Baby Seals: The Cutest Animals in the Midst of Controversy (+ Photos)

By Petr Svab
Petr Svab
Petr Svab
Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.
August 6, 2015Updated: October 5, 2018

Forget about kittens and puppies—baby seals are the epitome of cuteness. Just look at how furry and helpless they look, and those big black eyes …

Moreover, baby seals have also become a symbol of a fight against animal cruelty as they are hunted for their coats.

Canada, the largest seal hunter in the world, allows more than 300,000 seals to be hunted each year (out of a population of estimated 7.4 million).

But the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, that oversees seal hunting, calls it a myth that the “Canadian government allows sealers to harvest seal pups.”

“The harvesting of harp seal pups (whitecoats) and hooded seal pups (bluebacks) is illegal in Canada and has been since 1987,” its website states. “The seals that are harvested are self-reliant, independent animals.”

Yet that is a wording on the very edge of the facts. It is true that hunting white-furred baby seals is forbidden. But the website fails to mention that baby harp seals only remain white until about the age of two weeks. Any baby seal older that that can be legally hunted.

Calling such baby seal “self-reliant” and “independent” is also a controversial statement, though technically correct since the mother abandons a baby seal after just 12 days of feeding.

Yet baby seals older than 12 days are undeniably still puppies and so, yes, Canadian government allows sealers to kill seal pups.

To be sure, after decades of debates and counter measures, it seems baby seals are not hunted in a way any more cruel then other animals, meaning most are killed swiftly.

Still, killing a baby animal however “humanely” is for many simply inconceivable. Some wouldn’t eat lamb meat for the same reason. Though fewer seem concerned about eating chicken—technically still babies when slaughtered at the age of 5 to 14 weeks.