RSPCA campaign urges ‘be responsible around coastal wildlife’

A campaign to stop people behaving irresponsibly near marine animals such as seals, dolphins and nesting birds is being rolled out nationally by the RSPCA, the police and other partner organisations.

Wirral Peninsula’s 25 miles of coastline has much to offer any visitor, from walks to watersports. A short break taking in Wirral’s coast is ideal for anybody wanting to visit and discover and explore, and for Wirral residents, there is plenty to re-discover and enjoy.

However, as the UK’s staycation season kicks off, the RSPCA has today launched Operation Seabird, amid reports of irresponsible behaviour towards wildlife around Britain’s coastline.

Common disturbances to wildlife include speedboats, kayaks and paddleboards deliberately getting too close to seals, dolphins and cetaceans. Sadly this often causes stress to the animals and can result in the females suffering spontaneous abortions or babies being abandoned by their mothers.

Other issues include dogs off leads disturbing nesting birds or seals, litter including plastic rings severely injuring seals, wild camping beach barbecues and campfires causing significant damage on the beach and quad bikes or 4x4s vehicles riding over nesting areas. There have even been incidents where beachgoers have got too close to wild animals for the sake of a selfie. Users of boats and other watercraft can also cause severe injury to some marine mammals if they collide with them while trying to watch them.

RSPCA National Wildlife Co-ordinator Geoff Edmond said, “We want people to enjoy watching our marine wildlife but this should be done at a safe and sensible distance without disturbing the animals.

“Every year, the RSPCA’s wildlife centres have to treat and rehabilitate a wide range of wildlife – including seals and seabirds – which have been injured or orphaned due to human disturbance.

“If people have concerns about an animal, they should keep their distance and contact the RSPCA helpline on 0300 1234 999.”

Operation Seabird is urging people visiting Britain’s coastline to:

  • maintain a significant distance from wildlife, both at sea and around the coast
  • never get close enough to touch animals or take selfies
  • read signs and stick to paths
  • keep dogs on leads where instructed to do so and keep dogs under control at all times

Report any deliberate disturbances to the police. Anyone who has witnessed deliberate and intentional disturbance of wildlife and their habitats should contact the Police on 101, quoting Operation Seabird.

For concerns about the welfare of an animal, please contact the RSPCA’s helpline on 0300 1234 999.

Image: Elianne Dipp

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