Two sides trade ver­bal jabs as sea­son for hunt­ing grey seals ap­proaches

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRIS HAYES

SYD­NEY — Days be­fore the sea­son opens for hunt­ing grey seals on Hay Is­land off Cape Bre­ton, anti-hunt ac­tivists and seal­ers were trad­ing ver­bal jabs Wed­nes­day.

The Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional/Canada is­sued a press release con­demn­ing the fed­eral Depart­ment of Fisheries and Oceans and Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ment for al­low­ing the hunt.

Fisheries and Oceans will al­low 2,220 seals to be “slaugh­tered” beginning on or around Mon­day, just days be­fore the Feb. 12 open­ing cer­e­monies of the 2010 Win­ter Olympics in Bri­tish Columbia, the so­ci­ety said.

“If the seal slaugh­ter goes ahead on Hay Is­land, Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional will be there to doc­u­ment it,” said Re­becca Ald­worth, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the so­ci­ety. “ The world com­mu­nity will be hor­ri­fied to see baby seals beaten to death with wooden bats in a na­ture re­serve; this is not the im­age Canada should be pro­ject­ing to the world.”

The so­ci­ety said in 2008, it filmed and pho­tographed as seal­ers herded baby seals into groups, then clubbed moulted pups and cut them open with box cut­ters just inches away from new­born pups and their moth­ers,

Fisheries and Oceans said Wed­nes­day it has au­tho­rized a Mon­day to March 15 sea­son for the grey seal hunt on the is­land, al­though if and when it oc­curs will de­pend on the seal­ers and the weather.

The depart­ment al­lows the hunt to be­gin when 90 per cent of the seal pups have been weaned and aban­doned by their moth­ers.

Robert Court­ney, a spokesman for the seal­ers, has said they hope to har­vest the an­i­mals but it will de­pend on find­ing buy­ers.

Court­ney, pres­i­dent of the North of Smokey Fish­er­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion, scoffed at the hu­mane so­ci­ety’s use of the term “slaugh­ter,” say­ing ve­teri­nar­i­ans and Fisheries and Oceans of­fi­cials have ob­served seal hunts and ap­proved it as a hu­mane har­vest.

“I don’t think those peo­ple (in the hu­mane so­ci­ety) are qual­i­fied to say oth­er­wise,” he said. “It’s one of the clos­est-mon­i­tored hunts that takes place any­where.”

The grey seal pop­u­la­tion in At­lantic Canada, which has been es­ti­mated at 300,000-plus, is out of con­trol, said Court­ney.

“ What is their sug­ges­tion? Are they go­ing to buy food to feed them so they don’t have to eat out of the same ocean we are try­ing to eat out of ?”

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