Newfoundland town asks for help as stranded seals block roads

Roddickton Mayor Sheila Fitzgerald has called Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials

A seal is shown in a handout photo from Marystown RCMP. (The Canadian Press)

A Newfoundland mayor said dozens of stranded seals are causing havoc in her town, and she’s calling on federal Fisheries officials to remove them.

Roddickton Mayor Sheila Fitzgerald said the wayward animals have been blocking roads, driveways and doors — and residents are unable to move them because it is illegal to touch marine mammals.

READ MORE: Wandering seal visits Newfoundland town, seems keen to stay

An RCMP spokesperson said it appears two of the animals were struck by a vehicle on Tuesday night.

Fitzgerald said the group of about 40 harp seals is becoming hungry, tired and are crying out, suggesting they may be too disoriented to find their way back to the ocean.

The seals’ coats can blend in with the snowy roads, and drivers have reported several close calls.

“This is disturbing for the residents to watch,” Fitzgerald said. ”We are getting inundated with phone calls from people that are saying, ‘You’ve gotta do something. The seals are in my driveway,’ or ‘The seals, I see them suffering.’”

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.

“It’s not a matter of the seals doing it on their own. If they could, they would have,” Fitzgerald said. ”It’s also a matter that the town can’t take care of it.”

Garry Stenson, lead scientist for the department’s marine mammals section, said officials were in Roddickton on Wednesday to count the animals and assess the conditions before coming up with a new plan.

He said the department receives calls about stranded seals every year, but he said the number of animals in Roddickton poses a different problem.

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

In Roddickton’s case, Stenson said it appears the seals have wandered too far from the ocean and have become disoriented.

Fitzgerald said a few seals are usually spotted near town every year, but she’s never seen such a large group in such distress.

“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. “This is hard for the little seals, because nobody wants to see animals hurt — but it’s also hard for the town.”

The small community on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula is home to 999 people, according to the most recent census.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Maple Ridge man faces deportation over father’s honour-killing conviction

Father lied to immigration, was later acquitted of charges in Jassi Sidhu’s murder

Third fire along rail tracks in Pitt Meadows

Fire chief warns vegetation is dry and combustible

UPDATE: Police incident at west Maple Ridge mall

Save-On-Foods closed due to threat, police say

LETTER: The good and bad at Ridge Meadows Hospital

‘I drove to the hospital and paid $6.50 for parking.’

Maple Ridge outfielder back with Canada for Pan Am Games

Larissa Franklin one of four OFs on national women’s softball team.

Scorpion, first brought to Maple Ridge vet, gives birth after hitching ride in woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Girl, 10, poisoned by carbon monoxide at B.C. campsite could soon return home

Lucille Beaurain died and daughter Micaela Walton, 10, was rushed to B.C. Children’s Hospital on May 18

30 years later: B.C. woman uses sidewalk chalk to reclaim site of her sexual assault

Vancouver woman didn’t think her powerful story, written in chalk, would ignite such support

Most Read