Seal euthanized after being shot

US agent seeking evidence in case

By Beth Daley
Globe Staff / October 26, 2010

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A mature gray seal suffered massive head wounds from several gunshots and had to be euthanized earlier this month in Truro, authorities said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement is looking for anyone who may know about the shooting, which probably occurred on or around Sept. 30. The seal had last been seen alive — and healthy — days earlier in the Great Point area of Nantucket.

Once so hunted they all but disappeared from the Northeast’s waters, gray seals are making a comeback off New England, to both public delight and damnation. This summer, they were the bait blamed for luring great white sharks so close to Cape Cod’s swimming beaches that some had to be closed, and fishermen complain the seals eat too many valuable fish.

The wounded animal was humanely euthanized by experts from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

“It is my hope that someone will come forward with information regarding this incident,’’ said Special Agent Todd Nickerson of the northeast division of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement. “No animal should suffer the way this one did. It was found in great physical distress with numerous wounds and had been that way for several days.’’

Nickerson said he could recall only one other instance of a seal being shot in New England in the past five years — in 2007, when a harp seal was found with shotgun pellets in its head.

Gray seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which prohibits, except in some instances such as approved research, the harassment, hunting, capture, or killing of marine mammals. Violators can face up to $100,000 in criminal penalties, up to a year in prison, and/or civil penalties up to $11,000.

Those with information about the shooting should contact Nickerson at 508-990-8752. Callers can remain anonymous.

Beth Daley can be reached at

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