After a woman spotted a seal pup alone on a beach in Washington, she stuffed the animal into a shopping bag and took him home with her, according to multiple news outlets.
After the woman had taken the little gray-and-white harbor seal away from the beach—and possibly away from his mother—she realized that she didn’t know how to care for him and called a local aquarium for help. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials learned about the incident and went to the woman’s home, but by the time they arrived, it was too late—the baby was reportedly unresponsive, and they determined that the kindest thing to do was to euthanize the suffering animal.💔
This seal’s death is just one of many examples of people interfering with wildlife and causing animals to suffer. This year, there have already been several incidents in which beachgoers have harassed and even killed ocean animals for selfies and “rescued” young animals who don’t need to be saved.
What to Do if You See a Wild Animal
Don’t interfere! According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, harbor seal pups may stay in the same place for several days, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been abandoned. If there are humans around during the daytime, mother seals may stay away and come back to nurse their pups at night. If you spot a wild animal on a beach (or anywhere else), the best thing you can do is keep your distance. Try to stay about 100 yards—the length of a football field—away.
Don’t touch, feed, or move wild marine mammals, as this can interfere with their natural behavior—as well as the behavior of other animals nearby. Disturbing young seals or getting too close to them could even cause mothers to abandon their babies.
If you see an animal who is clearly hurt or sick or if you see someone harassing an animal, contact a wildlife rehabilitator or local authorities immediately. Do not take matters into your own hands, because even if you want to help, you could actually make the situation worse. If no one is willing or able to help, contact PETA.