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Canada's seal hunt to continue in April

March 27, 2009 |  4:13 pm

Harp seal

Seals in Canada got a reprieve today, as ice kept sealing boats from reaching them to continue the annual hunt in progress in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

There is a possibility that the boats will go out tomorrow, if winds shift the ice enough.

Otherwise, the gruesome scene will begin anew in April, off the shores of Quebec and the west coast of the island of Newfoundland. At least 50,000 pups will be targeted during this phase.

The hunt then moves to off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, where more than 175,000 seals are expected to be killed.

The slaughter is brutal, with pups being clubbed to death or shot first and then finished off by clubbing. The mammals are skinned and their carcasses are left behind.

While some scavengers may take advantage of the glut of available food, most of the carcasses are left to decompose.

The Canadian government set a quota of 338,000 seals as the allowable catch for the hunt, an increase of 55,000 from last year.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo from The Humane Society of the United States