Elephant seal sedated after repeatedly trying to cross California highway

Rescue crews in Northern California tranquilized a wayward seal that snarled traffic for two days by trying to cross a highway several times.

The wayward seal had been trying to cross Route 37 several times over a two-day period

Wildlife experts from the Marine Mammal Center attempt to corral an elephant seal that repeatedly tried to cross a highway, slowing traffic in Sonoma, Calif., in this photo provided by the California Highway Patrol. (California Highway Patrol via AP)

Rescue crews in Northern California tranquilized a wayward seal that snarled traffic for two days by trying to cross a highway several times.

A veterinarian using a pole-mounted tranquilizer sedated the 408-kilogram elephant seal Tuesday, and at least 12 people loaded the unconscious animal onto a tarp and then brought it to a waiting truck.

Officials planned to examine the seal and then take it to Point Reyes, where they'll release it back into the wild, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Before the seal was tranquilized, a rescue worker in a kayak used a bullhorn to yell at the animal and try to scare it back into open water. But that effort failed.

The Marine Mammal Center and the San Pablo Bay National Marine Sanctuary first dispatched rescue teams Monday after receiving reports of a seal blocking state Route 37.

Officials said they have no idea why the seal — named "Tolay" by the rescue crews after the inlet she showed up in — was so determined to get away from the bay.

"There's no water or food on the other side of 37, and we checked all along the freeway for anything she might be looking for. There's nothing," said California Highway Patrol Officer Andrew Barclay.

Barbie Halaska, a research assistant at the mammal centre, said the wandering seal appeared healthy and fit, and experts think she might be pregnant.

"She's a beautiful animal who appears to be in perfect health," Halaska said.

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