Some seals are killed with a blow to the head using a wooden club or hakapik. The sealers stun as many baby seals as they can before going back to kill them. Some seals try to get away, but they are clumsy on the ice, heaving their fat little bodies with an uncoordinated flipper shuffle. Other seals are shot from a distance and then dragged from the ice onto boats using steel hooks.
Two recent independent veterinary reports on the Canadian seal hunt, as well as IFAW video footage, have documented unacceptable levels of cruelty to baby seals. This hunt is a highly competitive activity, carried out over an extensive area, and under very unpredictable conditions. Haste is the rule, as hunters rush to immobilize as many baby seals as possible in the short time available to them.
Seals are routinely clubbed or shot and left to suffer on the ice, before being clubbed again some time thereafter. Some seals are still skinned before being rendered fully unconscious and few sealers are observed checking for a blinking reflex to confirm brain death prior to skinning an animal. As one of the veterinary reports concluded: "Canada's commercial seal hunt results in considerable and unacceptable suffering.”
The Canadian government often misleads the public by comparing the commercial seal hunt to the killing of farm animals in the food industry. Unlike abattoirs, the seal hunt is an unpredictable, unmanageable hunt for wild animals which takes place under hurried conditions. It is precisely these conditions that have led some experts to conclude that this hunt can never satisfy the requirements of a humane hunt.