Dear Prime Minister Martin,
Canada is promoting its natural beauty as part of the 'Discover Our True Nature' tourism campaign. So I was shocked to discover your government is also promoting the destruction of one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth ...the baby harp and hooded seal nursery off the Canada's East Coast.
Canada has a sacred trust to protect these animals for future generations. But just last year, the Fisheries Minister authorized the highest quota for harp seals in history - allowing nearly a million to be slaughtered over just three years. And recently, the Canadian government has even considered reopening the hunt for hooded seal pups - as young as five days of age.
I'm writing to you because I want to see this hunt end.
I, like 85% of Canadians, believe seals under one year of age should be protected from any hunting at all. Currently, 95% of the seals killed at the hunt are pups under just three months of age, and the majority are less than a month old. At the time they are slaughtered, most have not yet eaten their first solid food, nor have they learned how to swim. These defenseless baby seals literally have no escape from the hunters, and they suffer terribly as they are clubbed and shot to death.
Evidence from the past eight years shows widespread cruelty at the hunt - including the skinning of live animals. I was horrified to learn of an independent veterinary study conducted in 2001 that concluded up to 42% of the seals they studied had likely been skinned alive while conscious.
It is shameful that this entire hunt is for products no one really needs, and Canadian tax dollars continue to subsidize the slaughter. Because even in Newfoundland, where almost all of the hunting occurs, the economic contribution of the sealing industry is marginal. Less than 1% of Newfoundlanders participate in the hunt, and those who do derive a very small share of their income from the hunt. Doubtlessly, your economic team must be able to come up with a more meaningful way to help stimulate Newfoundland's economy than to subsidize this cruel and unnecessary hunt.
Surely, Mr. Martin, you will take action on behalf of the majority of Canadians to end the largest and most cruel slaughter of harp seals in close to forty years. I urge you to intervene quickly in this matter, and ensure Canada's international reputation is not irreparably harmed by this archaic hunt.