Target: Rebecca Lent, Ph.D. Executive Director of the Marine Mammal Commission
Goal: Protect harbor seals from limitless hunting and save them from extinction in Alaska.
Harbor seals are an imperiled species and are protected in the U.S. under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but an exception to the law allows Alaska Native peoples to hunt them for their oil, skin, and meat. Unfortunately, harbor seal populations in different areas of Alaska have greatly declined since the latter part of the twentieth century, at alarming rates.
In South-Central Alaska the harbor seal population has been seen to drop by 90% since the 1980s. As recently as 2013, a harbor seal count at Iliamna Lake revealed such a rapid decline in numbers, a petition was written up, which demanded the harbor seals at the lake be recognized nationally as either threatened or endangered. Although some conservation efforts have been made, populations have never fully recovered.
Currently, there is no set hunting season for harbor seals in Alaska, as the seals may be hunted year round. Alaska Natives are legally allowed to harvest as many harbor seals as they would like, as long as all parts of the seal are used. In addition, reporting of how many harbor seals are killed by hunters is not required under law. All of these things need to be changed for the sake of the species, as well as for the sake of maintaining essential Native resources for the future.
Sign the petition below and demand that stricter hunting regulations for harbor seals in Alaska be set in place immediately. By doing so, you will help ensure that the population of these animals will once again increase, and that they will have a better chance of survival in the future.
Dear Dr. Lent,
Since Alaska Natives are not completely bound by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, they are allowed to hunt harbor seals and other marine mammals as they see fit. Several harbor seal populations in Alaska have taken a dramatic decline since the last part of the previous century.
Populations in South-Central Alaska have immensely declined since the 1980s. In fact, at Iliamna Lake the number of harbor seals were so few in 2013, many people insisted the animal be listed in the area as either threatened or endangered. Unfortunately, harbor seal populations in different areas of the state have never fully recovered.
While there were once 200 – 400 pups born during the molting season in South-Central Alaska, less than 50 pups a year have been recorded to have been born there in recent years. Other areas where the harbor seal population has been seen to decline include Glacier Bay and Aialik Bay. In fact, the number of harbor seals has dropped significantly in the entire southeastern region of Alaska. The most disturbing thing about this news is that Southeast Alaska is the main area where pupping and breeding of harbor seals takes place, and is in fact where most of the harbor seals in Alaska live.
It is absolutely necessary that stricter hunting regulations be set in place. If something is not done now, there is a strong possibility that there won’t be any harbor seals left to either hunt or admire in the future. I urge you to set in place a specific hunting season for harbor seals, limit the number of harbor seals that can be harvested, and mandate that the number of harbor seals hunted be reported under law. We simply cannot afford to not set such regulations in place, not only for the sake of the harbor seal, but also for the sake of the Alaskan Natives and their cultural way of life.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: rogthefrog