Wildlife conservation is an important aspect of the environmental movement. While containing co2 emissions and preventing deforestation is important, the direct intervention of humans in preventing the destruction of animal populations is often equally so.
Grey seals are a prime example of what can be done to help revive a species after it has been pushed so close to extinction. Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) is a prime example of humans protecting our marine mammal friends, and since 2011 have been working tirelessly to help boost the population of grey seals along the Norfolk coast in the United Kingdom.
In the 1800s, seals were commonly hunted for their fur, meat, and oil. Part of how their populations got decimated so utterly and near completely was the invention and usage of firearms and explosives. Their populations were pushed so close to extinction that the British and American governments were forced to implement the first environmental protections.
These protections came into place initially over a dispute over which country had the right to hunt the seal populations but ended up benefiting the seals significantly. Today only, Greenland, Denmark, Canada, Namibia, and Russia are the only countries allowing a limited seal hunt. Grey seals are listed as “least concern” on the endangerment scale.
A major part of this has been due to the efforts of environmental organizations over the decades, as they have been responsible for rescuing injured seals and reintroducing young into the wild. FoHS was created in 2011 after the ending of a project first formed by Natural England and the Broads Authority in 2003 and has seen measurable improvements in the number of pups born on Norfolk’s beaches. Last year saw a record number of seal pups along the beaches of Norfolk, nearly doubling compared to the year before. 3,796 pups and 1,169 adults were seen in the winter of 2021/2022, up from the year before when 2,096 were counted.
FoHS credits the improvement in beach management as a major contributor to this uptick, as tourism and roaming of the beaches disturb the seals who otherwise would have their pups there. They also credit the healthy number of fish in the North Sea, providing enough sustenance for the young.
As we move into the new world we have created, we must acknowledge and take responsibility for our damage to the earth. A major part of this is the establishment and funding of wildlife conservation organizations, which do the hard work of caring for and helping vulnerable animal populations.
While grey seals have rebounded and are doing significantly better than in decades prior, large swaths of our planet’s species have yet to see better days. What FoHS shows, though, is that through human effort and collaboration with our planet and our fellow creatures, we can truly help and regenerate species we had a part in destroying.
Many feel a tremendous sense of guilt for the crimes against nature that our species has committed, but what’s clear is that redemption is possible. We can help and bring about the world we want to see instead of falling into apathy and complacency. If we can help bring back the grey seals, why not all endangered animals? The destruction truly started with us, and as such, we have the burden to bear in ending it.