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'People get immune to notices' - Frustration over lack of protection for seals from dogs

PUBLISHED: 15:02 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:45 05 August 2019

A file photo of a seal at Horsey. Seal and Shore Watch UK received calls of a seal being attacked by a dog on the beach. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

A file photo of a seal at Horsey. Seal and Shore Watch UK received calls of a seal being attacked by a dog on the beach. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A community group has spoken of its frustration at being unable to do more to protect seals from dogs on our beaches.

It comes after vets in north Norfolk had to put down two seals, including one injured in a dog attack, last week.

The Friends of Horsey Seals chairman Peter Ansell said: "It does happen because people get used to walking their dogs on Norfolk beaches and not coming across anything, and they let the dog off the leash.

"I'm afraid there's not a lot we can do about it. You can stick notices up but people get immune to notices. The law is quite vague."

Wildlife rescue group Seal and Shore Watch UK was told on Friday that a dog had attacked a harbour seal pup on Sea Palling beach.

The seal had to be put down and a spokesman for the rescue group said: "There are far too many incidents on our beaches concerning dogs and seal pups."

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A second pup at Cart Gap, near Happisburgh, also had to be put down on the same day.

An RSPCA spokesman said: "The (Sea Palling attack) is such a tragic incident. The pain and suffering caused by the dog attacking the seal is unimaginable.

"We urge dog-owners to act responsibly and keep their pets on leads around wild animals and livestock.

"Never allow dogs or other animals to harass a seal, especially a pup. It could die from its injuries or could be scared back into the water and washed out to sea by strong currents."

A team of rangers monitors and protects the wildlife at Blakeney Point, which is home to the largest grey seal breeding colony in England, as well as a significant number of common seals.

Chris Bielby, countryside manager for the National Trust's national nature reserve, said: "We rope off areas during the breeding season chat to visitors to ensure they understand the importance of not walking among the colony or getting too close to the seals."

Anyone with information about the Sea Palling incident should call Norfolk police on 101 or the RSPCA cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

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