'Observe, don't disturb' - Police message as visitors set to flock to Suffolk coast to enjoy wildlife
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Visitors looking to enjoy Suffolk's varied wildlife on the county's beautiful coast this summer are being urged to be respectful of the habitats of animals.
Suffolk police has signed up to Operation Seabird - a national initiative led by the RSPCA - to raise awareness of the importance of protecting and preserving the county's wildlife and tackling disturbances to habitats.
Officers will be on patrol in specific locations across the county, including the Stour and Orwell estuaries, Covehithe, Orford Ness and Hollesley marshes, from the beginning of this month through to the end of August.
Coastal areas where people and animals interact, such as sites with nesting seabirds, will be targeted by officers.
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.
Sergeant Brian Calver, of the Suffolk rural and wildlife crime 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.
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"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.”
Tim Passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk, 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."
Anyone who has witnessed deliberate and intentional disturbance of coastal wildlife and their habitats should contact the police on 101, quoting Operation Seabird.