A 47 YEAR OLD man has been charged in connection with the deaths of 18 grey seal pups found on a beach on a small island off Whalsay.
Scottish Natural Heritage workers alerted police when carrying out a seal survey on 29th November, and when officers attended a beach on the remote island of East Linga, just over three miles to the east of Whalsay, they found 12 dead pups on one part of the beach and six on another section.
It is understood that some of the pups appeared to have been clubbed to death.
The man, named locally as Jimmy Stewart, has been released and a report is to be submitted to the procurator fiscal. It is expected that he will appear at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
One recent study estimated that the common seal population in Shetland had declined from around 6,000 in 1997 to less than 4,000 two years ago. Some people attribute the blame for this decline to the aquaculture industry, which strongly denies that large quantities of seals are being killed by fish farmers.
According to research on the increasing prevalence of killer whales in the seas around Shetland, the mammals’ presence could also be having a significant impact on the seal population.
A fortnight ago, animal rights activists protested outside Holyrood in an attempt to alter legislation on the right of fishermen and fish farmers to shoot seals.