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'Lost' grey seal rescued from field in St Helens

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Media captionPolice and animal rescue officers 'contain' a grey seal found in a field in Newton-le-Willows

A seal found in a field in Merseyside has been taken to a wildlife hospital "exhausted" after being rescued.

The "distressed" sea mammal was found near Newton Brook in Newton-le-Willows at about 09:45 GMT, police said.

Police, firefighters, animal rescue officers and a farmer herded him with brooms and metal fences before putting him into an RSPCA trailer.

The grey seal could have travelled up to 20 miles (32km) up the River Mersey from the sea, before getting "lost".

Image copyright Lawrie Thorpe
Image caption The seal was taken to an animal hospital for assessment

The 5ft (1.2m) long male suffered a head injury and had discharge from his nose, the RSPCA said

He was taken to the RSPCA's hospital in Nantwich, Cheshire for assessment after the rescue, which ended at 14:00 GMT.

The animal was first identified as a common seal but, following closer examination, the RSPCA later confirmed it was a grey seal.

RSPCA inspector John Brooks said: "This is the first time I have ever come across a seal in a field.

"There is a brook nearby but that is only about three feet deep. If he followed the rivers and tributaries he could've travelled as far as 20 miles from the sea."

Police said once the animal has fully recovered, the RSPCA "hope to release the seal back into its natural habitat".

British Divers Marine Life Rescue Service (BDMLR) were called to rescue the seal by police after it was found by a dog walker.

Rachael Fraser, from the service, said: "We think he's come from the Mersey area, which is tidal, and he's come up the bank here and he's got lost.

"It's very unusual."

Image copyright Cheshire Police
Image caption The seal was found by a dog walker at about 09:45 GMT

Steve Marsh, a colleague, said: "It's not an easy job certainly because they are large animals.

"They can be quite aggressive and we do have people in our charity that can actually handle those large seals."


Grey seals

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Grey seals are mainly found along the exposed rocky northern and western coasts of the UK
  • They have grey and brown fur, sometimes with a pattern of blotches, no visible ears, a long muzzle and a flat or convex profile
  • They can grow to over 7ft (2m) long and 500lbs (230kg) in weight
  • Grey seals were the first mammals to be protected by modern legislation, under the Grey Seals Protection Act of 1914. They are now protected by the 1970 Conservation of Seals Act

Source: The Mammal Society

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