Angling Trust vows to continue pursuit of Keith the seal in Worcestershire

Kidderminster Shuttle: Keith the seal at Northwick Marina. Picture by Mike Fernandes. Keith the seal at Northwick Marina. Picture by Mike Fernandes.

THERE will be no plain sailing for Keith the seal after the Angling Trust said it remained committed to returning the marine mammal to the sea.

At the end of last year Keith, a female seal, managed to evade capture thanks to the extensive flooding.

The trust had successfully applied for a special licence from Natural England authorising them to remove him during the close season, when Keith fell under the protection of regulations forbidding her being captured during the mating season.

The normal protective period ended on December 31 and the trust will not need another licence to capture Keith until Monday, September 1.

Keith has been at Northwick Marina, but her days inhabiting the river Severn may be numbered after the organisation said it would continue to work with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) to catch her.

And with flood waters receding, Keith will have fewer hiding places.

The trust and the divers association say she must be returned to the sea to ensure she will come to no harm and to protect vulnerable and fragile freshwater fish stocks, including endangered shad and eel and threatened Atlantic salmon.

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, said: “The situation has not been helped by members of the public feeding the seal as if it was a pet rather than a wild mammal with a natural fear of humans.

“We are particularly concerned that the seal has been seen predating on highly protected fish species in the river Teme – a site of special scientific interest noted for its eel, salmon, shad, lamprey and barbel populations.

“These fish have specific protection under the law for very good reason.

“The right thing to do, therefore, for the river, the fish and the seal is for all lovers of wildlife to work together and ensure this animal is safely rescued – not harmed, but relocated to its natural habitat .

“The fragile Severn freshwater system will then be preserved for future generations."

However, the latest plans will not please those who believe the seal should be left to swim freely and have signed a petition demanding the trust abandons its plans.

Lisa Ventura, who runs the Save Keith Facebook page, said: “The petition to date has received 2,780 signatures since it went live on December 29, which shows just how much support there is for Keith to be left alone in the river Severn, where she seems happy.

“She has been in the river for over a year now, is causing no harm and it is unlikely that she is affecting fish stocks as much as the Angling Trust claims.

“I can’t see how one seal could affect the number of fish in the Severn, especially as she has been spotted as far up as Bewdley and as far down as Gloucester, a view that has been expressed by many on Keith’s Facebook pages – including some anglers.”

However, Alan Knight, chairman of the BDMLR, said it had serious concerns for Keith’s safety.

“The Angling Trust and local angling clubs have been committed from the start to finding a solution which avoided any harm coming to the seal but minimised damage to fish and birdlife.

“Although in an ideal world we would like to leave Keith where she is, we do have serious concerns for the seal’s safety.

“We therefore remain committed to working with the Angling Trust to gently and safely remove Keith from harm’s way and return her to the sea, which is after all her natural home.”


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Comments (21)

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9:16am Wed 15 Jan 14

imustbeoldiwearacap says...

There is a danger, with the receding flood waters that the seal could become isolated away from the river itself! It is far better for the seal (I believe the anglers are being disingenuous with their reasons) to be returned to the sea. I must admit I saw the seal on Saturday at Diglis, and was quite fascinated - but swimming and feeding in dirty, polluted flood water is not the same as swimming and feeding in the open sea!
There is a danger, with the receding flood waters that the seal could become isolated away from the river itself! It is far better for the seal (I believe the anglers are being disingenuous with their reasons) to be returned to the sea. I must admit I saw the seal on Saturday at Diglis, and was quite fascinated - but swimming and feeding in dirty, polluted flood water is not the same as swimming and feeding in the open sea! imustbeoldiwearacap
  • Score: -4

9:53am Wed 15 Jan 14

RobertMWest says...

"A Worcester Day trip cruiser slammed two torpedoes into our side.

Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first seal for about a half an hour. Keith. Thirteen footer. You know, you know that when you're in the water, chief? You tell by lookin' from the nose to the big flipper. Well, we didn't know. 'Cause our mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent, huh. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, chief. Keith come cruisin'. So we formed ourselves into tight groups.

