Plea to keep dogs on leads after seal is bitten in Caister

Seal pup lying on its side on Caister beach.

Professor Ben Garrod has urged dog walkers to keep their pets on leads after another seal was attacked on Caister beach on Thursday. - Credit: Ben Garrod

Dog owners have been urged to keep their pets on a lead on beaches after a seal had to be put down after being bitten.

Television presenter Professor Ben Garrod was running along Caister beach at 5.30pm on Thursday, February 10 when he saw a grey seal pup being bitten by a dog that was off its lead.

After getting control of the dog and returning it to owners, Mr Garrod contacted British Divers Marine Life Rescue who sent out a trained marine mammal medic.

After a veterinary assessment the seal pup was put down.

Prof Ben Garrod, evolutionary biologist originally from Great Yarmouth, says a dog ban during the se

Professor Ben Garrod has urged dog owners to keep their pets on leads when visiting beaches inhabited by seals. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Mr Garrod, an  author and professor of evolutionary biology and science engagement at the University of East Anglia, said: “Our wild animals are to be cherished and appreciated, not stressed, harassed, and mauled.

"I found this young grey seal pup with a dog biting it."

"As a dog owner myself, I am disgusted in this sort of behaviour and cannot emphasise enough that if you cannot prevent your dog from attacking a defenceless young animal, then keep it on a lead.

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"UK law has the power to prosecute wildlife crime, which does cover this sort of incident, so if sheer common sense and decency don’t prevail, maybe fear of a hefty fine might.

"This is yet another needless death of a wild animal, due to our own ignorance."

Di Westwood, the founder of The Norfolk Seal Project.

Di Westwood, the founder of The Norfolk Seal Project which aims to educate people about how to behave around North Norfolk's wildlife. - Credit: Stephen Rowland

The Norfolk Seal Project was set up by in 2021 to educate people how to behave around seals following an increase of incidents along the Norfolk Coast.

Diane Westwood, veterinary nurse and founder of the Norfolk Seal Project, said: “We are seeing more and more wildlife disturbance around our coast.

"Seals and birds waste valuable energy trying to flee from harassment.

"We ask the public to be aware, understand you are in an area where you are likely to come across seals and other wildlife so keep your dog on a lead. This is for the safety of not only the seal, but your pet too.”

What other seal incidents have there been?

A large bull seal died after being caught in a fishing net on Horsey and Winterton beach earlier in February.

Seal dies after rescue at Horsey beach

Earlier in February, a large bull seal was found with netting wrapped round his neck that had cut four inches deep into his flesh and later died of his injuries. - Credit: Friends of Horsey Seals

Despite efforts from welfare charity Friends of Horsey Seals and Marine and Wildlife Rescue, the seal died from its injuries.

At the end of 2021, police were searching for two bikers who intentionally ran over a dead seal pub at Eccles-on-Sea.

In November, Great Yarmouth Borough Council called for action against the use of flying ring frisbees after numerous incidents of seals getting their heads caught in the toys along the Norfolk coast.

A seal with a flying ring round its neck.

In November, Great Yarmouth Borough Council wrote a letter to the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) proposing that the sale of flying rings be made illegal. - Credit: FoHS

In October, police were called to attend the scene of a crowd on Great Yarmouth beach attacking an unwell and ageing seal with stones.

In September, another seal was attacked by a dog on Great Yarmouth beach.

A grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Before that, shocking video footage showed a man harassing a pregnant seal while on Horsey beach.

For more information on what you can do to help protect our seals, visit the Norfolk Seals Project Facebook group and the Friends of Horsey Seals website.