I am livid after reading the County Commissioner of Barnstable’s stupid shark cull proposal for Cape Cod. He has proposed what he calls a “localized shark hazard mitigation strategy” that would involve luring and killing sharks that “lurk too close to the Cape’s popular swimming beaches”. “Tagging the sharks and studying them is all well and good,” Ronald Beaty said by phone. “But when the day comes an innocent child is eaten or maimed for life … by the time somebody is killed by a shark here, it’s too late.”

South Australia's Shark Cull has been widely ridiculed by Scientisits
South Australia’s Shark Cull has been widely ridiculed by Scientisits

Beaty’s language just wreaks of jaundiced PR spin. Terms like “Innocent child maimed for life” pulls at our heart strings. Then for sharks he portrays them as evil with terms like “lurking too close to shore”, as though the sharks shouldn’t even be there. The trouble is this is just persuasive language that totally ignores the facts.

For example, since 1937 not a single person has been killed by shark attack in Massachusetts, yet over 20,000 people have died by murder or car accident. Each year in Massachusetts alone, around 26 people drown for goodness sake. And 10 people die by falling out of bed. If Beaty, a convicted felon I might add, is so worried about the lives of his constituents, perhaps he should be legislating on bed heights, guns, beach swimming and road safety, rather than going after the poor old sharks that have been falsely maligned ever since “Jaws” came out.

Beaty made a few other crazy statements as well. His proposal, he claimed, is “modeled after the successful baited drum line techniques used in South Africa and Australia.” This is more bullshit. The program in South Australia was a dismal failure, and has now been abandoned after their EPA ruled it never made the beaches any safer, while killing a large number of non-target animals.

And don’t get me started on South Africa’s cull, which has been ridiculed by Scientists for decades. I witnessed it first hand last year and it is a disgrace – They parade dead sharks in front of school groups and tourists, trying to justify their cull, but in reality the program has simply evolved into a cushy employment program that exploits animals, and benefits corrupt officials. There is no scientific evidence supporting the cull in South Africa or Australia, nor in Cape Cod.

The Natal Shark Bord displays dead sharks to School groups and the public to try and justify their shark cull program
The Natal Shark Bord displays dead sharks to School groups and the public to try and justify their shark cull program

I was hosted in Cape Cod last year and in many ways the place should be an environmental leader. It has cool subtropical wildlife down the coastline, and rich tropical waters just fifty nautical miles offshore. Woods Hole Oceanograpohic Institute is based in MA. There are numerous success stories like the rebounding seal population that was previously decimated with a government sanctioned culling program. Great White shark numbers are starting to come back now as well – As as a conservationist, this is a good thing. We have enough people on earth already. 7.5 billion and counting. And we have too few sharks, with many species now listed as threatened or endangered.

I’d ask the people of Cape Cod to send your Country Commissioner an email or letter suggesting there are better things he could be legislating on than a shark cull that has zero scientific merit.