You know it's... kinda like 'ol squares in battle like uh, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, Keith goes to the nearest man and then he'd start poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes she would go away. Sometimes she wouldn't go away. Sometimes that Seal, she looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a Seal, she's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When she comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until she bites ya and those black eyes roll over white."
"A Worcester Day trip cruiser slammed two torpedoes into our side. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first seal for about a half an hour. Keith. Thirteen footer. You know, you know that when you're in the water, chief? You tell by lookin' from the nose to the big flipper. Well, we didn't know. 'Cause our mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent, huh. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, chief. Keith come cruisin'. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know it's... kinda like 'ol squares in battle like uh, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, Keith goes to the nearest man and then he'd start poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes she would go away. Sometimes she wouldn't go away. Sometimes that Seal, she looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a Seal, she's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When she comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until she bites ya and those black eyes roll over white." RobertMWest
  • Score: -7

10:01am Wed 15 Jan 14

dulon says...

I would like some of what RobertMWest is on please !
I would like some of what RobertMWest is on please ! dulon
  • Score: 13

10:40am Wed 15 Jan 14

liketoknow says...

dulon wrote:
I would like some of what RobertMWest is on please !
he got sealfever!
[quote][p][bold]dulon[/bold] wrote: I would like some of what RobertMWest is on please ![/p][/quote]he got sealfever! liketoknow
  • Score: 4

12:39pm Wed 15 Jan 14

sonofbaldwin says...

For those who dont know it's Robert Shaw's monologue in 'Jaws'
For those who dont know it's Robert Shaw's monologue in 'Jaws' sonofbaldwin
  • Score: 1

1:08pm Wed 15 Jan 14

lilboo says...

RobertMWest wrote:
"A Worcester Day trip cruiser slammed two torpedoes into our side.

Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first seal for about a half an hour. Keith. Thirteen footer. You know, you know that when you're in the water, chief? You tell by lookin' from the nose to the big flipper. Well, we didn't know. 'Cause our mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent, huh. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, chief. Keith come cruisin'. So we formed ourselves into tight groups.

You know it's... kinda like 'ol squares in battle like uh, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, Keith goes to the nearest man and then he'd start poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes she would go away. Sometimes she wouldn't go away. Sometimes that Seal, she looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a Seal, she's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When she comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until she bites ya and those black eyes roll over white."
WTF???!!!! Takes allsorts!
[quote][p][bold]RobertMWest[/bold] wrote: "A Worcester Day trip cruiser slammed two torpedoes into our side. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first seal for about a half an hour. Keith. Thirteen footer. You know, you know that when you're in the water, chief? You tell by lookin' from the nose to the big flipper. Well, we didn't know. 'Cause our mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent, huh. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, chief. Keith come cruisin'. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know it's... kinda like 'ol squares in battle like uh, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, Keith goes to the nearest man and then he'd start poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes she would go away. Sometimes she wouldn't go away. Sometimes that Seal, she looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a Seal, she's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When she comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until she bites ya and those black eyes roll over white."[/p][/quote]WTF???!!!! Takes allsorts! lilboo
  • Score: -2

1:11pm Wed 15 Jan 14

lilboo says...

We are particularly concerned that the seal has been seen predating on highly protected fish species in the river Teme – a site of special scientific interest noted for its eel, salmon, shad, lamprey and barbel populations.

“These fish have specific protection under the law for very good reason

Right, so these wont be being fished by the Anglers either then? Yeah right!

This is about pure unadulterated selfish greed from the anglers, who do far more ecological damage with their discarded line and tackle than any seal ever would!
We are particularly concerned that the seal has been seen predating on highly protected fish species in the river Teme – a site of special scientific interest noted for its eel, salmon, shad, lamprey and barbel populations. “These fish have specific protection under the law for very good reason Right, so these wont be being fished by the Anglers either then? Yeah right! This is about pure unadulterated selfish greed from the anglers, who do far more ecological damage with their discarded line and tackle than any seal ever would! lilboo
  • Score: 9

2:17pm Wed 15 Jan 14

pudniw_gib says...

The claim that fish stocks are threatened in the river is a complete joke. The seal is part of nature same as the herons, king fishers etc. If stocks were low there would be less predators in the river. Leave Keith alone.
The claim that fish stocks are threatened in the river is a complete joke. The seal is part of nature same as the herons, king fishers etc. If stocks were low there would be less predators in the river. Leave Keith alone. pudniw_gib
  • Score: 6

3:19pm Wed 15 Jan 14

liketoknow says...

keith must be lonely, can't we get her a mate?
keith must be lonely, can't we get her a mate? liketoknow
  • Score: -1

3:30pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Dukey123 says...

