Onderzoek brutale slachting zeehonden in Ierland

DUBLIN – Het Ierse ministerie van Milieu onderzoekt de slachting van zestig grijze zeehonden op de Blasket Eilanden in het zuidwesten van het land.

Minister Roche zei gisteren dat hij is geschokt door de wreedheid waarmee de dieren zijn omgebracht.

Ierse zeehondenbeschermers hebben laten weten dat onder de doodgeknuppelde en doodgeschoten zeehonden veel jonge dieren waren. Sinds 1976 is het in Ierland verboden op zeehonden te jagen.

Bron PZC, 6 november 2004Generation of seal pups sadistically slaughtered
By Lewis Smith

AT LEAST 60 seals have been bludgeoned, shot, disembowelled and had nails driven into their heads in one of their Atlantic nurseries off the coast of Ireland.

Disgruntled fishermen were the prime suspects last night for the slaughter, in a seal nursery, at the height of the breeding season.

Forty-four pups, the youngest of them two days old, were among the mutilated corpses left littering a beach on Beginish Island, one of the Blasket Islands off the Irish west coast.

Wildlife volunteers were planning a rescue operation last night to save the surviving pups at the nursery by bringing them to sanctuaries in Britain.

Most of the pups on the uninhabited island are thought to have been killed in the attack, meaning that virtually an entire generation of a rapidly declining population on the island has been wiped out.

The scale and brutality of the slaughter has shocked the Government in Ireland, where seals are a protected species, and an investigation was immediately ordered by Dick Roche, the Environment Minister.

“I was shocked and disgusted to hear reports of the sheer brutality of the slaughter of the seals off the Blasket Islands in Co Kerry,” he said. “The cruel and barbaric slaughter of these seals has a dehumanising effect on society.”

The Blasket Islands, just off the westernmost point of the Irish mainland, are a haven for 600 grey seals, about a third of the total Irish population. Of these, 250 have colonies on Beginish. Divers reported the slaughter to Irish Seal Sanctuary staff on Wednesday when they spotted 17 corpses on a beach. Sean Eviston, the sanctuary’s director in Co Kerry, travelled to the island where he found the shocking death toll.

The scale of this week’s illicit cull has taken everyone by surprise.

Pauline Beades, of the Irish Seal Sanctuary, said that although fishermen are the usual suspects when seals, seen as competitors for fish, are killed, she found it difficult to believe trawlermen from Kerry could be responsible. “There is a conflict of interest between seals and fishermen but I can’t imagine fishermen would go to such efforts on this occasion,” she said.

“But it does appear that someone is trying to completely eradicate the colony from the island. Numbers have been plummetting over the last decade and we don’t know why.”

She said that her organisation was assessing how many pups had survived and whether they had been orphaned by the attack or abandoned since.

A decision on whether to remove surviving pups from Beginish was due to be taken last night once numbers could be estimated and places found at British seal sancutuaries.

Gerry Corley, a police spokesman, said that officers believed the death toll was closer to 35 than 60. He was unable to confirm eyewitness accounts of corpses with nails driven into their skulls but vowed that the hunt for the culprits would be pursued with vigour.

No one has been charged in connection with the deaths of 18 seals last year, nor with any other seal deaths in the Irish Republic.

bronvermelding: The Times, 6 november 2004