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Cape Cod Official: Culling Seal Population 'Unavoidable'

BARNSTABLE (CBS) - A call for action just days after a deadly shark attack off Cape Cod.

"If we don't do something, we're going to have more," said Barnstable County Commissioner Ronald Beaty.

From drones to underwater sonar, state and local officials are exploring ways to keep beachgoers and surfers safe in the water.

Ronald Beaty
Barnstable County Commissioner Ronald Beaty (WBZ-TV)

The county's commissioner says the problem is the growing seal population in the waters off the Cape and Islands. He has a solution to keep the sharks away.

"It's called culling the seal population," Beaty said. "Granted that's probably a longer term solution, but it's going to be unavoidable at some point."

The seal population has exploded since they became federally protected in 1972. Aerials show hundreds of them basking in the sun in North Truro.

Seals on North Truro beach (WBZ-TV)

"There's too many of them and they're attracting more and more sharks each year," Beaty said. "They don't need protecting anymore."

The calls for culling seals and sharks faced strong criticism in the past. The state's top shark expert says the solution is murky.

"In the short term, we can't change the behavior of the seals," said Greg Skomal of the Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries. "We can't change the behavior of the sharks. The only thing we can do is change our own behavior."

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