Photos from Russian Seal Death Camp
After Beijing's Cat Death Camps, here come the Seal version in Arkhangelsk, Russia.
Seal hunting is controversial, and there's a lot of propaganda coming from both sides. One says that there's nothing special with it, it's traditional and profitable, no big deal. The other claims it's particularly cruel, citing independent studies that show that almost 80% of sealers don't check if the seal is dead before skinning it, and that half of them get skinned alive. But regardless of where the truth lies, we think most people would minimally agree that the unnecessary suffering of sentient mammals with nervous systems similar to ours is bad, and that people who purchase products made from seals should know what their money buys so they can make an informed choice. Below are more photos from the Russian seal camp.
Here's a bit more info about both sides of the controversy.
This photo below is of a Hakapik, a heavy wooden club that combines a hammer and a hook. It is used to kill seals using the hammer side so as not to damage their skin too much.
Here are arguments from both sides:
According to recent studies done by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), the hakapik, when used properly, kills the animal quickly and painlessly. Several American studies carried out from 1969-1972 in the Pribilof Islands of Alaska came to the same conclusion. The Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada, also known as the Malouf Commission, claims that properly performed clubbing is at least as humane as the methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, and according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), these studies "have consistently proven that the club or hakapik is an efficient tool designed to kill the animal quickly and humanely."
At least as humane as the methods used in commercial slaughterhouses might not always be the best recommendation, but these studies are in favor.
On the other side we have:
A study of the 2001 Canadian seal hunt conducted by five independent veterinarians, commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), concluded that, although the hakapik is a humane means of hunting, many hunters were not using it properly. This improper use, they said, was leading to "considerable and unacceptable suffering," and in 17 percent of the cases they observed, there were no detectable lesions of the skull whatsoever.
The quotes about can be found here, with references to the studies cited.
Realistically, we don't think it's true that Hakapiks are as efficient, painless and precise as the seal hunting industry claims. From slaughterhouse workers, we have endless stories about animals that don't get killed quickly and painlessly, so it doesn't take much extrapolation to conclude that if it's not always possible to be humane in such a tightly controlled environment, it's probably even less possible for a hunter with a stick walking around on the ice.
Let us know what you think in the comments.