WDCS is dismayed by reports from the Faroe Islands that a “grind” (drive hunt) has taken place in Sandur on the Island of Sandoy where 120 pilot whales were reportedly killed the morning of June 5th. A WDCS representative, Hans Peter Roth, was able to document the inhumane event where where entire family groups of pilot whales are rounded up out at sea by small motor boats and driven to the shore where they are killed in shallow bays.
Once they beach, blunt-ended metal hooks inserted into their blowholes are used to drag the whales up the beach or in the shallows, where they are killed with a knife cut to their major blood vessels. WDCS believes that the driving, dragging and killing, all of which takes place within view of their pod members, is intensely stressful and cruel. Pilot whales, and other species, including bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins and northern bottlenose whales, are still hunted for their meat in the Faroe Islands.
“WDCS is saddened to hear the news from the Faroe Islands today, even as formal discussions questioning the necessity and cruelty of these hunts were happening there,” stated Courtney Vail, WDCS campaigns manager. “From our perspective, the ‘grinds’ and all hunts should be relegated to the history books. We will remain committed to finding a solution to their end as these brutal hunts have no place in a civilized society.”
There is no formal season for the ‘grinds,’ which typically occur during the summer months when the animals can be found closer to shore during the whales’ calving and breeding season. However, this recent hunt at Sandur is surprising considering anecdotal reports that meat is still widely available from a very large grind that took place there two years ago. Hunts can occur opportunistically all year round. Last year, 726 pilot whales were killed with 1,107 killed in 2010.
Pilot whales have been documented by WDCS during field work along the Western Isles of Scotland, only 228 nautical miles (262 miles) from the Faroe Islands. “Last July WDCS worked to save pilot whales stranded on the beaches in Scotland”, said Vail, “it is horrifying to think that these may be some of the same whales who were needlessly slaughtered today.”