Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler

The New York Times - January 27, 2008

Photo Credit: Gary Kazanjian

A SEA change in the consumption of a resource that Americans take for granted may be in store - something cheap, plentiful, widely enjoyed and a part of daily life. And it isn’t oil. It’s meat.

The two commodities share a great deal: Like oil, meat is subsidized by the federal government. Like oil, meat is subject to accelerating demand as nations become wealthier, and this, in turn, sends prices higher. Finally - like oil - meat is something people are encouraged to consume less of, as the toll exacted by industrial production increases, and becomes increasingly visible.

Global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, encouraged by growing affluence and nourished by the proliferation of huge, confined animal feeding operations. These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests.

Just this week, the president of Brazil announced emergency measures to halt the burning and cutting of the country’s rain forests for crop and grazing land. In the last five months alone, the government says, 1,250 square miles were lost.

The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tons. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over that period. (In the developing world, it rose twice as fast, doubling in the last 20 years.) World meat consumption is expected to double again by 2050, which one expert, Henning Steinfeld of the United Nations, says is resulting in a “relentless growth in livestock production.”

Americans eat about the same amount of meat as we have for some time, about eight ounces a day, roughly twice the global average. At about 5 percent of the world’s population, we “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total.

Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases - more than transportation.

To put the energy-using demand of meat production into easy-to-understand terms, Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at the Bard Center, and Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan - a Camry, say - to the ultra-efficient Prius. Similarly, a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

Grain, meat and even energy are roped together in a way that could have dire results. More meat means a corresponding increase in demand for feed, especially corn and soy, which some experts say will contribute to higher prices.

This will be inconvenient for citizens of wealthier nations, but it could have tragic consequences for those of poorer ones, especially if higher prices for feed divert production away from food crops. The demand for ethanol is already pushing up prices, and explains, in part, the 40 percent rise last year in the food price index calculated by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization.

Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.

The environmental impact of growing so much grain for animal feed is profound. Agriculture in the United States - much of which now serves the demand for meat - contributes to nearly three-quarters of all water-quality problems in the nation’s rivers and streams, according to the Enviromental Protection Agency.

Because the stomachs of cattle are meant to digest grass, not grain, cattle raised industrially thrive only in the sense that they gain weight quickly. This diet made it possible to remove cattle from their natural environment and encourage the efficiency of mass confinement and slaughter. But it causes enough health problems that administration of antibiotics is routine, so much so that it can result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten the usefulness of medicines that treat people.

Those grain-fed animals, in turn, are contributing to health problems among the world’s wealthier citizens - heart disease, some types of cancer, diabetes. The argument that meat provides useful protein makes sense, if the quantities are small.

But the “you gotta eat meat” claim collapses at American levels. Even if the amount of meat we eat weren’t harmful, it’s way more than enough.

Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago. We each consume something like 110 grams of protein a day, about twice the federal government’s recommended allowance; of that, about 75 grams come from animal protein. (The recommended level is itself considered by many dietary experts to be higher than it needs to be.) It’s likely that most of us would do just fine on around 30 grams of protein a day, virtually all of it from plant sources.

What can be done? There’s no simple answer. Better waste management, for one. Eliminating subsidies would also help; the United Nations estimates that they account for 31 percent of global farm income. Improved farming practices would help, too. Mark W. Rosegrant, director of environment and production technology at the nonprofit International Food Policy Research Institute, says, “There should be investment in livestock breeding and management, to reduce the footprint needed to produce any given level of meat.”

Then there’s technology. Israel and Korea are among the countries experimenting with using animal waste to generate electricity. Some of the biggest hog operations in the United States are working, with some success, to turn manure into fuel.

Longer term, it no longer seems lunacy to believe in the possibility of “meat without feet” - meat produced in vitro, by growing animal cells in a super-rich nutrient environment before being further manipulated into burgers and steaks.

Another suggestion is a return to grazing beef, a very real alternative as long as you accept the psychologically difficult and politically unpopular notion of eating less of it. That’s because grazing could never produce as many cattle as feedlots do. Still, said Michael Pollan, author of the recent book “In Defense of Food,” “In places where you can’t grow grain, fattening cows on grass is always going to make more sense.”

