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The population of the harp seal, Pagophilus groenlandicus, is divided into three distinct breeding groups, which are centered on the White Sea, the Greenland Sea, and the northwest Atlantic. The last of these three populations, by far the largest, summers in the Arctic waters of Canada and west Greenland. In the autumn the animals in this group begin to migrate southward ahead of the advancing ice pack. By late February or early March, the females reach the breeding grounds off the coast of Newfoundland-Labrador (the Front) and near the Magdalen Islands (the Gulf). They then haul themselves out onto the ice to give birth to their young. After 2 weeks the pups are weaned and begin to moult, and by the age of 1 month they leave the ice for the open water. It is during this month that both the pups and the more mature seals are extensively hunted.


An earlier version of this paper was delivered at a Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Symposium, The Canadian Seal Hunt: A Moral Issue, February 17, 1982.