Norfolk

Seal pup tourists on Norfolk coast 'chaotic for roads'

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Media captionVolunteers do their best to keep visitors from the pups and their mothers

Almost 30,000 people visiting a Norfolk beach in the past three months to see hundreds of newborn seal pups have caused "parking chaos", a warden said.

Peter Anstell, chair of the Friends of Horsey Seals (FHS), said the "phenomenal" number of pups had turned Horsey into a tourist attraction.

Volunteers from FHS are attempting to keep visitors from disturbing the record 600 pups on the beach.

Norfolk Police has advised people to stay away because of traffic problems.

Grey seals begin arriving at Horsey beach in November, give birth over the coming months, and suckle their young before leaving in late January or February.

In the past decade, the number of seals born on the beach has risen from about six to about 600 this season, which Mr Anstell described as "a bit of a phenomenon".

"Visitor numbers is a real issue for local people," he said.

"On peak days such as Boxing Day and New Year's Day, people descended on Horsey in their hundreds, if not thousands. It is chaotic for parking in a place not designed for this many visitors."

He said he was unsure why thousands of seals chose to come ashore at Horsey, but added: "They would want a solid and stable beach on which to give birth and Horsey is good for that.

"It's got a wide expanse of sand and dunes, which give them some protection from the weather and very high tides."

Mr Anstell said the seal pups would be suckled for about three weeks, during which time they would put on about 2kg (4.5lb) a day.

"The mother then leaves them alone on the beach for another three weeks. That's when they're at their most susceptible.

"If they wander into another seal's territory, they will be attacked."

Mr Anstell said until a year ago, the seals were monitored by Natural England, but following funding cuts FHS was asked to take on the task of counting the seals and keeping them safe.

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