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Big help for wildlife sanctuary

The sanctuary is responding to an increased number of cases where seals have been trapped in ghost gear. Photos: Animal World Protection

HILLSWICK Wildlife Sanctuary is to receive £25,000 from the World Animal Protection charity towards modernising its aging seal unit.

The new unit will include heat lamps and insulation and will improve the chances of rescued seals surviving and being released successfully.

The sanctuary is responding to an increased number of incidents where seals have been trapped and injured in lost fishing nets and lines, known as ghost gear.

The sanctuary was founded by Jan Bevington in 1987, and played a major part in rescuing local wildlife following the Braer oil spill in 1993.

On Friday, she said: “We see seals with horrific injuries from ghost gear and other illnesses and the new seal unit will allow us to rescue and rehabilitate more seals for years to come.”

The sanctuary's Pete Bevington catching a seal that injured by lost fishing gear.

As well as the threat from ghost gear, numbers of common seals in Shetland have halved in 20 years with the sanctuary witnessing common seals physically weaker and of a reduced size and number.

World Animal Protection campaigns manager, Peter Kemple Hardy, praised the Bevingtons for their “excellent work over the years”.

He said: “Ghost gear is increasingly a threat, especially to seals because of their playful and inquisitive nature, but we hope the great work on the ground from people such as Jan and Pete will make a difference and help stop their unnecessary suffering.”

World Animal Protection also provided a quad bike and trailer for Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary in 2014, which enables them to rescue the seals from the beach and bring them back to the sanctuary for rehabilitation.

More information on supporting Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary can be found at www.worldanimalprotection.org.uk/Hillswick