They're cute but don't touch: It's seal pup season

"It's the season for baby seals. The adorable pups with the big glistening eyes are being born on beaches on the circumference of Whidbey Island.But a local wildlife expert is warning people to resist the urge to pick up or approach the tiny harbor seals, even if they seem sick or abandoned. More than likely, says Navy Environmental Director Matt Klope, the pup's mother is out at sea getting food and will return to nurse the newborn. Sometimes the mother only comes back late at night when nobody is watching.They have a cuteness factor of about one thousand, he said. But the best thing to do is just stay away completely and keep dogs away.But because a seal pup is abandoned occasionally, anyone who comes upon a lonely seal pup, or sees someone harassing one, should report it to the National Marine Fisheries at (800) 853-1964 or by calling the Island County Sheriff's Department.Klope said he closed off part of the Rocky Point beach on North Whidbey Monday night after a tiny newborn seal pup, with umbilical cord still attached, was spotted there. As a volunteer with the Marine Fisheries, he said the protocol is to keep an eye on the animal for 72 hours and see if there are signs that the mother is returning.Klope said the pup just swam away and they aren't sure where it went.Tuesday night, Klope went to a private dock in Greenbank where a different seal pup had been alone for about six days. He said the little guy was obviously dehydrated and a little skinny, so he decided the pup needed some human intervention.Klope said he had to be careful handling the pup since they bite and have razor-sharp teeth. He brought the young seal to the Clinton ferry, where a wildlife agent picked it up and brought it to the PAWS wildlife rehabilitation center in Lynnwood.If the pup lives, it will be tube-fed a special milk formula until it's old enough to eat fish and swim around a tank. When it can catch its own fish in the tank, the seal will be immediately release back to nature."

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