Seal slaughter

Canada’s bloody seal hunt is a brutality that should be phased out, not encouraged. Although the Canadian government no longer subsidises the trade, it did raise quotas by about 75,000 last year, allowing the taking of 975,000 harp seals between 2003 and 2005. The reason is purely economic. There’s a market for the fur in Europe and Asia and hunters in impoverished Newfoundland villages need money to survive. No one would casually put hunters and their families in tougher straits, but there has to be a better way to make a living than by decimating herds of helpless animals. The government should also name a date certain when the slaughter on the ice will end, giving hunters time to make the shift to new work while assuring concerned citizens around the world that an archaic and inhumane custom will no longer continue.

Not doing so leaves Canada in the hypocritical position of having stopped the killing of white-coated unweaned harp seal pups age 12 days or younger but still permitting the taking of weaned animals once they have shed the baby fur and turned silver-haired. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has renewed efforts to stop it again and to alert the public that what many people considered history had just changed colours and markets. It’s long past time to close that pointless abattoir. — The Boston Globe