"As Gray Seal Populations Boom, So Do Conflicts"

"ROCKLAND, Maine — Decades after gray seals were all but wiped out in New England waters, the population has rebounded so much that some frustrated residents are calling for a controlled hunt.

The once-thriving New England gray seal population was decimated by the mid-20th century because of hunting, with Massachusetts keeping a seal bounty on the books until the 1960s. But scientists say conservation efforts, an abundance of food and migration from Canada combined to revive the population.

Environmentalists cheer the resurgence, saying the gray seal boost is good for biodiversity and a boon for popular seal watch tours in coastal New England. But many fishermen say the seals interfere with fishing charters and steal catch. Beachgoers bemoan the 600-plus-pound seals taking over large stretches of shore, befouling beaches and attracting sharks, which feed on seals."

Patrick Whittle reports for the Associated Press July 20, 2014.

Monday, July 21, 2014