Three seal hunters drag dead grey seals across the snow during the first day of the hunt on Hay Island, Nova Scotia. The Canadian government has set this year's quota for the grey seal kill at 60,000.
Aside from these 60,000 exceptions, Grey seals are protected by the Conservation of Seals Act. The northeast Atlantic subpopulation (that would include Nova Scotia) was graded Endangered by the 2000 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, but individual seals causing damage to fishing nests can legally be killed.
Nova Scotia's fishermen have long argued that grey seals are greedy eaters, gobbling up schools of cod that might better be served as revenue sources human nutrition.
Hunters can kill with good conscience, knowing that the marine mammals are a renewable resource; the gestation period for the female grey seal is 11.5 months. Replacing this season's culled animals will take only 20,700,000 seal days.