Police called in following ‘unacceptable’ harassment of elephant seal on Gonzales Beach, says DFO


WATCH: Despite barricades and signs asking the public to stay away people have been coming right up to a juvenile seal molting in Gonzales Beach, and at one point police had to be called in. Tess van Straaten reports.

An elephant seal molting on Gonzales Beach has faced an unacceptable level of public harassment, says Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Officials say the seal was facing large crowds standing within a foot of it around 5 p.m. Wednesday when some children were too close and started taunting the animal by waving their arms and barking at it ? causing the marine mammal to become distressed.

WATCH: Mandy Ludlow of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans

DFO Plea

DFO Plea

Duration 19s

When someone asked the children to stop the parents reportedly turned aggressively on the person, police were then called in by a bystander.

A BCSCPA employee who was on the scene warned the parents of the danger of harassing the animal.

“This is not Disney, they are wild animals and they will defend themselves,” said Leri Davies, Strategic Media Relations Advisor for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “Please keep your distance.”

Davies brought up an incident where a young girl was dragged into the water at Steveston’s Fisherman’s Wharf in Richmond as an example of the unpredictable behavior of marine life.

“What we are hoping for is that people will help other people be respectful,” added Davies.

Officials have been asking the public to keep their distance ever since the seal first appeared on the beach at the end of April.

Harassing a marine mammal is illegal and fines, or in some cases criminal charges, can be laid.

Anyone who sees an animal being harassed or injured, or an injured or a sick animal exhibiting highly unusual behaviour, is asked to call DFO?s Observe, Record and Report 24-hour hotline at  1-800-465-4336.


Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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