Commercial Seal Clubbing: Why It Needs to Stop

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In the past ten years, over 2 million seals have been killed for their fur. This does not include the tens of thousands of seals who have been wounded by sealer’s clubs or rifles and escaped under the ice, only to succumb to their wounds and die.

-The Humane Society of the United States


Every year, along the icy Canadian coastlines of Newfoundland and Labrador, thousands of baby seals cry out in pain as their skulls are struck by clubs or hakapiks (long sticks with a hooked blade at one end). This gruesome murder occurs a few weeks after mama seals gave birth to their beautiful babies. Every spring, 2,000 to 6,000 Canadian fishermen kill tens of thousands of baby seals for their fur and sometimes for their oil.

Below is a line graph I made using information I got from HarpSeals.org. The quota for 1996 drastically increased, as did the number of Harp seals killed. Since then, the quota has slowly continued to go up. This year, the Canadian government set the highest quota to date: 468,200 harp, grey, and hooded seals are allowed to die at the hands of these cruel Canadian sealers. So far, 37,609 seal pups have been killed this year.

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* The # of seals killed only talks about Harp seals. This does not include the other types of seals (i.e Hood or Grey seals), although those seals were murdered too, although the numbers were other seals killed were not as large in amount. Also, this graph does not include seals that were ‘struck and lost’.

Reasons why the Seal Hunt should end:

1.) Do we really need seal fur? I know it makes a fashion statement but is that really worth the lives of hundreds of thousands of baby seals each year? I think not!

2.) Canadians hunt and kill baby seals. According to HSI, the Canadian government statistics say that 97 percent of the seals killed in the past five years have been less than three months of age, with a majority having been one month old or less! This doesn’t seem fair to me, especially considering these young creatures could have lived for 35 long happy years. But sadly, most of these baby seals have not even eaten their first meal or taken their first swim when the Canadian sealers come around to take their life away. Not only is this tragic, but it also makes surviving this terrible ordeal that much more difficult; their inability to swim means they have no escape route.

3.) For most people participating in the commercial seal hunt, seal clubbing is a second job for them; this means they have another full-time job. An economic analysis of the hunt done by a professor from the University Of Guelph revealed the hunt provides 100 – 150 full time jobs a year, while thousands of others hunt seals as a second means of income. Those who don’t have other jobs can probably find more work living in the city. Why must they live in in the rural, small towns, with only a few job opportunities to offer besides cruelly slaughtering baby seals? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

4.) An analysis conducted by a panel of veterinarians showed that around 40% of the seals were actually skinned alive (Harp Seals). Most likely, this occurs because hunters are careless and do not check the seal thoroughly enough to make sure the seal is dead before skinning it. Although sealers say the slaughter of these babies is performed in a humane manner, the video below shows their statement is inaccurate.

WARNING!: Footage is graphic.

 

5.) The number of Harp seals has drastically declined, not only because of the slaughter, but also because global warming has melted the ice floes. Harp seals are ice dependent animals and need that ice to give birth to their pups. The ice also needs to remain intact until the pups are strong enough to survive in the water. The climate change resulted in a decline of sea ice off the eastern coast of Canada. So these poor seals not only have to worry about humans slaughtering their brothers and sisters, but now they have to fight global warming shrinking their birthing grounds.

6.) Most of the time, the seal meat is left on the ice to rot away. This is because most countries find seal meat undesirable and for that reason, the price for their meat is very low and typically not worth the effort. Even Newfoundlanders find the meat too fatty and distasteful. Therefore, only small amounts of the seal’s meat is processed and used in any manner.

7.) If you are a Canadian, you should care about this cause a great deal. The money that keeps this program running comes from out of your pockets! The government uses tax payers’ money to fund things such as boats, weapons and many other things used in the seal hunt. The money also goes to promote and advertise the seal hunt. If you don’t want your hard earned money to go to the governments’ effort help kill baby seals, it’s time that you do something about it!

 

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This subject makes me disappointed with how the Canadian Government is being run. I mean, all animal abuse makes me sad but learning about the slaughter of these beautiful creatures affected me the most. It seems I’m not the only one who is deeply effected by the whole process. Most people around the world don’t approve of Canada’s decision to keep the hunt going. It just bothers me that these cute babies have to die for something we don’t even fucking need! Nobody NEEDS a coat or hat made out of seal fur.

