Around New England

Researcher Planning To Study Cape Attitudes Toward Seals

January 19, 2020

A new study planned for this summer is supposed to gauge how Cape Cod residents, visitors, and fishermen feel about sharks and seals, which have dominated attention in recent years on the Outer Cape.

Public officials on Cape Cod have discerned significant support for culling seals in order to decrease the presence of great white sharks, which have been responsible for two serious injuries and one death on the Outer Cape during the past few years.

But the researcher planning to study attitudes on Cape Cod reported just the opposite during a pilot study on Nantucket three years ago.

The Cape Cod Times, describing the Nantucket study findings, reports:

The surveys found little support overall for a seal cull or any other population management tool. They found a high degree of agreement on managing for the benefit of the ecosystem and that seals and sharks were important to that ecosystem.

The researcher, Jennifer Jackman, a professor of political science at Salem State University, has experience in several left-of-center causes. An online biography refers to Jackman’s “advocacy and scholarship in areas of animal protection, human dimensions of wildlife, women’s rights and civic engagement.” She is a former director of research and policy advisor for the Feminist Majority Foundation, which supports abortion.

The grant for the Cape Cod study comes from the Woods Hole Sea Grant program, according to The Cape Cod Times.

The grant program is also funding “the development and testing of a near-real-time shark forecasting tool,” according to The Cape Cod Times.

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