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Don’t make Mom abandon her pup
It’s seal pup season in the Puget Sound, and the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network asks that people follow the regulations regarding seals on the beach and give them lots of space.
Despite staff efforts to educate the public about what to do when they find seal pups, they continue to experience many incidents of people touching and harassing the pups. This typically results in the seal pup’s death, and could endanger the people involved.
The Stranding Network reported several violations of the federal Marine Mammal Protection act, where people with good intentions did the wrong thing. This includes pouring water on them, feeding them and staying too close to them. All of which will likely result in the mom abandoning her pup and could lead to law enforcement action by NOAA Fisheries.
Violators of the Marine Mammal Protection Act may be subject to a civil penalty of as much as $10,000 for each violation; or criminal prosecution with a fine of as much as $100,000 or imprisonment for as much as one year.
Also, seal pups and other marine mammals carry diseases with may be transferred to humans or domestic animals.
The Stranding Network has been busy responding to seal pups in the region, most of them healthy and are resting on the beach while their mother is catching lunch. They warn that the best thing for the pups is to leave them alone.
If you see a seal pup on the beach in Island or Skagit County, or north Snohomish county, please contact the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-866-ORCANET or 360-678-3765, and they will assess whether there is a need to send a volunteer out to post signs or observe the pup. For pups or strandings in other areas call National Marine Fisheries Service at 1-800-853-1964 or 206-526-6733.