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From 17 August 2003 Issue

Animal Protection Organizations Worldwide Unite To
Stop Slaughter of Canadian Seals

WASHINGTON (August 15, 2003) – Animal protection and environmental conservation groups from around the world - led by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) - today joined in unified worldwide opposition to the Canadian commercial seal hunt.

As one of its first actions, the international coalition of animal protection groups signed a full-page advertisement in today’s New York Times asking readers to contact the Canadian government and voice their opposition to the seal slaughter. Over the next three years, The HSUS and its supporters will attempt to raise $3 million or more to finance additional advertising to galvanize public opinion and end the seal hunt. Canada has announced it will allow the legal slaughter of almost 1,000,000 seals, most aged 12 days to 12 weeks over the next three years.

In addition to The HSUS, the groups include, the Animal Protection Institute (API), the Bellerive Foundation, the Born Free Foundation, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the International Wildlife Coalition (IWC), The Fund for Animals, Respect for Animals, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and three branches of Humane Society International. Collectively the groups represent tens of millions of members and constituents worldwide.

“This unites the global animal welfare community in the strongest possible opposition to the needless and inhumane killing of Canadian seals,” said John W. Grandy, Ph.D., HSUS senior vice president for wildlife and habitat protection. “We intend to use the power of our collective voice to expose the Canadian government’s callous disregard for the lives of these innocent creatures. The slaughter must end.”

The HSUS launched the new “Protect Seals: Do Something” campaign in June following a decision by the Canadian government to increase the annual seal killing quote to 350,000 seals. The campaign includes a major advertising blitz, a letter and e-mail writing effort targeted at the Canadian government to express opposition to the seal hunt, and a web site, www.protectseals.org, to educate consumers on the seal hunt and facilitate campaign activities.

According To Rebecca Aldworth of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), first hand observer of the hunt this past spring, “It is an unbelievably cruel massacre. An independent veterinary panel, including two participants from the United States, concluded that up to 42 percent of the seals they studied at the 2001 seal hunt were likely skinned alive. In addition, a significant number of seals are shot in open water and escape to die slowly under the ice, and these seals are not recovered or counted in official kill statistics – not a pretty picture.”

And, these are young seals. The Canadian government’s own statistics show that 95% of the animals killed in Canada’s seal hunt are “babies” aged less than three months. “What happens on the ice is nothing short of shocking,” said Dan Morast of the International Wildlife Coalition. “This is the largest hunt of marine mammals anywhere in the world and it simply cannot be justified or defended.”

Even more disturbing is the fact that the Canadian government provides millions of dollars of subsidies to the sealing industry. “In fact, there is little about the sealing industry that is self-sustaining,” said David Phillips, executive director of Earth Island Institute’s Marine Mammal Project. “Subsidizing an industry that only operates for a few weeks a year and creates only the equivalent of 100-150 full-time jobs is simply a bad investment on the part of the Canadian government and, frankly does a tremendous disservice to the sealers. Canada owes them a better future.”

“This travesty is of major concern to all of us who seek a better world for animals,” said Michael Kennedy, director, Humane Society International – Australia.” Most of the world believed this hunt was a thing of the past and when Canada announced last spring that it would kill over one million seals over the next three years, the world community of animal protection organizations was stunned.”

“For a country of Canada’s stature and reputation to be associated with this cruelty is truly monumental. Does Canada really expect people to vacation there if this hunt continues?” asked Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals.

The HSUS is the nation's largest animal protection organization with over seven million members and constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife, animals in research and farm animals and sustainable agriculture. For nearly 50 years, The HSUS has worked to protect all animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education, advocacy and field work. The non-profit organization is based in Washington, DC and has 10 regional offices across the country. For more information, visit The HSUS’ Web site – www.hsus.org. Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States. It is represented by three principal affiliates: Humane Society International- Australia, Humane Society International-Asia, and Humane Society International-U.K.

Contact information for groups signing the ad is located at
www.hsus.org/19483.
A copy of the ad is available at:
http://files.hsus.org/web-files/PDF/seals_nyt_ad.pdf.

For More Information Contact: Belinda Mager (301) 258-3071 or
Nick Braden (301) 258-3072

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