POLICE have launched a campaign to help protect and raise awareness of coastal wildlife.

Operation Seabird Cymru was launched on Thursday, April 14, and involves South Wales Police, along with Gwent Police, Dyfed-Powys Police, and North Wales Police.

It aims to raise awareness of the sensitive wildlife along the coastline – including in the Vale of Glamorgan – and how simple changes in behaviour can reduce pressures on animals.

The police forces will be working alongside:

  • RSPCA;
  • Natural Resources Wales;
  • Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales;
  • RSPB;
  • Welsh Government.

The South Wales Police rural engagement co-ordinators will be patrolling the coastline on land, while the Marine Unit will do the same in the water.

Tourism is welcome in Wales, but can impact wildlife if activities are not done in a safe and responsible way. Many areas of the Welsh coastline are part of the UK’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and are protected.

During summer, South Wales Police will take part in action days which will see officers from the Rural and Wildlife Co-ordinators visit businesses and engage with the public.

Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Gilmer said:

“We are fortunate to have miles of beautiful coastline in South Wales and an array of marine wildlife and seabirds who call it their home.

“I am delighted that we are launching Operation Seabird Cymru together with North Wales Police, Dyfed-Powys Police and Gwent Police.

“This will help protect habitats from wildlife disturbances and educate visitors to our coastline on how to behave responsibly around marine wildlife."

Every year RSCPA centres treat abd rehabilitate animals - including seals and seabirds - who have been injured or orphaned due to human disturbance.

RSPCA national wildlife co-ordinator, Geoff Edmond, said:

“We want people to enjoy watching our marine wildlife but this should be done at a safe and sensible distance without disturbing the animals.

“For many tourists it can be surprising and exciting to see marine mammals, including seals and their pups, as well as ground nesting birds which are usually resident between March to September.

"But as tempting as it is to approach them, we would respectfully ask that everyone stays at a distance and keeps their dogs on leads and under control. 

“Our message is to ‘Observe, Don’t Disturb’ as people visit Britain’s wonderful coastline."

People with concerns about an animal can call the RSPCA helpline on 0300 1234 999 (available daily between 7am and 10pm).