The village of Roddickton-Bide Arm is grappling with dozens of stranded seals who are blocking roads and businesses. Canadian law bars citizens from approaching marine mammals.
The Canadian village of Roddickton-Bide Arm called for help from the federal government late on Wednesday after spending a week harassed by dozens of seals who have become stranded.
Under Canada's Marine Mammal Regulations, ordinary citizens are prohibited from approaching seals, whales, and other sea creatures. This has led to no small amount of chaos in the town of some 1,000 inhabitants on the island province of Newfoundland where the animals have blocked roads, as well as the doors to many homes and businesses.
Sheila Fitzgerald, the mayor of the Atlantic coastal town, also expressed concern for the well-being of the harp seals. Two have been struck and killed by vehicles, and there is worry that the others may starve.
"We're seeing them more lethargic, they're not moving as fast," she told the Northern Pen newspaper. "It's really disheartening for people to watch these animals suffer.”
The seals also bite, and Fitzgerald said she is worried about children getting too close.
On Wednesday, the town called on the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to send more assistance. Thus far, the government has been monitoring the situation, but has opted to "let the situation play out."
"They've 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."
A DFO scientist told the Northern Pen that harp seals often move between water and land, and they probably got trapped and then disoriented when the water near Roddickton-Bide Arm suddenly froze last week