Fish farmers 'carry out secret seal slaughters'
Found this alarming story about the 'secret' slaughter of seal pups in Scotland. It follows a story published by myself last month where a man was jailed for killing seal pups.
A "secret slaughter" of seals is being carried out by fish farmers around the coastline of Scotland, campaigners have claimed.
The Seal Protection Action Group told the BBC's Countryfile programme that as many as 5,000 of the mammals are shot in Scotland every year.
The salmon farming industry disputed the figure, and said shooting seals was necessary to protect stocks.
It is currently legal to shoot seals outside their breeding season.
Although seals have become one of Britain's most iconic and best-loved wild animals, their love of fresh salmon has brought them into increasing conflict with a fish farming industry looking to cash in on the growing human appetite for cheap salmon.
More than one million salmon meals eaten in the UK every day, and the industry is one of the biggest employers in the Scottish Highlands.
Common seal numbers have plummeted by a third in Britain over the past seven years, with ecological changes and a shortage of wild fish generally thought to be behind the drop.
But Andy Ottaway, of the Seal Protection Action Group, said he believed the shooting of seals was another major factor behind the animal's decline.
The group was established 30 years ago oppose the mass culling of seals on Orkney.
Mr Ottoway said: "Little did we realise then that the cull would simply be driven underground and continue in secret to this day.
"The seal shooting takes place in very remote locations in sea lochs around Scotland and there are no witnesses, and under the law the industry doesn't even need to release the figures of the numbers they have killed.
"We believe there is a mass slaughter of seals in Scotland - up to 5,000 each year."