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'Kill 7,000 seals to save the unique Lake Baikal population'

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09 October 2015


The seals need to be hunted to prevent an epidemic and to provide work for local people, Arnold Tulokhonov claimed. Picture: 'Zapovednoe Podlemorye'

The controversial demand to end a total ban on hunting Baikal's indigenous seals came from Arnold Tulokhonov, who both senator for the Republic of Buryatia in the upper house of the Russian parliament and director  of the Baikal Institute of Natural Resources.

The seals need to be hunted to prevent an epidemic and to provide work for local people, he claimed. 'There was a limit set at 7,000 animals' (which could be hunted), he said. 'Now, as far as I understand, the population of seals has grown. Normally, we have about 100,000 of them but now, I think, it's more. And they have a habit of dying if they can't find food.'

Baikal seal enjoys the sun

Baikal seal

Sunbathing in the middle of Lake Baikal

'Normally, we have about 100,000 of them but now, I think, it's more. And they have a habit of dying if they can't find food.' Pictures: 'Zapovednoe Podlemorye', Vera Salnitskaya

Previously the overpopulation of seals led to an outbreak of distemper, he said. 'It can repeat.' His call is likely to anger animal rights groups, with a recent petition stating that humans cause more damage to Baikal than seals. It read: 'The Baikal seal is one of three freshwater seal species in the world, endemic to Baikal. Commercial production of seals cannot be allowed.'   

But the senator said: 'There are locals who want to have a source of income. But they were told they can't fish, they can't hunt. What are locals supposed to do? Why are they in worse situation than everyone else? The thing is that these limits need to be calculated, approved, discussed and be grounded. We've always been shooting 7,000, and everything was okay.'

Arnold Tulohonov

Scientist and senator Arnold Tulokhonov insists: 'There are locals who want to have a source of income.' Picture: Mark Agnor

Fish authority official Vladimir Peterfeld expressed support for a deal cull of 7,000 a year, said reports. Buryatia currently has a 2,500 target for hunting but a federal ban overrides it. In 1998, an estimated 30-40% of seals perished in Baikal because of 'distemper'. Activists are opposed to 'processing seals for furs, fat and souvenirs'. 

Comments (8)

This is absolutely ludicrous and lacks scientific justification. Tulokinov says he THINKS the population has grown. No census has been conducted. Distemper has been traced to wild dogs and wolves in the area. The Baikal seals are under threat from habitat degradation and are being impacted by contaminants such as DDT. It has also been proven that the seals play a critical role in maintaining biodiversity and do not compete with commercial fisheries. .
The Seals of Nam, South Africa
18/10/2015 06:15
I have come to the conclusion that humans think that the solution for any animal problem should be to kill the animal and that the people think of any excuse they can to justify the killing of the animals, I think that it is a crime to destroy animals without just cause. Tell the people to find another job beside fishing and killing seals. Tranquilize the animal and vaccinate the animals against distemper. That would provide jobs for the people and save the seals. What is your excuse now?
Ida Cozart, United States
16/10/2015 18:01
This is a ridiculous idea. My Institution did in 1998 the research on the distemper in Lake Baikal. It is a disease brought from foxes, wolves etc. to the seals. Give local people another income in stead of allowing them to kill seals. That is what they do in Iran for the Caspian seal, and it helps.
Lenie 't Hart (Seal Foundation), Termunten, the Netherlands
15/10/2015 14:40
so let's kill humans to make sure there is work for others and to keep the population down....STOP letting people into the country and there would be work for us. This makes me sick to know that animals are being killed for no reason....
Kortnee , Canada
11/10/2015 22:57
What scientists think about this ? Do all scientists agree with this decision?
Jocelyne, FRANCE
11/10/2015 13:04
Bitte schützen Sie die Baikalrobben! Schützen Sie die Umwelt, dazu gehören auch die Tiere, die dort leben! Vielen Dank!
Siegfried Liedtke, Tübingen
10/10/2015 22:15
Die Tiere sind schützenswert! Sie leben in ihrer Heimat und machen den See zu etwas Besonderem! Bitte erlauben Sie nicht, dass die Robben getötet werden. Vielen Dank!
Liedtke, Regine, Tübingen
10/10/2015 22:13
Baikal is blessed with these endemic creatures, let nature take control here...thinning of the herd is a natural action, humans need not concern themselves...our arrogance inevitably causes destructive imbalances.
Carmen, Ireland
10/10/2015 07:03

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