Watch a video or look at a photo of a baby seal; then think that in weeks time, their life will come to a tragic and painful end… for what? To be made into a fashion accessory for us humans to wear. Does that seem fair to you? I’m suddenly beginning to realize why PETA throws blood at someone wearing a fur coat. That fur coat looks better on a baby seal than it EVER will on ANY human being.

How could you kill such an adorable and innocent creature? Canada, this needs to stop!

 

A Positive Looking Future for Seals?

I obviously don’t live in Canada and I don’t have the best updates about the hunt. In fact, I got all of my information from only about three different websites (all of them are reliable sites with great information!). On May 13 2011, HarpSeals.org stated that the sealers did not feel like the hunt was worth participating in because sealers no longer made a huge profit from the hunt. This is because there are not many buyers for seal pelts due to the outstanding efforts of dozens of different organizations that have been campaigning for years to stop the hunt. The number of seals killed also went down because the European Parliament agreed to ban seal imports from Canada; this was a HUGE success for protestors because the EU was one of the biggest buyers of seal products.

Another reason why the season isn’t going great for the sealers is because of the deteriorating condition of the ice floes. Usually, hunters can walk out onto the ice to club the baby seals. This year however, the ice is too dangerous for sealers to walk on. Sadly, the shrinking ice floes are also a problem for pregnant seal mothers-to-be. These female seals need a solid place to give birth to their pups, since the babies cannot swim until they are at least 2 months old.

Hopefully, the condition of ice floes improve for these animals by the time seal slaughtering has been eliminated from the world. It is my hope that we can get rid of this cruel and inhumane slaughter of these beautiful creatures as soon as humanly possible.

What you can do to help:

Photo taken by Nigel Barker

  • Boycott Canadian Seafood
  • Boycott Canadian Tourism
  • Send emails and/or letters to Politicians and Businesses urging them to help put an end to the seal hunt. Visit HarpSeals.org to get a full list of politicians and businesses that you should contact; it could make all the difference. The more people/businesses you email, the better chances we have to end the slaughter of these innocent creatures once and for all.
  • Inform others about what happens to these seals.
  • Don’t buy anything with real fur. The demand for fur is contributing to this catastrophic massacre in Canada. Anyone wearing the fur of minks, rabbits, foxes, or any other kind of animal is responsible for creating this demand. I really don’t understand why people want to cuddle up in a dead animal… humans are so weird. Faux fur looks and feels just as real plus it is usually much cheaper.

Visit these websites for more

information:

HarpSeals.org A charitable organization that seeks a permanent end to the massacres of harp seals in Canada. They promote the boycott of Canadian seafood to pressure sealers to call an end to the killing. I got most of my information from their website and I did not cover nearly as much information as I had hoped so to view the things I missed, click here.

PETA: Canada’s ShameI know what you’re thinking, and I agree with you: PETA is a crazy organization. Personally, I absolutely love them for their crazy protests and over-the-top posters and signs; they really are making a huge contribution to animal rights when they do these sort of things. Even when people talk badly about them, the organization is still getting more recognition because people bother to speak out about them, whether it’s a bad opinion or a good one!

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The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)The IFAW was created in 1969 to confront the cruel slaughter of harp and hooded seals. Today, the IFAW is the world’s leading international animal welfare organization, and is also one of the largest animal welfare organizations in Canada! They also help improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals throughout the world. This is a great organization & I highly recommend visiting their site as well!

The Humane Society: International This organization is one of the only animal protection organization that is internationally helping to protect all animals. This includes animals in laboratories, farm animals, wildlife (seals), and even companion animals. A large branch of this organization is the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States). Both try to inform the world about the seal slaughter in Canada. In fact, this is where I first learned about the whole thing. If it were not for the HSI or the HSUS, this post would not be here today.

The Truth About Eggs

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Chickens exist in stable social groups. They can recognize each

other by their facial features. They have 24 distinct cries that communicate a wealth of information to one other, including separate alarm calls depending on whether a predator is traveling by land or sea. They are good at solving problems. Perhaps most persuasive is the chicken’s intriguing ability to understand that an object, when taken away and hidden, nevertheless continues to exist. This is beyond the capacity of small children.”

–Dr. Chris Evans,

Professor of Psychology at Macquarie University, Australia

Do you remember when we had farmers with large amounts of land for animals to roam? The chickens would roam free, lay eggs year round, and in the spring, baby chicks would follow their mama hens around everywhere.  Before World War II in America, about 70% of the population worked in agriculture and there were several family farms around. After that there was a shift; major corporations took over small family farms and the treatment of farm animals slowly diminished. This began what is now known as factory farming. In the United States during 2002, 87 billion eggs were produced by around 336 million laying hens.(1) These layer hens don’t get to make a nest, sit on their eggs or even get a chance to see their babies- these chicks will never meet their moms.

