Angling: Unhappy ending to Topcliffe seal saga

Bobby Lee with his catch of 13 barbel from the the tidal Wharfe.
Bobby Lee with his catch of 13 barbel from the the tidal Wharfe.
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Within minutes of its capture, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts were passing on congratulations to all those involved in the seizure of the Topcliffe seal; unfortunately not all ended well as the British Divers Marine Life Rescue released the following public statement:

“Over the last four months, British Divers Marine Life Rescue have been working in close conjunction with the Angling Trust, Environment Agency, Marine Management Organisation, Natural England, York Rescue Boat and local police officers to capture an adult common seal that had become confined to a section of the River Swale near Topcliffe.

“It was thought the animal initially arrived here after severe flooding in the area earlier this year while swimming up the River Humber, and once the floodwaters receded had been unable to find its way back out to sea again.

“Several attempts have been made to capture the seal during this time by the local BDMLR volunteer team with support from the other organisations involved, with specialist equipment such as a large funnel net being constructed especially for the task.

“As a typically cautious wild animal, the seal managed to evade capture on these occasions, either by dodging the equipment or hiding in areas that were difficult to access and work in safely.

“Early on the morning of Friday, August 10, the team managed to corner the seal at the weir at Topcliffe and were able to capture it in the net.

“It was brought ashore and was in the process of being transferred to a transport crate when it suddenly stopped breathing without warning.

“Despite resuscitation attempts being made, the seal sadly could not be revived.

“Needless to say, the entire team and our partner organisations that had tried so hard for so long to rescue this animal are devastated by the outcome and are deeply affected by the events that transpired today.

“A post mortem examination has already been arranged to investigate further what may have caused this to happen, though it has been noted already by veterinary experts that the animal appeared to be underweight for its size, which could have been a contributing factor.

“BDMLR would like to express its sincere gratitude to our partner organisations, particularly the Angling Trust, who provided a great deal of support throughout this complex incident, as well as the many local residents and fishermen who were looking out for this animal, providing information and offering assistance to us. We have all learned a lot from the experience that we can take forward with similar incidents elsewhere in the country for the future.”

Leeds and District Society of Anglers control the fishing rights on both banks of the Swale at Topcliffe and though their priorities are to protect the river’s fish stocks, I know all members would have preferred a different outcome to this situation.

On a brighter note the tidal Wharfe again bucked the national trend of doom and gloom regarding barbel stocks, as the North of England Championships, held through Ulleskelf, showed an abundance of juvenile fish in anglers’ catches.

The final scorecard showed the river’s diversity with the winner, Ray Baraclough, netting seven for 35-10 down to unfortunate Bobby Lee who had 13 baby barbels for 21-8.

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Angling results

North of England Championships Ulleskelf: 1, R Baraclough 35-10; 2, P Barron 25-11; 3, C Hughes 22-08; 4, B Lee 21-08.

Leeds & District Veterans Osprey Lake (Under-70): 1, S Goodhall 55-02; 2, I Upton 29-01; 3, P Robinson 28-05; 4, A Gandy 22-09. (Over-70): 1, D Bocking 46-13; 2, L Burton 34-14; 3, D Scott 27-02; 4, E Harrison 21-02.

Yarnbury AC Overton-on-Ouse: 1, A Addy 5-10; 2, J Purdy 4-09; 3, M Bateson 3-09; 4, D Atha 3-08.

Aire & Calder Fleet Lane Woodlesford: 1, M Haigh 12-02; 2, R Ellis 10-12; 3, C Musgrave 7-09.

JT Rodgers Tollerton Coot: 1, A Jackson 106-13; 2, I Hughes 77-12; 3, A Smith 70-11.

Leeds Transport Poppleton Railway: 1, R Bowes 72-15; 2, B Tenniswood 72-05; 3, B Clay 59-11.

Moorside Poppleton House Lake: 1, K Harrison 87-00; 2, J Fisher 48-02; 3, D Goodyear 46-04.

Wetherby AC Poppleton Railway: 1, K Bell 147-10; 2, C Cavel 90-14; 3, S Snaith 90-08.

Scarborough Match Group, Horseshoe: 1, P Dawson 125-00; 2, G Milnes 96-03; 3, M Wilding 89-01.

