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Baby seals continue to be hunted in large numbers, but some are fighting to stop it

(Humane Society International)

WASHINGTON (SBG) — Every year hundreds of baby seals are hunted down and legally killed, but the reason for their untimely death might come as a shock.

While hunting baby seals is illegal in the United States under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is completely legal in Canada.

According to the Humane Society International, the seal pups are mainly killed for their fur, often in inhumane ways, while their carcasses are left behind to rot.

Executive Director for the Humane Society International/Canada, Rebecca Aldworth, told Sinclair Broadcast Group that the typical method used for these kills is shooting or clubbing - and in some cases, a combination of both. Aldworth has witnessed 18 seal hunts off the East Coast of Canada, commonly referred to as Atlantic Canada.

Aldworth added that although it is illegal in Canada to hunt seal pups that are under three weeks old (often referred to as whitecoats), the majority of the seals killed are still under three months.

According to reports received by the Humane Society International, baby seals are often killed in "unacceptable levels of cruelty, including sealers dragging conscious seals across the ice floes with boat hooks, shooting seals and leaving them to suffer in agony, stockpiling dead and dying animals, and cutting open live seals."

Aldworth said there is some good news. The Humane Society International’s effort resulted in a decrease in the number of baby seals killed after the United States and the European Union put an end to the trade of seal products, but advocates want to see seal hunting put to an end altogether with a government implemented sealing industry buyout, Aldworth explained.

"We're saying that society doesn't want this industry anymore because it's inherently cruel, and at the same time, the industry has gone on for a long time, and we want better solutions that will allow the country to move beyond commercial sealing without penalizing the people involved, and we think the buyouts are a really good way to do that,” Aldworth said.

According to Aldworth, a buyout of this sort would be beneficial for seal hunters since many of them are no longer able to make a living off seal hunting due to the recent regulations that decreased seal trading internationally.

Click here to read more on how a government buyout could put an end to seal hunting.