Members of the public who find a stranded seal pup have been urged not to approach it.
Alison Charles, manager at the RSPCA’s East Winch Wildlife Centre, has voiced her concern after reports of people chasing baby seals into the water.
The advice is to observe a baby seal for 24 hours from a safe distance to see if its mother returns.
With pupping season underway, staff at the centre are caring for a dozen common seal pups. As the pups can swim from birth, they can become separated from their mothers too soon and end up at the centre needing life-saving treatment.
“However, we are becoming increasingly concerned by reports that some members of the public are chasing pups back into the water when they see them resting on the beach,” said Mrs Charles.
“This is really concerning because the reason the pup is resting on the beach is likely because they are exhausted due to being so young and still building up their strength.
“They haul onto the beach to catch their breath and rest – but we are hearing reports that people have been chasing the seals back into the water, which is really dangerous especially if they are already exhausted.
“We’ve heard of more than half a dozen instances already this year about pups being chased off of beaches across the region, but what’s more worrying is how many more instances like this are happening which we have not been made aware of.”
Common seal pups weigh between 8kg and 16kg at birth and are with their mums for three weeks, but many have lost weight when they arrive at the centre.
After around five months of rehabilitation and once the pups have reached their ideal weight, they are released back into the wild.
The RSPCA has also asked pet owners to keep dogs on a lead and well away from seals.
Anyone who spots a seal pup should monitor it for 24 hours before calling the charity’s 24-hour rescue team on 0300 1234 999.