But pigs and chickens, which convert grain to meat far more efficiently than beef, are increasingly the meats of choice for producers, accounting for 70 percent of total meat production, with industrialized systems producing half that pork and three-quarters of the chicken.

Once, these animals were raised locally (even many New Yorkers remember the pigs of Secaucus), reducing transportation costs and allowing their manure to be spread on nearby fields. Now hog production facilities that resemble prisons more than farms are hundreds of miles from major population centers, and their manure “lagoons” pollute streams and groundwater. (In Iowa alone, hog factories and farms produce more than 50 million tons of excrement annually.)

These problems originated here, but are no longer limited to the United States. While the domestic demand for meat has leveled off, the industrial production of livestock is growing more than twice as fast as land-based methods, according to the United Nations.

Perhaps the best hope for change lies in consumers’ becoming aware of the true costs of industrial meat production. “When you look at environmental problems in the U.S.,” says Professor Eshel, “nearly all of them have their source in food production and in particular meat production. And factory farming is ‘optimal’ only as long as degrading waterways is free. If dumping this stuff becomes costly - even if it simply carries a non-zero price tag - the entire structure of food production will change dramatically.”

Animal welfare may not yet be a major concern, but as the horrors of raising meat in confinement become known, more animal lovers may start to react. And would the world not be a better place were some of the grain we use to grow meat directed instead to feed our fellow human beings?

Real prices of beef, pork and poultry have held steady, perhaps even decreased, for 40 years or more (in part because of grain subsidies), though we’re beginning to see them increase now. But many experts, including Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University, say they don’t believe meat prices will rise high enough to affect demand in the United States.

“I just don’t think we can count on market prices to reduce our meat consumption,” he said. “There may be a temporary spike in food prices, but it will almost certainly be reversed and then some. But if all the burden is put on eaters, that’s not a tragic state of affairs.”

If price spikes don’t change eating habits, perhaps the combination of deforestation, pollution, climate change, starvation, heart disease and animal cruelty will gradually encourage the simple daily act of eating more plants and fewer animals.

Mr. Rosegrant of the food policy research institute says he foresees “a stronger public relations campaign in the reduction of meat consumption - one like that around cigarettes - emphasizing personal health, compassion for animals, and doing good for the poor and the planet.”

It wouldn’t surprise Professor Eshel if all of this had a real impact. “The good of people’s bodies and the good of the planet are more or less perfectly aligned,” he said.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, in its detailed 2006 study of the impact of meat consumption on the planet, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” made a similar point: “There are reasons for optimism that the conflicting demands for animal products and environmental services can be reconciled. Both demands are exerted by the same group of people ... the relatively affluent, middle- to high-income class, which is no longer confined to industrialized countries. ... This group of consumers is probably ready to use its growing voice to exert pressure for change and may be willing to absorb the inevitable price increases.”

In fact, Americans are already buying more environmentally friendly products, choosing more sustainably produced meat, eggs and dairy. The number of farmers’ markets has more than doubled in the last 10 years or so, and it has escaped no one’s notice that the organic food market is growing fast. These all represent products that are more expensive but of higher quality.

If those trends continue, meat may become a treat rather than a routine. It won’t be uncommon, but just as surely as the S.U.V. will yield to the hybrid, the half-pound-a-day meat era will end.

Maybe that’s not such a big deal. “Who said people had to eat meat three times a day?” asked Mr. Pollan.

Mark Bittman, who writes the Minimalist column in the Dining In and Dining Out sections, is the author of “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian,” which was published last year. He is not a vegetarian.

Free Veg Starter Kit

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Whale dies at Marineland

The Niagara Falls Review – Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Marineland had lost its matriarch killer whale.

Nootka died Jan 8.

She had been at the popular tourist attraction for more than 27 years.

“We were heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken,” said Marineland spokeswoman Ann Marie Rondinelli.

“We don’t like to play favourites but she was definitely loved by everybody,” she said.

