Seals Overpopulating Cape Cod
October 27, 2010
UnderwaterTimes.com: In the waters and beaches off this Cape Cod town of Chatham, Massachusetts, the shiny scalps and whiskered snouts of the gray seal are everywhere. They bask in the sun, mug for boaters and, fisherman say, eat way too many fish.
The thousands of gray seals off Chatham show the success of a federal law that protects all marine mammals, including the Cape’s once-sparse seal population, which had been thinned in part by a killing bounty.
But the 1972 law didn’t plan any curbs once populations rebounded, and fishermen say the ubiquitous and voracious seals are destroying their businesses and there’s no way to stop them.
“The population is getting out of control,” said Ernie Eldredge, a Chatham fisherman for 40 years.
Fishermen have few ideas how to manage the seals without killing them, something that no one is openly advocating and which a public enamored with the friendly animals would not easily accept. Peter Baker of the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fisherman’s Association said he’s convinced “there are strategies for managing seal populations that don’t include clubbing baby seals.”
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