World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

March 28, 2006 14:00 ET

Media Availability: Seal hunt observer back in Toronto today

Melissa Tkachyk, Toronto-based campaigner for the World Society for the Protection of Animals, offers a first hand account of the seal hunt having returned from the Gulf Monday night Attention: Assignment Editor, Environment Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO/ONTARIO/CANADIAN SEAL HUNT--(CCNMatthews - March 28, 2006) - Toronto's Melissa Tkachyk, Canadian Campaigns Officer for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) returned to Toronto last night having witnessed the seal hunt first hand this weekend.

"Like the sealers, we had difficulty finding the seals at first, so poor are the ice conditions this year in the Gulf," recounts Tkachyk. "From our vantage point in the helicopter, we could see for miles, but we saw little for the longest time apart from a few scattered blocks of ice. We spotted the sealing boats first, at least a dozen. Thin trails of blood could be seen in the water behind several of these boats as the sealers used their gaff hooks to drag seals aboard--hopefully dead, though we know from past accounts that this is sadly not always the case."

In 2001, an independent veterinary study concluded that in 42% of the cases they examined, the seal did not show enough evidence of cranial injury to guarantee unconsciousness at the time of skinning, meaning that, in all likelihood, animals were skinned alive. WSPA has serious concerns about the animal welfare implications of the Canadian seal hunt given past eyewitness accounts of sealing regulations being flouted, animals being shot and wounded, clubbed but not rendered unconscious or even skinned alive. WSPA further objects to the commercial use of wildlife, particularly where the primary reason for the hunt is still fur, which the charity views as an unnecessary or frivolous reason to kill animals.

Canada's annual seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world. More than a million seals have been killed during the past three years. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has set a quota for this year's hunt of 335,000. This year's hunt got underway last Saturday morning. Hampered by poor ice conditions, sealers are believed to have killed 3100 seals on the opening day of the hunt, much less than in previous years.

Adds Tkachyk: "Most of the seals we saw being killed are young pups, just 2-3 weeks old, and most have yet to fully moult their fluffy white coats. Under Canadian law, the pups are fair game as soon as they moult their first white hairs at 12 days old. At this age, the pups are just learning how to swim. It was horrifying to see these little seals trying to stay afloat on small melting ice floes while the hunters were after them."

WSPA is the world's largest federation of humane societies and animal protection organizations, representing more than 660 member societies in more than 140 countries. Through direct field work, campaigning, legislative work, humane education and training programs, WSPA strives to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends. /For further information: EDITOR'S NOTE: A fuller account of Tkachyk's experience can be found on her online blog on the website www.savecanadianseals.ca.

For interviews, information, contact:

Melissa Tkachyk, Campaigns Officer, Canada
416 369 0044 office # 416 712 3468 cell # tkachyk@wspa.ca

Patrick Tohill, Campaigns and Communications Manager, Canada
416 369 0044 office # 416 898 9448 cell # tohill@wspa.ca / IN: ENVIRONMENT, FISHERIES, INTERNATIONAL, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Melissa Tkachyk, Campaigns Officer, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
    Primary Phone: 416-369-0044
    Secondary Phone: 416-712-3468
    Toll-Free: 800-363-9772
    E-mail: tkachyk@wspa.ca