A Massachusetts police officer was forced to protect a different kind of mammal when a seal pup ended up in the middle of a road in Salisbury.
The Seacoast Marine Mammal Rescue Team posted on Facebook that the seal, "likely newly weaned from mom and trying to figure out things on his own," followed the beach access path that many use to access the beach.
The seal ended up in the middle of the street Wednesday, and homeowners in the area and a Salisbury police officer kept the animal safe, closing down the road until the Seacoast Marine Mammal Rescue Team arrived.
"We got the call while we were up in the science center, and it was actually a neighborhood resident who called it in," Ashley Stokes, rescue manager at the Seacoast Science Center, said.
Police borrowed cones from a nearby Verizon worker, then an officer and a homeowner waited for Stokes' team.
"We immediately collected the seal so we could move it off the side of the road," Stokes said.
The seal traveled an estimated 200 yards before it settled in its spot in the middle of the road.
"It's not a lot for you or I, but when you don't have legs and you are just relying on your front flippers to scoot you along, it's a long way," Stokes said. "It could have been very dangerous. Just beside us is a main road.”
The pup is estimated to be one to two months old, and was given a full health assessment. The team said the seal was skinny, slightly dehydrated and had a slightly cloudy right eye, but "was very feisty when handled; as a gray seal should be!"
The team administered fluids to the seal pup and tagged him on his hind flipper, and he was then relocated to a quiet spot before returning to the water.
"Thank you to the residents, police officer, and the Verizon worker, for closing down the street and keeping the animal safe until we arrived!" the team said.
Stoeks said it's very important for people in coastal areas to steer clear of seals and call animal rescue groups or police if one is in trouble.
"They all want to get that perfect photo, and it's just not safe for them," Stokes said. "It's extremely stressful for the animal."
A spokesman with the New England Aquarium said the gray seals are wanderers, and said it's not uncommon to see them on roads or in parking lots.