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Disturbing a wild animal could “constitute a criminal offence”, police warn tourists

Police have warned tourists that disturbing a wild animal could constitute a criminal offence.

It comes after an Arctic walrus – named Wally the walrus by locals – landed on the west coast of Wales last month.

Local police say they received numerous reports of jet skiers, fishermen and paddle boarders disturbing the walrus – who had strayed to the popular tourist town of Tenby on the Pembrokeshire coast – by getting “too close”.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is a criminal offence to disturb a wild animal, including all British wild mammals and wild birds and their eggs or nests, unless a licence has been issued.

In a joint statement with Dyfed-Powys Police, RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said anyone caught disturbing a wild animal could be fined up to £5,000 and face a six-month prison sentence.

“He is protected [by law] so disturbing him could constitute an offence,” said Mr Hogben. “It’s remarkable that this Arctic walrus has swum to Wales and is spending so much time in beautiful Pembrokeshire.

“People need to enjoy him from afar, avoid potentially spooking the animal and allow him to rest and conserve his energy.”

Police constable Kate Allen added: “Recent posts have been seen on social media regarding members of the public approaching Wally from the water and disturbing him, however we have had no reports directly to us.

“We ask that in the event that this occurs, these matters are reported to the rural crime team and/or the RSPCA rather than posted on social media.”

Media reports suggest that Wally the walrus was last spotted off the coast of Cornwall this week.

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