A NATURALIST has spoken of his horror after he discovered two pregnant seals had been shot and left for dead.

Tony Haggis, 67, has welcomed visitors aboard his boat for the past 20 years to show off the growing seal population along the Walton backwaters.

Around 400 seals, both grey and common, attract numerous sightseers to the waters.

But Mr Haggis was devastated when he first found the corpses of two female seals, around five years old, in Walton Channel.

On closer examination, the former commercial fisherman noted both seals were around three months pregnant at the time of their deaths.

Entry and exit wounds showed the two animals had been shot with a .22 calibre rifle.

“I don’t think the anger has properly come out of me yet. There is every chance they have shot at a few more and we haven’t found the bodies,” he said.

“People come here to see the seals, I could never dream of doing something like this.

“The first was five feet in length, I turned her over to examine her. She was fat and healthy.

“The other one was in exactly the same condition, five foot. From my experience and knowledge of these animals, they were around three months pregnant.

“They weigh around 100kg, there wasn’t much I could do about moving them.”


Mr Haggis suspects anglers took shots at the seals from their boats to possibly deter them from eating fish.

“There is a law which allows commercial fishermen to shoot seal if they are interfere with the nets,” he added.

“I do not agree with that law.

“But there are two commercial fishermen in the backwaters, one is in the Philippines and the other one definitely didn’t do it.

“I strongly suspect this to be the work of anglers.

“After they were shot there was a flood tide, so they drifted up the river to where they were found.

“I have been taking people out on boats for the last 20 years and I have never seen anything like this.”

The seals in the backwaters have a distinctive copper colour, caused by the iron oxide in the saltings. The cows give birth to pups after an 11-month pregnancy, with the pups born in June and July.

The RSPCA are investigating the shootings.

A spokesman said: “We are grateful to the caller for contacting us regarding this incident.

“While at this stage we do not know the circumstances surroundings the death of these seals, we would appeal to anyone who might have any information regarding this to call our RSPCA inspectorate line on 0300 123 8018.”