Intolerance to the Extreme: Mother Seal Intentionally Run Over on Beach

A mother harbor seal, who had recently given birth, was found dead on the beach north of the Ocean Park beach approach last week, thought to have been a victim of an intentional vehicular killing.

A mother harbor seal, who had recently given birth, was found dead on the beach north of the Ocean Park beach approach last week, thought to have been a victim of an intentional vehicular killing.

Photo by SUZY WHITTEY / Chinook Observer

[Who would do a thing like this? Chances are good that it was a local commercial fishermen. Intolerant of seals and sea lions feeding on “Their” fish, they make sport of shooting those animals at sea. Why not run them over when you see one beached?]

Related : Also:  And: As well as:

Feds investigate wildlife hit-and-run: Newborn seal pup missing after mom run over near dunes


OCEAN PARK — Only 24 hours after observers enjoyed the rare experience of witnessing a harbor seal pup’s birth on a Peninsula beach, wildlife enforcement officers were investigating the mother’s death and the pup’s disappearance.

So far, no one knows who the driver was who struck and killed the mother or whether the killing was intentional. There are no clues about the fate of the newborn pup.

On Saturday, April 19, a handful of biologists and volunteers who monitor local marine mammals started getting calls about an unusual event: A pregnant harbor seal had settled in near the dune grass about a quarter mile north of the Ocean Park beach approach. She appeared to be close to giving birth. Though harbor seals are common, they usually give birth at sea.

“We’ve not in the Long Beach area really seen the females come up, give birth and stay with their pups. It was really a neat thing to see. It was just one of those things where you just thought the public would really enjoy seeing the process,” said Dr. Debbie Duffield, a marine biologist at Portland State University. Duffield is part of the Marine Stranding Network, a partnership with the Seaside Aquarium that monitors marine mammals that come ashore in northern Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Volunteer posts warning signsWhen he learned about the pregnant seal,

Ocean Park wildlife rescuer Herb McClintock staked out a perimeter with the cautionary signs he keeps in his truck for just such occasions.

A retiree, McClintock has been rescuing injured marine birds for about 16 years and often spends as much as eight hours a day searching Peninsula beaches for injured wildlife. Duffield immediately asked him to keep an eye on the seal.

“I don’t know — you see these little birds on the beach and you feel sorry for them. You can’t just leave them there — the eagles get to them,” McClintock said of the ailing shorebirds he regularly delivers to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria. Marine mammals are less common, McClintock said in a phone interview on Monday morning, but he encounters several every summer season. When that happens, he notifies various authorities and advocacy groups, including the stranding network.

After posting his warning signs on Saturday afternoon, McClintock checked in on the seal periodically, and updated Duffield and Chandler. On Sunday evening, everything was in order.

“The little pup was all snuggled up to her and she was fine,” McClintock recalled.

But by the time he returned around 7:30 the following morning, someone driving what appeared to have been a double-tired truck had mowed through the soft sand where the mother lay, severing her tail. Though she was still alive, she was bleeding profusely, and it was evident to McClintock that she was suffering terribly.

Her baby was gone.”It was a nasty thing. It was kind of the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” McClintock said.

“I got kind of mad. Whoever ran over her had actually driven within about a foot of my signs.

“Federal authorities open investigationMcClintock alerted Dr. Duffield, who in turn contacted Kevin Mitchell, a special agent with the federal NOAA office in Astoria. Mitchell came in short order and poured plaster casts of the tire tracks,

But several hours passed before another officer was able to come to euthanize the seal, McClintock said.

In the meantime, McClintock and others looked around for clues about the pup’s disappearance. They came up empty-handed.”I talked to both of the officers and they said that they don’t think the pup would leave its mother,” McClintock said, adding that he feels certain the pup was far enough from the water line that it couldn’t have been swept out to sea by a wave. Duffield said that they haven’t ruled out the possibility that the mother was intentionally attacked, or that someone took the seal pup after hitting the mother.

“This looked like a deliberate and awful attack on the animal that was very poorly done — it didn’t even kill the animal. It feels like it’s gone beyond what’s OK. If it was deliberate, it reflects an attitude on the beach that is downright scary,” Duffield said.

Due to their tendency to compete with fishermen for prized fish, there can be a callous cultural attitude toward seals and sea lions in fishing communities, Duffield said.”You get fishermen who have their catch sampled by sea lions. It ruins what they’re doing and therefore costs them,” Duffield said, “… There’s a perception that there’s too many of them, that we’re not managing them properly and that they’re stealing livelihoods.

“Monday afternoon, NOAA Special Agent Karl Hellberg said he and his colleagues could not discuss the open investigation.

“But we do take [such incidents] seriously,” Hellberg said.