KL Tackle Keighley, Railway: 1, J Sayer 143-07; 2, D Parkey 105-06; 3, R Pickles 92-04.

Moor Monkton Pools, Wednesday Rover: 1, A Warren 120-01; 2, D Wright 117-09; ,3 M Gallagher 115-09; 4, A Coric 79-02.

Kippax Park, Lapwing: 1, P Cromie 112-02; 2, N Rymer 78-15; 3, S Pearson 74-11; 4, B Rymer 57-15.

Kippax Park, Lapwing: 1, P Cromie 135-06; 2,B Rymer 88-00; 3, M Shorter 87-10; 4, A Rymer 87-09.

Kippax Park, Lapwing: 1, P Carter 166-02; 2, A Rymer 124-02; 3, P Cromie 121-08; 4, S Pearson 106-04.

White Horse AC, Raker, Horseshoe: 1, P Smolka 55-08; 2, I Day 51-08; 3, T Wainwright/P Sharpe 34-08.

Viking Saturday Open (Hawk): 1, S Bean 126-08; 2, C Shaw 120-12; 3, N Taylor 113-07; 4, S Conlon 94-11.

Rodley Nomads (Viking Hawk): 1, P Cussins 213-04; 2, B Lockwood 206-08; 3, P Mills 111-02; 4, D Lawson 110-14.

Ferrybridge Power (Viking Fox): 1, G Wagstaff 124-01; 2, T Hunter 80-02; 3, C Perfect 76-03; 4, A Wood 76-03.

Barnbow AC (Viking Deer): 1, M Komar 67-13; 2, R Richardson 65-10; 3, B Stephenson 55-05.

Spring Close Old Boys (Viking Deer): 1, R Scott 108-04; 2, L Valley 95-00; 3, V Rooks 89-06; 4, A Robertson 87-03.

Armley AC Moor Monckton Ponds Match Lake: 1, M Cooper 97-14; 2, C Greenwood 79-02; 3, P Howard 64-15; 4, J Robinson 61-07.

Dragon ACat Wholesea Fisheries, Pond 2: 1, Danny Doyle 141-00; 2, Alex Paton 95-03; 3, Phil Doyle 94-00; 4, Dale Evans 91-14.

Angel Lakes Open Lookout Sunday: 1, John Foster 221-01; 2, John Dryden 165-06; 3, Glen Appleby 141-14.

Match Diary

Saturday

Kippax Park: Saturday Open, Lapwing or Osprey contact 07967000746.

Poppleton: Saturday Open, pools £15, draw cafe 10am, contact Roger 01904737279.

Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscar’s, draw 8.30am, contact 01924 892251.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Moorfields Farm: 54 pegs, tickets £16, contact 07710817150.

Fleets Dam: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Birkwood Farm: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01132 80609.

Viking: Saturday Open, Hawk Pond, 30 pegs, £16, contact 01405 785206.

Tollerton Ponds: Open Match all ages, (Kingfisher 20 pegs, Coot 18 pegs, Heron 32 pegs), contact 01347 838115.

Yarnbury AC: Tom’s Pond Otley, Under-16s, August 24, contact Adie Addy 07956964713.

Sunday

Leeds & Liverpool: Kirkstall, contact Roger Movley 01132 772215.

Listerhills: Leeds & Liverpool Canal, contact Eddie Harrison 07518721051.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Oak Tree Leisure: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01347 810686.

Poppleton: Sunday Open, 50 pegs, draw 11am Cafe, contact 07425 146677.

Monday

Woodlands: Over-50s, 30 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01845 520110.

Langwith Lakes: Over-60s, 30 pegs, tickets £10, contact 01904 431874.

Tollerton Ponds:Over-50s, tickets £16, contact 01347 838115.

Tuesday

Kippax Park: Over-50s, draw 10am, tickets £10, contact 07967000746.

Wednesday

Leeds & District: Moor Monkton Pools, draw 10am, contact 07967000746.

Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscar’s, draw 8.30am, contact 01924 892251.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Fleets Dam: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Tollerton Ponds: open match, all ages, contact 01347 838115.

Thursday

Poppleton Lakes: Thursday, draw car park 5pm, pools £11, contact Roger 01904 737279.