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Police launch new bid to protect wildlife on West Norfolk coast

Police and animal charity officers are joining forces in a new effort to protect wildlife along our coast this summer.

Norfolk Police has joined the Operation Seabird programme, which aims to reduce cases of disturbance to seals, sea birds and nesting birds.

The initiative will focus on areas including the stretch of coast between Snettisham and Heacham, Holme Dunes and Holkham beach from now until the end of August.

Holkham beach is one of the areas officers will be keeping a close eye on.
Holkham beach is one of the areas officers will be keeping a close eye on.

PC Chris Shelley, Rural Crime Officer for Norfolk Police, said: "We always work closely with conservation charities, local councils and other key partners right along Norfolk's coastline to identify areas of concern.

"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, the Little Terms and Ringer Plover, 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 is to engage, explain and educate visitors, we will act against anybody who wilfully and intentionally damages and disrupts our wildlife and their habitats.”

The scheme, which is supported by the RSPCA and other wildlife groups, was launched in the Humberside and North Yorkshire force areas last summer.

RSPCA Inspector Becky Harper said: "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.

"For many tourists it can be surprising and exciting to see marine mammals, including seals and their pups which will normally rest on the beach at various times of year, as well as ground nesting birds which are usually resident between March to September.

"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."

Anyone who witnesses the deliberate and intentional disturbance of wildlife and their habitats is encouraged to contact Norfolk Police via the non-emergency 101 number, quoting Operation Seabird.

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