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DEATH ON THE ICE; Anger at seal culling.

Byline: By Ben Spencer

HUNDREDS of baby seals were slaughtered yesterday in a Canadian hunt expected to kill 325,000 of the animals.

The pups, usually two to three weeks old, ere killed with a pick or bullet to the brain on the Atlantic ice floes off Quebec and Newfoundland.

Animal rights groups have branded the hunt inhumane. But locals say the cull benefits poor and isolated island communities.

Fishermen sell the pelts for the fashion industry in Norway, Russia and China, while seal blubber is also sold for oil.

Yesterday, conservationists used small ice-jumper planes to check for any abuses to the seals.

They claim fishermen often skin the seals alive or leave some pups to die slowly.

Activist John Grandy said there were far fewer pups on the ice this year. He said: "That tells us many have died. They fell through before they could swim."

But the Department of Fisheries and Oceans denied there had been many natural seal deaths.

A spokesman said: "The ice was actually fairly good for the critical period of pupping and nursing."

The seal hunt has been opposed by celebrities including former Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife Heather.


IN FOR THE KILL: A hunter clubs a harp seal in the Gulf of St Lawrence AP
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 27, 2006
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