Weeks before the planned start to the hunting season, Russia’s natural resources minister announced a ban on hunting seals under 1 year old today. The move spares up to 35,000 seals.
“The bloody sight of the hunting of seals, the slaughter of these defenseless animals, which you cannot even call a real hunt, is banned in our country, just as well as in most developed countries, and this is a serious step to protect the biodiversity of the Russian Federation,” said minister Yuri Trutnev.
The European Union is expected to announce a ban on all seal products in the coming months, but Canada has been unrelenting in their support of their annual seal hunt. Canada has banned hunting seals under two weeks old, which have white fluffy fur, but still allows the hunting of young seals with soft silver fur. Older seals have coarse fur and is not used for clothing.
However, Canada has faced mounting international pressure to shut down their seal hunt, which last year claimed the lives of 207,000 seals. Besides protests, they’ve faced a distinct decline in demand for seal pelts. A European Union ban on seal products could render the Canadian hunt unprofitable and result in its demise.
“It’s highly significant,” said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International in Canada. “It shows that world opinion is moving away from commercial seal hunting. There’s hope on the horizon that this may be the last year that we ever have to witness this cruelty.”
Greenland and Norway also still hunt seals, but their combined 50,000 cull is dwarfed by Canada’s 207,000.