Randy male seals may pose danger to people, pets on land, DFO says

DFO is warning people on P.E.I. to keep their distance from seals who wander inland, especially now during breeding season when adult male hooded seals are “wound up” and full of testosterone.

Biologist reminds people it's illegal to pester marine mammals

Hooded seal in Birch Hill, P.E.I.


30 days ago
A hooded seal travels along Anna MacKay's property in Birch Hill Monday. It's unclear if it's the same seal that was in the area on Sunday. (Anna MacKay) 0:41

DFO is warning people on P.E.I. to keep their distance from seals who find their way inland, especially now during breeding season when adult male hooded seals are "wound up" and full of testosterone.

Mark Hammill, a biologist with DFO, said seals come ashore every year but it appears to be more common this year due to a lack of ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Police and DFO have responded to at least four instances in the past month of seals wandering far from shore, sometimes onto the road. A large hooded seal was reported Monday in Birch Hill. It's unclear if it's the same 800-pound male that caused traffic to stop in the area on Sunday.

"They are extremely aggressive," Hammill said.

"This is the breeding season so they are very wound up, testosterone levels are extremely high so they're very hyper, very aggressive. They'll attack vehicles, they'll attack people, they'll attack machines and they can run quite quickly so basically people should not try to get close to them."

Hammill said the seals have sharp teeth similar to dogs or wolves, and people should not let their pets near them. He said he once saw a seal bite right through a hockey stick while at work.

An 800-pound hooded seal stopped traffic along Route 12 in Birch Hill, P.E.I., Sunday. (Laura Gallant)

"He was about to bite somebody's butt and I stuck a hockey stick in between and it went right through the hockey stick."

Hammill noted that hooded seals are protected in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and it's against the law to disturb any marine mammal. He said if anyone sees a seal far from the water, they should contact DFO's nearest Conservation and Protection Office, or after hours and on weekends, call 1-800-565-1633.

Then, it's best to keep your distance, he said.

"The seals aren't going to stick around, for sure, they're looking for water.... The best thing is just to leave them alone and they'll eventually find their way."

Donna Martin said she was upset when she saw people throwing snowballs at a seal pup lying on the ice in the Souris Harbour on Sunday.

Donna Martin says this seal pup has been drawing lots of attention — both good and bad — in Souris recently. (Donna Martin)

"This seal pup has attracted lots of attention from lots of people, both good and bad unfortunately," she said.

Hammill is also reminding people it is illegal to harvest seals without a licence.

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