“We don’t know what happened to the pup. Whether something took it or another animal — a bird of prey took it — we sure would like to know.” While he had too little information to reach any conclusion’s about the driver’s intentions, Hellburg said it is uncommon, in his experience, for someone to hit an animal with a car.”I’ve never seen an animal run over like that before,” Hellberg said. “Honestly, it’s hard to say whether it was by accident or on purpose. With someone down there at night, did they think it a piece of driftwood, or did they intentionally see it?”

Lack of enforcement

McClintock feels strongly that a lack of traffic enforcement on the beaches also contributed to the seals’ demise.

Officially, the beach falls under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Patrol. Cars are supposed to stay out of the dunes, and obey a 25 miles per hour speed-limit. But people who cruise the beach know that enforcement is thin during off-peak hours, and have little fear of actually getting fined for breaking the rules.

During his many long hours patrolling the beach, McClintock says he’s often seen reckless driving behavior, such as plowing through the water in an attempt to frighten the gulls.

In December 2012, a truck mowed through a flock of small shorebirds called dunlins. McClintock responded to the incident. He picked up 92 little bodies — almost enough to fill a five-gallon bucket.

Over recent years, there have been several similar incidents.”Guys with those big jacked-up four-wheel-drives are up there in the soft sand squirreling around and cutting cookies. Some of those people are just idiots,” McClintock said, “It’s a wonder somebody hasn’t gotten run over out there. Little kids? They don’t look — they just run.”      Source:


13 thoughts on “Intolerance to the Extreme: Mother Seal Intentionally Run Over on Beach

  1. Jim, I was in shock when we moved to the Northwest and noticed how many beaches in Washington and Oregon are open to cars. Do you happen to know why these laws remain in effect, even with the various dangers posed to wildlife? It’s pretty contentious in California, the areas where even ATVs are allowed on the dunes. After years of being on beaches without vehicles, it becomes incomprehensible to see them driving over habitat. I know the same happens in Florida and animals there get crushed as well. This sounds deliberate and/or drunken, with the signs in place and so forth. I have to work so hard to retain compassion and equanimity as a human being, when faced with stories like this. Can’t let these asshats prevail by also crushing our hearts and spirits, right?

    • I’m about out of equanimity in this case, Ingrid. This was no drunken accident but a deliberate murder and probably a kidnapping of a new born seal, and god knows what else after that. As crazy as it is that people are allowed to drive on the beach, this happened in the upland dunes, where it’s closed to motor vehicles to protect nesting snowy plovers. I’m sure these asshats knew that, saw the signs about the seal, intentionally ran over her and stole the pup as an expression of their extreme intolerance for anything that competes with them for fish. It’s just like the wolf situation with trophy elk hunters in Idaho.

      • I agree. I didn’t mean to suggest drunken accident, but rather sober or drunk — it appears deliberate. I would like to see driving on all beaches made illegal. I still can’t wrap my head around it when I see it. I saw a woman driving her SUV at low tide in Seattle after we first moved here — to get from her home to the road. I was so stunned I thought for sure it must be illegal. But I looked up the regulations and it is, indeed, legal to trample sea creatures with tires in that part of Seattle. It defies logic that any of this is allowed.

      • You’re right Ingrid, driving on beaches should definitely be made illegal. We’ve tried to outlaw it on Long Beach several times, but local lawmakers have the tourist industry in mind. Even after someone drove over an entire flock of shorebirds, and now a mother seal, driving the beach remains legal.

  2. Mans cruelty knows no bounds.
    A mother giving birth is a sacred act…and the baby, where is it?
    For this beautiful being to be run over is beyond all comprehension.
    Severing her tail and lying there in pain…after giving birth to her little one …so heartbreaking.

  3. Here in the UK one cannot disturb or harass any wildlife on land or in the water – they would find themselves in serious trouble if caught & worse if I came across anything like this !

  4. Shocking. I don’t know if this is the same area, but seals are constantly being harassed by homeowners who do not want them. There was a story about a couple of women doing it, I’m not sure if it is the same area or another one. As I said, we give death row murderers more status and compassion than a poor innocent animal such as this. Terrible and disgusting. No, it was CA:

  5. Not sure I have heard of much worse when they find the person that did this they need to throw away the key anyone capable of doing this is soulless and truly fucked

    Louise Kane 508-237-8326

    From: Exposing the Big Game Reply-To: Exposing the Big Game Date: Thursday, May 1, 2014 1:58 PM To: louise kane Subject: [New post] Intolerance to the Extreme: Mother Seal Intentionally Run Over on Beach Exposing the Big Game posted: ” Photo by SUZY WHITTEY / Chinook Observer [Who would do a thing like this? Chances are good that it was a local commercial fishermen. Intolerant of seals and sea lions feeding on “Their” fish, they make sport of shooting those animals at sea. Why no”

  6. Pingback: Your Custom and Cultural Quaintness Won’t Get You Out of it This Time | Exposing the Big Game

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s