I hope that when Seals take over the world , they show the Angling Trust no mercy!!
I hope that when Seals take over the world , they show the Angling Trust no mercy!! Dukey123
  • Score: 1

3:30pm Wed 15 Jan 14

New Kid on the Block says...

pudniw_gib wrote:
The claim that fish stocks are threatened in the river is a complete joke. The seal is part of nature same as the herons, king fishers etc. If stocks were low there would be less predators in the river. Leave Keith alone.
Man is also part of nature. A part that has become so powerful that it can and frequently does exert extreme influences.
One of the things that man has done is to place locks and weirs along the river. The effect of this is to limit the passage of any aquatic animal along the river.
It is likely that given free passage this seal may well have decided to return to the sea and rejoin her fellows.
It is only natural that an animal on reaching maturity wishes to breed. Preventing an animal from following their natural behaviour pattern is often considered to be a form of cruelty.
Those who wish to see the seal remain should consider their reasons. Is it because it is the best thing that could happen to the seal; Is it for their own benefit because they might want to go and have a look at it; Or is it because they don't like fishermen and would love to annoy them?
I suspect that it is one of the last two options in far more cases than the first.
[quote][p][bold]pudniw_gib[/bold] wrote: The claim that fish stocks are threatened in the river is a complete joke. The seal is part of nature same as the herons, king fishers etc. If stocks were low there would be less predators in the river. Leave Keith alone.[/p][/quote]Man is also part of nature. A part that has become so powerful that it can and frequently does exert extreme influences. One of the things that man has done is to place locks and weirs along the river. The effect of this is to limit the passage of any aquatic animal along the river. It is likely that given free passage this seal may well have decided to return to the sea and rejoin her fellows. It is only natural that an animal on reaching maturity wishes to breed. Preventing an animal from following their natural behaviour pattern is often considered to be a form of cruelty. Those who wish to see the seal remain should consider their reasons. Is it because it is the best thing that could happen to the seal; Is it for their own benefit because they might want to go and have a look at it; Or is it because they don't like fishermen and would love to annoy them? I suspect that it is one of the last two options in far more cases than the first. New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 3

4:00pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Casmal says...

New Kid on the Block wrote:
pudniw_gib wrote:
The claim that fish stocks are threatened in the river is a complete joke. The seal is part of nature same as the herons, king fishers etc. If stocks were low there would be less predators in the river. Leave Keith alone.
Man is also part of nature. A part that has become so powerful that it can and frequently does exert extreme influences.
One of the things that man has done is to place locks and weirs along the river. The effect of this is to limit the passage of any aquatic animal along the river.
It is likely that given free passage this seal may well have decided to return to the sea and rejoin her fellows.
It is only natural that an animal on reaching maturity wishes to breed. Preventing an animal from following their natural behaviour pattern is often considered to be a form of cruelty.
Those who wish to see the seal remain should consider their reasons. Is it because it is the best thing that could happen to the seal; Is it for their own benefit because they might want to go and have a look at it; Or is it because they don't like fishermen and would love to annoy them?
I suspect that it is one of the last two options in far more cases than the first.
Very well said. I think the voting on this article says it all - bias and prejudice are ruling over common sense and intelligent thought. And no I'm not a fisherman and yes, I hate the sport of fishing and would like to see it banned and yes I've had first hand experience of the harm, pain and suffering that thoughtless anglers cause to wildlife by leaving fishing line and weights lying around. However, that doesn't stop me from considering Keith's best interests and those cannot be best served in a completely alien environment.
[quote][p][bold]New Kid on the Block[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]pudniw_gib[/bold] wrote: The claim that fish stocks are threatened in the river is a complete joke. The seal is part of nature same as the herons, king fishers etc. If stocks were low there would be less predators in the river. Leave Keith alone.[/p][/quote]Man is also part of nature. A part that has become so powerful that it can and frequently does exert extreme influences. One of the things that man has done is to place locks and weirs along the river. The effect of this is to limit the passage of any aquatic animal along the river. It is likely that given free passage this seal may well have decided to return to the sea and rejoin her fellows. It is only natural that an animal on reaching maturity wishes to breed. Preventing an animal from following their natural behaviour pattern is often considered to be a form of cruelty. Those who wish to see the seal remain should consider their reasons. Is it because it is the best thing that could happen to the seal; Is it for their own benefit because they might want to go and have a look at it; Or is it because they don't like fishermen and would love to annoy them? I suspect that it is one of the last two options in far more cases than the first.[/p][/quote]Very well said. I think the voting on this article says it all - bias and prejudice are ruling over common sense and intelligent thought. And no I'm not a fisherman and yes, I hate the sport of fishing and would like to see it banned and yes I've had first hand experience of the harm, pain and suffering that thoughtless anglers cause to wildlife by leaving fishing line and weights lying around. However, that doesn't stop me from considering Keith's best interests and those cannot be best served in a completely alien environment. Casmal
  • Score: 2

4:50pm Wed 15 Jan 14

tub_thumper says...

