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

Tofino mayor cheers provincial government’s plastics survey

Mayors of Tofino, Victoria, Squamish and Rossland collaborate on letter.

Youth lead Ucluelet Cemetery nameplate project

Students navigate maps and scour local archives over three years to honour deceased.

Tofino awards $2.4M contract to connect path to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

The district announced the project will be paid entirely with grants.

Semi-truck crashes on Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Drivers heading in or out of Tofino-Ucluelet Friday afternoon should expect delays

VIDEO: Canadian zoos’ captive breeding programs help preserve endangered species

Programs considered last-ditch effort to prevent local extinctions of turtles, butterflies and more

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Environment groups warned saying climate change is real could be seen as partisan

Talk of climate change could be viewed as advocating against Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada

Search crews find 4-year-old boy who went missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okanagan Lake

The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning.

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read