Friday, April 14, 2006; Posted: 1:44 p.m. EDT (17:44 GMT)
TORONTO, Ontario (AP) -- Animal-rights activists said they were harassed by protesters Thursday and prevented from documenting Canada's seal hunt, despite police intervention.
Members of the Humane Society of the United States said one of their vehicles was run off the road, while several dozen seal hunt supporters surrounded their hotel in eastern Quebec and prevented their group from leaving.
Rebecca Aldworth, a spokeswoman for the group, said the police were serving as mediators between the angry fishermen, whose livelihoods are supplemented by sales of the seal pelts and blubber, and the Humane Society, which calls the hunt barbaric and wants it halted.
Later in the day, police escorted the 15 activists and journalists from the hotel in the Quebec town of Blanc-Sablon, near the Labrador border, to the airport. But by the time they arrived, their helicopters had already departed.
There were no reports of any injuries linked to the disturbances.
Yvonne Jones, a member of the provincial legislature, acknowledged that fishermen surrounded the hotel but denied that the animal-rights activists were in danger, calling it a "very peaceful protest."
The final leg of the seal hunt moved to Newfoundland on Wednesday, with sealers expected to slaughter another 234,000 harp seal pups. The government insists the annual hunt is humane and sustainable, with a healthy population of 6 million harp seals in the Canadian Maritimes.
Hunters have taken their quota of 91,000 seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence hunt, which ended last week.
Aldworth said a day earlier, protesters surrounded a helicopter leased by the animal-rights group in the coastal town of Cartwright, and prevented it from leaving.
"They sat on the floats of our helicopters," Aldworth said. "We couldn't leave because if we started up the helicopter, the blades could have hurt somebody."
Man, you've got to absolutely love the irony of stories like this. Here we have a buncha hippies bitching and moaning about the disrupting protest methods of others. I can just imagine the God of Irony doing some sort of two-step jig all over this one. Even better, the fishermen in this case managed to conduct their protest in a manner that seems from the content of the story to be wholely within the law. Contrast this with another CNN article just a few days ago saying that greenpeace or some other whacko hippie fringe group was illegally using their boats to ram or blockade the boats of hunters despite a restraining order and got a hose turned on them. Hilarious.