New Kid on the Block wrote:
pudniw_gib wrote:
The claim that fish stocks are threatened in the river is a complete joke. The seal is part of nature same as the herons, king fishers etc. If stocks were low there would be less predators in the river. Leave Keith alone.
Man is also part of nature. A part that has become so powerful that it can and frequently does exert extreme influences.
One of the things that man has done is to place locks and weirs along the river. The effect of this is to limit the passage of any aquatic animal along the river.
It is likely that given free passage this seal may well have decided to return to the sea and rejoin her fellows.
It is only natural that an animal on reaching maturity wishes to breed. Preventing an animal from following their natural behaviour pattern is often considered to be a form of cruelty.
Those who wish to see the seal remain should consider their reasons. Is it because it is the best thing that could happen to the seal; Is it for their own benefit because they might want to go and have a look at it; Or is it because they don't like fishermen and would love to annoy them?
I suspect that it is one of the last two options in far more cases than the first.
Surely all behaviour is natural. It was a natural occurrence that the seal ended up in the river just like it was a natural occurrence than man decided to walk from Africa and populate the rest of the Earth. It's not cruel - its just what happens. So, if man decided to leave his original habit all those years ago, what's wrong with the seal doing today? If anything it is man that have created the most environmental impacts on the planet. How can we justify a and compare a seal eating some fish to the amount if unnatural
[quote][p][bold]New Kid on the Block[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]pudniw_gib[/bold] wrote: The claim that fish stocks are threatened in the river is a complete joke. The seal is part of nature same as the herons, king fishers etc. If stocks were low there would be less predators in the river. Leave Keith alone.[/p][/quote]Man is also part of nature. A part that has become so powerful that it can and frequently does exert extreme influences. One of the things that man has done is to place locks and weirs along the river. The effect of this is to limit the passage of any aquatic animal along the river. It is likely that given free passage this seal may well have decided to return to the sea and rejoin her fellows. It is only natural that an animal on reaching maturity wishes to breed. Preventing an animal from following their natural behaviour pattern is often considered to be a form of cruelty. Those who wish to see the seal remain should consider their reasons. Is it because it is the best thing that could happen to the seal; Is it for their own benefit because they might want to go and have a look at it; Or is it because they don't like fishermen and would love to annoy them? I suspect that it is one of the last two options in far more cases than the first.[/p][/quote]Surely all behaviour is natural. It was a natural occurrence that the seal ended up in the river just like it was a natural occurrence than man decided to walk from Africa and populate the rest of the Earth. It's not cruel - its just what happens. So, if man decided to leave his original habit all those years ago, what's wrong with the seal doing today? If anything it is man that have created the most environmental impacts on the planet. How can we justify a and compare a seal eating some fish to the amount if unnatural tub_thumper
  • Score: 1

4:55pm Wed 15 Jan 14

tub_thumper says...

Sorry. I accidentally pressed "post comment" before finishing!

"How can we justify and compare the environmental impacts on a seal eating a few fish to the devastating affects that man has created since he has walked on this Earth? I don't mind the seal moving back to the sea. I think it will be safer for her now it's "open season". But regardless, she looks happy enough..."
Sorry. I accidentally pressed "post comment" before finishing! "How can we justify and compare the environmental impacts on a seal eating a few fish to the devastating affects that man has created since he has walked on this Earth? I don't mind the seal moving back to the sea. I think it will be safer for her now it's "open season". But regardless, she looks happy enough..." tub_thumper
  • Score: 3

6:06pm Wed 15 Jan 14

liketoknow says...

'in the 'best interests' of nature is always cliché that should be regarded with caution. this seal may well be out of it's natural environment, but nature is still evolving and incidents like this have shaped our planet for millions of years.interfering with ecological issues smacks of arrogance from a species that as failed in it's responsibility to the planet we all share. this seal is here because nature put it here. what right have we got to move it?
'in the 'best interests' of nature is always cliché that should be regarded with caution. this seal may well be out of it's natural environment, but nature is still evolving and incidents like this have shaped our planet for millions of years.interfering with ecological issues smacks of arrogance from a species that as failed in it's responsibility to the planet we all share. this seal is here because nature put it here. what right have we got to move it? liketoknow
  • Score: 2

6:31pm Wed 15 Jan 14

pudniw_gib says...

