Ever an ally to animals in need, Ellen DeGeneres on Friday made a personal plea on her website, urging fans and friends in Canada to help end the annual seal slaughter.
"Seal hunting is one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government," she writes. "Canada is allowing the slaughter of a record number of seals in their 2011 hunting season, which is going on right now. The seals are often younger than 3 months old."
In at least one region on Canada, Mother Nature appears to be on the side of the activists. In the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, only 1 percent of the 105,000 animal quota was taken due to a lack of sea ice.
"There was a total of just a little over 1,200 seals taken to date," a Department of Fisheries and Oceans told CBCNews
. "But activity in the gulf is winding down now with the disappearance of the ice and with it the seal populations."
Canadian officials are attempting to boost the sealing industry in the wake of a EU ban on all seal products — as well as warmer than normal winters that have limited hunting. In January, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced a deal with China to allow imports of Canadian seal meat and oils as a way to open the hunt to new markets.
For 2011, quotas have been set at 468,200 of harp, grey and hooded seals. Those numbers are the highest set since the Canadian government introduced quota management in 1971.
In addition to PETA, organizations like The Humane Society and the International Fund for Animal Welfare have called the increased quotas "irresponsible," also saying that such decisions are nothing more than a play for votes.
“Stephen Harper is playing regional politics in the lead-up to a federal election at the expense of hundreds of thousands of defenseless baby seals," said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. "Harp seals are ice-dependent animals and they are facing the devastating loss of their ice habitat because of climate change. A responsible government would take immediate action to protect this population rather than recklessly encouraging a commercial slaughter.”