The Great Seal Hunt To Start This Summer
Environmentalists across the world are aghast at a new policy issued by the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office that seeks to solve several coastal problems via a mass culling of our seal population.
A bounty of $20 per seal will be paid out for every dead seal brought to the BCSO this upcoming summer. The money will come from the sheriff's operating budget, most of which used to go to the operation of the Barnstable County House Of Correction.
The seal hunt will be performed for several reasons. First of all, seals are visiting Cape Cod in overwhelming numbers, throwing off the natural balance in a fragile ecosystem. Fish, plovers, and even whales are hurt by seals, either by competition for food or via direct predation.
Also, the seals harm fishermen, as they both go after the same fish. Official estimates are bad enough that we might be Cape Seagull by 2025 or so, as the Cod population will be locally extinct. Cape Cod's fishing industry is a federally-declared disaster area, and it's not like our economy is chock full of jobs for the suddenly beached fishermen.
Seals also are destroying our shellfish industry. Seals are capable of digging up clams and cracking them open with their teeth. Shellfishing is a major Cape Cod industry, and local seafood is a major draw for Cape Cod's hundreds of restaurants.
Finally, seals draw in Great White Sharks. It's what we call Ecological Algebra, plain and simple. Sharks eat seals, seals visit Cape Cod, so therefore....
One single fatal shark attack would destroy Cape Cod's tourist economy, which would in turn destroy Cape Cod. Cape Cod has been almost entirely tourist/nautical driven since the Industrial Revolution, which bypassed Cape Cod due to our lack of rivers.
A fatal, nationally-broadcast shark attack (or even a well-shot YouTube video of one) would be a disaster for us. The sharks seem to be entirely focused on the Outer Cape, meaning that a tourist would be much, much safer spending their vacation dollars in the Hamptons or in Maine. We'd also experience a mass sell-off of properties owned by wealthier residents who can afford having Option B on the menu... rather than being Option B on the menu
Once that happens, we're Cape Broke.
The possibility of a Cape-shattering shark attack was discussed at length at a recent Cape Cod shark forum, and one idea jumped to the forefront- a seal culling. If we take away the shark's food, there's no real reason for the behemoth apex predators to stay here.
It is also something that both fishermen and marine ecologists agree on. Cape Cod has a population of near 20,000 seals, and we just can't support them. "Our ideal seal population is about 300-1000," said National Marine Rescue League spokesman Dr. Phil Nonesuch. "Anything beyond that creates a strain on the ecosystem."
"I've been shooting them for about 5 years, so it's nice that the bullets will pay for themselves now," said one local captain who wished to remain anonymous. "They're like overgrown rats with flippers."
Special Sheriff Jeff Perry spoke at length on the matter in an exclusive February 29th interview. "We have a series of problems which can all be traced to our burgeoning seal population. The solution isn't pretty, but- considering the shellfishers, swimmers, hotels, seasonal rentals, fishermen, tourists, restaurants and basic town-by-town dependency on the sea involved in the equation- it's a win/win/win/win/win/win/win/win situation."
Perry said that the money taken from the HOC operations will be replaced by feeding HOC inmates a steady diet of Seal. "Cry me a river, blubber me a breakfast," said our Special Sheriff. "110,000 Eskimoes can't be wrong."
No licenses will be required to hunt seals. It is expected to be a sort of economic stimulus package for local fishermen, who suddenly have a new species to hunt. Once the seals (and sharks) are gone, our local fish stocks will rebound mightily. This will, in turn, create more fisherman jobs, to the benefit of our economy.
Very little training is available from which to impart seal-killing skills. The smash-their-head-with-a-club methods practiced by Harp Seal-harvesting Eskimoes only work if you live somewhere icy that seals use to flee polar bears. if you catch one onshore, a bat or an axe will do the trick. On the seas, a harpoon or even a shotgun is recommended. "Don't fire off a gun in a residential area, unless you want Seal Benedict for breakfast every day," said Sheriff Perry.
Generally, the management of our local fisheries is left to the Massachusetts Department Of Fish And Game, but they were dragging their heels on the matter. The BCSO had the cojones to take the steps necessary for the survival of the region. An extensive legal battle is forthcoming, but the BCSO holds the high ground that the tree-huggers need to take.
We'll be back with an update, probably at this time next year - on April Fool's Day.