The population of certain species of seal using well-defined breeding grounds increases to the point that culling is considered necessary to prevent over-crowding and to maintain a stable population. Such culls may be performed regularly or irregularly and may involve the slaughter of adults or of seal pups. The usual practice, in the case of young seals, is to kill them with one or more blows to the head using a club. Death may not be instantaneous and some of the animals may be, possible inadvertently, skinned before death takes place (which is difficult to establish) or before the animal is unconscious. When adults are culled, mothers may be shot leaving the pups abandoned.
In 1993, Norway killed almost 20,000 seals, 90% of which were Greenland seals.