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Charges possible over illegal seal cull
An Irish District Public Prosecutor is considering charging three people over a mass killing of grey seals off the countrys south-west coast. Divernet
The move follows a police investigation into the slaughter of about 60 seals at the Blasket Islands, off Kerry, last November.
The animals, all pups apart from a handful of adults, were shot or clubbed on the isle of Beginish.

The dead seals were found by Jacquie Cozens and Neil Clayton, who run Dingle Dive Centre. They informed the Irish Seal Sanctuary, of Garristown in County Dublin, which treats ill or injured seals, and campaigns for their welfare.

During every breeding season you get the bodies of murdered seals periodically washed up, Pauline Beades, the sanctuarys secretary, told Divernet. But last Novembers slaughter was particularly bad. The last time we had a single incident like that was about ten years ago.
The killing of grey seals is outlawed unless done under licence. But some fishermen regard seals as a threat to their livelihoods. They are blamed for consuming large quantities of fish and damaging nets. They are also perceived to be proliferating.

But seal conservationists point to a recent Irish Sea Fisheries statement that in most cases seals are feeding on different resources to those sought by fishermen.

And they say fisheries evidence points to numbers falling, not rising. Killings around the Blaskets reduce populations over a wide area, they say, because the seals head to the Blaskets to breed before dissipating again, mainly to the Scottish Hebrides.

In a bid to prevent further killings, the operators of Dingle Dive Centre have committed themselves to patrolling personally if necessary.

Were hoping that there will be more official patrols in the Blaskets, and would help raise money for them, Jacquie Cozens told Divernet. But if they do not materialise, well try to get out around Beginish as much as we can during pupping and, hopefully, act as a deterrent.

*Sean Eviston, Director of the Irish Seal Sanctuary, has died suddenly, at the age of 39. Sean was a very valuable member of the Board and a very fine human being, said ISS secretary Pauline Beades. He cared passionately about wildlife and the environment and was a loyal supporter of, and volunteer with, the Irish Sea Sanctuary.

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