Rehabbed Seal Pup To Be Released

November 16, 2006

The pup, found in a DUII arrest, is expected to survive on her own

An injured harbor seal pup that was confiscated by State Police in Florence and brought to the Oregon Coast Aquarium has healed and will be released tomorrow. The pup will be released by aquarium staff shortly after noon November 17. The injured pup had multiple puncture wounds and infections when she was discovered in a vehicle during a DUII arrest September 17. Oregon State Police arrested a 24 year-old male for driving under the influence of intoxicants and possession of protected wildlife. When the man was arrested in Florence he had the seal pup and a pit bull in his vehicle.

Aquarium Director of Husbandry, Jim Burke reports that the pup displays all of the behaviors that indicate she is ready to survive on her own. Rehabilitation of the pup was achieved with as little interaction with people as possible in an effort to prevent imprinting. The objective is to help the animal recover so she doesn’t associate food with people. “Right now she is eating 8 pounds of fish every day and her white blood cell count is back to normal which means her infection is gone,” said Burke. “She has gone from 18 pounds the day she was brought in to her current weight of 55 pounds.”

Burke said the decision to release the pup was made by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Aquarium’s husbandry and veterinary staffs. The cost of caring for the pup will be covered in part by grants from the Kinsman Foundation and the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation and the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Burke hopes the incident will serve as a reminder that it’s not only a bad idea to pick up a stranded seal pup, but it is illegal because they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. “Most people are well intentioned, but it is still not in the best interest of the animal to pick it up or even go near it.” Burke said the Aquarium rehabilitates animals that are injured by human interference, not by natural processes. “It’s important not to interfere with nature. Often a mother will leave her pup on the beach and come back for it later, but if the seal is moved it can become permanently separated from its mother.” Burke said if a marine mammal is obviously injured, people should leave it alone and call the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (541) 867-0446 or Oregon State Police at (541) 265-5353.