Humane Observer Report - 1998 Fur Seal Harvest on St. Paul Island

July 01, 1998

Independent observer report on the northern fur seal subsistence harvest

Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) have been harvested for their pelts for the last 200 years on the Pribilof Islands. During this time period, the native Privilovians could freely take the meat of the harvested animals for food. On St. Paul Island, the commercial harvest for pelts ceased in 1984; thereafter a subsistence harvest was begun with only immature males taken for food. This subsistence harvest has continued for the last fifteen years {1984-1998). The harvest is a well planned and orderly procedure. Young male northern fur seals are gathered by driving them from their haulout areas to a specific killing field where they are held in a large pod. Five to ten seals are then cut from this large pod and driven to a group of three to four men who stun the animals by hitting them on the skull or upper neck with a solid wooden club. The animals are dragged a short distance away from the killing area where the chest and heart are cut open. The animals are then skinned and butchered for human consumption. For a more detailed description of the procedures of the harvest, see Humane Observer Reports: Stoskopf 1984; Letcher, 1985; Dorsey, 1986; Zimmerman et al, 1986. Th report will be limited to my observations of the humane activities of the northern fur seal harvest for July and August 1998.

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 06/17/2018

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