Some seals stranded in Newfoundland town have been removed, officials say

Frederick Owens
January 12, 2019

The grayish-white animals blend in with snowy roads, the mayor told NPR, and two have already been hit by cars.

The northern town of Roddickton, N.L. has been experiencing a swarm of stranded seals, with some photos showing the animals in large groups and others crawling along local streets.

They've been residents here now for one full week and it looks like they're not going anywhere real fast.

"It wouldn't be a surprise to me if the Roddickton detachment were to get a call, for example say, if there was a herd of seals blocking the roadway", Garland said.

Fisheries officers have been in town and are assessing the situation and investigating their options for the stranded seals, Stenson said.

"We understand it is very tempting to interact with these animals, but a seal is a wild animal", he said.

Now that the seals are there, the town and the DFO have to decide what to do about them, and whether or not they should be - or can be - moved. "If they could, they would have", Fitzgerald said.

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"We've seen them in people's backyards, people's driveways, along the sides of the roads, in the doorways and entryways to local businesses, parking lots", Roddickton-Bide Arm Mayor Sheila Fitzgerald told CBC. According to experts, the speed at which the bay froze may have disoriented the seals and made them move in the opposite direction of the waters. Two seals have been struck by vehicles, Fitzgerald says.

She says that the seals are common enough in the town that residents likely to encounter one when they leave for a walk or a drive.

Police in Roddickton-Bide Arm, N.L. - the community that at least 40 seals are now calling home - have confirmed that two of the mammals have died.

Stenson is confident the seals will eventually get their bearings, but until they do he said people should keep their distance - don't go in for any seal selfies.

Town council has asked the Fisheries Department to return the seals to the ocean, which is at the edge of a frozen inlet that has trapped the animals in the area since last week. So enjoy the unusual site of a group of them this nearby, Stenson said, but do it from a distance.

"Harp seals are not particularly aggressive, but they can be if they're being approached".

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