- International opponents of Canada's seal hunt are gathering
across the country Tuesday to protest what they say is an arcane and inhumane
slaughter of the animals.
- Protests by the Humane Society of the United States and
Greenpeace along with other environmental and animal rights groups are
taking place in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, along with more
than 40 other cities across North America. The groups are gathering in
front of Canadian embassies and consulates to "protest the cruel and
needless slaughter of harp and hooded seals in Canada."
- And the groups say global resistance to the seal hunt
is on the increase as more people are informed of the suffering they say
the animals experience.
- "The fact is that opposition to Canada's brutal
seal hunt is growing," said Pat Ragan, the Humane Society of the United
States's seal campaign manager.
- "As the ugly truth about this slaughter spreads
from person to person around the globe, it becomes harder for the Canadian
government to hide behind the myths that the killing of hundreds of thousands
of seals each year is justified, sustainable or humane."
- The society says Ottawa is hiding the number of animals
who die each year.
- They claim East Coast fishermen will kill 300,000 harp
seals between late March and the close of the hunt on May 15. They call
Canada's seal hunt the largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals in
- "Canada's commercial seal hunt is the largest and
cruellest slaughter of marine mammals on earth," said Wayne Pacelle,
president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United
States, in a statement.
- But Brian Underhill, a spokesman for Fisheries Minister
Geoff Regan, says Canada's seal population is in good shape.
- "I believe there is in excess of five million seals
in the herd right now," Mr. Underhill told globeandmail.com. "And
that does provide an income for numerous families in areas where there's
not too much in terms of economic activity."
- Mr. Underhill said that number has tripled since the
- Mr. Regan, whose constituency office in Halifax was targeted
by about 30 people Tuesday, won't be making an official comment, Mr. Underhill
said. The protesters took a banner and letters to his office, local radio
station VOCM reported.
- "He believes that the seal hunt is healthy [for
the economy]," Mr. Underhill said.
- Mr. Underhill also said that while protesters say that
the hunt is inhumane because of their claim that some animals are skinned
while still alive, according to a recent report published by the Canadian
Veterinary Journal, virtually all seals are taken in a humane manner.
- This year's protest has attracted some attention from
some high-profile activists.
- On Monday, retired French actress Brigitte Bardot said
she was angry at both Prime Minister Paul Martin and Mr. Regan for not
doing enough to stop the hunt. "You are jerks!" she was quoted
as saying in an interview with Sun Media. "I wrote for years to all
Canadian prime ministers, but it hasn't done anything to stop it. Nothing!"
- Ms. Bardot is unable to make the trip to the protests
because of her health.
- She has attended other seal protests in Canada in the
- Mr. Underhill said Mr. Regan has no comment on Ms. Bardot's
words, but noted that everyone is entitled to their opinion and agreed
that issues like the seal hunt bring out strong opinions on both sides.
- Marc Roy, a spokesman from the Prime Minister's Office,
said Mr. Martin has no comment on Ms. Bardot's remarks.
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