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Canada's seal hunt, after brief interlude, to resume as early as Thursday

April 1, 2009 |  8:36 am

Seal2

The accompanying photos are among the least graphic being offered for media use by animal rights groups chronicling Canada's controversial seal hunt, which began last week in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and may resume there as early as Thursday.

Other images, as posted on previous Outposts items, showed blood and gore contrasting glistening ice. One  Humane Society of the United States image was of a carcass rendered to an oily pulp with its wide black eyes fully intact and seeming to gaze directly into the lens in horror.

I e-mailed that one to my boss just after the lunch hour and was placed prominently in the doghouse, I'm sure.

Anyway, there was but a brief respite for the seals, caused by ice that restricted boat access from North Sydney. New groups of hunters from Newfoundland, Labrador and the North Shore of Quebec will join in as early as Sunday to help conclude the Gulf portion of an effort that will cull 84,424 seals.

The hunt then will shift to an area east of Newfoundland and Labrador, where more than 175,000 seals may be killed. In all, as many as 338,000 harp, hooded and gray seals might fall victim to slaughter.

Canada's Fisheries and Oceans Departmentcites a tripling of the harp seal population since the 1970s -- when the population was thought by some to be over-hunted and in jeopardy -- to nearly 5 million as justification for the hunt. It also has claimed the seals present a threat to other fisheries and that a hunt of "a sustainable resource" is important to fishermen in remote coastal regions.

Seal

Naturally, animal rights groups feel the hunt is mostly carried out for profit. Said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society: "This is the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world, and it is driven entirely by the value of the pelts destined for international markets and by the interest of local sealers to profit at the expense of these helpless creatures."

With this next round of slaughter, undoubtedly, will come lots more telling images.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo (top):  Hunters prepare to club  seals. Credit: Stewart Cook / International Fund for Animal Welfare

Photo (bottom): Hunter tosses seal in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Credit: Stewart Cook / International Fund for Animal Welfare

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