The RSPCA is issuing advice on what to do if you come across a seal after a number of alarming incidents along the Yorkshire Coast recently, including one where a seal was injured by a dog.
The seal was collected from Flamborough on Monday (23 January) and is now receiving treatment.
RSPCA inspector Claire Little said: “We had been monitoring the seal for two days – an officer had been out to check on it on Saturday and again on Sunday – and the seal was doing fine but when I attended on Monday it was injured.
“It had clearly been attacked by a dog, and had multiple puncture wounds around it’s rear flipper, which meant it needed to be brought into care for treatment.
“Fortunately infection hadn’t set in so we’re optimistic it will make a full recovery, but this needn’t have happened. People must not allow their dogs to go near seals.”
RSPCA officers have been out to several calls about seals in the Scarborough, Whitby, Bridlington and Hull areas over the past few weeks and are concerned by the actions of some members of the public.
“I got to one job and found someone sitting their child on top of the seal to have a photograph taken,” said inspector Little. “Clearly this is not good for the seal, but there is also a public health aspect to it too – seals can give a nasty bite which will become infected by the bacteria in a seal’s mouth.
“Someone told me they had picked a seal up by the rear flipper and dragged it down the beach to try to put it back into the sea.
“Another man was bringing a washing up bowl to a seal he had come across and was dousing it in water.
“There’s no excuse for the first of these examples of course, but I do recognise that sometimes people are doing what they think is the right thing for animal welfare, but it isn’t.
“Just because a seal isn’t in the water doesn’t mean there is something wrong with it, and sometimes people are interfering when they don’t need to and doing more harm than good.”
Officers say it’s been three weeks since they last saw a ‘white coat’ – the term sometimes used for a young grey seal pup because of the white fur covering its body. Most have now moulted and are capable of caring for themselves without their parent’s assistance.
If you find a seal pup that looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress the RSPCA’s advice is to monitor it first from a safe distance for 24 hours. We have an advice page on our website for what to do if you find a seal pup you think needs help: www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/orphanedanimals/sealpups
If you think that the pup is sick or injured – please keep a safe distance and call our 24-hour advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.
Don’t touch seals, as they can give a nasty bite, and keep children, dogs and other animals away from them.
If you would like to help the RSPCA, text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).