Premier Darrell Dexter said the province would not stand in the federal
government’s way should it decide to hold a seal cull on Sable Island.
Dexter told reporters Thursday it’s the federal government’s jurisdiction to decide if a seal cull is required on Canada’s newest national park.
“Our position is that it’s the federal government’s responsibility and they’re free to make their decision in the manner that they choose,” Dexter said. “I don’t have any concerns with it, no.”
A report commissioned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans last August examined the viability of a cull on Sable Island as a method of controlling a seal population that has grown to 300,000 from 20,000 since the 1970s.
The Coast newspaper obtained a copy of the report and published the — at times — gruesome logistics of such a cull. In order to kill and dispose of 220,000 seals over five years, the report recommends the transportation of modified wood chippers and portable crematoriums to the isolated island located about 300 kilometres south of Nova Scotia.
DFO spokesman Gus van Hervoort said culls are not uncommon in national parks when population exceeds a sustainable level. But he acknowledged Sable Island’s fragile ecosystem makes it a unique case.
“It certainly is … a sensitive environment, it’s a sensitive ecosystem there,” said van Hervoort. “But the fact is that, 20 years ago there were only several thousand seals there and here we are 20 years later and there’s 300,000 seals there. So that’s having an effect as well.”
According to van Hervoort, DFO is still considering methods for controlling the seal population, including a cull. Any decision on the matter, however, is still a ways away.
“The decision ultimately will be a multi-departmental decision between Parks Canada and DFO … but we’re some time away from that,” van Hervoort said.