Bang your own head, not a seal’s

Humane Society International and head-banging musicians were some of many groups this year calling upon the Canadian government to cancel the 2011 commercial seal killings. Seal hunting, or sealing, takes place frequently in Canada, where about 67,000 seals were executed in 2010.

Every year, migrating seals and their babies are clubbed over the head and killed for the purpose of selling their fur on the international market.

Once the seals are bludgeoned, sealers hook them in the eyes, cheeks or mouth, and drag them across the ice, often while they are still conscious. The European Union and the U.S. have banned seal products, said Blabbermouth, and leaders like Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin have spoken out against the atrocity.

Now, metal musicians have passionately joined the fight against this injustice.

PETA has teamed with Canadian metalcore group The Agonist in order to launch a campaign to stop sealing. Led by vegan animal rights activist Alissa White-Gluz, The Agonist are defenders against animal killings and are supportive of environmental issues in general. They further their cause through their powerful, socially conscious lyrics, and by uniting with animal rights groups to create positive change.

In a report PETA report, Alissa and PETA encouraged everyone to write to the Canadian government and protest the seal killing, calling the annual massacre “Canada’s shame.” In an interview conducted with White-Gluz, who was born in Montreal, she stated, “The seal hunt is something I’m so ashamed to be remotely associated with. I’m shocked that it’s still going on and still encouraged by the government.”

White-Gluz encouraged other metal fans and activists to buy only cruelty-free care products, and to write to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and express their concerns over these acts of barbarity.

Experimental metal band The Dillinger Escape Plan also united with PETA against sealing, and launched ad campaigns that had a simple message: “End the slaughter.” Moreover, on the band’s Twitter, guitarist Benjamin Weinman wrote, “Get involved. Trust me – slaughtering seals is not metal!”

This year, sealing is more dangerous than it has perhaps ever been. According to Humane Society International, harp seals began giving birth on Canadian beaches three months too early.

“In 2010, a record low sea-ice cover forced mother seals to attempt to give birth on shore,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada. As a result, “Predation and starvation caused the helpless pups to perish. Currently, we are seeing a major disruption in the seals’ whelping cycle and more land births. Until the scientific community fully understands the implications of this new phenomenon, its relation to climate change and the future impacts on the harp seal population, no responsible government can allow a commercial seal slaughter to occur.”

In an interview with Noisecreep, White-Gluz said, “Commercial seal slaughter is obviously cruel, but it’s also an example of government waste. Canada spends millions in taxpayer funds each year subsidizing this massacre, even though income from the slaughter accounts for less than one percent of the economy of Newfoundland, where it takes place.”

A blog called All Animals Matter called sealing “bloody business,” and included the tragic account by HSI’s Aldworth of having to watch the procedure being carried out.

“You see them wriggling across the ice,” she said. “You see them try to escape, and you feel their terror. The ProtectSeals team traveled to the seal killing area by our boat, documenting it from 30 meters away. We witnessed so many seals dying, as sealers descended on the wounded, struggling animals with wooden bats. I will never be able to forget the agonizing assault.”

Having witnessed the particularly brutal punishment of a seal pup, Aldworth concluded sadly, “I want the world to remember this seal – his cries of protest are echoing in my mind and I want them to sound across the world. I want everyone to hear as I did the cries of a wounded baby seal who doesn’t understand why he is being hurt. And hearing those cries, know as I do that this slaughter simply has to stop.”

Photo: In a protest at the Ottawa Hampton Inn, PETA members ask Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put an end to seal hunting. Courtesy PETA.


Blake Skylar
Blake Skylar

Blake is a writer and production manager, responsible for the daily assembly of the People's World home page. He has earned awards from the IWPA and ILCA, and his articles have appeared in publications such as Workday Minnesota, EcoWatch, and Earth First News. He has covered issues including the BP oil spill in New Orleans and the 2015 U.N. Climate Conference in Paris.

He lives in Pennsylvania with his girlfriend and their cats. He enjoys wine, books, music, and nature. In his spare time, he reviews music, creates artwork, and is working on several books and digital comics.