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Let’s start from the beginning. You hatch from an egg and notice that there are many other baby chicks hatching around you. A big hand comes and roughly picks you up and throws you in a bin with many other fuzz balls that look just like you. The contents of this bin are then tossed onto a conveyer belt. This conveyer belt has two possible destinations. If you are a male, you will not be living for much longer (even though you just hatched from your shell). Since males cannot lay eggs and are unable to grow fast enough to be profitable for meat, they are useless to the industry. So if you are a male chick, you will either be ground up, gassed in chambers, or thrown out in a huge dumpster; left to either starve or freeze to death. The photo below (taken by Farm Sanctuary) shows male chicks in a dumpster, left to die a slow and painful death.

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If you are a female chick, then you will continue along the conveyer belt. Their beaks are trimmed off with a hot blade, all without anesthesia or pain killers. This has been shown to cause these hens chronic and acute pain for the rest of their short lives. Chickens use their beaks for touching and picking things up; their beaks are like our hands. The egg industry claims that beak trimming is needed both to decrease aggressive tendencies among birds and to reduce feed costs.(4) Many countries have banned beak trimming and have had no problems without it. Chickens with their beaks trimmed often starve to death because they are in chronic pain.

The females, in my opinion, have it much worse than the male chicks do. Ninety-eight percent of the female layer hens are confined in battery cages.(2) Battery cages are small wire cages that normally hold 3-10 hens. Each hen has less space than a sheet of letter-sized paper (67 square inches per bird). A study by Drs. M.S. Dawkins and S. Hardie (1989) found that hens need an average of 72 square inches just to stand erect, 178 inches to preen, 197 inches to turn around, and 291 inches to flap their wings.(3) So 67 x 67 inches isn’t nearly enough room for these poor animals.

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Female hens spend up to two years in these small cages. Their bodies often rub up against the side of the cage, causing them to lose their feathers. In many of the pictures taken of battery cages, you can see that many of these chickens are all bones. Chickens in these cages lack any sort of exercise and often have brittle bones and no muscle. It’s not uncommon to see their claws grow around the wire, because they are not meant to stand on wire for years at a time. Sometimes, hens die younger than others because their health deteriorates. These dead hens are often left to rot inside cages with hens who are still alive. When the alive hens slow down laying eggs (typically around 1-2 years old), the industry brings in newly laid chicks to take over and gets rid of these older hens. Workers violently rip these “useless” hens out of their cages (often breaking their brittle bones) and cram them all in a big truck to take to slaughter. Sometimes, workers will just place these chickens in a dumpster to starve or get crushed to death. All I know is that in a factory farm, none of these animals will have a humane end.

Now, you know the average life of a battery caged chicken. From the day they hatch to the day they are slaughtered, they live miserable lives. These factories don’t care about the welfare of these poor animals. As long as the can get as many birds and as many eggs as the possibly can, the companies are happy.

 

The Truth About “Cage-Free”:

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Cage-free doesn’t mean the hens are allowed to roam around on Old McDonald’s farm! Most people seem to believe this. I work at a grocery store as a cashier. I would say about 1 in every 30 customers buy eggs labeled as “Cage-Free”. There have been many a time where I almost ask these customers why they go with “Cage-free”, just to see if they believe that these eggs came from happy chickens. I’m sure that’s what most people think. “Cage-free” SOUNDS pleasant- it’s meant to sound that way. But in all reality, “Cage-free” hens are treated just about the same as any battery-cage hen.

  • Both “Cage-free” and battery-cage systems typically buy their hens from hatcheries that kill the male chicks upon hatching—more than 200 million each year in the United States alone.
  • Both cage and cage-free hens have part of their beaks burned off, a painful mutilation that is done all without painkillers.
  • Both cage and cage-free hens are typically slaughtered at less than two years old, far less than half their normal lifespan. They are often transported long distances to slaughter plants with no food or water.

– This information was taken from The Humane Society of the United States. Check out the article here to read more about the topic.

