By Mike Sula and Eric LangerThe sealers, who are part of a large, $6 billion industry, are using chemicals to kill seals, often without warning or even warning them to stop, an analysis shows.
The seals are being killed in ways that are inconsistent with their natural behavior, which is to swim across the surface of water, the analysis found.
The sealers can use chemicals, such as boric acid, to kill the seals without warning them, the research by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Smithsonian Institution found.
Scientists say the practice of using chemicals that kill seals and cause other problems to kill or immobilize seals, and their use to kill other animals, violates the Endangered Species Act.
Sealers say their business is helping to keep wildlife in a safe environment.
They say their work is not killing animals, but they have been sued by animal rights groups for harming seals.
The practice of sealers using chemicals for killing seals is controversial and not well-documented, said Dr. Richard M. Siegel, an expert on sealers and director of the seal program at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
He said he has studied seals for decades and found they have strong instincts and respond to threats.
But, he said, he has never seen the sealers do that.
Siegel, who has researched the practice for more than 25 years, said the research shows sealers were in violation of the law when they killed and immobilized seals without a warning, and they failed to provide any information to the seal population about the risks.
He said the seals that were killed were trapped by a sealer.
The seals died in the laboratory, and the seals died after being thrown off a boat or being dragged by a fishing boat, he added.
He noted that seals have evolved into scavengers that need water and oxygen.
But the scientists said their findings suggest the sealer method may be less effective than the traditional methods.
“It’s important to keep in mind that this is an ongoing and highly controversial issue, so we will continue to monitor the issue,” Siegel said.
The researchers conducted the research after a seal population was hit by a wave of seal killing that swept through Washington and parts of Idaho.
The study focused on the southernmost counties, which include Prince George’s, Maryland and Prince William, Virginia.
The report was published online on Monday in the journal Science.
The results have been disputed by the National Wildlife Federation, which said the seal killing is unnecessary and unethical.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which has the authority to regulate sealers’ operations, did not respond to a request for comment.
Snyder, the state wildlife commissioner, said he supports the science and the science supports the seal kill.
“We have to live with the fact that they are a huge part of our life and that they can do a lot of harm,” Snyder said.
He added that seals, like all animals, have their own way of protecting themselves, and there is no way to determine what kind of harm sealers may be doing.
Sulle said he believes the seals’ natural instincts are not being properly recognized.
Sule said the practice has been used for generations to protect a local ecosystem.
He also said it has no scientific basis.
Sole and his colleagues say that in some cases, sealers have been caught on camera trapping the seals with hooks in their mouths or tying them to the shorelines.
The seal kills are controversial because they violate the Endangers Wildlife Protection Act.
Solicitor General Jeffrey Waller said in a letter last month to the Department of Agriculture that the seal use violates the law because it violates a federal law that protects endangered species.
The law requires sealers to notify the public about the use of certain chemicals and to obtain permission from a government agency before using them.