Seal charity to take 'unprecendented' action to protect Norfolk seal colony
- Credit: Friends of Horsey Seals
A Norfolk seal charity is taking extra precautions to protect the welfare of seals on Norfolk beaches during their breeding season this autumn and winter.
Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS), who help protect the Atlantic grey seal colony on Horsey and Winterton beaches, will begin their annual voluntary beach closure a week before the half term on Saturday October 23. They have also promised to deploy volunteer wardens to protect the seals as much as possible.
Over the summer months, an increase in the number of visitors to the region's beaches led to a number of incidents where people were found to be harassing seals by getting too close to them, or by not controlling their dogs properly.
This has caused concern for the charity, as pregnant seals are particularly vulnerable at this time.
People getting too close prevents seals from resting. This is particularly dangerous for mothers as they need to conserve their energy and keep up their body weight up so they can feed their pups and survive themselves after the birth.
Peter Ansell, chairman of Friends of Horsey Seals, said: "As the half term break takes us to the end of October this year, we are taking the unprecedented step at Horsey of starting the voluntary beach closure commencing Saturday 23rd October.
"This is to avoid public disturbance of the pregnant Grey Seals, due to start giving birth during the following week. I hope the public will understand this and support us once again as in past seasons."
Last year there were around 2500 pups born on Horsey and Winterton. However, up to 60pc of seal pups die within their first 18 months.
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This makes it even more vital that expecting mothers are protected as much as possible from people getting too close and disturbing them when they are at their most vulnerable.
Despite the beach closures, people will still be able to get a good view of the seals without disturbing them, by visiting special viewing points on the top of the sand dunes. Wardens will be on hand to guide visitors and to answer any questions people may have about the breeding season, which runs from November to January.