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

Number of ancient humans continues to grow after discovery

Scientists identify at least 12 species outside of Homo sapians following discovery in Philippines

Peninsula grandmothers salute Roaring ’20s fashion

May 3 event in Sidney benefits Grandmothers Helping African Grandmothers

Deep Cove man running 50 km every month through his 50th birthday year

Ultrarunner hopes Deep 50 Challenge will raise $5,000 for Help Fill A Dream

Oak Bay to host secondary suite open house on Thursday

Online secondary suite survey will run April 25 until May 10

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Most Read