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Cape Breton Post - - NEWS - BY JOHN MCPHEE

Thirty-nine men have signed up for the hunt, but only 20 are al­lowed on the small is­land at one time, he said.

The hunt was sched­uled to be­gin to­day, but the seal­ers were still in the process of get­ting ve­hi­cles and equip­ment ready and didn’t an­tic­i­pate a start un­til mid­week.

An anti-seal­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion plans to film the hunt and dis­trib­ute the im­ages to en­cour­age a tourism boy­cott, a spokes­woman said.

Brid­get Cur­ran of the At­lantic Cana­dian Anti-Seal­ing Coali­tion ob­served the hunt in 2008, when Hay Is­land first was opened for com­mer­cial seal­ing.

Seal­ers are pro­hib­ited from us­ing guns on the small is­land, so they use clubs to kill the seals. Cur­ran said she saw seal­ers herd the an­i­mals into a group be­fore killing them, a prac­tice that has been con­demned as in­hu­mane by agen­cies such as the Euro­pean Food Safety Au­thor­ity, Cur­ran said.

“ What I wit­nessed on Hay Is­land was the most hor­rific thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Last fall, the coali­tion dis­rupted a leg­is­la­ture ses­sion to protest the Dex­ter gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to al­low the Hay Is­land seal hunt.

The is­land is part of the Sca­terie Is­land wilder­ness area. The prov­ince had to amend the Wilder­ness Ar­eas Pro­tec­tion Act to al­low the hunt.

Eco­tourism ac­tiv­i­ties such as seal watch­ing would stim­u­late the econ­omy more so than the seal hunt, Cur­ran said.

Last week, the coali­tion asked Ster­ling Bel­liveau, the pro­vin­cial min­is­ter of fisheries and the en­vi­ron­ment, to can­cel the hunt, but he re­fused, she said.

Cur­ran said chang­ing the wilder­ness pro­tec­tion law sets a danger­ous prece­dent.

“That land be­longs to all Nova Sco­tians. It’s part of our her­itage and our cul­ture. I think it’s abysmal that the gov­ern­ment handed over our land to com­mer­cial in­dus­try just to buy the votes of Nova Sco­tia fish­er­men.”

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