Seals increasingly attacked by dogs, North Sea volunteers warn

A seal was seriously injured on the beach of Wenduine on Thursday. The animal was bitten five times, De Standaard reported on Saturday. "Keep your dog on a lead. The number of incidents is increasing," says Inge De Bruycker of the NorthSeal team, which is responsible for the safety of seals on the Belgian coast.

The volunteers of the NorthSealTeam are sounding the alarm following the latest dog attack on a seal.

The animal came to rest on the beach at Wenduine on Thursday morning. Volunteers from the NorthSealTeam were alerted to "guard" the animal or keep onlookers at a distance. On arrival, however, the seal was found to be bleeding profusely. "The animal had suffered five bite wounds on its body, forehead and muzzle," says De Bruycker.

The Sea Life Rescue Centre in Blankenberge was notified and attended the scene. The seal's wounds were disinfected and the animal was released into the sea. Rescuers decided that admitting it to the centre would have caused more distress.

"From January 2024 until today, 132 seals have been stranded, compared to 52 animals in the same period last year"

Meanwhile, more and more seals are ending up on Belgian beaches. "From January 2024 until today, 132 seals have been stranded, compared to 52 animals in the same period last year," says De Bruycker. "These figures are separate from the seals found daily at the fixed resting places in Ostend and Nieuwpoort."

More incidents

Volunteers are repeating their calls for people to keep their dogs on a lead. "The number of incidents is increasing. Seals emit a specific odour that triggers dogs," says De Bruycker. "Despite the owners' desperate attempts, the dogs always run towards the seals. It's their instinct."

Conflicts between a seal and a pet can also be dangerous for dogs. "The seal's bite is a source of bacteria. It can cause serious infections," she says. "Since the New Year, we have had a bite incident every week. We can keep telling people to keep the dog on a lead, but our message falls on deaf ears."


#FlandersNewsService | Illustration picture shows ​ the release of a seal at the Belgian coast in Blankenberge, March 2022 © BELGA PHOTO MAAIKE TIJSSENS

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