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Animal Cruelty or Population Control?

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Due to the controversy over the annual Canadian Seal Hunt, Kidzworld is looking at why this hunt takes place and what other animals around the world are killed in the name of population control?

Population Control: Harp Seals

The Canadian Seal Hunt happens every year for approximately two months, from late March until the first or second week of April. During this time, around 300,000 harp seals are killed. Some supporters say that the seal hunt is to control the seal population, which they say is “healthy and abundant” at about 5.6 million animals.. Back in the '70s, the harp seal population dropped dramatically so the government stopped the hunt. However, it was re-introduced in the 1990s when the seal population grew again.


The pups killed are usually less than three months old and have just started to molt (which is when they shed their white baby fur and grow their adult coats). The seals are either shot or hit repeatedly on the head with a club called a hakapik – which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada says veterinarians have found to be humane – until they die. Once killed, the pups are skinned and their furs are sold to other countries. There are reports that seals are sometimes skinned alive, but the Department of Fisheries and Oceansregulates hunting practices and says skinning seals alive is not tolerated. Another misconception is that newborn seals, or whitecoats, are killed in the hunt, but the Canadian government banned the killing of whitecoats in 1987.

Population Control: Deer

In the United States, deer are a top choice for hunters. But regulations only allow a limited number of deer to be hunted. Some people say killing these animals helps control the deer population, which is quite high in some regions. According to these people, car accidents caused by deer where their population is high can cause deaths among both deer and humans. And where high populations of deer exist, farmers can suffer when the animals eat their crops.

Population Control: Gray Wolf

The Gray Wolf was historically hunted by farmers who wanted to protect their livestock. In the early 1900s, before hunting regulations existed, the Gray Wolf was almost entirely wiped out of North America by humans. It was often killed for its fur, but mainly the animal was killed due to humans' fear of it. The Gray Wolf is listed on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species List, but there have been moves in some states to take it off. There have been no known human deaths in North America linked to Gray Wolves. In fact, some people say that wolves are generally not dangerous to humans as long as they’re in low numbers, have enough food to eat, have little contact with humans and are occasionally hunted.

For more information on hunting and population control, click here.

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