'Real risk of injury' - Seals continuing to be harassed at Horsey

Norfolk seals harassed by members of the public

A recent photo shows a large number of people getting close to seals at Horsey beach, which can cause them great distress. - Credit: Friends of Horsey Seals

Seals are continuing to be a harassed at a north Norfolk beach despite public outcry after shocking footage showed a man taunting a pregnant grey seal.

Friends of Horsey Seals said there have been "around half a dozen" more incidents reported by members of the public over the past week. 

It follows the release of footage of a man harassing a pregnant seal on Horsey beach.

A petition has now been launched to strengthen laws that protect seals from dog attacks and interference from humans. 

"Something has to happen," said Jane Bowen, from Friends of Horsey Seals.

"Rubbish and debris is already a problem for the seals but over the past five years there has been an increase in incidences of people getting too close and crowding seals.

"If things continue to get worse, the long-term survival of grey seals could be seriously impacted.

"Pregnant seals are particularly at risk, as they need to haul themselves onto the beach in order to rest. If they are disturbed and harassed by people on the shoreline, they use up more vital calories and the stress can also cause them to panic."

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Currently seals are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, but campaigners are calling for specific laws to protect seals from interference from humans and their pets. 

The petition has received the backing of the Friends of Horsey Seals and Seal Alliance. It needs 100,000 signatures to be debated in parliament and is currently below 20,000. 

Mrs Bowden believes the majority of people are respectful of the seals, but a small minority, who often aren't from the area, are causing them serious danger. 

"We live in the age of selfies, which causes people to take more risks and get closer to the seals. We have signs everywhere telling people to stay 10 metres away, but people get excited and don't read them."

Crowding seals also poses risks to the public, particularly children.

Mr Bowden added: "They bite and can weigh between 250kg to 350kg. If children stand between the sea and the seals, there could be a real risk of injury."

The petition can be viewed at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/584224

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