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

Trudeau to campaign in Nanaimo today

Prime minister to support Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate Michelle Corfield

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Overnight camping in parks a fire risk

I have great concerns around allowing homeless persons to camp in city parks, says letter writer

Candidates hit the campaign trail as Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection called

Trudeau announces that voters will go to the polls May 6

Nanaimo contingent learns about Maori during cultural exchange to New Zealand

Travellers from Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre went on Paddling Beyond trip in January

Nanaimo SAR, first responders execute rope rescue in Cassidy area

Person said to have fallen down an embankment in area of Riverbend Road

Nanaimo girls win bowling provincial championships, look to nationals

Jordan Singer and Brianna Robbins headed to national events in Laval and Edmonton

Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary presents NRGH with $550,000 donation

Second time auxiliary presents a cheque topping half a million dollars to hospital

Questions about solar system’s Planet 9 will be posed in Nanaimo next week

Astronomer discusses possibility of planet’s existence at Nanaimo Astronomy Society meeting March 28

Raine Maida, Chantal Kreviazuk will present new duo act in Nanaimo

Couple touring new album ‘I’m Going to Break Your Heart’ across Canada, starting at Port Theatre

Smoke detector buys time in Gabriola house fire

Residents’ correct action kept fire from spreading, says fire department

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

Most Read