Police ramp up efforts to protect Norfolk's wildlife habitats


Operation Seabird will help raise awareness about the importance of protecting Norfolk's wildlife including seals, sea birds and nesting birds. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press 2014

Police are encouraging people on Norfolk's coast this summer to act responsibly around wildlife and are launching Operation Seabird.

Operation Seabird will raise awareness of the importance of protecting and preserving the rich wildlife habitats and tackling disturbance to seals, sea birds and nesting birds.

Officers will be out and about meeting visitors in specific locations across the county – including the beach on the Holkham Estate, the Holme Dunes, Snettisham Beach to Heacham south beach, Winterton and Horsey beaches and Blakeney Point – between the beginning of June and the end of August.

Holkham beach

Holkham beach in north Norfolk will be one of the beaches patrolled by officers. - Credit: citizenside.com

Previous incidents along the coastline have included dogs off leads disturbing nesting birds or seals, wild campers lighting fires on the beach dunes and causing damage to the fauna, quad bikes or 4x4 vehicles riding over nesting areas and canoeists getting too close to seals.

Chris Shelley, Norfolk Constabulary's Rural Crime Officer, said: "We're proud to be taking part in Operation Seabird this year and our focus will be on protecting our vulnerable ground nesting sea birds, ensuring the seals on our beaches are not disturbed and educating and encouraging visitors to be responsible and consider how their actions may affect our wildlife.

"We all have a duty to act responsibly and take extra care when we're out and about.

"While the focus of Operation Seabird is to engage, explain and educate visitors, we will act against anybody who damage and disrupt our wildlife and their habitats.”

operation seabird

Rare sea birds species will also be protected under Operation Seabird. - Credit: Archant

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RSPCA Insp Becky Harper added: "This year we are expecting an upsurge in people, who would normally go abroad for holidays, doing UK based staycations.

"It should be remembered that our beautiful beach and coastal areas, which are fun for us to play in, are natural habitats and breeding grounds for many native and migratory animals, including several species on the endangered list.

"We humans share this space, and we can easily and unwittingly cause disturbance, fear and distress.

"As tempting as it is to approach them, we would respectfully ask that all people are careful to: maintain a good distance; don't try to get close enough to touch or take selfies; read signs, stick to paths and keep dogs on leads where instructed to do so; and keep dogs under control at all times."