New law introduced to protect seals following death of Freddie the Seal last year

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There was dismay last year when Freddie, a 10-month-old seal pup who was basking near London’s Hammersmith Bridge on a Sunday afternoon, had to be put down after he was attacked by a dog. His wounds included dislocation of a flipper. Ms Crouch was contacted by Mary Tester, a British Divers Marine Life Rescue medic.

Ms Tester suspects an increase in dog ownership in lockdown may have contributed to a recent increase in attacks.

“We are one giant step closer to making seal disturbance illegal in the UK,” she added.

Chatham and Aylesford Tory MP Ms Crouch said: “Every year thousands of seals are disturbed ‑ intentionally or through negligence – when people are too close, too visible or too noisy.”

Andy Ottaway, of the Seal Protection Action Group, said: “We are literally scaring our seals to death. Given the serious impact of seal disturbance, voluntary protection alone is not enough. We desperately need legislation to make deliberate disturbance an offence.”

Joan Edwards of The Wildlife Trusts explained: “Seals haul out on to land to rest, but they are easily frightened. People don’t realise how vulnerable they are to human activity.

“Whether dog walking, or just taking a stroll along the beach, it’s important people keep a good distance ‑ and especially avoid mothers and their young.” 

  • People who commit offences against animals could face fines of up to £5,000. Romford Tory MP Andrew Rosindell’s private member’s bill has won Commons backing and will now be scrutinised in the Lords. It would allow fines to be issued to people who have mistreated pets, zoo animals or livestock.

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