Grey seals are normal sightings to the Winterton-on-Sea village in Norfolk, England. Between November and February, these wildlife creatures gather in large numbers along the 3-mile beach coastline.
While small human interactions do happen at times, they are harmful to seals. The Chairman of the Friends of Horsey Seals, Peter Ansell, recently explained why this is so.
Seals tend to run off out of fear of humans. Sometimes, mom seals will leave their babies stranded and left “to fend for themselves.”
“There are certain ways of telling you are too close,” he said. “If the mother starts to move in between you and her pups then you should always back off.
“If you continue and the mother retreats, they will probably never return.”
This may have been the cause of one recent heartbreaking discovery. A human may be at fault for the death of four 2-week-old pups at the local beach.
Wardens found the baby seals frozen to death and abandoned by their mothers. With no solid explanation to what may have happened, investigators were considering one claim.
Apparently, in the same area where the pups died, a father tried placing his son on one of the seal’s backs as a piggyback ride. This close encounter may be the reason the pups were left behind.
Just from a common-sense standpoint, placing your child on or near wild animals is a horrible idea anyway. It’s not worth risking the safety or lives of wildlife or your own children.
“If people would only step back and think – these are wild animals in their own natural habitat,” Ansell said. “They must be left alone.”
Ansell also suggested that this would benefit humans just as much. “People also often forget they are wild animals and the other possibility is they will get aggressive and serious hurt someone,” he said.
Investigators weren’t sure if it was done intentionally, but it is very rare for pups of the same age to be found dead all at once.
There had to be some way to educate the public on how to handle these creatures, but the best advice Ansell could give was to not interact with them at all.
Others had potentially better advice. “I think the beach should be closed to the public between November and February,” a Facebooker said in reference to the story.
Closing the park could work, but it’s something Ansell said they weren’t allowed to do.
Hopefully, people will soon come to understand that the only way to protect these animals is to respect their space.
It could very well save their lives! And that’s worth spreading the word.
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