Near Newburgh, Scotland; on the weekend, dogs reportedly caused over a thousand seals to stampede into the water off the beaches at Forvie Nature Reserve. The disturbed animals were terrified by dogs, the BBC reported. The Aberdeen Press and Journal noted that the incident was the "worst disturbance ever filmed of seals on Newburgh coast." According to their report, two dog walkers breached a fenced off area of a protected beach with their dogs. Ythan Seal Watch witnessed the incident and complained that the area is protected for a reason. The seals are meant to be undisturbed by humans and dogs.

Forvie nature reserve beach is protected for the seals

The seals use the area as a haul-out spot and many signs explain that people need to stay away from them. They rest and breed in the preserved area. Ythan Seal Watch maintain surveillance and over the years there have been a few incidents. However, this particular one was described as the worst they had experienced. In the past year, 35 incidents of disturbance were reported. The major concern with seal stampedes is the crushing to death of younger ones and pups.

The BBC cited Wildlife Crime Officer PC Doug Darling as saying, "We received information about an incident involving dogs at Forvie Nature Reserve which happened on Saturday." However, later reports noted that the police will not prosecute as no crime was committed.

He also noted that such incidents should be reported to Marine Scotland. They seem to be satisfied there was no criminal activity.

Police declare no crime by dog walkers

While the police say there was no crime committed by the dog walkers, they did caution people against getting too close to seals. The seals may be aggressive at times.

People who disturb the seal colony could face a £5,000 fine or even jail time. It's not clear why the incident is not being treated as a crime, but a wildlife liaison officer was tasked to follow up the case.

The area is very popular with visitors as Forvie Nature Reserve offers trails, hides, good bird-watching, and seals.

The seals are a drawcard and proper walkways give viewers a vantage point. People visit the preserved area to enjoy nature, not to see the seals harassed by people with dogs.

The BBC later updated on Twitter and posted that "Police say a man has been spoken to after the Forvie seals incident and "suitable guidance provided." The incident on the Forvie seal beach where the dogs and their walkers harassed the seals was met with criticism by animal conservationists on Twitter.