Seals decapitated in Ireland

Jun 8, 2012 by

Seals decapitated in Ireland

I saw the headline in the newspaper yesterday morning and I nearly spilled my coffee all over the table. ‘Seals decapitated and nailed to signs in Kerry’. Seals decapitated? Nailed to signs? It sounds like some kind of horror headline from the war in Afghanistan. But no, bloodthirsty militants weren’t taking revenge on the American commandos that killed Osama Bin Laden – it turned out to be some kind of violent protest involving real seals in County Kerry, a beautiful, tranquil corner of Ireland.

It all began early in the morning in the small town of Dingle when motorists passing the Dingle Wildlife & Seal Sanctuary made the gruesome discovery. The severed heads of two young seals were nailed to large pieces of wood, and then fixed to the sanctuary’s entrance sign during the night. “RIP. Cull” and “RIP. I am hungry”, had been sprayed alongside the heads in red paint, along with Christian crosses on the heads themselves.

Gardaí arrived and removed the severed heads, initiating a criminal investigation. They hope to find a match for the red paint. Officials from the National Parks and Wildlife Service will also take part in the investigation, along with animal rights group Aran, who are offering a reward of €5,000 to catch the perpetrators. Seals are a protected species under both Irish and European law and it is feared the local fishing industry may be responsible. Last week, a fishing boat returned to Dingle harbour with 20 boxes of monkfish onboard, most of which had been damaged by seals and this could be one of the motivating factors for the barbaric incident.

Fish stocks have become scarce in Ireland in recent years and fishermen believe the growing seal population is one of the chief reasons. They have been pressing the government for a cull, claiming seal numbers need to be controlled. Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Marine Institute have been carrying out a seal survey to gauge numbers, but no information has been released thus far. This is not the first time seals have been killed in Kerry. Over 50 seals, mainly young whitecoat pups, were clubbed, bludgeoned or shot to death on Beginish Island off the Kerry coast in 2004.

After eight years, seals are still being brutally killed in Kerry and environmental groups fear more attacks. Dingle is well known and admired for its wildlife, with daily tours to watch seals, whales and the famous dolphin that lives in Dingle Bay, Fungi. However, the severed heads of the common seal and grey seal outside the sanctuary are bound to have a detrimental effect on the town’s reputation. I’ve been to Dingle many times and I’m finding these sinister, gruesome incidents unnerving, to say the least. Corrupt, greedy politicians, bankers and businessmen caused Ireland’s financial disaster. Deranged, bloodthirsty fishermen are destroying its wildlife. It’s hard not to feel ashamed when you don’t understand what the hell is going on in your own country.

imagenote: Barbara Walsh/wikimedia/cc

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