Probe into seals ‘slaughter’

Probe into seals ‘slaughter’ Up to 60 grey seals have been killed off the west coast of Ireland in what the government has described as a “cruel and barbaric slaughter”.

The Irish Seal Sanctuary said the seals appeared to have been bludgeoned, shot or had nails driven into their heads. Some had been disembowelled.Divers alerted the sanctuary after spotting dead seal pups on Beginish Island, off the coast of County Kerry.

Police have confirmed they are investigating the killing of about five adults and 30 pups.

Pauline Beades of the Irish Seal Sanctuary said a representative in Kerry had travelled to the scene after they received a report of a suspected unofficial cull of 17 seals on Wednesday.

I appeal to anyone who has information about the perpetrators of these killings to contact the gardai.

Dick Roche
Irish Environment Minister

She said: “The animals were slaughtered. We found almost 60 animals, mostly pups with around four adults, killed.

“It would appear some were shot, some bludgeoned and some may have had nails driven into their heads.

“A person who can do a thing like that to an animal can do it to a human.”

Ms Beades said the dead seals were found on the western side of Beginish Island, one of the Blasket Islands.

Seals are a protected species under Ireland’s 1976 Wildlife Act and it is an offence to hunt or kill them.

The sanctuary said the pups killed would account for most of the seals born in the colony this year.

Irish Environment Minister Dick Roche condemned the killing and said an investigation was under way by his department.

“I was shocked and disgusted to hear reports of the sheer brutality of the slaughter of the seals,” he said.

“The cruel and barbaric slaughter of these seals has a de-humanising effect on society. The sight of seals being bludgeoned to death is repugnant.

Washed up

“I appeal to anyone who has information about the perpetrators of these killings to contact the gardai in County Kerry.”

The Irish Seal Sanctuary confirmed that the Blasket Islands grey seal colonies, which were once the biggest in Ireland, have been decimated in recent years.

It estimated from a count taken last December that the seal population is now possibly lower than 250, down from 700 in 1998 and 2,000 over 50 years ago.

Killings of the protected species have been reported on other occasions but no one has been charged.

Ms Beades said that 18 seals had been reported dead in an official cull last year.

“They are only the ones that have been washed up on beaches. A lot more could have been killed and sank,” she added.

“It is ironic that the people who carried out this attack can’t recognise their eco-tourism potential.”

Story from BBC NEWS