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Canada Starts Controversial Seal Hunt

by Staff Writers
Montreal (AFP) Mar 27, 2006
The seal hunt got under way in eastern Canada Saturday amid a loud outcry from animal rights groups who decry the traditional hunt as unforgivably cruel. Canada has authorized the killing of 325,000 seals for this year. It believes the species is in no danger, as Greenland's seal population has almost tripled in 30 years to hit 5.8 million.

The hunt is carried out on ice in the Gulf of St Lawrence; it began around the Iles-de-la-Madeleine archipelago in Quebec, where some 91,000 seals were to be clubbed to death in the coming days.

Animal rights groups rented boats and helicopters to film hunters whom they accuse of cruelty.

"Our organization, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, is opposed to this hunt because it's the largest and the cruelest slaughter of marine animal species found anywhere on the planet and I think that's a shame for our country," its spokeswoman for Canada, Melissa Tkachyk, told CBC.

"They're using the graphic images of seals, the harvesting of seals on the white ice and the blood to promote their own selfish lifestyles," said Canadian Sealers Association president Frank Pinhorn.

Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada was the victim of "an international propaganda campaign" by animal rights activists and will not stop its controversial seal hunt.

"That's not on our agenda today (to stop it)," Harper told reporters as activists and celebrities including French film legend Brigitte Bardot and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney doubled their efforts to end the "massacre."

The Dalai Lama, Bardot, McCartney and his wife Heather Mills McCartney, singer Charles Aznavour, actors Kim Bassinger, Juliette Binoche and Richard Dean Anderson, among many others, have campaigned against the hunt over the years.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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