A baby harbor seal was recently euthanized by Washington State wildlife officials after it was carried off the beach by a woman who thought it was abandoned, according to ABC News.
The incident happened in May when a woman reportedly saw the seal pup on a beach near Westport, Washington. She picked up the seal and carried it away in a “recyclable shopping tote.”
“She then took it home and realized she really didn’t know what to do for it or how to take care of it,” NOAA public affairs officer Michael Milstein. “She later called the local aquarium, Westport Aquarium, which is part of our network of volunteers.”
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration director, Marc Myrsell, told ABC News that when he saw the seal on the woman’s deck, it was “alive but extremely lethargic.”
“Usually these animals will snap and struggle to get away if you try to approach them, but this pup was so lethargic,” Myrsell said. “Putting him in the carrier to take him to a center was like picking up a sleeping human baby.”
From ABC News:
He said he and officials with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife originally hoped to return the pup to the beach where the woman had found it. However, it was “unfortunately so unresponsive, and so much time had gone by” that they decided the most humane thing to do would be to euthanize it.
Though the incident happened in May, the pup’s tragic story only recently started getting attention after the NOAA issued a news release this week reminding local residents of an “increasing alarming spate of similar incidents,” according to Milstein.
“The best thing people can do to help marine mammals on the beach is to leave them alone, staying 100 yards away, if possible,” the NOAA said in a statement. “Disturbing, feeding or attempting to move young seals or other marine mammals is illegal because it can stress the animals, interfere with their natural behavior and cause adult seals to abandon their pups.”
Featured image: orcaissues.com