Herald-Whig

Wildlife officials work to coax stray sea lion back to sea

The Associated Press
Posted: Sep. 3, 2018 7:00 am Updated: Sep. 3, 2018 4:46 pm

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) Wildlife officials came up with a new plan to try and coax a Steller sea lion back to the ocean after it had been shuffling through neighborhoods in Sitka since Friday.

Officials were planning Sunday to construct a passageway of tarps and boards to keep the adult male sea lion from seeing people, hoping the blinds would put him at ease and direct him back to sea, the Anchorage Daily News reported .

The sea lion was "hiding out in the woods" on Japonski Island on Sunday morning, said Julie Speegle, a spokeswoman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was first spotted on a Sitka road Friday morning before waddling to various sites over the weekend.

"At this point he's likely stressed, dehydrated and hungry," Speegle said. "And scared and frightened because of all the activity around him."

NOAA wildlife officials were working with Sitka police and firefighters to direct the animal away from people and back to the water. Some watched over him Saturday night, Speegle said.

Officials have avoided tranquilizing the sea lion because an adult male can weigh up to 1,700 pounds (771 kilograms), Speegle said.

"He's a big wild animal," Speegle said.

Scientists are not sure yet why the sea lion wandered into town; it's an unusual action for the species, Speegle said. The animal appears to be healthy.

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Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com