- A young seal swam ashore in northern California on April 22.
- Experts say the Guadalupe fur pup appeared malnourished and was “probably lost and searching for food.”
- In its search, the animal was attacked by an off-leash dog. The seal succumbed to its injuries.
- The dog was in a region known to attract snowy plover birds. Any pets brought there “must be restrained at all times.”
- It has been called a “really unfortunate accident.”
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On April 22, a Guadalupe fur seal pup swam ashore on a beach about 30 miles north of San Francisco, California.
“It was skinny so it was probably lost and searching for food,” Jennifer Stock, a spokeswoman for the Point Reyes National Seashore, told SFGate.
But the lone seal did not find nourishment, according to the newspaper. Instead, it was fatally attacked by a dog that was off its leash.
At the time of the incident, the animals were on a stretch of the beach that is often frequented by snowy plover birds, a rare and threatened breed. As such, all pets on the beach “must be restrained at all times,” according to the Washington Post.
Guadalupe fur seals were hunted to the point of near-extinction in the 19th century. Today, they only live in nature off the cost of Mexico on Guadalupe Island.
Speaking to SFGate, Stock said that the animals are “very rarely” seen in the Point Reyes area.
“This is an incredible park where there’s a lot of habitat for animals to feed and rest,” Stock told SFGate. “A dog off-leash is a real threat to wildlife and habitat.”
Emily Whitmer, a veterinarian who works with the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, told the Washington Post that the 1-year-old seal died before rescuers arrived.
According to Whitmer, the seal died from injuries, including “bleeding into the chest cavity and bleeding from the lungs.”
The veterinarian described the seal as “severely malnourished” and described last week’s incident as a “really unfortunate accident.”
“The dog may have even thought he was just playing with a toy,” she said. “There’s no malice assumed to this dog. It’s just that it had a really unfortunate consequence for this animal.”
Currently, there are seven Guadalupe fur seal pups at the Marine Mammal Center, according to the Washington Post. Whitmer said that many of them are in “very similar condition” to the pup that swam ashore last week.
On Facebook, the Point Reyes National Seashore has put out a call asking for those with details about April 22 even to come forward.
“We want people to experience the beautiful landscapes and wildlife at Point Reyes National Seashore, but ask visitors to please follow the rules to have an enjoyable and safe experience and help us protect the wildlife in the park,” the post says. “This is a safe refuge for wildlife”
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