The West

Leave lone seal pups alone

Environmental authorities are urging beachgoers to stay away from fur seals and their pups as breeding season gets under way.

Department of Environment and Conservation wildlife officer Cameron Craigie said seal pups were routinely left alone on isolated beaches for several days while their mother foraged for food during the fur seal breeding season, which runs from November to January.

Mr Craigie said seal pups had been left on populated beaches in the South West recently.

He said it was important people stayed at least 10 metres away from adult seals because they could move quickly or strike out if they felt threatened.

They should not touch or approach pups because it could lead to a mother abandoning her young.

"A mother seal often identifies her pup via smell and a person making contact may cause her to abandon her young," Mr Craigie said.

"Also, if approached too closely, a seal pup may panic and become disoriented, perhaps injuring itself or a nearby person.

"Seals don't spend all their time in the water and need to rest on the beach, particularly after a long journey."

Two seal species live on the WA coast and others sometime visit our beaches, often after swimming long distances from Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters.

Beachgoers can contact DEC's Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055 to report sick or injured animals or seal pups alone on a beach.

The West Australian

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