Whether you buy eggs from “Cage-free” hens or ones living in battery cages, you have a risk of getting salmonella. Do you remember the salmonella outbreak that occurred last August? You can thank the egg industry for that one. Although many don’t know how these hens can cause salmonella, there is a theory that it’s caused by their stress. It could also be caused from all of the ammonia and dust in the air, which the hens are constantly breathing in. Either way, it is almost certain that if one hen carries a disease, the chance that the other hens will catch that disease is very good. A way we could possibly prevent the spread of disease is to make the cages larger or just let them be chickens and live outside. But that would mean these egg companies would have to pay more of their money and they don’t want to spend that money.

These hens typically never see daylight. The amount of eggs they are forced to lay is a staggering amount and it puts a lot of stress on their already fragile bodies. Many go insane because of boredom and not being act like a normal chicken would. Please, stop purchasing your eggs from stores. If we got everyone to stop purchasing these eggs, we could make a difference in the world.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:

  • DON’T EAT EGGS. I don’t suggest this unless you live in the city. If you live in a rural area, chances are there will be several people who own chickens and would be happy to sell them to you. This is what I do. My neighbor owns a small chicken coop and sells my family eggs for $3.50. Sure, it’s more expensive than eggs from the grocery store but I know that the hens (and roosters!) are well cared for and happy.
  • DON’T BUY EGGS FROM THE GROCERY STORE. Unless you’ve seen where your eggs originated from, you won’t know whether or not cruelty was involved in the making of your eggs. So to be safe, refuse to buy your eggs from a store. This makes a HUGE statement and will cause a huge change in the egg industry if a lot of people participate.
  • SEND THIS TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY. Chances are they also had no clue the cruelty these chickens had to endure to get the eggs in your fridge. PLEASE recommend my blog to others. My goal is to stop all sorts of animal cruelty. I’m not getting paid to write this blog. I write it because I want to make a difference in this world.

[WARNING!] The videos below will show you just how terrible factory farming is for the animals.They’re a bit more graphic but that’s the point; I want to show you how horrible these animals are treated. BOTH VIDEOS CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES! VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

[WARNING! VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES] Mercy For Animals is a great organization. Check out their website here for more videos. This was a n investigation taken undercover (because no recording is allowed in these factories (for obvious reasons). Battery cages should be outlawed by now. They cause disease in chickens to spread faster and also make these chickens loose their minds of boredom.

 

 

[WARNING! VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES] This one will really shock you. This is what happens the 50% of the chicks born-the male chicks. They are killed because they are not useful to the industry. This might be difficult to watch but try the best you can! These cute babies should NOT BE KILLED AFTER BIRTH! It sickens me to know it still occurs throughout the world, not only the U.S.

 

Works Cited

  1. USDA – National Agricultural Statistics Service, “Poultry Highlights” May 29, 2002, http://www.nass.usda.gov/ca/rev/poultry/205polna.htm.
  2. United Egg Producers – “United Egg Producers Animal Husbandry Guidelines for U.S. Egg Laying Flocks,” 2002 Edition (United Egg Producers, Alpharetta, Ga.).
  3. Mench J and Swanson J, “Developing Science-Based Animal Welfare Guidelines,” a speech delivered at the 2000 Poultry Symposium and Egg Processing Workshop, http://animalscience.ucdavis.edu/Avian/pubs.htm.
  4. “Feed savings could justify beak trimming,” Poultry Digest, March 1993: p. 6. As cited in Davis K, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry (Summertown, TN: The Book Publishing Co., 1996), p. 70.

Factory Farming: An Overview

 Taken by Farm Sanctuary

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”

– Paul McCartney

A friend of yours on Facebook just posted a video titled “Cruelty of Factory Farming.” Do you think any meat-loving person would watch it? I would say most likely not. People don’t want to think about where their meat comes from, for fear that it might make them stop eating something they think tastes so good. I totally understand the feeling, but now that I know the truth about how the meat industry treats their animals, I want everyone to know. You may think you know how factory farms work. But if you are still eating meat, you most likely have no idea how bad it really is.

In eighth grade, I saw a PETA video on a friend of mine’s MySpace. I saw the title of the video and was tentative about watching it at first, not wanting to give up the sweet taste of meat but finally I decided to give it a try. The video contained the most gruesome images I’ve ever seen; however, I didn’t watch the whole thing. I just skimmed through the video because it was hard to see and hear animals in that much pain. After “watching” the video, I vowed to never eat meat again. I thought by just skimming through a video about factory farmed animals, I knew everything there was to know when, in reality, I barely knew a thing. Sadly, I lasted about a week and a half before giving up and getting some chicken nuggets at McDonalds (ugh, can’t believe I ate such filth). My point is that I know how hard it is to give up meat. But it’s the best thing you can to to your body. Also, after a few weeks without meat, you feel really good and a lot more healthy.

