Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 14:50 UK

Headless seals may have been shot

Headless seal
It is thought the seals may have been decapitated to hide the fact they had been shot

Two headless seal corpses have been discovered close to a salmon farm at Kyle of Lochalsh.

Animal welfare and wildlife tourism organisations are calling for the Scottish Government to end the killing of seals in Scottish waters.

The seals, one thought to have been a heavily pregnant female and the other a juvenile, were found last week by a wildlife tourism operator.

Local police have been made aware of the incident.

The bodies were found close to Sron Salmon farm, based in the Lochalsh Marine Area of Conservation.

Wildlife campaigners Advocates for Animals say it is thought that the animals' heads might have been removed either to hide the fact that the wrong calibre of gun was used or to try to hide the fact that they were shot at all.

There must be a strong suspicion that these seals were killed illegally

Libby Anderson
Advocates for Animals

Nigel Smith, who runs a wildlife watching tourism company, found the seal corpses: "Tourists on board my boat who saw these decapitated seals were appalled and amazed that seals can be killed in Scotland.

"Many people are totally unaware that the fish farming and fishing companies are currently allowed to kill as many seals as they want.

"This killing is damaging my business and has the potential to affect many other businesses in coastal communities."

The Scottish Parliament is to have a debate on wildlife crime on Thursday.

Advocates' Political Director, Libby Anderson, said: "There must be a strong suspicion that these seals were killed illegally.

"We are calling on the Scottish Government to give seals better protection."

A recent independent national opinion poll found that three quarters (75%) of people in Scotland believe that it should be made illegal for anyone to kill seals in Scottish waters.

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