DFO: Be careful of seals

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Fisheries and Oceans Canada issues a press release March 28 to remind people who encounter seals along the shores of the region to exercise caution. 

Although seals may look like pets, it should be remembered that they are wild animals and should be left alone. These seals, if cornered or believe that they are being threatened, may respond by attacking. Their bites can be serious, requiring medical attention, including  antibiotics and stitches. 

This is the season where pregnant seals pull themselves out of the waters of Atlantic Canada to give birth to pups. After about three weeks, the females abandon their pups which remain on shore for another two to three weeks during which time they shed their white coat for a spotted grey one. Once they shed and have depleted their reserves of fat, the grey seals enter the waters and start to feed. Feeding brings many seals to the shores of Nova Scotia where they rest for periods as long as 48 hours. So, it is quite normal to see a young seal resting on the shore, which inevitably brings them in contact with humans. 

DFO reminds the public that under the Marine Mammals Regulations it is illegal to disturb seals. This includes the presence of unleashed pets near seal herds. If there is reason to believe that a seal is injured or suffering, contact the local DFO office and do not try to help the animal yourself. 

Organizations: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia

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