Opposition to the East Coast seal hunt is more about optics than it is about conservation. Which is not to say that optics aren’t important.

Because seals are cute and cuddly, and are killed out in the open rather than in slaughter-houses, animal -rights activists seize on gruesome images of the hunt to attract public support and money.

One of the images the anti-seal crowd exploits is the use of the hakapik. That is the long, sharply hooked metal club used to bludgeon seals to death.  The premier of Newfoundland and the premier of Nunavut have both now asked that the use of the hakapik be banned.

In the battle over optics it would seem Canada has little choice  but to ban the hakapik.

Do you agree?



  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Your « cute and cuddly » comment says it all.

    Let’s open up the slaughterhouses and see what exactly it is that we are eating.

    Better still, let’s see how the chickens and beef cattle are raised and the quality of life they have before we kill them and sit down for our sumptuous steaks and fried chicken.

    It is the height of hypocrisy to worry about cute baby seals when they represent less than 1% of 1% of what we consume from the slaughterhouses of Canada and America…and no one says « boo! ».

    In 1984 some mad gunman came into a MacDonald’s in San Ysidro California, opened fire, and killed 20 people. I’m no proponent of the Hare Krishna organisation but at the time of the murders they released a statement saying something to the effect that it was America’s karma because of the millions of cattle that Americans kill every year to fill their bellies.

    Perhaps they had a point.

  2. 2
    Chimera Says:

    First, it’s not a hunt. It’s a slaughter. Why not call it what it is?

    The hunters object to banning the hakapik because they say anything else will ruin the pelt. Furriers don’t like to deal with bullet holes and slashes because they say it ruins the commercial value of the skin. I dare anyone to look at a pair of boots made of sealskin and tell whether or not they are made from a whole, unpatched skin. You’d have to take the boots apart and examine the back of the pelt to do that.

    They also say that the hakapik is the most humane way to kill a seal when it’s used properly and efficiently. That might be so. However, the phrase « when it’s used properly » is key to the optics of anti-sealing protest. It is very often not used properly and efficiently, and photos of its inefficiency in the hands of a careless killer fill space on anti-sealing posters and journal articles.

    There is something that can be used in the place of the hakapik, if crushing the skull is the best way to kill a seal. It’s called a bolt. It looks roughly like a flare pistol, with a wide barrel, but it has a compressed gas canister, and it « fires » a heavy steel cylinder a couple of inches with tremendous force. Veterinarians use them to put down cattle and horses by firing the bolt between the eyes. Death is instant and humane. Always. They literally can’t miss.

    Let the seal killers use bolts.

  3. 3
    Dez Says:

    The bolt gun is humane as long as the subject is restrained long enough to line up the shot properly. Baby seals on the ice are notoriously hard to restrain, and the possibility of « missing » becomes problematical.

    Seriously, what difference does it make to the seal what you use to kill it? It still dies. « Humane Killing » is of some comfort to the killers, but the seal is still dead.

    How humane are orcas and polar bears when they kill a baby seal (which, by the way, is something they do to survive)? Seems to be about as humane as the family cat when killing a mouse.

    The problem should not be about HOW you are killing them, but the AMOUNT of seals being killed (2008 quota: 275,000. +/- a few thousand. but, really, who’s counting?). Eventually, you will run out of seals. Likewise polar bears and orcas.

    And then there are the government subsidies for seal hunting. Your tax dollars go to support this industry.

    How do you feel about that?

  4. 4
    Dez Says:

    Oh, sorry, I forgot to comment on the whole « we also kill chickens and cattle » issue, as well.

    We raise chickens and cattle. We breed them, feed them, vaccinate them, and inspect them. THEN we kill them in a controlled environment in as humane a fashion as possible. Yes, there have been abuses, but my point is that the industry is sustainable.

    We do not breed Harp Seals. We do everything in our power to deny them food (over-fishing). We are in the process of destroying their environment, thus denying them a place to live. And then we kill them before they reach breeding age.

    This is not sustainable. There WILL be an end to seals, and this industry will follow.

    It has nothing to do with their being « cute ». This is about exterminating a species.

    Tell me what is « humane » about that?

  5. 5
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    1) Sealing quotas cost in the 6 figures.
    2) White cuddly baby seals are not killed anymore since there is no market for the « blanchon’ fur.
    3) Fisheries and Oceans Canada tallies every pelt unloaded by each sealer and nobody wants to lose the expensive quotas they have.
    4) A census of seal population is taken before the quotas are awarded and the cull is established on a conservation basis. So the cull is sustainable.
    5) The cod population has been picking up since the seal population is controled although it is not yet up enough to allow fishing to resume on a commercial scale.
    6) I agree that you cannot get a seal into a restraining gimmick to stun it.
    7) The present anti sealer campaign benefits only that money hungry guy who flaunts our laws and humans’s safety so to exploit credulous weepers. Of course a seal’s life is worth more than that of a sealer.
    8) Does that guy have parts in Sirbain the artificial fur manufacturer as brigitte bardot had?
    Before you ask, Tony, go on Fisheries and Ocean Canada’s site.

