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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 16:08 GMT
Battle brewing over Nessie hunt
Nessie has been puzzling scientists for years
A quest by a Swedish scientist to solve the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster is facing a challenge from an English witch.

Jan Sunberg, a member of the Global Underwater Search Team, is making final preparations for an expedition to trap the monster and take samples of DNA.

He is to go head to head with Kevin Carlyon, a high priest in the British Coven of White Witches, who is planning to cast a protective spell on the illusive creature.

Fans of the monster have welcomed the plans to protect Nessie using witchcraft, and warned that hunting the monster is now regulated by Scottish Natural Heritage.

The spell will not stop her popping her head up occasionally to wave to passing speed boats, but it will protect her

White witch Kevin Carlyon
Both attempts are due to take place early next month, with Mr Sunberg saying he will continue regardless of Mr Carlyon's activities.

Speaking from Sweden, he said: "This is a serious business. We have been planning this for a while but we postponed the trip until April 23 due to the foot-and-mouth disease.

"We will lay the trap and then when the monster is trapped we will study it and take DNA samples. We will then release it back into the loch.

"We are aware of the cynics but we don't care what they say."

Club support

Mr Carlyon, who is from Hastings, said: "We basically plan to go out on to the loch and cast a spell on Nessie that will hopefully prevent her ever being caught.

"The spell will not stop her popping her head up occasionally to wave to passing speed boats, but it will protect her.

"We've been offered a boat free of charge by a local man and we have the support of the official Loch Ness Monster fan club.

Gary Campbell of the Nessie fan club
Gary Campbell: "Protection welcome"
"We will also have a local piper playing as we go out."

Gary Campbell, chairman of the official Loch Ness Monster fan club, said: "Historically Nessie has not needed any protection, she's been doing that herself very well for hundreds of years.

"But we do not want Nessie caught at all. I think Mr Sunberg would be breaking the law if he did manage to catch her.

"Scottish Natural Heritage, a government-appointed body, has recently got involved to try and regulate Nessie hunting. But thanks to the powers of white witchery, they don't need to get involved.

"I look forward to meeting Mr Carlyon."

The SNH code of conduct requires that any Nessie hunter catching the monster must release her after taking DNA samples.

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See also:

24 Oct 00 | Scotland
Storm hits Nessie 'fishing' plan
04 Jan 01 | Scotland
Nessie protection plan drawn up
08 Jul 99 | UK
Nessie hosts hunters
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Nessie on the Net
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