BARNSTABLE (CBS) – A call for action just days after a deadly shark attack off Cape Cod.

“If we don’t do something, we’re going to have more,” said Barnstable County Commissioner Ronald Beaty.

From drones to underwater sonar, state and local officials are exploring ways to keep beachgoers and surfers safe in the water.

Barnstable County Commissioner Ronald Beaty (WBZ-TV)

The county’s commissioner says the problem is the growing seal population in the waters off the Cape and Islands. He has a solution to keep the sharks away.

“It’s called culling the seal population,” Beaty said. “Granted that’s probably a longer term solution, but it’s going to be unavoidable at some point.”

The seal population has exploded since they became federally protected in 1972. Aerials show hundreds of them basking in the sun in North Truro.

Seals on North Truro beach (WBZ-TV)

“There’s too many of them and they’re attracting more and more sharks each year,” Beaty said. “They don’t need protecting anymore.”

The calls for culling seals and sharks faced strong criticism in the past. The state’s top shark expert says the solution is murky.

“In the short term, we can’t change the behavior of the seals,” said Greg Skomal of the Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries. “We can’t change the behavior of the sharks. The only thing we can do is change our own behavior.”

Comments (13)
  1. Ipse Dixit says:

    Greg Skomal of the Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries said “The only thing we can do is change our own behavior.”

    He’s correct. It’s time to stop protecting a species that is breeding past what is safe and manageable. It’s time to start culling the seals.

  2. Jane Magoon says:

    Samantha Durfee explains the situation very well. I am shocked that Comissioner Beaty would suggest a cull of the seals. Reckless and DUI driving, as well as guns, take a massive toll of lives every year, and yet I haven’t heard an outcry to cull drivers and gun owners. Perhaps that is because guns and cars create enormous amounts of revenue through licencing fees while seals–well, they don’t pay taxes or fees and so, in Mr. Beaty’s view, are expendable.

  3. Drew E Taylor says:

    Commissioner Beaty is correct! Both the seals and great whites need to be managed (the same way that we manage deer, moose, elk, bear, etc. populations to keep a healthy balance) back to healthy numbers (60000+/- seals and 2000+/- great whites today. 2000+/- seals and ?? great whites in 1972) for the sake of the Cape and Islands ocean environment. If left unchecked, this very preventable ecosystem disaster will continue to worsen. In my humble opinion, there was a healthy balance somewhere back in the ’80’s where the seal population appeared to be plentiful and the shark population was probably balanced percentage wise (and, we as humans could actually enjoy the ocean in all of its wonderful ways without the threat of today’s politically mismanaged disaster).

  4. In the past three years, I’ve spent upwards of $4000 to vacation in Cape Cod. My husband and I had plans to continue to return as much as possible, and when we become residents of Maine in a few years, this would have been a weekend destination.
    Last week, we spent $1,000 to rent a cottage, ate out for most meals (2-3 per day) at local establishments, such as Nauset Farms, Sunbird, Corner Store, Hot Chocolate Sparrow. We made a point to visit two Farmers Markets, and we bought from local artists, stores, and craftsmen.
    Knowing that there was an increase in shark activity this summer made NO DIFFERENCE in our plans. We go there because of the exposure to nature, not because we want to control it. We choose not to swim, but that had no impact on our vacation whatsoever. However, if there is a culling of seals or if there will be any hunting of sharks, we will STOP coming to Cape Cod period. This means all the money we spent will no longer flow in to cottage owners and local businesses. There are plenty of places for us to choose from, and we will not support either such action.

  5. kewpie200 says:

    Ron Beaty== insane convicted felon. No, the answer is not to kill the seals.

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