This Saturday 14th November, Huntwatch premieres in New York, documenting our founder Brian Davies’ epic fight against the Canadian seal cull. Narrated by Ryan Reynolds and produced by IFAW, the film takes a graphic and inspiring look at the decades long battle for seals, featuring enlightening first hand stories from Brian, and many of the activists who today tread his footsteps.
Huntwatch highlights incredible success in 1987, when Brian Davies’ team finally provoked a ban on the killing of Whitecoats. Whitecoats are new-born seals pups, named and recognized by their fluffy, white coats. That victory saved more than 2.5 million seals, and is one of the greatest achievements ever known in animal welfare.
Heartbreakingly, the Canadian government still allowed allow hunters to kill seals older than eleven days. Around this point, the pup’s beautiful white fur begins to moult, weaning begins, and the baby’s nickname transitions from ‘whitecoat’ to ‘raggedy jacket’ to ‘beater’. Alone on the ice, weaned from their mothers, these abandoned baby seals are an easy target for hunters.
Seal pups are killed violently; clubbed with primitive weapons such as hakapiks (poles with a metal spoke on the end) and wooden bats. These torturous methods leave many seals injured, but not dead. Wounded babies try to escape but become lost under the ice, left to die or drown in agony. Some are shot with long distance rifles, left to bleed to death on the unstable ice. Some are skinned alive.
The Situation Today
One might expect this brutal cull to be historical or out-dated. Yet, this year, Canada’s Fisheries Minister Gail Shea set the seal hunt quota to 468,000 animals. This included 400,000 harp seals, 60,000 grey seals and 8,200 hooded seals.
Seals are mostly hunted mainly for their skin. Because the skins of young seals are the most valuable, nearly all (98%) of the seals killed are less than three months of age.
However, demand for seal products is decreasing. Earlier this year the European Union banned products resulting from the Canadian seal killings. The EU now joins more than 35 countries that reject imports of seal furs and other Canadian seal cull products. Network for Animals applauds the European Union for this revolutionary decision.
With demand for seal products decreasing, Network for Animals believes that now is the time to end the barbaric seal cull one and for all. While we empathize with sealers who have worked and earned money through culling, the suffering and deaths of millions of animals cannot be justified in this way. We believe alternative sources of employment need to be sought and provided, and ask the Canadian government to do all that is possible to assist this shift in focus.
Now is the time for change, and as Huntwatch brings a renewed attention to the Canadian seal cull, and a new Canadian Prime Minister steps in, we encourage you to take action.
Since being appointed earlier this month Justin Trudeau has brought diversity and gender equality to his cabinet. We celebrate Mr Trudeau’s modern approach to politics and believe he can be the leader we have been waiting for, to turn the tide for Canada’s beautiful seals once-and-for-all.
Update: Brian Davies Joins Panel at Premiere
Pictured below L>R answering questions on the fight for seals at the New York premiere of huntwatch: Kerry Branon, Brian Davies, AJ Cady, Sheryl Fink, Rich Moos, Brant Backlund. Worldwide release will take place early next year.
Gloria & Brian Davies at the Huntwatch premiere in NYC, Nov 2015.