Investigators found that a pregnant seal whose body was found washed up had been deliberately shot in the heart with a rifle, allegedly for interfering with angler’s fishing
Two common pregnant seals were discovered in the backwaters of the Walton Channel, Essex, earlier this year by Tony Haggis, who runs tours of the backwaters. After the necropsy of one of the bodies of the seals made by voluntary group Essex Marine Mammal Rescue and Research, investigators are now suspecting that the seals were deliberately killed by anglers who were angry the animals were interfering with their fishing.
A few months back when the seals’ bodies emerged, a reward of £3,000 was offered by Sea Shepherd UK, a conservation charity which aims to prevent and discourage the illegal killing of seals. A spokesman stated:
“Back in January two dead seals were found with what looked like bullet wounds. One of the seals was taken to Cetacean Stranding Investigation Program (CSIP) based at London Zoo for a necropsy to be carried out. It was confirmed that all assumptions regarding the death of the seals were in fact correct.”
The report written by Rob Deaville from CSIP said: “This adult seal was in very good nutritional condition at death and was also pregnant with a two to three month term foetus. It had been reported stranded along with another common seal and various reports linked the deaths to shooting. The examination found the cause of death to be consistent with shooting, with a single entry wound between the fore flippers. The bullet had penetrated part of the heart and the edge of the left lung. The bullet was recovered during the examination and appeared to be largely intact. It was provisionally identified as a.22 calibre from the width and has been retained.”