Russia bans hunting of young seals

Russia announced that it would ban the hunting of seals under one year old, effectively shutting one of the world’s largest hunting grounds in the controversial seal-fur trade, the New York Times reported. Coming just weeks before the hunting season was to begin, the move could save up to 35,000 seals, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.


Yuri Trutnev, Russia’s natural resources minister, said in a statement quoted by the Associated Press: “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.”

The world’s largest seal hunt is scheduled to begin later this month in Canada, where top leaders strongly defend the seal-products industry.

The European Union is considering a ban on all seal products, which would eliminate a key trade route and end-market for the furs. However, Gail Shea, Canada’s minister of fisheries and oceans, warned that such a move could violate international trade law. Nearly all Canadian seal products pass through Europe on their way to major consumers, including Norway, Russia and China, an industry spokesman said.

While it is unclear whether Russia also will ban the import and sale of seal products, its decision on hunting deals another blow to an industry that has been losing a public relations battle to animal-rights groups. In recent years, the activists have gained public support by using photographs of young Canadian harp seal pups being clubbed to death on blood-stained ice floes.


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