Crime

Man allegedly throws beer can at marine animal at Maritime Heritage Park

See that seal pup on the beach? Leave it alone, marine experts say

Marine mammal experts urge people not to touch or pick up seal pups that may be found on beaches or shorelines, often left there to rest or wait for a mother who's hunting. Adult seals may abandon pups that have come in contact with humans.
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Marine mammal experts urge people not to touch or pick up seal pups that may be found on beaches or shorelines, often left there to rest or wait for a mother who's hunting. Adult seals may abandon pups that have come in contact with humans.

Bellingham police barred a man from Maritime Heritage Park Saturday afternoon, June 22, after he allegedly threw an empty beer can toward a marine animal.

The can did not strike the animal or cause any injuries, according to the police log entry on the incident.

Lt. Claudia Murphy told The Bellingham Herald that officers are also checking with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to see if their were further violations of their laws and codes.

“We want to remind folks to stay clear of stranded wildlife and not to try and rescue them,” Murphy told The Herald. “Contact appropriate agencies regarding the stranded animal.”

Murphy suggested contacting the NOAA Fisheries division or the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

In a Facebook post Sunday, the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network warned that Harbor seals are having their pups in our area.

“Mortality can be high for the pups, especially if there is human interaction involved,” the post read. “One hundred yards away is the law! Moms leave their pups on shore while they go foraging. If people surround the pup, the mother sees this from the water. She will not come to shore then. This leads to pups being orphaned/abandoned and if left on the beach long enough, a slow death.”

The network said that it tries to monitor the pups that are left on the shore, using a non-toxic green livestock paint to mark seal pups that are being watched.

“Yes, we seal sit!” the post read. “This gives mom and pup a chance to reunite. ... Then there is a happy ending.”

The network asks people call 360-966-8845 to report a pup being harassed or any human interaction within 100 yards of the pup.

According to the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, it is illegal to harass, feed, hunt, capture, collect or kill any marine mammal or to “take” marine mammals without a permit.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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