East Winch wildlife centre boss issues seal pups care warning

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Staff at the RSPCA wildlife centre in East Winch say they are preparing themselves for another long winter caring for seal pups, with dozens already being looked after.

A total of 223 pups were treated at the centre last year, an increase of 77 per cent from the previous year.

Almost half of the total was made up of admissions following the tidal surge which battered the West Norfolk coast last December.

But, even though no grey seals have been admitted so far this autumn, officials have warned that they are already running out of space because of the number of common seal pups currently in their care.

Four more were admitted over the weekend, taking the total number of cases so far up to 42.

Many are being treated for conditions such as pneumonia and lungworm and centre manager Alison Charles said it was unusual to have such a large number of ill pups at this time of the year.

She said: “We’re not getting our normal break between the common and the grey seals.

“Winter typically brings on stormy weather – which can cause huge problems for seals and their pups. When they get into difficulty we often step in to help them.

“If we experience the same kind of storm battering we did last year then it will be tough.”

More than 100 pups were admitted to the centre in the days following the storm and staff were forced to house up to five pups in a pen which would normally accommodate two to meet the level of need.

The charity says it costs £22 to feed just one seal for a week and with most pups requiring long-term treatment, staff and volunteers are bracing themselves for another busy season.

Mrs Charles said: “The rehabilitation of seal pups is a real marathon.

“It can take months for them to become fighting fit, strong and healthy enough to be released back into the wild.”

You can donate £3 to the centre’s work by texting the word RESCUE to 84010.