The Russian government has announced a ban on the hunting of harp seals younger than 1 year old.

Following a statement by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that it is "such a bloody hunt, and it is clear that it should have been banned a long time ago," the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency updated a ruling from last month, which banned hunting seals younger than a month old, to instead ban the hunting of seals under 1 year of age.

"This bloody seal slaughter, the killing of defenseless animals, which can't even be called a 'hunt,' is now prohibited in Russia as it is in most developed countries," said Yuri Trutnev, Russia's Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology. "It is a serious step toward the conservation of biodiversity in Russia." Trutnev called sealing "one of the most inhumane types of hunting in the world."

The slaughter is brutal, with pups being clubbed to death or shot first and then finished off by clubbing.

The number of public demonstrations in opposition to seal hunts has grown and led to mounting pressure on the Russian government to stop the killing.

"We are overwhelmingly pleased that the Russian government has finally completed its pledge to protect harp seals," stated Masha Vorontsova, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare office in Russia.

"The time has now come for the Canadian government to follow suit and end their cruel hunt for harp seals once and for all," added Vorontsova.

Later this month, Canada's commercial seal hunt will begin off that country's east coast.