First Wildlife Victim Within A Nature Designated Site in Carlingford Lough

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Local residents around Greencastle in South Down are concerned about the welfare of local seals following the horrific death of one young seal.

A mutilated seal pup was found on Sunday 17th July in Greencastle with a straight laceration around its upper body.

KiG spokesperson said: “I am sorry about the graphic nature of the photo, but this is the reality we face! This is Greencastle, Co Down, a site designated for its protected wildlife including salmon, terns and seals. The site has SPA (Special Protected Area) status, is a Ramsar site i.e. has protection of wetlands and habitats of protected species, it is an ASSI (Area of Special Scientific Interest) and and OSPAR site (a designated area for the  Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic. This legislation speaks for itself.

A dead seal pup on the beach in Greencastle, County Down.
A dead seal pup on the beach in Greencastle, County Down.

“Due to its proximity with Cranfield which has a thriving caravan site we are seeing more and more power boats and jet skiers spilling into this nature site.

“Just last weekend we have seen the evidence of a harbour seal pup being killed by a propeller (the straight cut around the upper body, leaving the carcass inside).

“The NIEA have advised that is it is an offence to intentionally kill, harm or disturb protected animals in their habitats, and to ‘impair its ability to survive..or rear or care for its young’. (The Conservation Regulation NI 1995 and Wildlife Order 1985 Article 10).

“Many visitors to the peninsula at the mouth of Carlingford Lough are not aware of the portfolio of wildlife that Greencastle holds and use it as a playground for their speed crafts. This article hopes to creates awareness about the pupping and moulting seasons for both grey and harbour seals (12 months of the year) which the seals are at their most vulnerable.

“Visitors to the area are advised to remain in the resort with their land and sea pleasure crafts that are motor powered. Sailing, fishing boats and kayakers are minded to respect the areas around the islands in Millbay and Greencastle and keep a reasonable distance so as not to disturb the pregnant seals or pups. This is the only breeding site in the Lough and we are very lucky to have these beautiful mammals here all year round.”

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A Legislation note:

Article 10 of the Wildlife Order 1985 states that “it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill injure or take any animal included in Schedule 5 (harbour and grey seals). It is also an offence to to intentionally or recklessly disturb common or grey seals, damage or destroy, or obstruct access to, any structure or place which seals use for shelter or protection

The Conservation Regulation NI 1995  says: “it is an offence…b) to deliberately disturb such an animal (Grey or Harbour Seal in this case) while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for shelter or protection (in and around the islands for pupping season)…c) deliberately disturb such an animal in such as way as to be likely to… ii) impair its ability to survive..or rear or care for its young

Grey and Harbour Moulting and pupping seasons: (as per advice from Explores Seal Sanctuary):
 Harbour Pupping: May to July
. Grey Pupping – Sept to December
. Harbour Moulting – July to Sept. 
Grey Moulting – Dec to May.