A seal has been shot to death in a village near Lancaster.
The grim find was made by a member of the public on Wednesday, March 28 at around 5pm under a footbridge on the side of the River Wyre close to the Cartford Arms pub in Great Eccleston.
The man who found the seal informed his neighbour who yesterday went to recover the animal and the police were informed.
From examining the aquatic mammal, it is clear it has been shot. An autopsy will now be carried out by a local vet to try and recover the bullet which killed the animal which will help to try and discover who shot it.
Lancashire Constabulary’s wildlife crime officer, Mark Thomas who is heading up the investigation said: “I am appalled and disgusted that someone can go and shoot a seal. It is a sickening crime committed in Lancashire’s countryside.
“The person responsible has committed a very serious offence. Not only is this a breach of the Conservation of Seal’s act but it also illegal to use a rifle unless authorised by the landowner.
“I want to reassure the public that we are taking this matter extremely seriously and are already following a number of lines of enquiry. I would appeal to anyone who has been in the area during this good weather and who may have witnessed something suspicious to come forward and contact the police.
“Incidents like this just cannot be allowed to happen and the person who has done this needs to be caught and brought to justice.”
A spokesman from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said: “Seals in England are protected by the Conservation of seals act 1970.
“It is illegal to kill a common seal without a license. We are totally opposed to shooting seals without a license and the full force of the law should be used to find and prosecute anyone who decides to shoot a seal without the necessary license.”
Anyone with information should call Lancashire police on 101.
People with information can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.