Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Humane Observer Reports: Fur Seal Harvest on St. Paul Island

August 11, 2011

Independent observer reports on the northern fur seal subsistence harvest 1984 to 2010.

Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) have been harvested for their pelts for the last 250 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. A subsistence harvest began with only immature males taken for food. The harvest is a remarkably well planned and orderly procedure. The young male seals are gathered by driving them from their haul out area 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 animal is then skinned and butchered for human consumption. For a more detailed description of the procedures of the harvest, see Humane Observer Report: Stoskopf 1984; Letcher, 1985; Dorsey, 1986; Zimmerman et. al., 1986.

These reports are limited to observations of the humane activities of the fur seal harvest for:

Environmental conditions, methods of gathering and herding animals, and the harvesting of animals are discussed separately in these reports.

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 09/09/2022

Subsistence Harvest Northern Fur Seal Research