It is Harbor Seal pupping season in the San Juans, so people are calling Wolf Hollow to report seal pups they see alone on the shore. Their expectation is that we will come out to check on a stranded pup in the same way we would an injured hawk or an orphaned raccoon kit. However, it is not that simple.
Harbor Seals, being marine mammals, come under the authority of a different government body, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and are covered by different regulations. Wolf Hollow staff and volunteers are not authorized to go out and check on a pup on the shore, or bring it to the center for care.
This can lead to people being disappointed or angry with us because we are, “refusing to do anything to help” a seal pup, so we could use your spreading the word to neighbors and friends, so they understand what is going on.
In San Juan County the main group that is authorized by NMFS to respond to calls about stranded marine mammals, including seal pups, is the San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network. When someone calls Wolf Hollow, our role is to record the details and pass this information on to the Stranding Network coordinators.
There are also Marine Mammal Stranding Networks covering adjacent coastal counties such as Skagit and Whatcom.
Only if a seal pup is brought to Wolf Hollow by the proper authorities are we permitted to rehabilitate it and, when it is strong and old enough to survive on its own, release it back into the wild.
If you see a seal pup on its own on the shore in San Juan County and it appears to be injured or weak, please don’t touch it, move it, or try to get it into the water. Call The Marine Mammal Hotline – 1 800 562 8832 and leave a message. This hotline is monitored by the Stranding Network Coordinators who will return your call.
Chuck O’Clair is Wolf Hollow’s longest-serving animal care volunteer. He has come out almost every week, in rain, shine or even snow, for over 12 years, and we deeply appreciate his hard work and dedication. In addition to his many hours at Wolf Hollow, Chuck has also volunteered with a number of other local organizations, logging a total of over 1800 volunteer hours so far.
In recognition of all his efforts, Chuck was presented with a 2014 Good Steward Award by the Stewardship Network of the San Juans.
Shona and Tate had fun carrying out hands-on activities with kids of all ages at the Anacortes Children’s Festival on July 12th.