Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Anglers say they might have to shoot our Keith
9:50am Friday 18th January 2013 in News
THE tide appears to be turning for celebrity seal Keith with anglers calling for the wayward animal to be shot as a drastic last resort if it cannot be removed from the river Severn any other way.
The Angling Trust has written to a number of organisations, including the Environment Agency, demanding the seal, who has been spotted in Worcester, Upton-upon-Severn and Bewdley, be relocated to protect fish stocks.
If nothing can be done to remove or deter the seal, the trust claims it will be forced to secure a licence to shoot it using a qualified marksman.
In a statement on the trust’s website, chief executive Mark Lloyd said: “We think that the Environment Agency or Natural England should have taken action before now to protect vulnerable fish stocks in the river Severn.
“This marine predator cannot be allowed to carry on eating its way through freshwater fish that have taken decades to grow to a size.
“We will try everything possible to remove it humanely but more drastic action may be the only option if these methods do not work.”
The trust claims it has contacted the Environment Agency, which declined its request; the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation, which said it would be too difficult to capture the animal safely; and the company Aquatec, which provides seal scarers that emit a high-pitched noise.
The Environment Agency and RSPCA said they would not take action as the seal would naturally make its way back to the sea.
An EA spokesman said: “We understand the concerns of salmon and coarse fisheries and anglers.
“One animal in a large river like the Severn is unlikely to have a significant impact on fish stocks.
“This is ‘natural predation’ and it will eventually make its own way back out to sea.
“With this is mind, and also because seals are a protected species, we won’t be taking action.”
A RSPCA spokesman said: “It's not uncommon for seals to venture away from the sea. As long as the seal is not injured or in any immediate danger then we would not be concerned for its welfare.”
Stuart Anderson, of Bewdley, a member of the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain, said: “I am very worried as it now has started taking ducks and waterfowl and soon will start attacking swans and maybe dogs swimming.”
Bewdley resident Gary Mayner took a photo of Keith with a duck in its mouth.
He said: “Like everybody else at first I thought that it was nice to see a seal. But the more I thought about it, having just witnessed it killing then eating a duck, it’s not quite right having it here.”