by Richard "Bugman" Fagerlund

Daily Lobo Columnist

"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." - Thomas Alva Edison

As despicable as cockfighting and dogfighting are, and they are very despicable, there is another activity that makes those two so-called sports pale in comparison, and it is subsidized by a sovereign nation.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Canadian government plans to devastate the seal population by killing more than one million seals in a three-year period beginning in 2003. A maximum of 350,000 baby seals will be shot or clubbed to death in each of those three years. The Canadian government subsidizes this activity by paying hunters up to 20 cents for every seal pup they can kill. It takes a lot of baby seals to make a decent payday.

The baby seals are clubbed to death in scenes of unspeakable cruelty. The weapon used is a club known as the hakapik. The club does not always effectively kill the seals. According to studies conducted by environmental groups, up to 42 percent of baby seals are skinned alive. Sealers often use sharpened steel hooks to drag the screaming seals on board their vessels. Although this is illegal, using the hook saves the killers time, and time is money. It also causes horrific suffering to their victims.

Sealers kill the big-eyed pups by bashing their heads or stomping on their throats. One sealer was filmed confronting a barking mother seal and beating her back with the body of her screaming pup.

The government justifies this barbarism because it claims seals are adversely affecting the profits of the Newfoundland cod fishing industry. Could it be that the real motive for this disgusting display of despicable behavior is neither pelts nor meat? It is more than a distinct possibility that the real money is being made by supplying 50,000 seal penises as "aphrodisiacs" to companies in China. In Asia, some men will pay big bucks to try to enhance their sexual prowess by eating the penises of baby seals.

Skinning seals alive isn't endemic to Canada. Seals are captured and skinned alive for their pelts in other parts of the word as well.

One director of a seal-skinning operation wrote, "Unlike other baby seal skinning factories, our baby seals will be harvested from the coastal regions of Africa and flown, still alive, to the skinning factory where they will be skinned alive. Their skin will be used to make many important women's accessories such as purses, shoes, and wallets. Because we only skin our seals live, we can also sell the meat. As you can imagine, a baby seal-skinning factory produces a lot of liquid waste. When the seals are cut open, their hearts still beat blood from their bodies. This blood, mixed with the beast's urine and fecal matter, is drained onto the floor where gravity feeds it into small ruts dug on the sides of the factory. Our research has shown that if we can bring the price of baby sealskin down to the tens of dollars instead of thousands, thanks to a thousand-fold increase in demand, we can grow our revenue base over 100 percent. The only thing that keeps baby sealskin purses, wallets, shoes, and perhaps even such items as house wrap, and car seat covers out of your hands, is the oppressive environmentalists."

I don't know if this is a real letter or not. I do know that after looking at how we treat animals in circuses, on factory farms, in cockfighting and dogfighting pits and in bullfighting arenas, I would not doubt for a minute our ability to skin baby seals alive.

I also don't know what the remedy is to baby seal clubbing. Writing the Canadian government might help, but probably not much. When governments get it in their mind to commit atrocities against other humans or animals, it is hard to stop them. Boycotting any products made from sealskins would be a good start. Right now sealskins from Canada are not allowed to be sold in our country. However, the Canadian government is secretly negotiating with the Bush administration to overturn that boycott.

If we don't do anything else, we have to let our representatives know we are opposed to the importation of any products harvested from baby seals from Canada or anywhere else in the world.