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Last Updated: Tuesday March 24 2009 16:06 GMT

Protests expected at seal hunt

A harp seal (AP Photo/CP,Jonathan Hayward)

Animal rights groups are expected to protest at the start of this year's seal cull in Canada.

Up to 280,000 animals could be killed during the hunt, which takes place every year.

The Canadian government allows people to cull the harp seals as they say it's important to let them make money from the creatures' oil and fur.

Animal rights groups say it is cruel, and a ban on importing the products into Europe is looking more likely.

Although most animals are shot, some are killed by blows from large clubs.

Canadian authorities say the animals are killed quickly, and don't suffer unnecessarily.

America, the Netherlands and Belgium have already banned Canadian seal products.