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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Enviro Sacrifice Watch: No More Clubbing Baby Seals

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 8:21 AM

  • MoeLyn Photos

Environmentalists came first for my bottled water. And I didn't speak up because I drank Hetch Hetchy springwater on tap. And then they came for my garbage cans, requiring me to separate out recyclables from trash. I didn't speak up, because, well, I thought I could manage. And then, they came for my right to club baby seals. And I decided it was time somebody spoke up.

The Marine Mammal Center -- the sea-animal-rescue operation that just poured vast expanses of concrete over the Marin Headlands to create elaborate new headquarters -- took a step too far this week. It announced a "Let The Seals Be" public education campaign, designed to restrain Californians from abandoning that most cherished of pastimes, clubbing, or otherwise bothering, baby seals. Seal season begins this month,.and the state's beaches should again begin crawling with harbor seals.

"We admitted more than 100 harbor seals last year for a variety of reasons, including those that were separated from their mothers as a result of humans picking them up," said Shelbi Stoudt, the Center's stranding manager.

According to the Mammal Center, beach-goers should carefully follow their instructions upon spotting a baby seal, heeding the center as as if the Center were some sort of nature dictator.

To wit:

  • Stay at least 50 feet away.
  • Do not handle it.
  • Call the Marine Mammal Center at 415-289-SEAL

As a fair and balanced public service, The Snitch offers pointers on seal clubbing, Canadian Arctic-style. (Readers should keep in mind that it's illegal to pick up, handle or disturb a seal pup under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.)

According to "The Explainer" feature on, "Clubbing a seal is the preferred method of seal hunting in areas where it's legal because it's safe for the hunter, and preserves the seal's valuable pelt. A club can be either be small and blunt like a baseball bat or sharp and nefarious looking like a one-sided ice-axe. Hunters must not leave their prey squirming, clubbing until they're sure their quarry is dead. This can be accomplished by kneading the pup's head to make sure the skull is shattered into the brain matter." 

In June, the public will be able to visit the Center's new headquarters at Rodeo Beach, where they will likely be rehabilitating baby seals.

Readers with further questions can visit

Photo   |   MoeLyn Photos


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