Addicted to novelty since 2001

Why Do They Club Seals?

Earlier this month, somebody said I was from “a nation of seal clubbers”. That’s a fair comment, ’cause they sure club up a storm on the East Coast. It got me thinking, though. Why aren’t we “a nation of seal killers”? Why do they club seals?

I’m lazy, but the folks at Slate aren’t. One of their Explainer podcasts this week addressed this very question.

It’s safe and easy, and it preserves the seal’s valuable pelt. Federal laws in Canada give a sealer three ways to hunt his prey. He can shoot a seal with a rifle or shotgun–provided it’s above a minimum calibre or gauge; he can break its head with a blunt club (like a baseball bat) that must be at least 2 feet long; or he can smash in its brains with something called a hakapik–a 4- or 5-foot wooden pole with a bent, metal spike affixed to the end.

They go on to explain that it’s quite tricky to shoot a seal from a boat that’s bobbing up and down (the seal may be bobbing as well). Plus, should you not kill it with the first shot, the seal’s liable to jump into the water, and there goes your $70 (that’s it?) pelt. So, clubbing’s the preferable method.

We were discussing this subject at a party last night, and my friend said he’d heard that it costs more to police the seal hunt than the hunt generates in revenue. I searched around, trying to verify that fact, and only came up with this article. It’s from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, but cites an independent study (PDF). Unfortunately, it uses old data discussing subsidies which were phased out in 2000.

One point which is relevant is that the hunt only accounts for the equivalent of 100 to 150 full time jobs. We’re not talking about logging in BC or the cod fisheries here–this is a highly niche activity.

So, in summary, here are the facts I’ve gathered:

  • On average, clubbing a seal is probably more humane than shooting it.
  • While it’s clearly an animal rights issue, there’s no environmental case for opposing the hunt. This year the seal quota is less than 2% of the entire population, which has exploded in recent years.
  • As an industry, it’s small potatoes.

Regardless of how you feel about whacking seals, it seems obvious to me that the international perception of Canada’s seal hunt isn’t worth the few million dollars it may generate in GDP. Plenty of other resource workers across the country have had to retrain–can’t we do the same with a few hundred seal hunters?

96 Responses to “Why Do They Club Seals?”

  1. Haley VanSickle

    Excuse me, but your absolutely wrong about ‘clubbing being better than using a gun.’ Everything you say can be used against you. Seals aren’t freakin’ cheetahs. They can’t dash away. You, sir, are completely wrong and evil.

  2. JK

    I am about as pro-hunting as anyone, and I myself am a accomplished marksman, fisherman, etc. I also believe in allowing a culture to maintain respectable traditions, including but not limited to Japan’s current commercial whaling. However, having said all that, I am against the clubbing of seals. I see no respect in beating an animal, and especially not for pelt preservation this day-and-age. I am not as appalled by the seal clubbing, as I am shark finning, but still, if you’re going to kill an animal, you do so in as quick and painless a manner as possible, and you make certain to not waste any of God’s given resource either. As for the anti-gun excuses, you forget about bangsticks, which are just as effective as guns; but given their close proximity requirement, such a device negates the chances of glancing blows or maimings.

  3. Derek K. Miller

    Amazing this post still generates comments (and flame wars) well over four years after Darren published it.

  4. Dennis

    i am pro gun, i shoot competitively, you might have seen me on tv. seal clubbing is wrong. if we kill them all, who will fight secretly for our government in Iran and Afghanistan!?? :D

  5. Justin

    Lol, Wow this articles like almost 5 years old years old and its still popular.
    I was playing a game called Overlord 2 and they have you kill baby seals for Lifeforce, anyway, it shows you a Baby seal eating a fish and one of your evil minions says “Poor Little Fishy! Kill the Fluffy ones for the cute Fishy’s!” lol

    Anyway, I live in southern California and Ive seen seals, they’re loud, Smell awful, and pollute the harbors they live in when the population is high, luckily most of em die off from it and also Great white sharks are quite fond of em. Actually, Seeing a great white Shark leap out of the water to eat a swimming Seal is pretty awesome to watch.
    I’d totally love to go seal clubbing, just for the fun of it, also Ive always wondered what Seal meat would taste like.
    Deer Meat isnt that bad by the way. Deer jerky is kinda bland though.
    Theres nothing like Eating something you’ve killed your self.
    Also, I bet they club seals cause their isnt enough Killer wales to eat the seals, and im pretty sure Great white sharks don’t go that far north due to it being too cold for them.
    And the whole seals eating cod is kinda bullshit imo, The fishery’s just don’t want the seals eating up their Cod supply. Yeah seal fur isnt a big commodity, but the Cod is, and if the seals eat all the cod. I cant get my fish sticks :(, Or even worse, I have to pay more for my fish N chips :O
    People that are against something are usually stupid uneducated fools about the world, kinda like how Hippys were, they talked about changing the world but all they did was get high and sit around the house eating everything in sight and getting thrown in jail.

    ON a side note How many of you would be equally outraged if you saw an article(with graphic pictures of course, cause we all know the masses cant rage if their isn’t a horribly graphic picture next to some letters and numbers) about how farmers raise cows, sheep, & pigs in filthy barn areas( no idea whats its actually called lol) then as the animal has its throat slit and is hung upside down on large metal hooks, till it bleeds to death, at lest a Club to the skull breaks its brains in, and any movement(I call the death twitch) you see afterward is just a jumbled signal coming from a non working brain. as most educated people know, muscle movement happens when electronic signals sent from the brain reach the muscles. Cows however are just killed like seals, Clubbed in the head with a sledge hammer, but now i hear they give cows an injection of Air into their brain? to kill them, not sure if i read that articale right, but wow im sure that would hurt an ass ton more then getting your skull smashed in and causing your brain to cease all function.

    Also did you know Korean are dog-eaters, the Italian are butterfly-shooters, the Spanish are goat-headyankers even the French, who, as we all know, eat our children’s ponies.
    Also I Loled at all the Peta Videos about seal clubbing.

  6. Justin c.f

    what kind of sick bastard could hit a baby seal with a club not even satin could club a fuzzy seal

  7. ry

    ^ dude…seals are not fucking cute they just cause their fuzzy? WOW horses are fuzzy(kinda)and us(in 2012)are passing a law to kill horses for meat…dont fucking call me a canadian cause im an american activist…anti american government activist.fuck america i may go t canida but canadian dude saying your food isent poisened is wrong all food almost every where is poisen and to you peta retards FUCK YOU you fucking EXTREAM FAIL eco terrorists cant even spread propaganda right XD fuck i mean it does make since to shoot the seals(with a bigger gun)but that would most likely ruin the pelt…and fuck who ever the wale wars guys are…i hope they piss of the wrong japaneese ship and get blown to bits!!! i know some one is going to reply with a stupid fucking comment and im way ahead of you,if you agree ok,if you dissagree fine,but if you stupidly and ignorantly agree/disagree i say fuck you you retarded assclown.and to the people who say these men should be clubed i say i should find you ,and shot you in your fucking face cause i think i would be doing humanity a favor and the police would pat me on the back for geting rid of a failed retarded phycopath…so thank you fuck you ignorant retards and have a nice day :]

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