Search is one for ‘loathsome’ seal killer

The dead seal
The dead seal
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A WOMAN whose husband retrieved the body of a dead seal from the River Wyre has described the person that shot the animal as ‘loathsome’.

Police have launched an investigation following the discovery of the dead seal, which had been shot in the head.

The seal, believed to be the one known to locals as ’Sammy’, who had been living in the river between Cartford and Churchtown for the past three months, was found last Wednesday.

This week the woman who made the grisly discovery, after being alerted by a neighbour who had first spotted the seal, said she found it sickening that someone could do such a thing.

Great Eccleston resident Lesley Kelley and husband Michael found the seal close to a footbridge near the Cartford Inn, Little Eccleston.

They reported the find to the Marine Conservation Society, but anxious that the body could drift with the tide, Mr Kelley borrowed a wheelbarrow from a local farm, hauled the seal’s body out of the river and wheeled it to his home in St Mary’s Road, Great Eccleston, and contacted the police.

Mrs Kelley told the Courier: “I find it sickening, loathsome, unnecessary and quite frightening.”

She said she and her husband, who regularly walk along the riverbank, had heard rumours about the seal having being shot, possibly by an angler angry at the amount of fish being taken from the river.

Last week the Courier reported the seal had not been seen for about two weeks, with some speculating it may have made its way back to Morecambe Bay at Fleetwood.

Police say they are treating the incident very seriously.

Lancashire Constabulary’s wildlife crime officer, Mark Thomas, said: “I am appalled and disgusted that someone can go and shoot a seal. It is a sickening crime committed in Lancashire’s countryside.

“The person responsible has committed a very serious offence. Not only is this a breach of the Conservation of Seals Act but it also illegal to use a rifle unless authorised by the landowner.’’

After examining the body police say it is clear it has been shot, and issued a photo showing the animal with blood on its head.

An autopsy is to be carried out by a local vet to try to recover the bullet which killed the animal - a procedure which may help discover who shot it.

‘Sammy’ had become a local attraction over the past few months, with visitors going to the riverbank to try to catch a glimpse.

An attempt several weeks ago by a marine life rescue group to capture the seal in a net, and return it to the sea, failed.

• Anyone with information should call Lancashire police on 101. People with information can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.