The female killer whale was believed to be around 40 years old and had given birth to a number of calves over the years.

Marineland is now awaiting the results of a necropsy.

Nootka, named after the Native American tribe that lived in parts of British Columbia and Washington, was captured in Iceland in the fall of 1979.

How You Can Help

Nootka is the latest victim in a long line of whale fatalities at Marineland. She was actually born around 1976, which made her approximately 32 when she died.

Female orcas are believed to live well into their eighties in the wild. However, the average age of a captive orca is only 12 years.

It is estimated that over 40 whales and dolphins have died at the Niagara Falls amusement park with approximately 25 of them dying in the last 10 years.

It is possible that Marineland will try to acquire another female orca for its captive breeding program. This would cause even more whales to be exploited and ultimately die in a completely unnatural and artificial environment.

NCARA believes it is cruel to capture and keep such highly social and intelligent animals in captivity for human entertainment. These animals belong in the world's oceans and deserve the right to experience life as nature intended - wild and free.

Please write to your local newspaper and express your concerns about Nootka's death and the captivity of whales and dolphins.

You can contact The Niagara Falls Review at:

and The Standard at:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Frozen-chicken fling in the name of charity

The St. Catharines Standard - Thursday, January 17, 2008

By Standard Staff

A bird-brained fundraiser in Port Dalhousie will go ahead as planned in two weeks, but the venue remains up in the air. Weather will determine whether the eighth annual Chicken Chuckin' Championships on Sunday, Jan. 27, are held on the ice of Martindale Pond or at nearby Lakeside Park.

The pond, off Rennie Park, is the preferred location of organizers, provided it's cold enough to be frozen. If ice conditions are poor, the event will be moved to Lakeside Park, as it was last winter.

The event, sponsored by the Kilt and Clover pub, challenges participants to chuck frozen chickens along the ice for points in the style of curling or shuffleboard.

Money raised by the event will be donated to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Kinsmen Club's cystic fibrosis campaign. Food donations are also being collected for Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold's food bank.

Last year's competition raised $1,010 for Community Care.

The entry fee is $20 per team of four.

Participants and spectators are also encouraged to bring donations of non-perishable food items.

Teams are urged to register before Jan. 27. The competition is scheduled to begin at noon, but participants are requested to report to the Kilt and Clover, on Lock Street, at 10 a.m.

More information is available by calling David Prentice or Paul Smith at the Kilt and Clover at 905-646-8917.

How You Can Help

Send a letter to The Standard expressing your concerns over using the dead remains of animals as shuffleboard or curling pieces. You can email your letter to:

mail it to:

The St. Catharines Standard
17 Queen St.
St. Catharines
L2R 5G5

or fax it to:

(905) 684-6032

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Seal industry faces 'crisis' because of import bans

The Canadian Press - Wednesday, January 9, 2008


ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Canada's centuries-old commercial sealing industry faces a "crisis" because of growing opposition throughout Europe that threatens to close vital markets, the head of the Fur Institute of Canada said Tuesday.

In a stark address to a gathering of about 100 sealers, Bruce Williams, chairman of the organization, said the future of the seal harvest is bleak if support for bans on the import of seal products continues to build in Europe.

"Unfortunately, the animal rights organizations around the world have come to realize that the easiest way to kill something - for maybe lack of a better term - is to kill the market," Williams said.

"If you can't sell the product, if it has no commercial value, then I would say that it is doomed."

Belgium and Holland have approved legislation prohibiting the sale of seal products. Germany, Italy and Austria are drafting similar legislation, prompting pressure for the European Union to adopt a ban.

While those countries aren't Canada's biggest importers of seal products, they serve as a critical shipment and manufacturing point to the larger markets of Norway, Russia and China.

Williams said there's an additional effect an EU-wide ban could have on the sealing industry.

"One thing I can tell you is that if fur is not fashionable on the runways of Paris and Milan, it's not going to be fashionable anywhere," Williams said.

"The simple reality today is the big markets are China and Russia, but they want things that are in style, and style is not dictated by those countries. It's dictated by the countries in Europe."

