Stranded seals swarm Canadian town, block roads and buildings

Lester Mason
January 11, 2019

"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", Fitzgerald said. Walsh said those seals were believed to have been hit by a vehicle.

Experts have said the rapid rate at which the waters froze could have disoriented the seals which is why they can now be observed heading inland.

"This is disturbing for the residents to watch", Fitzgerald said. "If it's near a town you hear more about it, but it's not totally uncommon for us to get this".

The town's roughly 900 residents have been joined by at least 40 of the spotted gray seals - and they didn't come to see the moose.

Town council is formally requesting that the Fisheries Department return the animals to the ocean at the edge of the frozen inlet that has trapped the animals in the area.

"It's not a matter of the seals doing it on their own".

"They're looking around now to try and determine exactly how many seals are there, both in that area as well as in surrounding areas, and whereabouts they are", he said. "It's also a matter that the town can't take care of it".

The Fisheries Department issued a statement saying the situation in Roddickton is being monitored and reminding people that it is illegal to disturb a marine mammal.

Roddickton-Bide Arm, on the island of Newfoundland, calls itself the "Moose Capital of the World".

Harp seals spend most of their time in open water or on floating ice, and they usually swim away from land.

Opposition Leader Ches Crosbie says DFO must do something about the overabundance of seals in the region.

The incident comes on the heels of another ongoing case of seals descending on a Newfoundland town, raising the complicated question of who should be responsible for safely removing the flippered guests.

"What's going to happen when these seals start to perish all around? It could potentially impact people's health and well-being", she said.

In Newfoundland, the province's seal harvest is highly regulated, requiring a license and special tools for humanely harvesting the animals. The vast majority of the seals that are killed are between one and three months old.

"Then if the ice freezes up behind them, they have a harder time getting access to water", he said.

- By Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John's, N.L.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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