Seal pupping season in full swing - stay away from seals and pups!
Jul/10/16 07:17 PM
Nursing pups, however, are dependent on their moms for survival for the first 4-6 weeks of their lives. In the waters of Central and South Puget Sound, pups are born from late June through the first week of September (view a map of pupping season in WA). Always stay far back from any pup you come across.
A harbor seal mom, shy and wary of humans, will abandon her pup if people and dogs are around. Use common sense and help protect wildlife from harassment and abandonment.
YOUR PRESENCE CAN CAUSE STRESS AND ABANDONMENT
As you head for the beach, know that seashore revelry is definitely no party for harbor seal pups, who are seeking to rest onshore. Humans and dogs cause pups to be abandoned every year. A harbor seal mom often will not return for her nursing pup if there is a disturbance or perceived threat. It goes without saying that July fireworks cause animals to be abandoned every year.
If you find a spot for your picnic on a beach near a harbor seal, please move your picnic to another beach. There are reports of people with blankets and coolers surrounding a lone seal pup - finally calling the stranding network wondering why the mother did not return.
Weaned seal pups need space to rest undisturbed as well. A pup that is scared into the water wastes precious calories - and this can truly be the difference between life and death.
This is a reminder that when you venture out to the beach, whether by trail or boat, please respect animals’ space and need for quiet. Stay back!
SEALS ARE PROTECTED BY LAW FROM HARASSMENT
Please stay a minimum of 100 yards away from resting seals. Like all marine mammals, they are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Washington State law RCW 77.15.130 (a criminal misdemeanor, mandatory court appearance, punishable with up to 90 days in jail and up to $1000 fine).
STAY FAR AWAY FROM HARBOR SEAL HAUL-OUTS
Harbor seals gather in large groups this time of year at haul-outs (called rookeries during pupping season), where moms and pups find safety in numbers. Pups pay a terrible price for human disturbance. The seal pup shown above was found in 2012, starving on Cutts Island, along with two other emaciated pups and several dead ones. All had been abandoned by their mothers because boaters disrupted the seal colony on this small South Puget Sound island near Gig Harbor. Durning boating season, thousands of boats can be moored offshore at Cutts, disrupting this historic harbor seal haul-out.
A day of boating fun for people can be a death sentence for seal pups. When you are boating or kayaking, please stay far away from resting harbor seals.
Please contact the stranding network to respond to a lanugo pup.
RESPECT NATURE AND STAY BACK
Leave seal pups be - don’t touch, move or feed them. If you are concerned about a pup, call the NOAA hotline @ 1-866-767-6114. To learn more about harbor seals and pups, visit Seal Sitters website here.