Police issue important message for tourists visiting Wales this summer

Rural engagement coordinators will be patrolling the coastline on land

Police forces in Wales will launch an initiative this summer to protect wildlife by teaching tourists the mantra "observe, don't disturb".

Operation Seabird Cymru is a joint effort from South Wales Police, North Wales Police, Gwent Police and Dyfed-Powys Police to protect nature along the coastline.

Stretches of the Gower, Porthcawl, Penarth and Cardiff Bay attract thousands of visitors every year, which can put a strain on seabird colonies and other animals.

Officers from the forces' rural engagement and wildlife teams will take part in a number of action days to teach tourists the importance of keeping a distance and keeping dogs under control.

In South Wales, some rural engagement coordinators will be patrolling the coastline on land. Marine units will do the same in the water, South Wales Police said.

Jenny Gilmer, assistant chief constable at South Wales Police, 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."

The police forces will be working alongside the RSPCA, Natural Resources Wales, Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, RSPB and Welsh Government.

Geoff Edmond, national wildlife co-ordinator at the RSPCA, said: "Every year, the RSPCA's wildlife centres have to treat and rehabilitate a wide range of wildlife, including seals and seabirds, which have been injured or orphaned due to human disturbance.

"For many tourists it can be surprising and exciting to see marine mammals, including seals and their pups which will normally rest on the beach at various times of year, 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."