A 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 â€“ and anyone else who tries to rescue what they are sure are abandoned seal pups â€“ 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.