Sealed off! Big freeze strands animals in town

A seal is shown on a road in Roddickton N.L. in a handout

Dozens of the animals are now stranded in the small Canadian town.

The town's Mayor Sheila Fitzgerald said there was a growing sense the seals were everywhere. "If they could find their way out, they would have found their way already".

Fitzgerald says it's not uncommon to see a handful of the whiskered mammals in her town, which is perched on an inlet at the edge of the frigid North Atlantic.

A wandering seal that parked itself in front of a southern Newfoundland hospital entrance over the weekend has been returned to the water - twice.

But having this many seals get lost for this long is unprecedented, she said. "It's really disheartening for people to watch these animals suffer".

But the seals aren't just being obstinate.

"We're seeing them more lethargic, they're not moving as fast", she told the Northern Pen newspaper.

Police say the animal crossed highways, moved through traffic and posed a "public safety issue" on Saturday before being spotted outside the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre, where it blocked an ambulance route.

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One local resident, Brendan Fitzpatrick, who usually tweets pictures about hunting and of scenes around the town, has begun calls on social media for Canada's federal Fisheries Department to intervene. They bide their time on offshore ice floes as they feed and give birth. As NPR's Christopher Joyce has reported, sea ice in the Arctic has seen extreme melting in recent years, partly because of global warming caused by humans. "So your best bet is to call your local fishery officer".

Garland said complaints about the situation have gone through the town.

"It's not a matter of the seals doing it on their own".

Harp seals migrate south in groups at this time of year, Garry Stenson, head of the DFO's marine mammals section, told The St. John's Morning Show. "We understand that it is tempting to interact with animals", cautioned the department in a statement sent to NPR.

"Seals are wild animals that can be unpredictable, and may become aggressive in order to protect themselves".

On Wednesday, the DFO deployed a three-person seal response team to set up base in the town, according to the mayor.

An icy town in Newfoundland is dealing with some surprise visitors: a pod of around 40 harp seals.

In yet another incident of freakish animal invasion, dozens of seals have descended upon the roads and the driveways of the town, creating an unfamiliar experience for the residents. Two seals have also died after being hit by vehicles.

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