Atlantic Canada seal hunt opens

Feb. 4, 2009 at 1:19 PM
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SYDNEY, Nova Scotia, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Canadian seal hunters, with protesters close behind, set out Wednesday from Sydney, Nova Scotia, to launch a cull on a provincially protected island.

Capt. Robert Courtney told the Chronicle-Herald newspaper weather and ice conditions would slow his 20-man crew from reaching Hay Island until the weekend.

Because of the island's ecological system, guns aren't permitted, so the hunters will use clubs on baby seals who have lost their white coats to try and fill their quota of 2,200, the report said.

Their prey are usually about 8-weeks-old and weigh about 100 pounds each.

The cull will be monitored by federal and provincial officials, as well as protesters, who by law, must remain 30 feet away from the hunters and cannot number more than three at a time, the newspaper said.

Bridget Curran, spokeswoman of the Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition, is among the protesters following the hunting ships, and told the Chronicle-Herald she followed last year's cull and said she saw most of the island's snow colored red within days.

"It was the most horrific event I've ever witnessed," she said. "Clearly the Environment minister has ignored science and bowed to sealing industry to allow this illegal, ecologically irresponsible and inhumanely conducted slaughter."

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