The 2010 Winter Olympics will soon be underway in Canada. The world will be watching, inspired and awed by the efforts of driven individuals and teams competing with grace and poise. Great feats of strength will be applauded and rewarded. With the recent devastation in Haiti, we can also expect many special dedications and memorials that will humble and unite the world audience (perhaps as we should already be).
Away from the gathered Olympic crowds, in the quiet Boreal Forest and Tundra there will be no cries of victory, no cheering crowds or medals to win. There will be only the bone-chilling wails of harp seals as they're brutally slaughtered for their fur.
Every year, tens of thousands of seals are hunted down and cruelly bludgeoned or shot to death because there is still a commercial demand for their fur. Many of the seal victims are still infants, barely able to defend themselves. Helpless mothers look on as their children are drawn across the ice with steel hooks in their eyes or mouths before their heads are bashed into unrecognizable pulps.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) alleges they've caught over 660 probable violations during the annual seal hunt, but the Canadian government has taken no official action. IFAW estimates that 79% of sealers do not check to see if the seals were still alive before beginning the skinning process, that in 40% of kills, the sealer administered a second strike as the first attempt did not kill the animal and, in 42% of seal bodies examined there were minimal or no fractures, which is often associated with a higher probability of the animal being conscious during the skinning process.
The fur industry has long avoided the discussion on how animals killed for their fur are (mis)treated. Well known fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld has been quoted as saying that the "beasts would kill us if given the chance." Despite the devastating reality these animals suffer, out-of-sight-out-of-mind reigns king in the forest of decadence. Even as the world watches the horrors in Haiti, compassion continues to be self-limiting.
In 2010 approximately 75,000 seals will be killed in the Canadian seal slaughter.