WATCH: A rule banning seal feeding at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf is garnering mixed reaction after a sea lion pulled a girl into the water in Steveston on Saturday. Calvin To reports.
The feeding of seals by visitors at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf has decreased somewhat following the installation of new signs back in April, but remains a problem, according to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
“It’s a safety hazard. People get too close to the water, they get too close to the wildlife, and it is wildlife, so people can get bitten,” says the GVHA’s communications manager Jill Sawyer.
Currently, there is no federal law that specifically addresses feeding marine mammals. Instead, disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
New legislation is in the works, but it could be some time before it comes into effect.
In the meantime, the GVHA wants the public to become familiar with the incoming restriction.
It will have additional staff at the wharf in the summer to inform visitors of the ban.
New interpretive signs will also be installed by the end of the summer.
Experts say people should avoid feeding wildlife because it could make seals and other animals dependent on hand feeding for survival.
Such interactions could also result in injury.
“If the animal was associating people standing at that dock with food, and then it didn’t receive any food or it wanted more food, then it could be almost akin to a begging dog that will sort of act out a little bit,” says marine zoologist Anna Hall.
Still, restaurant owner Antonio Espinoza, who runs Puerto Vallarta Amigos at Fisherman’s Wharf, says many visitors have been disappointed by the ban.
“People feel like something is missing because they come to feed them sometimes. They like to bring their kids and show them the natural life,” Espinoza says.