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First pups of the season born at biggest seal colony
“Over the coming months, Blakeney Point will be carpeted in grey seals” – Duncan Halpin.
Around 4,500 are expected to be born this winter.

The first grey seal pups of this winter’s pupping season have been born at Blakeney National Nature Reserve in Norfolk.

The National Trust reserve is home to the largest colony in England, following a large increase in numbers in the last 20 years. In 1999, just five pups were born at the site. Now, around 4,500 pups are born there every year.

The number of seals has become too large to simply count on the ground., so aerial photographs will be used to help estimate the size of the colony. Support in counting the colony will be provided by marine biologists at the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews.

During pupping season, which lasts until mid-January, the seals will be monitored by National Trust rangers and volunteers, who will maintain a regular presence on the shingle spit to prevent disturbances. They will also use a continuous live feed from a remote camera to monitor the seals and their pups.

Visitors with dogs will not be permitted to walk the full length of Blakeney Point until pupping season is over.

Duncan Halpin, National Trust’s ranger, said: “The grey seal colony is in the early stages of becoming established for this year and we are looking forward to following the progress of the colony, and its new pups, this winter.

“Over the coming months, Blakeney Point will be carpeted in grey seals, as something in the region of 4,500 cow seals come ashore to have their pups.

“It’s a breathtaking sight and is testimony to the potential of our marine life to thrive when the right conditions, and protection from disturbance, are in place.”

Image © Shutterstock

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."