The horrific deaths of seals on the Co Down coast were kept quiet for far too long, according to a local councillor.
SDLP Ards Borough councillor Joe Boyle demanded answers to why the revelations of gory deaths among protected grey and common seals were only made public three years after they were first detected.
Over the last few years, carcasses of seals were found with shocking injuries including knife wounds, gunshot wounds and decapitation, centring mainly on the Strangford Lough, Minerstown Beach and Dundrum Bay areas.
Officials says there was no evidence linking the deaths to fishing activity or the marine current turbine but are appealing for information on illegal sea trout and salmon netting.
A spokeswoman for Northern Ireland Environment Agency said: “The department wanted to determine whether there was any pattern or whether incidents were isolated and waited for results from deaths for more than one season.”