Someone likely bludgeoned to death a group of seals found on Murray Beach on Sunday, according to the results of a necropsy performed this week.
Dr. Pierre-Yves Daoust, from the Atlantic Veterinary College, said AVC staff performed a necropsy on 10 grey seal pups and all of them had severely fractured skulls.
There were no metal fragments found, which ruled out someone having shot them, he said.
“Therefore we are left with the very high probability that these animals were clubbed.”
A group of AVC students who were working in the area found the dead seals the day after the animals were seen alive on the beach.
Although the AVC conducted necropsies on 10 pups, there were about 50 seals found on the beach. Some were only a few weeks old, many were frozen and all were left to decompose.
Daoust said it was impossible to tell what kind of tool or weapon would have been used, but it was probably blunt because there wasn’t much damage to the skin.
“The damage was very very severe,” he said.
Along with the recovered seals that would have only been a few weeks old and still nursing, Daoust said others that were visible on the beach were also pups that still had their white fur.
And while they were bludgeoned to death, Daoust said he suspected some of the seals he examined didn’t die immediately.
“That adds to the whole animal welfare issue,” he said.
Daoust said his findings were what was suspected all along and he described it as a very foolish thing to do.
“It’s totally unacceptable in more ways than one,” he said.
Since his findings were made public, others have joined his condemnation of the killings, including the Humane Society International/Canada, which is offering a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to the conviction of anyone involved.
Rebecca Aldworth, the group’s executive director, said she knows Islanders are as outraged about what happened as the people she works with.
“We’re hoping that somebody knows something and we want to give them an incentive to come forward,” she said.
P.E.I. Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker and the environmental group Earth Action also released statements Friday in reaction to the incident.
“This is a senseless and hideous act and it shocks me,” said Bevan-Baker. “It is time that we started to share this island and planet with the rest of nature, and to do it with more maturity and kindness. I’m quite certain that the vast majority of Islanders join me in condemning this sort of appalling and unacceptable behaviour.”
In a news release, Earth Action representative Sharon Labchuk said a lot is being made of the black eye the killings gives P.E.I.
“But we need also to keep in mind that these animals have every right to live their lives unmolested and, just like humans, they feel fear and pain,” Labchuk said.
The Humane Society International/Canada is asking anyone with information about the killings to contact the group at 514-395-2914, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact DFO.
DFO is asking anyone with any information that could be helpful in the investigation to call the nearest DFO office or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.