NH Officials Advise People to Stay Away From Seal Pups on Beach

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Officials say seal pups alone on beach are likely not in need of help (Published Thursday, Feb 20, 2014)

    (NECN: Lauren Collins, Rye, N.H.) - In video posted on YouTube, it looks like a man is trying to help a stranded seal pup back into the ocean.  But police in Rye, N.H. are hoping to talk to him to correct an increasingly common mistake.

    “We're hoping to educate that person who in turn will tell other people he knows that that is the wrong thing to do,” says Police Chief Kevin Walsh.

    In the last week, people have approached two newborn harbor seals on Pirate's Cove Beach.

    “You see this young pup, brand new, less than a few days old , and the human desire is to help, as best as we can,” says New England Aquarium Senior Biologist Katie Pugliares.

    But chances are if there is a seal pup on the beach, there's a good reason for it and the young animal is better left alone. 

    One woman thought the pup seen in the YouTube video was abandoned and took it to the Seacoast Science Center. In doing so, she cut it off from its mother.  It's now in rehab at University of New England.

    A second harbor seal died after people kept approaching it, some even having their children pose for pictures.

    “Most of the time when you see a little sea pup in the beach, it's resting and it's mother is out there fishing, getting food, sort of going grocery shopping, and will come back and nurse the baby,” says Seacoast Science Center President Wendy Lull.

    Pugliares adds, “So if we intervene and we're present on the shore and the mom looks back she will see us on shore and will not likely come on shore to retrieve her pup.”

    There's also concern over disease, both what humans could get from and give to a days old pup.

    “It's just not a good idea,” says New England Aquarium’s Tony LaCasse.  “That setting in a wild population is not an aquarium setting, it's not a zoo setting.”

    Seals are federally protected.  People are supposed to stay at least 150 feet away of them.  It's up to NOAA whether these well-intentioned but uninformed people will face any fines.