A warning has been issued to dog walkers following reports of seals being disturbed near a Fife fishing village in recent weeks.
Police say locals have complained about people allowing their dogs to be off the lead at West Braes, Pittenweem.
Officers say seal populations can suffer distress as a result of human activities, deliberate or accidental, and it can often cause the mammals serious injury or even death.
Fife’s wildlife crime liaison officer, PC Ben Pacholek, said: “Whilst the majority of visitors to Pittenweem are mindful of the resident wildlife, I’d ask that everyone keep a respectful distance from any animals and sea birds.
“Scotland’s seal population is a protected species and intentionally or recklessly disturbing seals when they are resting on land is a criminal offence. You must keep your dog under control at all times.
“Any person found guilty could be imprisoned for up to six months, fined up to £5,000 or both.
“In addition to any criminal offences, allowing your dog to be in close proximity to seals risks serious and potentially fatal injury to your dog as seals have powerful jaws and sharp teeth.”
Members of the public who witness any incidents they consider to be a wildlife crime are asked to report this to Police Scotland via 101.