Gardai called to Wicklow Seal colony

Gardai were called to a seal colony on Sunday afternoon following a number of calls from concerned members of the public.

Despite signs asking members of the public to keep away from the area, two men ignored the notices and proceeded to fish on the beach only yards from a seal.

Members of the public began calling the men asking them to leave the area but the calls fell on deaf ears.

It is understood Gardai spoke to the men and they left the area.

Councillor Mary Kavanagh said ” I received numerous calls this afternoon from concerned members of the public,I can’t believe that no matter how many appeals we put out in the media, social media and signage, people still go on to the beach, I am personally appealing to everyone just to stay away from the area until the season is over, thankfully people power won out today and I thank all the people who called the Gardai and the Seal Sanctuary. Hopefully this will be the last of an incident like this and people are aware Gardai are treating this seriously. What they done was illegal.”

This week Wicklow County Council called on members of the public to be mindful of disturbing seals when they visit the coast this autumn.

September to December is a particularly important time for grey seals as it is the breeding season during which time the adults seek safe sites to  “haul out” on land.

These are typically sheltered beach areas where the animals return year after year to breed, rest, moult and engage in social activity.

In the coming weeks seals will give birth to a single pup which is born with a white coat and does not swim.  Mothers will stay close to their pup for a number of weeks until it is weaned, during which time the animals are very vulnerable to disturbance by humans and dogs.

Seal rescue Ireland (SRI) recommends that people and dogs stay at least 100 meters or more from seals that are “hauled out” as coming close to them will cause stress and could cause a stampede possibly leading to injury, drowning or death to small pups in particular.

The colony which is south of Wicklow Town is one of the most important on the East Coast of Ireland.

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