Newfoundland and Labrador's regional minister has stepped in to try to get a Corner Brook woman's sealskin purse returned to her after it was confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Maine.
Nora Fitzgerald's purse was taken by a border agent during a trip across the border from Florenceville, N.B., at Bridgewater, Maine.
In addition to losing her purse, Fitzgerald received a letter Monday morning from the U.S. Department of Commerce, stating that she was facing a $250 fine for trying to bring the purse across the border.
That situation didn't sit well with Rob Moore, minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency as well as the federal cabinet representative for the province.
In a letter to the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Thursday, Moore asked that Fitzgerald's purse be returned and that border agents stop confiscating seal products from Canadian citizens.
Moore noted that while seals are considered an endangered species under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, the seal population has tripled since the act was passed.
He added that the International Union for Conservation of Nature "considers harp, ringed and grey seals to be species of least concern."
"Canada remains steadfast in its position that the seal harvest is a humane, sustainable and well-regulated activity," Moore wrote.
Fitzgerald's story reverberated throughout the country this week, catching the attention of craftsman Wilbur Hobbs from Bonavista, N.L.
Hobbs decided to make Fitzgerald a new purse
He sent the purse in the mail with $250 tucked inside to help Fitzgerald pay the border penalty fee.