Cape Cod May Cull Gray Seals Due To Overpopulation, But Is It Necessary?

By Philip Ross on August 18, 2013 12:57 PM EDT

gray seal
Fisherman want to cull some of the gray seals in Cape Cod because, according to them, the explosion of the seal population is affecting the fishing industry. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Cape Cod fishermen want to cull seals due to overpopulation. They say the seals in Massachusetts' historic bay are attacking their nets and drawing sharks to the area.

"Think about it - we cull everything else," fisherman John Our told the New York Times. "You have harvests of deer; farmers get to kill the locusts."

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He and other fisherman say the seals are basically gobbling up all the fish the fishermen would be catching, and it's affecting their bottom lines.

The gray seal population in Cape Cod has certainly exploded over the years since the Mammal Protection granted the animal federal protection against poachers in 1972. Back then, seals were practically nonexistent in northern U.S. waters.

According to the New York Times, the gray seal population in Cape Cod rose to 2,035; in 2011, that number grew exponentially to 15,700. It's expected that at the rate they're going now, the gray seal population in Cape Cod could grow at an alarming 20 percent every year.

But is culling Cape Cod seals necessary?

As Jezebel notes, it's not like gray seals are an invasive species to Cape Cod. "We just murdered so many of them that they almost entirely vanished for a long time," Jezebel reports.

Also, gray seals do have a natural check on their population - its predator, the shark. But we've killed those off in great numbers as well, meaning there's less of a natural population control method happening.

What do you think? Should fisherman be able to kill gray seals in Cape Cod? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more from iScience Times:

Seals And Swine Flu: Marine Mammals Show Signs Of H1N1; How Did Seals Get The Virus?

Could A New 'Seal Flu' Infect Humans?

Deer Birth Control: New York Town Plans To Sterilize Female Deer After Overpopulation Leads To More Car Accidents, Bare Gardens [REPORT]

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