‘Observe, don’t disturb’ our wildlife say police
'Observe, don’t disturb’ is the message to visitors who go to the Suffolk coast this summer to enjoy the county’s wildlife.
Suffolk Constabulary has signed up to the national initiative Operation Seabird, led by the RSPCA, to raise awareness of the importance of protecting and preserving our rich wildlife habitats and tackling disturbances to seals, sea birds and nesting birds.
Officers will be out and about meeting visitors in specific locations across the county, including the Stour and Orwell Estuaries, Covehithe, Orford Ness and Hollesley Marshes – between the beginning of June and the end of August.
They are targeting coastal areas where people and animals interact, such as sites with nesting seabirds. Previous incidents along the coastline nationally have included dogs off leads disturbing nesting birds or seals, wild campers lighting fires on the beach dunes and causing significant damage to the fauna, quad bikes or 4x4 vehicles riding over nesting areas and canoeists getting too close to seals.
Nationally, Operation Seabird is urging people visiting Britain’s coastline to:
- maintain a significant distance from wildlife, both at sea and around the coast
- never get close enough to touch animals or take selfies;
- read signs and stick to paths
- keep dogs on leads where instructed to do so and keep dogs under control at all times
Sgt Brian Calver of the Suffolk Rural and Wildlife Team said: "We have a beautiful coastline in Suffolk with a rich and varied wildlife habitat and bearing in mind the limitations we have had to adhere to over the past year it is only natural we want to get out and about to explore and learn about this wildlife on our doorstep.
"However, we do need to be wary of the impact our fascination with such wildlife can have. We all have to assume this responsibility and enjoyment of the wildlife should be done at a safe and sensible distance without disturbing the animals.
"Operation Seabird will see us engaging and educating visitors, but people need to be clear that we will take action against anyone who wilfully and intentionally damages and disrupts our wildlife and their habitats.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: "I really welcome the Constabulary’s support for Operation Seabird. Suffolk has outstanding and very rich biodiversity and is a major attraction for the county’s visitors and day trippers – it is one of Suffolk’s "Jewels in our crown.”
"Our natural heritage requires very careful management and care so it continues to thrive for the benefit of all.
"I would ask people to be particularly mindful of the need to do everything possible to look after this heritage so please respect the animals’ habitats, keep your distance and leave them well alone."
Operation Seabird was launched in 2020 by North Yorkshire and Humberside Police along with the RSPCA and is supported by local authorities, RNLI and wildlife trusts.
Anyone who has witnessed deliberate and intentional disturbance of coastal wildlife and their habitats should contact the Police on 101, quoting Operation Seabird.
For concerns about the welfare of an animal, please contact the RSPCA’s helpline on 0300 1234 999.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.