As harbor seals are born in the Pacific Northwest, marine mammal advocates are urging people not to touch or pick up pups that come up on beaches and shorelines to rest.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that at least five times this season, well-meaning people have illegally picked up seal pups in Washington and Oregon thinking they were abandoned or needed help. Two of the seals died.
NOAA’s regional stranding coordinator Kristin Wilkinson says people’s impulse is to rush in and help, but it’s better to let nature run its course. The risk in taking these animals off the beach is that adult seals may abandon their pups.
NOAA reminds people to leave marine mammals alone, to stay at least 100 yards away and reduce other disturbances, such as keeping dogs on leashes.