Fri, Jan 11, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Canadian village seeks federal help with seal invasion

AFP, OTTAWA

A Canadian Atlantic coast town on Wednesday asked for help from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to get rid of about 40 stranded seals wreaking havoc, and blocking roads and doors.

The animals became stuck in the town of Roddickton-Bide Arm, Newfoundland, after nearby waters suddenly froze over nearly a week ago, preventing their return to the ocean.

Because it is illegal to interfere with marine mammals under Canadian law, it has led to some awkward face-offs with the unyielding seals. They also bite.

Two have accidentally been struck by cars at night and several townsfolk have expressed concerns to local media that the animals might soon starve without access to food.

“We’re seeing them more lethargic, they’re not moving as fast,” Roddickton-Bide Arm Mayor Sheila Fitzgerald told the Northern Pen newspaper. “It’s really disheartening for people to watch these animals suffer.”

The town council on Tuesday night raised the issue at a regular municipal meeting and resolved to ask the federal fisheries agency to intervene.

“They’ve been saying let nature take its course, but it’s been almost a week,” Fitzgerald said.

The town on the northern tip of the Canadian island province, on a major seal migration route, is used to seeing seals. They typically travel south from the Canadian Arctic and the shores of Greenland to spend winters off the coast of Newfoundland.

According to marine biologists cited by Canadian media, the seals likely became disoriented after a rapid freezing of the nearby bay and moved inland instead of toward open waters.

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