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Accoustic scarer may send Keith on way home
8:42am Thursday 24th January 2013 in A-B
WILDLIFE organisations have been trying to find ways to help Keith the seal get back to the sea following the decline in the animal’s popularity with anglers.
Both the Environment Agency and the RSPCA have claimed the seal will return to the sea of its own accord but the Angling Trust believes its route is blocked by man-made weirs.
Organisations including the Angling Trust have been looking into ways to relocate Keith.
Methods include purchasing seal scarers, known as scrammers, which produce a high-pitched sound that deters the animals from an area and asking the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) to catch the seal and return it to the sea.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, said: “The last thing the trust wants is to see any harm come to the seal but we do have serious concerns for the welfare of our wild freshwater fish stocks, which are simply not healthy enough to withstand sustained predation from a marine mammal over several months.
“We have urged anglers to sign the online petition calling for the authorities to act. We have also spent considerable time and money trying to find ways of doing this without harming the seal.”
Alan Knight, chairman of BDMLR, said: “We’re keeping in contact with the Angling Trust and local fishing club. Catching a seal is not a quick job.
“You need to get the net across the whole river and the Severn is huge.
We have recommended that the Angling Trust contact manufacturers of seal scarers, which will act as an acoustic curtain.”
Mr Lloyd added: “Our proposed last resort of shooting the seal to protect the fishery would have to be licensed by Natural Eng land. In Scotland, licences are issued to shoot more than 1,000 seals every year.
“We hope that reports in the last day of the seal making its way downstream of its own accord are true.”
The Environment Agency has said that it will continue to monitor the situation but believes the seal should eventually make its own way back to the sea.
A spokesman said: “We understand the concerns of fishery owners and anglers. However, one animal on a large river like the Severn is unlikely to make a significant impact to fish stocks in the short term.”