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Majority of seals rescued in Roddickton-Bide Arm

A seal rests in front of a home on a snowmobile path in Roddickton-Bide Arm.
Photo courtesy of Patricia Fitzpatrick
A seal rests in front of a home on a snowmobile path in Roddickton-Bide Arm. Photo courtesy of Patricia Fitzpatrick

Town saw influx of seals in recent weeks


The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has acted and removed many of the harp seals that appeared in the town of Roddickton-Bide Arm.

The department removed eight of the 11 remaining seals located around Eastern Brook over the weekend of Jan. 11-13.

The seals were captured by net, transported and released near open water in Englee.

DFO also removed two dead seals from the community.

The department told The Northern Pen that five of the seals released were in good physical condition while three of the others appeared to have suffered injuries but they were successfully released.

Officers remain in the area as of Monday, Jan. 14 and continue to monitor the situation.

Dozens of seals first showed up in Roddickton-Bide Arm around Friday, Jan 4.

They were found crawling and resting in parking lots, driveways, and along the town’s roads.

For a time, the situation with the seals sparked concern among locals.

Sheila Fitzgerald, the mayor of Roddickton-Bide Arm, had called on DFO to do more about the situation.

During a phone interview with The Northern Pen on Jan. 9, she said she didn’t believe the seals were going to be able to find their way back to open water.

Therefore, the town council had decided to write a letter to the DFO calling on them to develop a strategy to take care of and move the seals.

“(DFO) has been saying let nature take its course, but it’s been almost a week,” she said. “If they could find their way out, they would have found their way already.”

At the time, Fitzgerald was concerned more seals would be hit by cars – as the two dead ones had been – and that there wasn’t enough food around for the animals.

She also pointed out that it’s hard not to go near the seals when they’re along the sides of roads, in driveways and in business parking lots.

DFO advisory

The DFO advised the public not to interact with the seals.

“A seal is a wild animal that should not be approached or touched,” they said. “Seals are wild animals that can be unpredictable and may become aggressive in order to protect themselves. In rare cases, seals carry infections that can be passed on to humans.”

DFO reminds the public it is illegal to disturb a marine mammal and human interaction can disturb an animal’s normal life process, resulting injury or death of the animal.

DFO also provided some signs that indicate a seal is being disturbed: first, it will move its flippers in what looks like a wave when they are approached too closely; second, they may also become aggressive and try to bite anyone too close; and, thirdly, they may also go into a freeze relax or try and leave the area.

The department urges anyone who encounters a seal in the roadway or comes across individuals disturbing the seals to report the incident to their local DFO office or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Related story:

DFO scientist provides a possible explanation for seals in Roddickton-Bide Arm

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