Fisheries officers to deal with seals invading northern Newfoundland town

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The Roddickton-Bide Arm town council raised the issue at a regular municipal meeting Tuesday night, and resolved to ask the Department of Fisheries and Ocean to intervene.

Because it is illegal to interfere with marine mammals under Canadian law it has led to some awkward face offs with the unyielding seals. It is relatively unusual to find a group of that size on shore, he said, but not unheard of.

They've been residents here now for one full week and it looks like they're not going anywhere real fast. "They haven't eaten", Mayor Fitzgerald said.

She said that the town has seen seals before - it's relatively common for a handful of seals to get disoriented after a local cove freezes over, disorienting the seals and temporarily causing them wander into the nearby town.

A wandering seal that parked itself in front of a southern Newfoundland hospital entrance over the weekend has been returned to the water - twice.

Fitzgerald said the town is working with Canadian authorities to relocate the seals.

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In yet another incident of freaky animal invasion, dozens of seals have descended upon the roads and the driveways of the town, creating an unfamiliar experience for the residents.

"In the beginning, they were kind of aggressive", Fitzgerald says, recalling how the wild seals would bark at onlookers.

Fitzgerald said the group of about 40 harp seals is becoming hungry, exhausted and are crying out, suggesting they may be too disoriented to find their way back to the ocean. Previously, she said, an officer had to come in from the office in St. Anthony, 140 kilometres away. Two seals were killed after being hit by a auto. Stenson said both seals were stuck by cars, something Fitzgerald said happened after several days of hearing about near misses from Roddickton residents. Two of the seals have been killed by a vehicle and the rest may starve if they are not returned to the ocean in time.

Mr Fitzpatrick said the seals had been stranded for "a few weeks" and were "probably starving", having become lost some four or five miles from the ocean. "This is hard for the little seals, because nobody wants to see animals hurt - but it's also hard for the town".

"They're getting a little bit more lazy now, a little more exhausted and lethargic", Fitzgerald says.

"There's not enough food in that little water supply", she said.