Man In Trouble For Trying To Save Baby Seal

NilasA Washington man is in trouble for rescuing an abandoned seal pup. When he was walking along the beach, he saw the lone seal pup and thought it was abandoned by its mother or orphaned.

“He was curled up and… he started to follow me,” said Mike Benoza of Bellingham.

“I waited 3 hours for the mother to come back because he was parked on the beach,” he said. “I had to bring him up.”

Even though the man thought he was rescuing the baby seal, wildlife officials say when seal pups are brought into captivity at that stage in their lives, they will remain in captivity for the rest of their lives. They also say that even though people may think a baby seal is abandoned, often their mothers are usually nearby and are just waiting for people to leave.

More on the baby seal after the jump.


Wildlife agents were anything but playful when they arrived and told Benoza he had just violated the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and could face serious fines.

“I had no idea about that law,” he said.

Prosecutors will decide whether to go after Bezona or just give him a warning for his first offense.

The real penalty may be paid by the pup. His chances of living free and wild dropped considerably this week.

Federal agents are convinced Benoza – and anyone else who tries to rescue what they are sure are abandoned seal pups – had the best intentions at heart. But they say if you really want to help them, leave them alone on the beach.

Wildlife workers have named the baby seal Nilas and say that he is in pretty good shape and has a chance of eventually being released back into the wild.

14 Responses to “Man In Trouble For Trying To Save Baby Seal”

  1. Donna says:

    You have a citizen ,who did a kind act.An act of compassion for an infant animal.We have a president that did NOT view the pet food poisoning as news worthy,and has lead us to a bogus war.As I see it,the citizen deserves a medal.Bush,…………..deserves to be tried for treason.Three cheers for the citizen,who cares,boos and hisses for the president,who lies.And DID NOTHING TO PROTECT the nation of pet parents.NOT a word on the poisonings. National emergency,……………and not a peep.The citizen,acted out of compassion,for a living infant animal.Bush, no concerns at all for the poisonings of the fur babies. We have a hero and a fool.Make your voice heard.Compassion trumps all.To care and to act counts.Concern for all life matters. As far as the federal agents,……….I did NOT HEAR of any agents do a thing,in regards to the pet poisonings. I would have rescued the pup.Odd that in the three hours the man waited,the mother seal,did not call for her young.Most female animal,will offer some form of out rage if the think there is a threat to their young. Thirty years of rescue work on my part,says the citizen did the compassionate thing.

  2. 5CatMom says:

    Just goes to show that no good deed done for an animal goes unpunished by the government.

    A few years ago there was the story of Webster the opossum who was rescued from certain death and became a much loved part of the family. According to the newspaper reporter, Webster sometimes bore a lipstick mark on his little head where his owner had showered him with kisses.

    Sure enough, when Webster’s story became known in the community, the government fish and game officials came and took Webster away because it was illegal to keep “wild” animals.

    Go figure.

  3. mittens says:

    you can’t have a pet opossom because it’s cruel and dont you dare save a seal but its ok for pet food to be poisoned, killing thousands of family pets, and the fda doesn’t dare ask for the authority to enforce recalls and then oks the leftover toxic slop to be fed back into the human food chain.

    and thus the greatest democracy the world has ever known plunges off the cliff of reason to its final destruction.

    this is all part of the new food czars plan to ‘ prevent contamination’ before it begins by denying it can ever happen and redirecting everyone’s attention to the vicious cruelty of out of control opossum petters around the country.

    that’s the real danger to the american food system-marsupial loving criminals interfering with the wildlife.

    i mean, i’m a northern sort of person from another country but don’t people down in the south of america ,uh, eat these animals? you can make stew out of the thing but don’t inflict kisses on it?

    this is insanity.

  4. straybaby says:

    i wonder if they have signs up? if not, how is the average person to know? they should also have a number to call posted also so a Wildlife Official can swing around and check on the lone pups.

  5. Gary says:

    Wildlife agents? are they the same ilk like those who leave dead trees in forests to make tinder for huge forest fires? ie: like Tahoe now. Corruption and stupidity reigns supreme in the failed gov’t.

  6. straybaby says:

    is the fire getting under control?

  7. Chris says:

    First they say that the pup won’t be able to live in the wild…then it states they hope to be able to release him back in the wild. Make up your mind…either he can or can’t.

  8. NH says:

    I rescued and rehabbed seals in Maine for 2 years. You’d be surprised how many people pick up seals thinking they’re hurt or abandoned. This man clearly had no clue what adult seals do with their babies…leave them on the rocks or shore so they can hunt for food. I would think people in Washington would be more aware of what to do when they spot a seal. If anything, this was a learning experience for the man and anybody who reads the story.

    I hope the seal will be okay.

  9. NH says:

    Oh…one more thing. The picture of the seal with the dog freaks me out. Seals can carry micro-organisms that can be detrimental to dogs health…if not fatal!

    I hope that dog is okay too!

  10. Calico says:

    I worked in wildlife rehab for years, and over 60% of the animals we saw were babies being “rescued” by well-meaning but ignorant people. The wildlife officials are doing the right thing - good intentions aside, that man did not rescue the baby seal, he abducted it.

  11. Marti says:

    People act out of kindness of thier heart… I know I picked up baby infant birds that fell out of trees thinking I was helping them before. I can recall of 1 that I took to a bird rehabilitator in my area. I have now learned how to put fallen babies into a rubbermaid dish with holes poked through on the bottom, nail it to the tree as high as I can, fill it with a “nest” and put the baby in it. I did this not too long ago and the mother came back to feed it. What I mean is that we are just trying to help mother nature, because we love animals… This man clearly has a good heart! I hope that the seal and the man are ok in the end.

  12. Traci says:

    “Wildlife agents? are they the same ilk like those who leave dead trees in forests to make tinder for huge forest fires? ie: like Tahoe now. Corruption and stupidity reigns supreme in the failed gov’t.”

    The reason you leave dead trees is that the decaying of these trees adds to a complete ecosystem. Blame climate changes that cause low rainfall and drought in already dry areas plus the intrusion of human settlements too close to wilderness areas.

  13. HighNote says:

    I guess if I had seen this baby seal and was worried about it and I am sure I would be then I would have called someone about it first before I would have picked it up. Yes the man was stupid about it but at the same time he cared and that is more then I can say about a lot of people.
    People in Arkansas used to eat possums, coons, and the like. I am sure some of them still do. Possums are carriers of rabies though. We know this to be true in Kansas and A possum may be a sweetie when it is young and a coon too but when they get older they can become very vicious. A lot of wild life are carriers of disease. Rabbits carry rabbit fever. A person is just better off leaving the wild life in the wild, especially if they know nothing about it animal.

  14. Nicole says:

    The point is that we need to leave wildlife alone. If any animal thinks that humans are okay than he will be slaughtered by us.

    People need to realize that pets like yours and mine are subject to cruel tests by companies that we buy from everyday. That includes petfood companies who torture animas by cutting muscle out of their thighs. We live in a messed up world.

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