A CORDON has had to be put up to stop people distressing an injured seal on a Hampshire beach.

RSPCA animal rescuer Katie Wood is urging members of the public to give the seal space to recover after the cordon was put in place by coastguards at Hayling Island.

Katie said: “Seals are beautiful creatures, and an incredible sight to see, but people must remember that these are wild animals and show them kindness and respect.

“A vet has examined this seal, who sadly has a slight injury to the neck, and said the seal is elderly with worn teeth but able to feed and healthy enough to recover on the beach.

“I’ve been out on the beach during the past few days, mostly to try to stop people coming too close to take selfies or trying mistakenly to move the seal back into the sea.

"I’ve sadly also seen people allowing their dogs to run up to the seal, which causes distress.

“This seal needs time and space to rest, as hauling itself out of the water onto the beach takes energy, so the coast guard has cordoned off the area around the seal to try to make sure people stay back and give the chance needed to recover.

"I'd appeal to people to keep at least 20 metres away to give the seal space.

“Seals are also incredibly strong and powerful wild animals and can have a very nasty bite which can cause horrible wounds and could become infected by the bacteria that live in a seal’s mouth so we’d urge people to stay back for their own safety too.”

An RSPCA spokesman added: "If you are concerned about the welfare of a seal, observe from a distance and keep other animals, such as pet dogs, away, and never return the seal to the water.

"If you have observed the seal for at least 24 hours and are concerned about it please contact the RSPCA for advice on 0300 1234 999."