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Newfoundland town's efforts to have dead sperm whale removed hit snag

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CAPE ST. GEORGE, N.L. - A Newfoundland town's efforts to have a dead sperm whale removed from its coastline have hit a snag.

But the mayor of the community remains hopeful that someone will step forward to take the carcass of the 12-metre mammal off his hands.

Peter Fenwick, the mayor of Cape St. George on Newfoundland's west coast, put the whale up for sale on eBay. But the website took the auction down Monday because it violates its policies on animals and wildlife products, Fenwick said.

"Our major objective was to get rid of the whale, and we feel that there may be enough out there who know about it, who may be interested in it," said Fenwick in an interview.

"If they want a free whale, we'll be glad to give it to them, provided they can make suitable arrangements to remove it from the beach and put it in a place where it's not a major annoyance to the community."

Fenwick said the whale washed up on shore about a week ago in an area known as Marches Point near houses and a fishing station. But he said residents in the town of 900 aren't interested in it becoming a permanent fixture.

"It starts to smell after a while, and when a whale starts to rot, it's the worst smell I've ever smelled in my life," said Fenwick. "We've really got to get rid of it."

Fenwick said disposing the carcass is the responsibility of the town and both the provincial and federal governments haven't offered any help.

He said he received a call from the federal Environment Department earlier in the day saying the sale of the whale could violate environmental regulations.

Environment Canada did not return a request for comment Monday.

Fenwick said a local fisherman with a large boat was asked to haul the animal to a deserted beach, but the fisherman said the carcass was too big to tow.

"So then we thought, 'Maybe there's a museum somewhere that would like to purchase it, and if there is, let's advertise it on eBay and see if anybody is interested."

Newfoundland's Trout River and Rocky Harbour, two communities located roughly 250 kilometres north of Cape St. George, recently reached a deal with the Royal Ontario Museum to retrieve the carcasses of blue whales that have been rotting along their shores.

Fenwick said he hopes museums have caught wind of his town's whale.

"If they call us, we'll be glad to talk to them and if they can come on down and arrange for a bit of equipment to do something, fine, they can get a free whale," said Fenwick with a laugh.

He said if they can't find anyone to remove the whale, they'll likely have to rent a large boat to haul it to a deserted beach.

— By Aly Thomson in Halifax.

Follow @alythomson on Twitter.

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