9 June 2021: The relative effectiveness of two bullet types

Photo: Kathrine A. Ryeng

Animal welfare concerns are at the core of responsible management of living resources. When animals are hunted, effective methods are essential to avoid pain and suffering. Time to death (TTD) and instantaneous death rate (IDR) (i.e., the proportion of animals where TTD is zero), are well-established criteria to quantify the animal welfare outcomes of different hunting methods.

In a newly published paper by Kathrine A. Ryeng and Stig E. Larsen, the relative effectiveness of two expanding bullet types have been compared during the Norwegian hunt of young harp seals. The detected differences in IDR and TTD indicate a higher effectiveness of an explosively expanding (fragmenting) bullet (Varmint) relative to a rapidly expanding (mushrooming) bonded hunting bullet (Bonded). The study was conducted as an open, controlled and randomised field study during the regular hunt in the Greenland Sea. The young, weaned harp seals were pre-randomised (1:1) into one Varmint and one Bonded bullet type group, with 75 animals in each. The observed IDR was 84% for both bullets. However, correcting for the Weather Condition Index, the IDR was significantly higher in the Varmint group. The mean TTD was shorter in the Varmint group, but not significant. Other variables like the cranial damage score and bleeding intensity also indicated a higher effectiveness of the Varmint bullet relative to the Bonded. These findings, together with more pronounced post-mortem reflex movements and lower frequency of bullet exit wounds, strongly indicate that the Varmint bullet may improve animal welfare in the hunt of young harp seals.

The full paper can be accessed here: https://doi.org/10.7120/09627286.30.2.155 NAMMCO has worked extensively on improving hunting methods to meet animal welfare concerns. The published study contributes to answering a recommendation from the 2009 NAMMCO expert group meeting that asked for further comparative studies on the effectiveness of different types of ammunition for hunting seals of different species and age groups. Read more on NAMMCOs work on animal welfare here.


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