A US-based animal rights organisation has offered a £1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who shot six seals off the West Side of Shetland.
The six common seals or harbour seals, a protected species, were found washed up on the shoreline at Bridge of Walls earlier this month. They included two females pregnant with pups.
Now People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says it hopes to bring whoever was reponsible for the deaths to justice. It goes as far as to suggest that humans may even be in danger from the perpetrators.
Spokeswoman Suzanne Barnard said: “The term ‘common seal’ is misleading, as the species has seen a rapid decline in number across many areas of the UK. June is the time of year when the seals are actively breeding and having pups. Local authorities now fear that more dead seals might be found in the coming days.
“PETA is urging local residents to keep a watchful eye for anything suspicious in the area. Because animals cannot report their own abuse and can do little to fight back, they are the perfect ‘practice’ victims for people who tend towards violence.
“Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals often go on to commit violent acts against their fellow humans. As long as the perpetrators of this crime are at large, other animals in Shetland – and even human residents – might be in danger.
“Animal abusers are cowards. They take their issues out on the most defenceless beings available to them.”
Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the animal helpline of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on 03000 999 999, the Shetland Wildlife Rescue Unit on (01595) 840321 or the local police on (01595) 692110. All information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence.