Police and RSPCA to patrol Yorkshire coast amid concerns over impact of people on nesting seabirds

The police and the RSPCA will again be patrolling Yorkshire’s coastline this week, amid concerns about increasing pressure on marine wildlife as more people flock to the coast.

Bempton Cliffs
Bempton Cliffs

Operation Seabird, which was launched by Humberside Police in 2020 in partnership with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and RSPB Bempton Cliffs, aims to raise awareness about the impact of human disturbance to nesting seabirds and other animals.

Following its success in Yorkshire, it is being rolled out nationally, with police forces round the country taking part.

As well as patrols around the Flamborough and North Yorkshire coast, Operation Seabird will launch on the Humber for the first time.

The event at Humberston Fitties, in Cleethorpes, comes after Humber Nature Partnership which works to protect the Humber, its habitats and wildlife received around a hundred reports of bird disturbance from the public over the past year.

Rachel Graham, ecology manager for North East Lincolnshire Council, said birds needed to save energy during the summer months to be able to fly across the world and they could be seriously affected by any unnecessary flight or activity.

She said: “Disturbances can also reduce breeding success and the overall health of these legally protected species.”

Geoff Edmond, RSPCA Inspectorate National Wildlife coordinator, said every year, the RSPCA’s wildlife centres have to treat and rehabilitate a wide range of wildlife, including seals, which have been injured or orphaned due to human disturbance.

He said: “We want people to enjoy watching our marine wildlife, including seals, cetaceans and seabirds, but this should be done at a safe and sensible distance without disturbing the animals.”