to HSUS/Humane Society of Canada articles, the ice is diminishing at a rapid pace, which makes it "irresponsible" for the Canadian gov't to allow the seal hunt to continue while their habitat is melting out from under them. I am just wondering what your take is on this claim - is it fact or non-fact? Is the climate "issue" actually an issue or just propaganda to further advocate hatred of commercial sealing . I admit I am incredibly sad about the seal hunt - baby seals getting their heads bashed in is hard for me to think about, let alone actually seeing it on video. You have said the majority of sealing is now being done using guns which is supposed to be more merciful (?). But the video footage I see (from the HSUS/Humane Society of Canada), only shows scenes of slaughter by hak-a-pick. There's also footage of seals being shot from a distance, which doesn't kill them instantly - I see them bleeding and likely suffering on the ice until the hunters approach to finish them off. I guess I am looking for clarification or proof that the video footage is fake. I will acknowledge that the only footage I've seen are videos on the Humane Society website, so yes, at this point my beliefs are biased. I desperately want to know, are the videos "doctored", are the stories and documentation Rebecca Aldworth shares untrue, is the climate changing to a point where it's endangering the seal population? I would love nothing more than to believe the hunt isn't as atrocious as it looks on the videos, but I don't know what to believe since I've seen nothing to prove these videos aren't real. I truly respect your point of view/knowlege of the facts, which is why I am writing to you. I look forward to your response(s), thank you.
Hi Kari,

Climate change is a concern but as of yet we haven't experienced anything that is outside of cyclical norms. That being said, the scientists which study seals are monitoring these factors very closely. While Dames/mothers give birth on ice flows, during bad ice years they will give birth on beaches but obviously natural mortality increases in these years. Ultimately animal rights groups will use any angle they can to sway people's opinions. As it stands last year's population study reported the harp seal populations to be over 10 million, 5 times what it was in the 70's and way over any historical predictions.

In my opinion any animal that is independent of a parental entity can't be viewed as a baby. The seals killed are young but they are self reliant in all facets of its life and thus can't be viewed as a baby. Again, this is an angle animal rights groups use to elicit emotion from people as humans will attempt to draw parallels between their species and seals. The harp seal is one of the fastest developing creatures on this planet so to equate their development in any way to human development is highly misleading. Also, animal rights groups use this while there is no age at which it would be acceptable to kill seals. In regards to how seals are killed, the killing of any animal is ugly but just because something is ugly does not make it wrong or inhumane. All peer-reviewed studies of seal killing methods have shown "clubbing" to be the most humane and effective though because of animal rights propaganda "clubbing" represents less than 5% of the seals killed during the hunt. The thing that I find interesting is that even though "clubbing" represents such a small number of kills it is the method you see the most in animal rights video. Again, they realize that such a thing assaults the sensibilities of the average person because most do not understand what they are looking at. Most will look at clubbing and think they are watching something completely inhumane when in fact the seal is dead after the first or second strike which takes about 1 second, if not instantaneous.

The video footage that animal rights groups present is mass edited so in most cases it is hard to tell what the true timeline is, how long it takes for a sealer to get to an animal once it is shot etc. Most of it is not fake but how it is presented is not necessarily representative of actual events. At the end of the day the thing we have to keep in mind is even if all the killing shown on animal rights video were cases of improper killing it is not a representation of the hunt as a whole and even if there are cases of poor killing practices shown we have to understand that nothing is perfect and mistakes will happen. I was recently saying to another commenter that there are television channels dedicated to hunting where I have seen big game being shot and running off into the woods at which point the hunters have to track the animal and the time it takes the animal to die is unknown. For the greatest part recreational hunting is accepted by society, to the point of dedicating whole channels to it, as long as it isn't trophy hunting so we have a real double standard here which is consistent in every facet of seal killing. For some reason society is accepting of many things within the realm of killing livestock which they are not in relation to killing seals as they are accepting of many things in recreational hunting that they are not in relation to seals. In my opinion this is all due to how it has been presented and how society has been generally manipulated by animal rights groups. For a relatively new example, watch the show Swamp People and see how they kill alligators in the southern US which leaves me with the question, what if seals were dangerous reptiles?

In regards to Rebecca Aldworth and her commentary in the videos I can say with certainly that much of what she says is misinformation if not outright lies when describing what is happening in the videos. I have seen it repeatedly where she leads the viewer to the conclusion she wishes them to come to rather than accurately describing what is happening. If you like you can link me any video and I will be able to point out examples of this. The thing that people need to realize about these videos is that animal rights people go out just about every day of the hunt filming hours upon hours of tape and at the end of the season they end up with 2 or 3 short videos depicting maybe a dozen kills then present it as a representation of the hunt as a whole. I have used the example in the past, it is akin to saying we should ban driving cars because 0.000048% of the population drives drunk. Do bad inhumane things happen during the seal hunt? Yes, of course they do as nothing is perfect and neither is anything perfect that humans endeavour to do nor are the bad things that happen intentional. The real point here is that the parties involved in the hunt are continually trying to make it better, make it as humane as possible and work toward minimizing mistakes as much as possible. Unlike how animal rights groups present them, the people who participate in the hunt are not mindless thugs who are out to inflict as much pain and suffering on seals as they can. For the greatest portion of the people involved they are like you and me and everyone else who want to do the best job they can, who approach the task professionally and wish to perform the operation as best they can to cause the least amount of animal suffering.

There are two things that animal rights groups don't tell people and what anyone interested in this issue should realize which are, there is a limit seal populations will be permitted to drop to ensure the health of the herd and secondly, seals will be culled regardless of a commercial seal hunt. Different animal species are periodically culled around the world for a multitude of reasons whether it is to help protect another species or to protect habitat and this is the main reason why seals are culled. It just so happens that an industry has identified that they can make a living from utilizing harp seals so in essence they take care of the culling which would otherwise be done by the government, a cull that would cost Canadian taxpayers hundreds of millions to perform and nothing of the animal would be used. Over the past 20ish years humans have greatly reduced their impact on ocean species in this area which we and seals utilize while seal populations have grown exponentially, greatly increasing their impact on these same species. I'm not going to sit here and minimize the impact we have had on these other ocean species but how we got to where we are is irrelevant in the big picture unless you are trying to demonize people so other people are more apt to take negative action against them. So do we throw our collective hands in the air and say let the cards fall where they will fall or do we attempt to balance the eco-system whereby humans are able to utilize some of the species for food, seals are able to utilize some of the species for food and the food species themselves are able to survive and flourish. In my opinion this is the greatest paradox of animal rights groups as they are not concerned with the longevity of species on this planet as long as humans don't have any part of it but yet we have an impact by simply existing.

Another thing people interested in this issue need to realize is that those on the pro side of this issue have worked with harp seals for 60+ years, researching and analyzing to give us all the information we have on harp seals today. These same people dictate what the quotas are going to be for the industry and they come to these numbers based on the mountain of research they have done. These same scientists are the sources of all peer-reviewed data regarding harp seals while animal rights groups don't use any of the money they have and garner from this issue to actually research and understand harp seals or their environment. In essence they are demanding a change while the results of said change are unknown to them. How irresponsible is that?

I hope this helps and I commend you on taking a level headed approach to seeking out information on the issue.

Cheers,
Mike
 
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