Even Loyola Sullivan, Canada's fisheries ambassador, acknowledged Tuesday that efforts to overcome the anti-sealing lobby in Europe would be tough.

"It's difficult because it's advanced so far," Sullivan said.

"It's got a tremendous foothold in Europe, and most people close to the situation feel that a ban by other countries is imminent, that it's gone too far. It would be unpopular now for a member of parliament in a European country to support the hunt."

In September, Canada launched a challenge to the World Trade Organization in an effort to persuade the Belgian and Dutch governments to reverse their bans, arguing their policies were rooted in misinformation spread in large part by animal rights groups. Ottawa's complaint remains before the WTO.

Mark Small, a former president of the Canadian Sealing Association and longtime sealer, said even though Canada's hunt is the most sustainable in the world, his fellow hunters may have to accept some changes in their practices, such as different measures to cull the seals.

"I'm definitely sure that, as a sealer myself, we can do a better job than we've been doing in the past," Small said. "We've got to make some compromises if we're going to protect our future industry in this province."

How You Can Help

The European Union is looking for feedback from the general public on issues relating to the animal welfare aspects of killing of seals and the importing of seal products to Europe. Your opinions will help the EU in making new policies.

To participate in the survey, please go to:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Animal cruelty law a joke

The Edmonton Sun - January 9, 2008


Aside from horrifying Canadians, the shocking case of the pet cat microwaved to death in an alleged Camrose burglary has once again exposed to the world our shameful animal cruelty laws.

The legislation hasn't changed in more than a century, since the Criminal Code was introduced in 1892. And despite valiant attempts by people like Ontario Liberal MP Mark Holland, whose private member's bill would reform the law, there are those who are content with half measures.

Consider the piece of futility that's Liberal Senator John Bryden's private member's bill. It would increase the penalties for animal abuse but would otherwise leave the antiquated 1892 legislation alone.

Bryden's bill would up the penalty for cruelty to animals to a maximum of five years in jail and unlimited fines for people convicted of indictable offences and a maximum of 18 months in jail and a $10,000 fine for summary, or less serious crimes.

But simply tacking harsher penalties on 19th-century legislation dotted with loopholes that hamper prosecutions does little to protect abused animals and underscores the absurdities of politics.

Over the course of a decade, the Liberals introduced various versions of an animal cruelty law but they all bit the dust because of election calls, prorogation of Parliament and political fence-sitting.

"Canada is so far behind other developed countries, you can't believe it," says Shelagh MacDonald, program director of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS).

"If you look at what other countries are doing with their animal cruelty legislation, (ours) is a joke."

The CFHS supports Holland's bill, which was generally supported by animal protection organizations and animal use groups when it was first introduced several years ago, says MacDonald.

Holland's proposed legislation, Bill C-373, would make it illegal to kill any animal without a lawful excuse. Only owned animals - not wildlife - are protected under current federal law. The bill would also increase penalties.

But Bryden's pathetic political baby, Bill S-203, is further along in the parliamentary process and is unfortunately supported by the Tories.

"We're very worried at this point. It will be an extremely sad day if S-203 passes," says MacDonald.

She adds it's ironic that Stephen Harper, whose family fosters cats, isn't behind Holland's bill. "He's fostering cats that most likely came from stray animals and yet he's supporting a bill that won't offer any protection to those stray animals."

The present century-old law makes it extremely difficult to prosecute crimes of neglect because it requires proof of intent, says MacDonald.

There have been numerous cases where dozens of animals have been starved to death over a long period of time and judges ruled that the farmers didn't intend to starve them, she points out.

Debate over the issue has reached absurd levels. In a position paper last year, for instance, the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association said Holland's bill would have a "chilling" effect on anglers and hunters. It even suggested that a grandfather taking his grandchildren fishing could face criminal prosecution.

What nonsense. Under Holland's bill, people would only be prosecuted for killing animals without a lawful excuse. His bill clearly protects legitimate animal use activities like angling, hunting, farming and scientific research.

If Parliament passes Bryden's half measure of a bill, defenceless animals lose out.

Think about that the next time someone tortures a cat.