While it is understandable that people would like to send the seal to the sea it is not really up to man to interfere with the course of nature. Seals can make their way up the Severn happily and back down again..... If they choose to stay then that is what they can do. Its not our problem.
If the seal is injured or sick maybe we can interfere but otherwise its just a seal doing what they do, eat fish and swim about..
The anglers are talking rubbish and they know it.
While it is understandable that people would like to send the seal to the sea it is not really up to man to interfere with the course of nature. Seals can make their way up the Severn happily and back down again..... If they choose to stay then that is what they can do. Its not our problem. If the seal is injured or sick maybe we can interfere but otherwise its just a seal doing what they do, eat fish and swim about.. The anglers are talking rubbish and they know it. pudniw_gib
  • Score: 3

9:51pm Wed 15 Jan 14

tub_thumper says...

Finally! Some people that talk some sense!

Well said @iliketoknow and @pudniw_gib. Your opinions need to be heard. I take my hat off to you both!
Finally! Some people that talk some sense! Well said @iliketoknow and @pudniw_gib. Your opinions need to be heard. I take my hat off to you both! tub_thumper
  • Score: 2

7:53am Fri 17 Jan 14

New Kid on the Block says...

pudniw_gib wrote:
While it is understandable that people would like to send the seal to the sea it is not really up to man to interfere with the course of nature. Seals can make their way up the Severn happily and back down again..... If they choose to stay then that is what they can do. Its not our problem.
If the seal is injured or sick maybe we can interfere but otherwise its just a seal doing what they do, eat fish and swim about..
The anglers are talking rubbish and they know it.
Man has already interfered with the course of nature.
How easily can a seal make its way up and down the river. The river is blocked by weirs and locks, it is no longer a continuous flow of unimpeded water.
If the river was in its natural state it is entirely possible that this trapped animal would have made its way back to the sea.
[quote][p][bold]pudniw_gib[/bold] wrote: While it is understandable that people would like to send the seal to the sea it is not really up to man to interfere with the course of nature. Seals can make their way up the Severn happily and back down again..... If they choose to stay then that is what they can do. Its not our problem. If the seal is injured or sick maybe we can interfere but otherwise its just a seal doing what they do, eat fish and swim about.. The anglers are talking rubbish and they know it.[/p][/quote]Man has already interfered with the course of nature. How easily can a seal make its way up and down the river. The river is blocked by weirs and locks, it is no longer a continuous flow of unimpeded water. If the river was in its natural state it is entirely possible that this trapped animal would have made its way back to the sea. New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 0

8:39am Fri 17 Jan 14

pudniw_gib says...

As the weirs have been under water for weeks now and the fact that the seal has been commuting up and down from Upton to Bewdley then I doubt that the seal is that fussed by such small barriers.
In the scheme of things.. if this seal makes a good go of living in the river and breeds successfully then its descendants might well live up the river.. if it fails and dies pupless then it is out of the genepool.
The biggest problem would be if folk start feeding it. If its ill or starving then rescue it perhaps but otherwise leave it alone.
Oh nature is so cruel....
As the weirs have been under water for weeks now and the fact that the seal has been commuting up and down from Upton to Bewdley then I doubt that the seal is that fussed by such small barriers. In the scheme of things.. if this seal makes a good go of living in the river and breeds successfully then its descendants might well live up the river.. if it fails and dies pupless then it is out of the genepool. The biggest problem would be if folk start feeding it. If its ill or starving then rescue it perhaps but otherwise leave it alone. Oh nature is so cruel.... pudniw_gib
  • Score: 0

1:53pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Windy Miller says...

For heavens sake grow up and start living a normal life. Enjoy the seals happiness.
For heavens sake grow up and start living a normal life. Enjoy the seals happiness. Windy Miller
  • Score: 0

3:19pm Mon 20 Jan 14

scolesy says...

"Open season!!!" Have my new cross bow,,,,,Just need a barn door to shoot at for a bit,then nice warm slippers here we come,,,,,,.
"Open season!!!" Have my new cross bow,,,,,Just need a barn door to shoot at for a bit,then nice warm slippers here we come,,,,,,. scolesy
  • Score: 0

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