Spearmint the seal taken away by RSPCA after concerns for her welfare

Spearmint on the beach at Firestone Bay

Spearmint the friendly seal has been taken away from her home near Plymouth.

She is currently resting at an RSPCA centre in Somerset after concerns were raised for her welfare.

Over the last few months Spearmint has become a fixture at Firestone Bay, leading to a number of animal welfare organisations warning people to stay away from the juvenile seal.

Just last month it was reported that as a result of people hand-feeding Spearmint she has been left ‘very vulnerable’ to antisocial behaviour, physical harm, and dog attacks.

There was anger after a photo surfaced of a member of the public grabbing and "cuddling" Spearmint.

In addition, there were growing concerns that she had travelled up slipways at Kingsand and Cawsand and caused disruption to the town.

As a result she was captured, crated and removed on Thursday morning to the RSPCA's wildlife centre in West Hatch, Somerset where she was checked over by vets.

Spearmint being moved off the beach by volunteers Credit: BPM Media

Fortunately, the RSPCA vets said there were no signs of any injuries.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: "She was brought into the care of the specialist wildlife team at RSPCA West Hatch because of concerns for her welfare.

"Veterinary checks have shown she has no injuries. She remains in the care of the team at this time."

A statement released today by British Divers Marine Life Rescue announced that Spearmint had been "taken back into rehabilitation."

A spokesperson for the charity said: "Many people around Plymouth Sound are familiar with the sight of Spearmint the seal around the seafront since she turned up in the area towards the end of Summer, and along with that the efforts of many organisations to balance keeping her and beach users safe.

"Spearmint’s behaviour had sadly been affected by people feeding her in the wild, resulting in her becoming over-friendly.

"Wildlife groups had hoped that over the winter by minimising interaction with people that she would return to more wild behaviours, as previous case studies have shown was possible, and a small army of volunteers and members of the community came together to watch over her, share messaging and engage with visitors to help tell her story, becoming a huge effort of many hundreds of hours of time overall.

"Unfortunately in the last week, Spearmint had a sudden unexpected change in behaviour, and was found in the village of Cawsand, having left the beach and come up the road.

"This was then repeated at Kingsand a couple of days later causing a great deal of upheaval and an acceleration of the review, given that this new situation developed so acutely and made her continued presence untenable.

"As a result of this, on Thursday morning Spearmint was efficiently caught with minimal stress by a team from British Divers Marine Life Rescue and returned to rehabilitation with the RSPCA while a new plan is made."

Spearmint has been taken to an RSPCA centre in Somerset Credit: BPM Media

They added: "We would like share our heartfelt thanks to the large number of volunteers from many organisations and the community members who helped however they could with monitoring Spearmint over the last several months.

"Their efforts have given her the best chance possible to keep her in the wild in this region, and allowed for a great deal of positive engagement with people throughout who have learned lots about marine wildlife and the issues that we humans can cause them through our actions.

"Of course the key message throughout has been to give seals space and to not feed them, and we hope this carries through beyond Spearmint’s story and prevent this from happening again to another seal."