For more information on Bill C-373, please visit:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Teens cook cat to death

The Edmonton Sun - January 5, 2008


Four teens who recently broke into a Camrose home put a cat in a microwave and cooked it to death, Camrose police said yesterday.

The horrific animal torture has sent shockwaves through the city southeast of Edmonton and incensed animal rights activists.

"In over 25 years of policing, I've never come across anything like this before," said Camrose police Insp. Lee Foreman. "It's disgusting and it's very upsetting for all the families involved."

Foreman said one 13-year-old and three 15-year-olds twice broke into a Camrose home in Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, while the owners were vacationing out-of-town.

None of the teens lives at the residence or is related to the owners, Foreman said. No other animals are believed to have been in the house.

Police allege that on the night of Dec. 30 the group entered the home, put an adult cat in the microwave and nuked it to death.

The cat was later found by a family friend who was taking care of the house in the absence of the owners.

"I cannot recall ever having seen something as disturbing as this before either," said Dr. Dick Bibby, the Camrose veterinarian who performed the grisly post-mortem examination on the cooked cat.

He could not discuss his findings due to doctor-client privilege, but suggested the cat's owners are understandably distraught.

Told of the torture by Sun Media yesterday, officials at the Edmonton Humane Society were also sickened.

"It's horrific to imagine someone could do this. Teenagers know this is twisted and wrong, and there is no excuse for such a blatant disregard for a helpless animal's life," said society spokesman Diane Shannon.

In Didsbury, where a dog named Daisy Duke was viciously beaten and dragged from the rear of a vehicle until it was near death and eventually euthanized in 2006, another animal activist said parents need to pay closer attention to their kids.

"I don't understand how parents keep missing the signals of this kind of deviant behaviour. It should be mandatory that all of these kids are psychiatrically assessed to find out just how dangerous they really are, and the police should be looking into what kind of household they are coming from," said Tamara Chaney.

Chaney started a 112,000-signature petition seeking tougher penalties for animal abusers following the Didsbury incident.

A teen who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in the Daisy Duke case received a conditional sentence.

Daniel Charles Haskett, 19, has also admitted taking part in the dog's torture and will be sentenced in April.

Police say each of the teens allegedly involved in the microwaving face a litany of charges, including unlawfully killing an animal, causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, breaking and entering, theft and possession of stolen property.

They are to appear in Camrose youth court at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 7.

People Who Are Violent to Animals ... Rarely Stop There

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Canada's Seal Slaughter

“A sealer near us quickly clubbed every seal within a small radius to immobilize each of the pups, and then dragged the bodies to the center of his circle. One by one he flipped a seal on its back and skinned it. If the seal flipped around or fought against the skinning he'd flip it back to its stomach, club it several more times and then finish the skinning.” - IFAW Hunt Monitor

Canada's commercial seal hunt is a hunt like no other. It is a cruel and unethical practice that produces a product nobody needs. In fact, 98% of the animals killed in the past two years have been seal pups aged about 2 weeks to 3 months. This unmanageable hunt takes place over a vast area, making it impossible to carry out humanely.

Some seals are killed with a blow to the head using a wooden club or hakapik. The sealers stun as many baby seals as they can before going back to kill them. Some seals try to get away, but they are clumsy on the ice, heaving their fat little bodies with an uncoordinated flipper shuffle. Other seals are shot from a distance and then dragged from the ice onto boats using steel hooks.

Two recent independent veterinary reports on the Canadian seal hunt, as well as IFAW video footage, have documented unacceptable levels of cruelty to baby seals. This hunt is a highly competitive activity, carried out over an extensive area, and under very unpredictable conditions. Haste is the rule, as hunters rush to immobilize as many baby seals as possible in the short time available to them.

Seals are routinely clubbed or shot and left to suffer on the ice, before being clubbed again some time thereafter. Some seals are still skinned before being rendered fully unconscious and few sealers are observed checking for a blinking reflex to confirm brain death prior to skinning an animal. As one of the veterinary reports concluded: "Canada's commercial seal hunt results in considerable and unacceptable suffering.”

