Warming Thins Herd for Canada’s Seal Hunt

Hunters and animal rights activists face off on the ice this week as Canada’s annual seal hunt begins, but a succession of unusually warm winters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence already has drowned thousands of the animals.

Canadian authorities reduced the quotas on the harp seal hunt by about 20 percent after overflights showed large numbers of seal pups were lost to thin and melting ice in the lower part of the gulf, off Prince Edward Island.

“We don’t know if it’s weather or climate. But we have seen a trend in the ice conditions in the last four or five years,” said Phil Jenkins, a spokesman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “The pups can’t swim for very long. They need stable ice. If the ice deteriorates underneath them, they drown.”

Rebecca Aldworth, an activist for the Humane Society of the United States, flew over the area this week. “We should have seen vast ice fields, but we saw only a few floating ice pans,” she said. “We should have seen thousands of seal pups, but we just saw a few.”

More info:  Washington Post article

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