Flippers meet forest: Sea lion goes rogue on remote island logging road

Watch A stellar sea lion found wondering a remote logging road near Holberg Monday may have become disoriented after it left a river far inland. Dean Stoltz has the story.

Greg Clarke was returning home to Port Hardy from his job at the radar station near Holberg Monday afternoon when he came across something that he’d heard about from the roads contractor that morning.

“I’m thinking totally bizarre. You know when I first saw the contractor and he told me about it I was thinking ‘Yeah, he’s been smoking something,'” said Clarke with a laugh.

But then there it was — for real. A massive, roughly 600-pound sea lion on the side of San Joseph Road, nowhere near the closest body of water where it should have been.

“It’s actually startling when he starts to come after your truck. It does shake you up a little bit,” said Clarke. “He charged at my truck a couple of times and then when I finally managed to get by. It was really big.”

It’s not entirely clear where the stellar sea lion came from, but there are two waterways about three kilometres apart at their closest that run into the ocean: the Goodspeed River and Sharp Creek. Based on different sightings the mammal may have been travelling across the land from one to the other.

“It might have got out and got confused or something and started wandering up the roads,” added Clarke.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans was notified and monitored the sea lion’s movements.

“There’s a lot of cars and trucks that go along that road and also hikers and campers so we were quite concerned,” said DFO Marine Mammal Coordinator Paul Cottrell.

He said the animal appeared to be in good condition and thinks it made it back to the water Monday night.

“So we think it’s all good but again we’ll wait to hear for sure and hopefully he doesn’t show back up on the road,” he added.

Cottrell said the sea lion may have been able to defend itself against bears and cougars but wolves in the area would have been a concern.

After working at the radar station for 23 years Clarke says he’s seen it all — and now he really has.

“It was probably the most unusual thing I’ve ever seen up here on the road. I’ve seen bears, cougars, elk but never a sea lion,” he said.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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