WASHED-UP: People are also being warned the sea creature poses a danger to the public
The 30ft long dead whale washed up on rocks near Hartland Quay in Devon last Thursday, and is still laid out on a beach.
The local council charged with its removal is now deciding how to get rid of the creature, which is as long as a double-decker bus.
But police officers have had to release a warning after someone tried to extract the whale’s teeth – an act which is against the law.
UNDECIDED: The council responsible for removing the whale has yet to decide what to do with it
As whales are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, it is an offence to be in possession of any part of the whale.
Devon and Cornwall Police have said they will actively be looking to prosecute any persons attempting to remove any parts of the whale.
The force is also asking members of the public not to go near the creature decomposing whales can be dangerous to health.
After its discovery, an initial inspection was carried out by local medics from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) but as it was dead they were unable to do anything other than report it to the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) – who deal with autopsies of large marine mammals which have been washed up.
Speaking last week, Richard Haste, Torridge District Council’s service manager for waste and recycling, said the carcass had MOVED and washed further up the beach, making it problematic to remove.
It was hoped the carcass would taken out to sea by the tides where it would decompose naturally or could be dealt with more easily.
But speaking this morning Mr Haste said: “Unfortunately the high tides over the last few days have not taken the whale carcass back out to sea.
CLOSE UP: The whale was found washed up on the coast of Devon last Thursday
“The Council are now exploring methods of removal”
Richard Haste, Torridge District Council’s service manager for waste and recycling
“The Council are now exploring methods of removal and are in with several local companies who have indicated they have the expertise to undertake this work.
“We will also be in with the Receiver of Wreck to approve any plans and initiate the process for submitting a claim for the cost of removal.
“There will be a short delay while the plans are finalised and properly costed but we hope that the work to remove the carcass can begin as soon as this is completed.”
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The Receiver of Wreck is an official in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency who administers law dealing with wreck and salvage in UK.
The current Receiver of Wreck is Alison Kentuck who is based in Southampton.
In the past beached dead whales have been removed in several different ways including being cut up and removed in pieces, airlifted away by helicopter buried under the beach and even being blown up.
It is not yet known which option will be used in Hartland.