Marine mammals topic sheet: killing a seal to alleviate suffering

Guidance on the conditions when you may kill a seal if it is suffering and how to report it.

Killing of a seal to alleviate unnecessary suffering

Under Section 107 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (hereafter ‘the Act’), it is an offence intentionally or recklessly to kill, injure or take any seal.

Section 108 of the Act allows exceptions for seals killed under specific licence or to alleviate suffering of a seriously disabled animal through humane killing.

The Act allows a person to end a seal’s life humanely in the following circumstances:

  • if it has been seriously disabled and
  • it has no reasonable chance of recovering and
  • ending its life is the only satisfactory way to end its suffering

The Act places a duty on anyone who kills a seal in the above circumstances to report the matter to Scottish Ministers as soon as reasonably practical after doing so.

What you need to do

Contact the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Programme:

Telephone: 07979 245893


The strandings co-ordinator may arrange to collect the carcass for post mortem as part of their research programme for Marine Scotland.

Read more information about recovery and reporting of seals to the scheme.

Reporting your actions

If you have had to kill a seal for this reason, please download and complete a reporting form.

Please return the form:  

The information will be collated by Marine Scotland and passed to scientists at the Sea Mammal Research Unit to feed into the overall seal population data they collect as part of their statutory duty.

Killing a seal to alleviate suffering: reporting form only
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