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Police rescue young harbour seal taking leisurely stroll down middle of Halifax street

A hungry youngster wandering downtown Halifax in search of food early Thursday morning was directed home by police, right into the harbour.

Around 12:30 a.m., two officers were patrolling Bishop’s Landing when a woman flagged them down to help a harbour seal who was hissing under her car, then waddled down Lower Water Street.

“This time of year is when you expect to see youngsters dumped out on their own and they have to figure out what life’s about,” said Andrew Hebda, zoology curator for the Nova Scotia Museum.

Using “gentle persuasion,” police wrapped the seal in a blanket and took it back to the harbour, according to a release.

Hebda said the dozens of local female harbour seals give birth in late January to early February, then feed their pups for four to six weeks before saying “that’s done” and sending them out on their own.

Seals have been finding their way to the waterfront and other parts of the city for a long time since there’s a “steep learning curve” when it comes to figuring out where to get their own food, Hebda said, like one that appeared at Sullivan’s Pond years ago.

“That learning curve gets them up on land and sometimes into urban areas and that’s maybe more problem for them,” Hebda said.

However, Hebda wasn’t surprised to hear of one venturing out late at night, since there would have been enough streetlight to catch the seal’s attention.

“Again, think of a teenager,” he said.

Although the seal was turned away before they reached Pizza Corner, Hebda said there’s lots of fish for them to eat in the harbour, especially in light of the clean up over the past few years.

“It’s just a question of how quickly it’ll pick up on how to catch food,” he said.

The whiskered aquatic mammals may be cute, but Hebda said they’re wild animals and not used to people attempting to pick them up or pet them.

The best thing to do is call police or the Marine Animal Response Society at 1-866-567-6277 since the animal could be sick or hurt, Hebda said.

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