Factory Farms in the US

Not only is factory farming cruel to animals, but it’s also cruel to the environment. For those of you who could care less about how animals are treated, take this into consideration: A large quantity of grains grown in the U.S that are perfectly good for human consumption are fed to farm animals. There are more farm animals than humans,  so forests, wetlands, and other natural ecosystems are being forced to turn into crop and grazing land as food for these animals. This is not even for human consumption, but for factories with thousands of animals to feed and fatten. The amount of waste produced by farm animals in the U.S. is also a huge problem: there is 130 times more than of human waste. This waste has been known to “runoff” and has polluted many of the streams and rivers. Also, according to Worldwatch Institute, 51% of human-caused greenhouse gasses are caused by the raising livestock and poultry. 1 

Another reason you shouldn’t get meat from factory farms is because the over-crowded animals and unsanitary conditions lead to diseases such as Avian Flu, Swine Flu and Salmonella. Remember that egg recall last August in 2010? You can thank factory farms for that one, along with the several others over the past few years.

Battery Cages

These chickens have never seen daylight. Typically they get no room to spread their wings and they cannot participate in things that normal chickens get to do such as dirtbathing, nesting, and perching.

People may argue that if it weren’t for factory farming, the meat that you buy today would not be as cheap as it is. Americans eat A LOT of meat. Therefore, people argue that we need factory farms to fulfill the humans’ craving for meat. This is true; however, if people cut back on their meat consumption, we could rule out the cruelty and the number of animals brutally killed. It’s terrible how much suffering and stress these animals must endure. Can you imagine being cramped into a cage for 6 months or more? Layer hens’ area of space is similar to a sheet of printer paper. Most never get the chance to even spread their wings until they fulfill their egg laying duties and are slaughtered for cheap meat, dog food and/or cat food. Breeding sows (female pigs) often go insane from being in a gestation crate for a long time, not even having enough room to turn around. They have litter after litter of baby piglets, each litter taken away from her after less than one month. Female animals in the factory farm system are never impregnated naturally because biological manipulation has rendered them to get more product; they must be artificially inseminated.

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These are just a few reasons why factory farming just isn’t natural and why it isn’t right. I will be talking about the cruelties of each industry in my future posts. I ask if you could please read them all. If you truly love the taste of your meat, then you don’t have to become a vegetarian. I’m not forcing you to do that. The whole purpose of me writing about factory farming is to inform you. What’s the purpose if nobody is going to read my posts? I tried to make this post not too overwhelming for you, although I warn you, the meat industry is not this happy place people make it out to be. Even if you know a little bit about factory farming, the things in my next posts will shock you. All I ask is that you read what I write. At the bottom of my posts, I’ll put an optional video for you to watch. You don’t need to watch it, but it will have a bigger impact on you than my words will. Here are all of the different type of industries I’ll be discussing:

  • Poultry Industry (dairy)
  • Poultry Industry (meat)
  • Hog and Pig Industry
  • Dairy Cattle Industry
  • Veal Industry
  • Beef Cattle Industry
  • Fish Farming Industry
  • Foie Gras (Duck) Industry
  • Sheep Industry
  • Goat Industry
  • Horse Industry

I also want to let you know about a book that changed the way I look at meat and dairy. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is a fantastic book that tells you all about the meat industry. Foer was an off-and-on vegetarian all of his life; that is, until he had children of his own. This book is part memoir and part investigative report. Foer’s book is not in any way an attempt to make meat-lovers become vegetarians. He doesn’t force vegetarianism onto you but simply makes learning about factory farms easier to learn about. I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone, whether you’re a meat-eater, vegetarian, or a vegan; you’ll learn a lot from this book!

Below is an example of what kind of video I’ll use at the bottom of my future posts about the types of factory farms. Try to watch this one. The reason why I posted this video is also because I hate Perdue. Their commercials may seem innocent and it might look like their chickens are “humanely raised”. But in this day and age, there is no such thing. Most popular companies (whether we are talking about makeup or meat) abuse animals in some sort of way.  I’m not saying ALL but most. Anyways, watch the video or at least try.

Perdue is not a humane company in the slightest. Don’t fall for their bullshit. There is no such thing as a humanely raised chicken.

Also: Take a virtual tour of Farm Sanctuary and Investigate the production of factory farms.