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Further seal haul out incursions at Newburgh prompt a warning


By David Porter

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The relaxation of lockdown Stay at Home restrictions have prompted a warning to visitors to the Newburgh coastal area over approaching the seal haul out area.

Visitors are reminded of the legal situation surrounding seal haul outs.
Visitors are reminded of the legal situation surrounding seal haul outs.

On Satuday paddleboarder were seen to have caused disturbances to both the seal haul-out and birds on the reserve.

There are very strict guidelines laid out by Naturescot for water sports on the river around the reserve and what areas they can be done in.

Visitors participating in water sports at Inch Road are not permitted to land on Forvie Nature Reserve whilst doing it.

The site at Newburgh is now off limits
The site at Newburgh is now off limits

A spokesman for the Ythan Seal watch said: "There is also very clear guidance in the Marine Scotland harassment guide stating that causing stampedes and approaching the seals from the seaward side can constitute harassment which is a wildlife crime and we have advised the visitors who witnessed this to report the incident to Police Scotland.

"We think it maybe time that Naturescot and Police Scotland try to deal with this proactively to warn visitors over the summer about disturbing the seals, accessing the Ternery and causing problems in the nesting grounds as this is not something that will get any better.

"We have had more watersports incidents this last year than the last five years we have been doing Ythan Seal Watch.

"There were also visitors crossing the fence on Saturday evening on foot accessing the Ternery.

"Seal harassment on Forvie NNR is a wildlife crime and it carries a penalty of a £5000 fine or up to six months in prison.

"It is the responsibility of the visitor to research where they carry out these activities and what legal protection any wildlife has.

Other noted incidents have included visitors flying drones and dog attacks.

Drones during the bird breeding season are not just a problem for the seals, they are also a big problem for the various species of birds on the reserve who breed and depend on fishing in the river.

The Ythan is a Marine Special Protection Area and it is important that the reserve warden is made aware of any incidents which can be reported on 07774 161017.



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