Don't touch seal pups, officials say after man brings one to hotel room


They look so cute and so tempting to touch, but the harbor seal pups you see on beaches in Washington state aren’t for petting and they don’t need your help; in fact, your help can hurt or worse — even kill.

>> Watch the news report here

“This is pretty common; we see it all the time. Every year, we get these orphaned animals in that have had some sort of human disturbance,” said Jeff Brown, a wildlife naturalist at PAWS in Lynnwood.

PAWS staff members say what’s far less common is what happened to a baby seal transported to PAWS in mid-June at only a few days old.

>> What is red tide? Inside the toxic phenomenon destroying Florida’s marine life

A man spotted the pup on the beach in Ocean Shores, picked him up, took the animal back to his hotel room and called for help later that night.

“[This seal] did come in with some injuries and he did have some metabolic imbalances because of probably being away from mom for so long and being in the hotel room where he couldn’t get the nourishment he needed. So he is lucky that he pulled through,” said Dr. Nicki Rosenhagen, a PAWS veterinarian who worked to rehabilitate the seal.

Other seals who faced human interference haven’t been as lucky; a pup had to be euthanized after someone used a shopping bag to carry it off a beach in Westport two years ago.

Last summer, people crowded around a pup in Edmonds until Seal Sitters — volunteers trained to monitor the condition of our local seal pups — intervened. They tag the animals and often put a barrier around them to minimize disturbances.

“When a seal is hauled out, or comes out of the water, it may look orphaned but it can be there for up to 24 hours without seeing mom so that’s when we have those issues, when people think it’s been orphaned but it’s not,” Brown said.

Your touch, however, is what could cause the mother to abandon her pup.

>> Read more trending news 

So you’re welcome to take in the view from afar, and maybe you’ll even see PAWS’ success story swimming around Grays Harbor; he’ll be released Tuesday.

“We’re really excited. It was a little touch-and-go in the beginning; he had some wounds over his back and those metabolic imbalances that were concerning. But after a couple of weeks in care, he hit his stride and took off and has been putting on weight and eating really well, so yeah, we’re excited,” Rosenhagen said.

Experts say you should always stay at least 100 yards away from a seal on the beach, keep your dogs on a leash, and call NOAA at 866-767-6114 if you are concerned the animal is in distress.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

Uber Eats driver will have to face jury trial in customer’s killing
Uber Eats driver will have to face jury trial in customer’s killing

A Fulton County Superior Court judge declined Tuesday to drop charges against a former Uber Eats driver who claimed he shot and killed a customer outside a Buckhead, Georgia, condominium in self-defense earlier this year.  Judge Jerry Baxter, who presided over the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, said he didn’t think the video...
Are your teens texting these sayings? What parents should know
Are your teens texting these sayings? What parents should know

Your teenager may be using a secret language on their smartphone to chat with other teens and even strangers, and some of these code words are sexual in nature. Cracking this code of sexting acronyms may be difficult for some parents. Matthew Solomone, a father to a 16 year old girl and a 13-year old boy, was asked to decipher “53 X” and...
George Zimmerman pleads no contest to threatening to feed private investigator to alligator
George Zimmerman pleads no contest to threatening to feed private investigator to alligator

George Zimmerman entered a no contest plea to resolve a misdemeanor charge of stalking a private investigator in the latest run-in with the law for the neighborhood watch leader who killed Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman will be placed on 12-month probation, during which time he is not allowed to possess a firearm. The Associated Press reported...
Here’s when retailers will open for Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales
Here’s when retailers will open for Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales

It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving and Black Friday ads are surfacing quickly. Here’s when stores plan to open this year: Kohl’s Kohl’s will open at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving and remain open through Black Friday. The store is offering its well-known deal of $15 Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent. The ad also features a...
2019 CR-V begins arriving at Honda dealerships
2019 CR-V begins arriving at Honda dealerships

Honda’s 2019 CR-V began arriving at dealerships today, according to information from the company. The latest version of the sport utility vehicle is assembled by workers at the auto maker’s facilitities in East Liberty and Marysville. Workers at facilities in Greenburg, Ind., Ontario, Canada and Japan also assemble the vehicle. The latest...
More Stories