  6. 6
    Chimera Says:

    Dez, Paul touches on the why of sealing — there are too many seals for the food supply. And we humans insist on stealing even more of their food. If we don’t cull the seal population, they’d starve.

    It took some looking, but there actually is a market for more of the seal than just the pelt. Seal meat has a fan club, believe it or not.

    I think if there were a way to farm seals, someone would have done it by now. Problem is, it’s next to impossible to fence in an ice field that rests on top of water. The seals follow their food source, which have the entire arctic ocean to roam in.

    And the problem of restraining a seal long enough to use a bolt? Use a seal hoop. It’s like a basketball hoop, except the hoop is not large enough to allow the shoulders to go through. The rope net would trap the limbs close to the body and restrict movement.

  7. 7
    Dez Says:

    Paul – The connection between seal and cod populations seems a bit tenuous, and even the government of Canada admits that the seal culling is more to keep the seals from starving than to protect the cod. It seems that the recent resurgence of the cod population is due more to the lack of commercial fishing than the lack of seals.

    That whole argument reminds me of the bounty on wolves, supposedly to protect the deer for the hunters, and livestock for the ranchers. In areas where wolf hunting is banned, the deer and livestock seem to be doing fine.

    Ok, they don’t kill babies anymore. But, « beaters » are still below breeding age, so my argument still stands. In any other type of hunting – bear, deer, elk, etc. – harvesting is usually restricted to males of breeding age or older in order to ensure sustainability.

    I really don’t care if people wear fur or not, and I’m not basing my argument on my emotional reaction to cute fuzzy animals. I’m seeing two sides to this issue, and the people with a vested interest in continuing this industry are claiming that it is sustainable, while the other side is claiming it is not. Both sides quote numbers, but they also have reasons to lie. Who to believe? When in doubt, I lean toward the power of simple human greed. When there is money to be made from doing something, people will rationalize ways to keep doing it. Who’s making the most money, sealers or anti-sealers?

    I hate it when people suggest that I care more about animals than people. You’re suggesting that the seal hunters will starve to death if they can’t hunt seals. Bullshit. I heard the same thing during the much-bemoaned collapse of my state’s timber industry. « You care more about trees than people. » Then they ran out of old-growth timber to harvest, and a lot of lumberjacks found other jobs.

    Sealers can find other jobs, too. They don’t need to yet, but they should be looking to the future.

    The cod are not coming back, people. Not in the numbers you need for commercial fishing. We are turning the oceans into big carbonated sodas and the only things that are thriving are the jellyfish. Fish populations world-wide are, on the average, dropping like a lead weight.

    The lack of sea ice is also killing baby seals that have not yet learned to swim. Based on these factors, I think quotas that are based on seal populations will see a general decline over the next 10 to 20 years. When I say that this industry is not sustainable, I am speaking in long-range terms. No more than 20 years, in my opinion.

    In the meantime, the sealing industry supports a few thousand sealers, at the expense of taxpayers.

  8. 8
    Dez Says:

    Chimera – Doing a bit of quick internet research, it looks like most sealers are going for the quick and dirty approach to hunting seals. Using a net or hoop to restrain the seal long enough to line up a bolt gun would take longer than running up with a club and smacking the animal in the head until it stops moving. And, how much do these things cost? If you can talk a few sealers into trying it, great.

  9. 9
    john Says:

    ur joking right? how would u like getting chopped up with that thing? seriously give it a try

  10. 10
    couter Says:

    John is a visionary, He got the right idea all the rest of you are tools

  11. 11
    john Says:

    couter, your intelligent views enlighten us all.

  12. 12
    john Says:

    why can’t you just not kill seals, seriously, it can’t be that hard.

  13. 13
    couter Says:

    I bet that if any of you would bumped your head you cry for days, try getting it bashed in with a club. and might i say that john purely genuis

  14. 14
    john Says:

    killing stuff is bad for u.

  15. 15
    john Says:

    Can’t u use something other than a hakapik? It could be like the CBC’s find a hockey night in canada theme.


    I can see it now.

  16. 16
    couter Says:

    you take five more minutes to make sure you kill it a little bit more humanely, or are you too busy looking at your shipmates. John you got the right idea

  17. 17
    john Says:

    so…anyone heard of this thing called seal hunting, i hear it’s pretty messed up.

  18. 18
    couter Says:

    whoever supports the seal hunt is gay … are u

  19. 19
    Jenn Says:

    Unfortunately, the age old arguments are exactly that, old. I think it is time the Canadian Govt steps in for more education in the Seal Hunting areas…helping to provide the hunters with another source of income. As one comment said above, this won’t last forever, we are our own predators and are ruining the planet in most case… the majority of the hunters are not educated and complain they are poor with no other means of income. I find this almost lazy and apathetic. Hunting in present times, there’s a disconnect between using what you need and simple greed & waste. The majority of the seals, die from not being completely killed from the Hakapik’ and jump back into the sea and drown. I’d like to know how they actually come up with the seal popluation determination to set a  » predetermined cull number  » – whatever. The whole thing is just sick to me.

    Somewhere in the last century, we have seemed to become nothing short of selfish and numb as a species.

  20. 20

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