The Canadian government often misleads the public by comparing the commercial seal hunt to the killing of farm animals in the food industry. Unlike abattoirs, the seal hunt is an unpredictable, unmanageable hunt for wild animals, which takes place under hurried conditions. It is precisely these conditions that have led some experts to conclude that this hunt can never satisfy the requirements of a humane hunt.

Removing so many animals from any one population places the species at an unnecessary and significant risk. Over the last few years, the Canadian government has raised the annual seal hunt quotas to the highest levels in history, killing almost a million seals in just a three year period. The Total Allowable Catch quota for seals was 85,000 animals higher in 2006 than the “sustainable yield” estimated by Canadian government scientists.

The history of wildlife conservation shows that when large mammals like seals have a price placed on their heads – or hides – the end result is almost always overexploitation. To ensure that wild populations are not put at risk by human activity, a precautionary approach is needed. Yet the DFO management plan does not adequately account for either scientific or environmental uncertainty.

A recent scientific study released by IFAW also shows that in nine of the past eleven years, average ice coverage has fallen to well below levels seen over the last 37 years. This lack of stable ice is negatively impacting the harp seal population, which requires sea ice for pupping and nursing its young.

The Canadian government has indicated that it is dedicated to taking ‘real action’ on global warming. Why do they not start by ending the unsustainable and unnecessary hunt for harp seals?

Here are the top three myths told by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) about the commercial seal hunt:

Myth #1: The seal hunt is humane.

All available evidence, including veterinary reports and independent observations, indicates that each year tens of thousands of seal pups die in an unacceptably cruel manner inconsistent with contemporary animal welfare standards.

Year after year, observers report abuses such as the hooking and dragging of live seals across the ice, seals clubbed or shot and left to suffer on the ice, and seals skinned while conscious. And while all recent veterinary reports recommend reducing the suffering of seals, their recommendations have not been fully implemented.

There is no doubt that Canada’s commercial seal hunt continues to result in considerable and unacceptable suffering.

Myth #2: The seal hunt is sustainable.

Seal catch quotas set by the Canadian government are much higher than government scientists’ estimates of what is sustainable, and these quotas are allowed to be exceeded. A recent study by IFAW scientists found that the current management approach risks depleting the harp seal herd by as much as 70% in the next 15 years.

The DFO often states that the harp seal population has tripled since the 1970s. However, this ignores the fact that between 1950 and 1970 the harp seal population was reduced by as much as two-thirds from seal hunting. Since 1995, harp seals have been killed at levels similar to those that caused a dangerous decline in the past, and the DFO now admits that the population has decreased.

Climate change is also presenting a new threat to the harp seal population by negatively impacting their breeding habitat. Increasingly, poor ice conditions off the east coast of Canada are causing higher than normal seal pup mortality. For example, government scientists estimate that in 2002, 75% of the seal pups in the Gulf of St. Lawrence died due to a lack of ice before the hunt even began. Yet the government continues to set total allowable catches for harp seals above sustainable levels, putting the population at increased risk.

Myth #3: The seal hunt is closely monitored and well managed.

The seal hunt involves thousands of sealers competing for a limited number of seals during a short period of time. Sealers are concerned with clubbing or shooting as many animals as quickly as possible instead of checking to see if a seal is dead before moving on to club or shoot the next one.

Year after year, IFAW hunt observers encounter seals that have been clubbed and left to suffer on the ice, bleeding profusely, crying, breathing and attempting to crawl. These are not “reflexes” as the DFO claims, which are easily recognized and familiar to experience seal hunt observers.

During 2006, the DFO claimed to have had 12 monitors for the Gulf hunt, the largest enforcement effort ever. Yet sealers in one region were allowed to take three times their quota without any consequences. In fact the Total Allowable Catch has been exceeded in four of the past five years.

For more information, please go to:

How You Can Help

1) Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to let the public know how you feel about the Canadian seal slaughter.

2) Urge the Prime Minister to to end this barbaric and unnecessary hunt as soon as possible.

You can send your letter to:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street.
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2

Fax: (613) 941- 6900

The Humane Society of the United States