NEARLY 2,500 people have signed the latest petition to save Keith the Seal to stop further action being taken by the Angling Trust to capture the mammal and return it to the sea.

The grey female seal was first spotted in November 2012 in the River Severn and has made itself at home throughout Worcestershire, with an extended stop in Bewdley.

The latest petition was launched on the seal’s facebook and twitter pages on Sunday, December 29, and has been shared on social media.

It has so far attracted 2,406 signatures from people calling upon the Angling Trust and Natural England to leave the seal alone and to "let her live in the River Severn in peace, or return to sea of her own accord if and when she is ready to do so".

Last year, the Angling Trust successfully applied to Natural England for a licence to capture Keith and return the animal to the sea.

The licence expired on New Year’s Eve, but January 1 signalled the start of the ‘open season’ so until August 31, it is not necessary to have a licence to capture or kill seals in accordance with the Conservation of Seals Act 1970.

Local campaigners Lisa Ventura and Dave Grubb started the online petition to save the seal.

Mrs Ventura said: “The petition is to be sent to the Angling Trust, Natural England and to send a message to other anglers who want her moved to leave her be where she is in the Severn.

"That’s what I’m hoping to achieve with it – for her to live in peace in the Severn where she has been for more than a year and where she seems happy.

"I can't see how one seal can have that much of an impact on a whole massive river full of fish.

“I believe she should be left alone – she has been in the Severn for more than a year now so she must like it in there, and if she wants to return to the sea where she came from, she will do so when she is good and ready.”

Keith the Seal was first spotted in Wyre Forest on New Year's Day last year.

Anglers in Bewdley became increasingly concerned that the seal would affect fish stocks but threats made to shoot the seal in a drastic last resort were not carried out.

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