Cull Begins: Australia Lures, Kills 1st Shark
Conservation groups slam 'waste of life'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2014 12:08 AM CST
A large tiger shark like this one was shot in the head and dumped back in the ocean.   (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

(Newser) – The first shark has been killed off Western Australia under a controversial new policy aimed at protecting swimmers from attacks. A large tiger shark attracted by a baited line was shot in the head several times and its body was dumped at sea, reports the Western Australian. Thousands of people have demonstrated on Perth beaches against the cull, which environmentalists say is not a proven way to reduce shark attacks and could even increase them by giving swimmers a false sense of security, AP reports.

"To think that we're wasting this opportunity to tag and to find out more about these creatures, that we're just going to slaughter them and dump them—it's just such a waste of life," says a spokeswoman for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. But Western Australia's premier insists the cull is necessary because of the "imminent danger" to beachgoers. "I get no pleasure at seeing sharks killed but I have an overriding responsibility to protect the people of Western Australia and that’s what I’m doing," he told reporters. Sea Shepherd has been busy in the Pacific recently. (Click for more on how Australia intends to catch the sharks.)