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Analyses of four centuries of bounty hunting on seals in Zeeland, SW-Netherlands
de Vooijs, K.G.N.; Brasseur, S.M.J.M.; van der Meer, J.; Reijnders, P.J.H. (2012). Analyses of four centuries of bounty hunting on seals in Zeeland, SW-Netherlands. Lutra 55(1): 55-65
In: Rijksmuseum voor Natuurlijke Historie Lutra (Leiden). Brill: Leiden. ISSN 0024-7634
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    seal hunting, bounty scheme, SW-Netherlands, privateers, hunting methods, Zeeland

Authors  Top 
  • de Vooijs, K.G.N.
  • Brasseur, S.M.J.M.
  • van der Meer, J.
  • Reijnders, P.J.H.

    For centuries, bounty hunts for seals (Phoca vitulina) were conducted in the Province of Zeeland (SWNetherlands).Records of bounties paid for seals hunted in that area have been archived by the province of Zeelandfrom the 16th until the 20th century. These hunting records were used to reconstruct the numbers of seals caughteach year in order to subsequently investigate the effect of social and historical events on the hunt. Based on thetype of records we discerned three periods in the bounty hunts: 16th until 19th century, 19th century, and 20th century.During these periods large fluctuations in numbers of seals killed were observed. In the first period, highyields were achieved when experienced hunters (Frisians) came to the area, whereas the presence of privateers- and to a much lesser extent war activities - lead to significant lower seal catches. The effects of these events onthe hunt appear to be so significant that it impairs the reconstruction of the population size in the pre-20th centuryperiod. This is different for the 20th century. Besides the periods during the two World Wars, no large scalechanges in environmental conditions occurred. Efficacy of hunting methods took effect from 1900 onwards, whenfirearms became increasingly accurate. When bounty payments stopped in1934, the seal hunt still continued andcatches were registered. When the hunt was finally closed in 1961, the population in the SW-Netherlands had beendecreased to approximately five percent of its estimated size around 1900. It has not recovered since then, mainlydue to lack of immigration, high mortality, excessive disturbance, and low reproduction.

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