Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Killing of Cape Cod's Gray Seals

Though I grew up on Cape Cod, I never saw a gray seal. Back in the sixties and seventies, gray seals were rarely, if ever, seen on the Cape. This is no longer the case. Thousands of gray seals now rest on the beaches, have pups, and eat incalculable amounts of fish. They've also become attractive target practice for someone with a gun. During the past two months, six seals have washed ashore dead from bullet wounds. The shooter could be a disgruntled fisherman angry about unwanted competition, or an unstable gun owner looking for sick fun. Either way, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 makes it illegal to kill a marine mammal. If this individual is caught, he could receive up to a year in jail, and a fine of $100,000 per seal. At least the seals are now protected. Between the years 1888-1908 and 1919-1962, the state of Massachusetts paid a bounty of $1.00 to $5.00 for every seal nose turned in to authorities. Though fishermen may not like the seals, the majority of residents do, and are upset by the killings. The seals are also popular among the tourists. I hope the shooter is soon found, as individuals cruel to animals are often cruel to people as well. More information about the killings can be found HERE


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