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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Seal Sammy shot as 'last resort'
Sammy the Seal with a fish
The seal was shot because of its impact on salmon stocks
A trained marksman has shot and killed a seal suspected of depleting salmon stocks in the River Annan.

A number of attempts to capture or scare off the seal - dubbed Sammy by locals - had ended in failure.

The animal had become an attraction in the popular walking area and when a licence was obtained to kill it the move sparked public outcry.

River managers said conservation concerns meant they had no choice but to have the seal shot.

"We have tried lots and lots of other methods to try and get rid of him," said River Annan fishery manager Nick Chisholm.

"There was a genuine conservation problem - the salmon that run the river are incredibly rare these days.

"We were concerned at the damage to that stock of fish.

"We did attempt to net him and scare him but none of it worked - we were just pushed up against a wall."

Mr Chisholm confirmed the seal - first spotted last autumn - had been killed in an operation carried out on 27 April.

In conservation it is very common that you have to remove some species to benefit another species
Nick Chisholm
Fishery manager

"We hired in a marksman with a reputation for being a very accurate shot," he said.

"It took some time to make sure we had a safe shot.

"It was instantaneously fatal, there was no suffering involved as such."

Mr Chisholm said that while diminished salmon stocks on the river could not entirely be blamed on the seal it had been an additional pressure.

"It was a young animal so it was wasteful in the way it was feeding," he said.

"It was killing and taking a small amount of fish and moving on to another one."

The fishery manager said the action was similar to the RSPB having to kill a fox.

"In conservation it is very common that you have to remove some species to benefit another species," he said.

That claim has been refuted by Jamie Dyer of the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary in Oban who was involved in previous attempts to move the seal.

"It is not a conservation issue, it is coming back down to economic issues because they make a lot of money out of fish licences," he said.

Mr Dyer said the seal was only doing a "natural thing" and would only have a minor impact on fish stocks.

"It is working within the bio-diversity - it is part of the bio-diversity in the river," he said.

"There is a legal right for them to do this. He has done nothing illegal - but from our point of view it is pretty unethical."

Sammy Seal evades capture again
09 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Salmon-munching seal remains free
01 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Divers help seal back to the sea
15 Nov 05 |  Southern Counties
Fishermen want seal out of river
15 Oct 05 |  North Yorkshire
River hunt for hungry seal
21 Jan 04 |  South West Wales

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