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Charity warns of 'inappropriate behaviour' to seal pups

Charity warns of 'inappropriate behaviour' to seal pups

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 5:11pm 23rd February 2018. (Updated at 8:00am 24th February 2018)

Cornwall's seal rescue centre is urging people to keep away from pups.

The warning comes after reports of 'inappropriate behaviour' - and staff have now shared what people should do if they come across the creatures.

It follows an incredibly busy season for marine wildlife rescuers, who say they have saved double the number of seals and pups this winter than they would normally expect.

Volunteers even had to look after them in their own homes until they could be found space in rescue centres.

According to the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group (BDMLR), they were seeing up to 15 call-outs a day after storms battered the Duchy.

Now the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is asking beach goers to be wary of the dangers of approaching a pup, for both the pup's sake and their own.

A spokesperson for the sanctuary said: "Sadly today we have received reports of inappropriate behaviour involving seal pups, we are sharing the below guidelines on what to do if you do come across a seal pup.

"We'd also just like to reiterate if you do come across a pup and have any questions or concerns, please do just call us.

"We are more than happy to answer any questions or advise what to do for the safety of the seal pups.

"It may be a common occurrence for people walking on the beach to come across a seal pup, especially during the winter months as it is the grey seal pupping season."

So what should you do if you come across one?

1. Do keep your distance
If a pup has a fluffy white coat, it still needs it's mother. She has probably spotted you long before you have spotted her and she will probably be watching from a safe distance out at sea. She will only return to feed her pup when she thinks that it is safe to do so. Watch the pup from a distance and ask others in the area to keep well away.

2. Don't attempt to handle the pup
It is a wild animal and it will bite. If the pup is handled whilst still being nursed by it's mother, the scent which you leave may cause her to reject it. A pup should only be moved if it appears to be in danger from dogs, people, stormy seas etc.

3. Don't attempt to put the pup in the sea
A white pup is too young to swim and it is very common for older pups to be hauled out of the water for a good reason.

4. Don't ignore the situation
If the pup is thin, injured or seems unwell (noisy breathing, coughing, runny nose) it probably needs help.

5. Do tell an appropriate organisation
Telephone the Cornish Seal Sanctuary on 01326 221 361 or the British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546

Source: Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Last month, Pirate FM told you how seals were washing up with broken jaws and eye injuries over the winter period.

At the time, Dan Jarvis, welfare development and seal support officer for the BDMLR, said rehabilitation centres just could not cope with the influx.

He said: "We're in an unprecendented situation really at the moment.

"In a normal season we would expect to see about 70-80 pups rescued in this area but we are well beyond that now, particularly since Christmas; it has been really, really bad.

"The timing of the storms couldn't have been worse either, as many of them have happened over the biggest spring tides as well.

"We had a similar thing happen in October as well, so it's been a really, really bad season.

"I think we're at the stage that we can safely say this is the worst season we have had - just the combination of really bad, severe storms on a regular basis and over the Christmas and New Year period, there's lots of people visiting and out on the beaches finding them."

Watch the BDMLR rescue a seal this winter:

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