Mon, March 23, 2009
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Russia bans baby seal hunt

2009-03-23 10:29:51 GMT2009-03-23 18:29:51 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

Russia bans hunting of baby Greenland seals under one year old, but it will remain legal to kill older animals.

The decision follows an earlier one introduced in February that banned the hunting of seal pups up to one month old and makes it illegal now for animals up to one year old to be killed.

SCRIPT:

This is Russia's White Sea region in the Arctic, wild and beautiful and home to some of Russia's Greenland seal population.

And while it seems remote - it is not remote enough to protect seals from hunters.

Environmentalists have been worried by the rapid decline in the population.

SOUNDBITE (Russian) REPRESENTATIVE OF THE RUSSIAN MARINE MAMMAL COUNCIL, ALEXEI YABLOKOV, SAYING:

"There's been a really alarming condition in the past few years because - there are many seals around us. (However) in actual fact, exact data shows that there are three or four times less of these seals than there were five years ago. It's a catastrophic decrease"

Hunters target the fluffy baby seals - also known as "whitecoats" for their highly valued snow white fur.

But now Russia has introduced a complete ban on the hunting of baby seals weeks after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described it as a bloody industry.

The ban follows an earlier decision that only banned the hunting of seals up to the age of one month.

Now that has been extended to one year of age - by which time they have lost their fluffy fur.

The decision comes after intensive lobbying from environmental groups concerned they were becoming endangered.

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