Calls for group to keep eye on Keith

A Seal Watch group could be set up to keep track of seal Keith and stop her coming to any harm.

Lenni Sykes, who is a natural history writer from Malvern and used to work in the seal unit at Newquay Wildlife Hospital, is concerned Keith could come to harm if a close eye is not kept on her.

Fellow supporters of the wayward seal, which has been spotted in Worcester, Upton and Bewdley, were outraged after The Angling Trust said it might have to secure a license to shoot her to protect fish stocks.

Ms Sykes said: “My main concern at the moment is that people might take matters into their own hands and start taking pot shots.

“My thought is that perhaps we could set up a Seal Watch group to try and prevent this from happening – I’d certainly be willing to liaise with people.”

Ms Sykes believes the best thing to do with Keith is to leave her be and let her naturally move away from the area in her own time.

She has been in touch with one of the UK’s leading seal experts, Terry Leadbetter of Welsh Marine Life Rescue, based at Milford Haven Seal Hospital, in Pembrokeshire.

A veteran of two seal river captures, one of which took a painstaking 13 attempts, he feels there is no reason for forcing Keith to move other than for her own safety.

“It is a wild seal, eating wild fish. Some anglers think that all the fish in the rivers belong to them,” he said. “There is talk of Keith eating ducks but in my experience their stomachs cannot cope.

“They cannot dissolve the feathers so even if it has happened it is unlikely to do so again.”

The RSPCA and Environment Agency have said they will not try and relocate Keith as she will naturally make her way back to the sea. But Mr Leadbetter said he would be willing to offer help, advice or equipment if that changed.

“It would be difficult to capture the seal but not impossible. You would need to monitor her and see where she goes regularly,”

he said.

“She would also need to be taken many miles away because if not then she would make her way back very quickly.”

Anyone interested in setting up a Seal Watch can email Ms Sykes on naturalhedgehog@ taklktalk.net.

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